Motivation In The Language Classroom Education Essay

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Motivation is the force that makes us do things: this is a result of our individual needs being satisfied or met so that we have inspiration to complete the task.

These needs vary from person to person as everybody has their individual needs to motivate themselves. Depending on how motivated we are, it may further determine the effort we put into our work and therefore increase the standard of the output.

This paper will explore???????? First I will explore different theories after that ......

Motivation has been viewed as one of the most important factors contributing to language learning success. Research over the last decades has consistently underlined the important role of motivation in successful language learning (Gardner & Lambert ,Deci and Ryan, Ushioda, Dörnyei ).

Two of the most influential theories about second language acquisition are proposed by Stephen Krashen and J.H. Schumann.

Krashen claims that language learning is a subconscious and natural process during which the learner improves with real-life practice.

While Schumann's acculturation model puts emphasis on integrating the language learner with his/her target language culture and community. According to Schumann the learner regards the TL speakers as a reference group whose life style and values he consciously or unconsciously desires to adopt.( Schumann, p 340, 1986)

Both theories can be applied in the classroom for a positive effect.

What does Motivation mean for the language classroom?

It is first important to understand how motivation works in the classroom. There are infinite procedures teachers use to achieve desired effects from their students, but there are general patterns these motivational tools follow. In order for teachers to communicate with their students, they must identify with their needs on an individual basis (Gawel, 1997).

This proposal is much analogous to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which states five basic needs that must be met in order to achieve full motivation. These needs, in ascending order, are as follows: physiological, security, love and belongingness, esteem and self-respect, and self-actualization (Gawel, 1997).

The most important of Maslow theory in educational goal is for students to learn.

Another point goal is to make this newly gained knowledge and information purposeful

and meaningful to the students so that it may be retained and useful throughout their life.

An essential factor involved in meeting these goals is motivation. If the students are

unmotivated in one way or another, it is likely that little learning will take place, or if by

chance some learning should take place, it is probable that it will not be retained.

This theory has great impact on educational structure. In his later years, Maslow

realised that an environmental precondition of stimulation, or challenge, was needed to

motivate individuals.

Maslow's first need of physiological sufficiency is very basic. This issue simply asks if the students are in a comfortable and safe environment for their studies. That is, are pupils hungry, too cold, too hot and is the environment stimulating to learn in? If a student's physical environment does not match appropriately with the student's need, he/she will not be motivated to learn or to achieve any higher need.

Equally, if the student does not feel safe (via the second need, security), they will not focus on working. Consistent expectations and the accepting and non-judgmental attitude of the teachers can also produce students who feel secured and confident in their teachers. If a student feels threatened by another student or by the teacher, he/she may not progress as well as hoped and in many cases, he/she reverts from the instruction rather than responding to it. In order to alleviate feelings of danger, a teacher can show protection and love, which is the third hierarchal need.

The need for the sense of love and belonging in students are important either in the teacher-student relationships or in the student-student relationships. A teacher's personality should be empathetic, considerate and interested in the individuals, patient, fair, having positive attitude and being good listener. Teachers who have these characteristics will provide the students with more confidence and consequently pupils will be able to learn and improve better in their studies. With regard to the student to student relationships teachers should encourage peer tutoring or class meetings. By having good relationships with teachers and peers, students will have fulfilled their need to belong, and also have the feeling of being cared and loved.

In Maslow's fourth need, esteem, a teacher must be careful not to overload on both criticism and praise. Students must feel as if they deserve praise in order for them to assimilate hard work with praise. Teachers also should not forget that criticism, even when applied correctly, can damage pupils' feelings and can create a lack of motivation. Students must feel the need of self-respect and to be respected by the others. Teachers should start develop new knowledge based on the background knowledge, they also have to help to ensure success (scaffolding) and to pace instructions to fit individual needs. Teachers should also focus on the individual's strengths and assets when planning lessons and carrying them out.

To satisfy the next need of understanding and knowledge, the teachers should allow the students time to explore areas of curiosity and to provide lessons that are intellectually challenging. By using the discovery approach topics, the students can learn to be independent and learn from various angles. By getting involved intellectually, the students can satisfy their need to fulfil their need to explore, discover and solve new things. Teachers must also be careful to assert authority; however, they must also respect students for their efforts.

The need for aesthetic is also very important for the students. By organizing classroom materials in a neat and appealing way, the students will be attracted to learn about the things related to the materials. Pleasing, well maintained and fresh smelling classrooms with attractive wall hangings can create stability in the students who will feel comfortable to study in such surrounding.

The highest need in the Maslow's hierarchy of needs is the need for self actualization.

Teachers expecting the students to do their best will push the students to utilize their own potential and at the same time to satisfy their own need of self fulfilment.

By giving the students freedom to explore and discover on their own, the teachers are able to make learning more meaningful for the students

A student who fails to achieve any of the previous four needs may not be motivated to continue in the academic setting because of the connotations of frustration and distrusts in the education system.

Learner perceive education in more accurate terms when needs are met and learning becomes the priority.

While Maslow's hierarchy makes sense from an intuitive standpoint, there is little evidence to support its hierarchical aspect. In fact, there is evidence that contradicts the order of needs specified by the model. For example, some cultures appear to place social needs before any others. Maslow's hierarchy also has difficulty explaining cases such as the "starving artist" in which a person neglects lower needs in pursuit of higher ones. Finally, there is little evidence to suggest that people are motivated to satisfy only one need level at a time, except in situations where there is a conflict between needs


Gardner and Lambert (1959, 1972) have done pioneering work to explore the nature of motivation specific to language study.  Gardner highlights two different types of motivation:

1) Instrumental motivation: the desire to learn a language because it would fulfill certain utilitarian goals, such as getting a  job, passing an examination, etc.

2) Integrative motivation: the desire to learn a language in order to communicate with people from another culture that speak that language; the desire is also there to identify closely with the target language group.

Instrumental motivation vs integrative motivation

A distinction has been made in the literature between 'integrative" and 'instrumental' motivation: the desire to identify with and integrate into the target-language culture, contrasted with the wish to learn the language for the purpose of study or career promotion.  Gardner and Lambert (1959, 1972) showed that success in a foreign/second language is likely to be lower if the underlying motivational orientation is instrumental rather than integrative. 

But research since then has cast doubt on the application of this claim to foreign language learners in general.  In any case, at least one other study has indicated that it may be impossible in practice to distinguish between the two. (Penny Ur (2005) A course in Language Teaching: Practice and Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.p.276).

Another distinction, perhaps more useful for teachers, is that between 'intrinsic' motivation (the urge to engage in the learning activity for its own sake) and 'extrinsic' (motivation that is derived from external incentives).  

A teacher may have to adopt a different plan for each student because needs vary so greatly. However, there are general patterns a teacher can follow in order to find a common thread between certain students and their motivational applications. Students are either motivated intrinsically or extrinsically.

Younger students tend to be motivated by the prospect of receiving a physical treat for their efforts, such as sweets or merit stickers. More mature students who have outgrown this phrase adhere to intrinsic motivations of good grades and esteem from teachers and parents. Both types of motivation have their flaws.

Captured within extrinsic and intrinsic motivation are the ideas of positive and negative reinforcement. These motivators are commonly used in classrooms in order to elicit a desire to achieve in students. Positive reinforcement is a way of adding a pleasurable experience to a pupils mind in order to engage that pupil. Praise is a common form of this; a teacher who properly utilizes praise commends the pupil for his or her particular piece of work, not personal qualities that make the work special.

However, a teacher must be equally sensitive to different cultures as to the majority culture. Hitz and Driscoll (1989) point out that students from different socioeconomic classes, ability levels, and genders may not respond in the same way to praise and may make students feel less worthy if they do not constantly receive praise.

Self-determination Theory

Deci and Ryan (1985) introduced self-determination theory and claimed that motivation has three orientations namely amotivation, extrinsic, and intrinsic. Amotivation takes place when students do not value the activity that they are doing, do not feel competent, and do not think that the activity will benefit them or lead to a desired outcome (Deci & Ryan, 2000).

Extrinsic and intrinsic orientations are distinguished by whether the reward received is external such as receiving good grades or avoiding punishment, or internal, such as enjoyment and satisfaction in doing a certain activity (Dörnyei, 1994). When students are motivated because of a reward or consequences that they will receive for doing or not doing an activity, they are said to be extrinsically motivated.

Deci and Ryan (2000) put extrinsic motivation into four regulations according to their level of orientation toward self-determination. External regulation is the least self-determined extrinsic motivation. Students who are externally regulated are those who do an activity due to an external reward or other considerations. The next level is introjected regulation. Students in this level of extrinsic motivation do not enjoy doing an activity but they have a system of reward and punishment that is internally governed. The third level is identified regulation where students are more self-determined. Students in this level are engaged in an activity because they perceived that the activity is valuable to them. Finally, the most self-determined of extrinsic motivation is integrated regulation. This regulation is performed by students who do not simply do the activity because the social value says it is of value to them, but they do it because they themselves value the activity. This orientation resembles Dörnyei‟s ideal self (2005) in that all the attributes that one would like to possess can function as a very powerful motivator. It is also very similar to intrinsic motivation, yet at this stage students do not necessarily enjoy doing the tasks.

In some situations, however, praise is not appropriate to monitor and modify students? behaviours. In general, behaviour and attitude are extremely important facets in the realm of motivation, and teachers must be aware of means to stop conduct that is harmful to his, or other students learning. In some cases, the use of negative reinforcement is appropriate. The concept of negative reinforcement is difficult to teach and learn because the word negative confuses the meaning, but the concept refers to strengthen[ing] a behaviour because a negative condition is stopped or avoided as a consequence of the behaviour.? (Levine, 1999).

In the classroom, this would be admonishing a student to stop a disruptive behaviour, such as researching inappropriate websites on the Internet. Rather than use a reward to bribe students to stay on task, teachers can take away a positive force to take away the negative action. Many students are motivated by the prospect of pleasing the teacher, therefore avoiding negative reinforcement, which can be embarrassing to a student.

These general patterns of motivation are useful in the classroom, but teachers must also be aware of a changing society in order to cater to students needs. In today's world where ten year olds can easily manipulate through the internet, teachers must he trained in ways to utilize technology in a classroom setting


Ushioda (2001) claimed that autonomy is the need to feel volitional.

It is the state in which students perceive themselves as having some choices in doing a certain task including a choice not to do the task.

Autonomy is one of the metacognitive elements that are needed in motivational behaviour when learning. It is an attitude towards learning where students are responsible for their own learning. It has been closely tied with the fulfilment of one's needs that creates intrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Dickinson (1995) argued that it leads to a better and more effective achievement. Dörnyei and Csizér (1998) listed promoting students‟ autonomy as one of the Ten Commandment that teachers have to keep in mind in enhancing students‟ motivation.

Research clearly shows that students who are not academically prepared are not academically motivated.  Of course, because of ethical concerns it would be difficult to examine this relationship in a format that would suggest a causal connection.  However, it seems only logical that if a child were not cognitively prepared to learn a skill or understand a concept because of his or her stage of cognitive child development, this would impact the student's motivation and the teacher's ability to effectively build intrinsic motivation within the child's learning process.  Consequently, in order for the teacher to accomplish the goals of motivation and skill building, it would appear to necessary for the primary strategy within the classroom to be one determining the child's cognitive level or readiness before teaching a task.  If the task is beyond the stage or capability of the child, then he or she will experience failure, which will reduce his or her level of motivation.