The Case Of Yemen Socio Economic Orientations English Language Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

This paper examines the relationship patterns between socio-economic factors, i.e. parental occupations and cultural capital, and the motivation to learn English in the Yemeni context. Two survey questionnaires were used in this study, based on Gardner's (2001a) framework and Bourdieu's (1986) status-based approach to social stratification. Questionnaires were administered to 142 fourth-year students in the English Department of the College of Arts and Education, the Hadramout University of Science and Technology, Yemen. Besides questionnaires, individual semi-structured interviews were employed to obtain supportive data. A range of quantitative and qualitative analyses were used to analyse the data of the study. The results of the study provide tangible evidence of the existence of a strong relationship between parental occupation and cultural capital, and the Yemeni students' motivation to learn English.

Keywords: language learning motivation, parental occupation, and cultural capital


The notion of 'integrativeness' is a crucial element in the Gardnerian's socio-educational framework of attitudes and motivation. The model proposes that learners who have inte­grative orientations towards learning the target language (henceforth TL) possess favourable attitudes towards the language community, and an inherent interest in foreign languages (Gardner, 1985; Masgoret et al., 2001). These "integratively motivated" learners also exhibit different aspects of motivated behaviour such as effort, an expressed desire, or enjoyment of the TL learning process (ibid). Such inclinations also suggest that these learners desire to "come closer to the other language community" (Gardner, 2001a, p. 5).

The interest among researchers and educators in finding the link between achievement behaviour and success in language learning has generated considerable research in many second language (henceforth SL) and foreign language (henceforth FL) contexts (Lamb, 2004). More importantly, the interest in the area has witnessed a kind of "motiv­ational renaissance" (Gardner and Tremblay, 1994a) with new concepts from educ­ational psychology widening the scope of the motivational research agenda, resulting in the emergence of new understandings and conceptualizations in the study of motivation (Lamb, 2004). One of the most crucial being the reformulation of the notion of integrativeness itself.

Gardner (2001b) considers the amount of interest in the area, evident from the numerous studies, as an endorsement of the significance of integrativeness. This assumption is further encouraged by the fact that only minor changes had been made to the socio-educational model that he originally proposed. Yet, recent studies in the FL contexts have urged researchers to revisit the definition of integrativeness. Studies by Dörnyei and Clément (2001), Dörnyei and Csizér (2002), and Csizér and Dörnyei (2005a) in particular have revealed a major shortcoming in the traditional definition of integrativeness. While its predictive value has been confirmed in many language learning contexts, the researchers find that the original understanding of integrativeness is lacking in its explanatory power in FL settings. The conventional interpretation of this concept entails the existence of a recognizable group of native speakers in the learner's immediate environment with whom s/he wishes to interact and integrate in some way. This becomes problematic in the FL context because, as the researchers argue, the existence of native language speakers in the FL environment is not typical (Dörnyei and Csizér, 2002; Csizér and Dörnyei, 2005a). Given this reality and the argument that motivation is found to reside at the interaction of the individual and environmental dimensions (Hickey, 1997; McGroarty, 2001), Dörnyei and Csizér propose a reformulation of the concept of integrativeness. They suggest that FL learners are motivated to learn a TL to enact "possible selves" compatible with some social traditions and/or habits.

The whole notion of FL learners enacting "possible selves" is intriguing and one that requires investigation in different FL learning environments. Indeed this is the motivation for the current study which, based on the reformulation of integrativeness in FL settings as proposed by Dörnyei and Csizér (2002), and Csizér and Dörnyei (2005a), set out to investigate the nature of FL learners' possible selves in the Yemeni context. Yemen comprises a highly stratified society (Al-Bana'a and Al-Jabli, 2002), so the focus of the study is on the relationship between Yemeni EFL students' socio-economic background and their motivation to learn or use English to construct possible selves or an identity. In particular, the study is interested to find out if the subjects' motivation to learn English is influenced by the existence of a TL group which comprises Yemeni speakers of English who have a good socio-economic standing. The group comprises a remarkably small number of individuals but who have achieved a social status that is very much envied by others in the society (Saif, 1999; Al-Quyadi, 2000; Willis, 2007). The members of this group include those who are employed in the oil project in the Hadramout Province in Yemen.

The study

The current research partially replicates Lifrieri's (2005) study which was conducted on a group of Argentinean school boys. It investigates how Yemeni students' socio-economic status correlates with their English language learning motivational patterns. Given the recent emphasis on expanding the traditional social scope of motivational models to include macro-social variables (McGroarty, 1998; 2001; Spolsky, 2000; Clément and Gardner, 2001; Dörnyei, 2001b; Gardner, 2002), this study is timely as Yemeni EFL students live in a highly stratified society where English is associated generally with groups possessing more social, cultural, or financial resources (Nielsen, 2003). As established earlier, there exists a small number of socio-economically developed Yemeni English language speakers who have achieved an enviable social status in the Yemeni society (Kamali, 2000) and hold high-ranking, well-paid jobs in the oil industry as well as at foreign embassies and institutions. It is highly likely that Yemeni EFL students perceive practices such as speaking and using English by individuals in higher social positions as a symbol of status and prestige.

Bourdieu comments that "the principles of division [in any society], like volume and structure of capital, determine the structure of social space and are reinforced by principles of division relatively independent of economic or cultural properties" (1986, p.743). Thus, the socio-economic backgrounds of the sample in this study result from their perceptions of the occupational status of their parents (i.e. economic capital) and the accumulation of cultural capital in their families. According to the status-based approach to social stratification, students' internalised knowledge and perceived modes of status differences between them and the local TL group are shaped by their socialisation in given socio-economic positions (Bourdieu, 1985; 1986; 1989). On the basis of the students' knowledge towards the meaning of the representation and the social practices' symbols of the domestic TL group, their motivational patterns may then relate to their drive to identify or integrate with the social practices of that group.

The present research thus aims to establish a link between students' socio-economic backgrounds and motivation to learn English in the Yemeni EFL context based on a methodology that is informed by Gardner's (2001a) integrative motivation framework and Bourdieu's (1985, 1986, 1989) reproduction theory. It is hoped that the link between Gardner's framework of L2 motivation and Bourdieu's approach in sociology will reveal an accurate picture of the relationships between the components and/or subcomponents of FL motivation and socio-economic factors.

The study set out to answer two research questions as follows: 1) To what extent is there a reliable relationship between the economic capital (i.e. parental occupation) and the motivation of Yemeni university EFL students? 2) To what extent is there a reliable relationship between the cultural capital (i.e. parents' educational level) and the motivation of Yemeni university EFL students? The answers to these questions will contribute new insights into the ongoing research on FL learning motivation and have an impact on the future of FL instruction and educational planning and policy in Yemen.


The current research is framed theoretically and conceptually within Gardner's (2001a) integrative motivation framework and Bourdieu's (1985; 1986; 1989) status-based approach to social stratification. As well, the study is guided by the hypothesis that if there are individuals who are characteristically associated with English and who are also socio-economically established in the learners' social environment, their integrative tendencies are most likely associated with those individuals, even if they are not native English speakers. Given the concept of integrativeness as proposed by Csizér and Dörnyei (2005a) and Dörnyei and Csizér (2002) and the perception of English in Yemen, that is, knowing English is regarded as a prestigious practice associated with the high society (Al-Quyadi, 2000), the present study assumes that the Yemeni EFL students' integrative motives towards the local TL group are crucial to the relationship between their socio-economic status and motivation to learn English.

To achieve the objectives of the study, a survey was conducted at the English Department of the College of Arts and Education, the Hadramout University of Science and Technology, Yemen. Two sets of questionnaires were administered to 142 fourth-year Yemeni students. A correlational analysis of the mean scores from both questionnaires was carried out to ascertain the degree and direction of relations between motivation to learn English and socio-economic factors. Besides quantitative data, the research also obtained supportive data through qualitative research methods using interviews. The findings from the questionnaires and the interviews were combined to provide insight into the degree of relationships among the investigated variables as well as the students' possible selves . The format of the questionnaires and the design of the interviews are described in the following sections.

Quantitative Data Collection Instruments

Questionnaires were used in the study mainly because they facilitate the task of gathering data from a large number of participants (Judd, et al., 1991). The two questionnaires of the study measured and investigated the following:

The independent variables:

Parental Occupations: (1) Father's Past/Present Occupation and (2) mother's Past/Present Occupation.

Cultural Capital: (1) types of newspapers and (2) frequency of reading by the subjects' parents.

The study attempts to determine how the independent variables influence the following four dependent motivational variables:




Overall Motivation.

The Motivation Questionnaire

The motivation questionnaire was used to collect data on the students' motivation to learn English. Thirty statements were designed and used as stimulus items in the questionnaire. Subjects responded to each item based on an expanded Likert scale of seven points, ranging from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. The original Attitude/Motivation Test Battery (AMTB) was modified to suit the objectives of the study and the context of EFL learning in Yemen (see Appendix A). Firstly, statements were rephrased to tap information on the students' motivation, and their attitudes towards the TL group. Secondly, to obtain information on their general attitudes towards language learning, the original AMTB statements were adapted. Thirdly, certain constructs, such as the component in Integrative Motivation, which measure micro-contextual variables, were excluded to focus on the concern of the study, that is the macro-contextual dimension of motivation. Following Gardner's model, the items were grouped under the three major components of Integrativeness, Motivation and Orientations. The motivation questionnaire used in the study measured the following constructs:


This component is measured by:

Attitudes towards the TL Group , i.e. attitudes towards the qualities and habits of Yemeni speakers of English as a group with a better position, socially and economically;

Interest in Foreign Languages, i.e. general preference for language learning; and

Integrative Orientation, i.e. a desire to strengthen or build ties with in- or out-group members.


This component is measured by:

a) Motivational Intensity, i.e. the amount of effort given on learning the TL;

b) Attitudes towards Learning the TL, i.e. the affective response to learning English, and

c) Desire to Learn the TL, i.e. the degree of commitment to learning.

3) Orientations:

This component is measured by:

Integrative Orientation (see 1 (c) above), and

Instrumental Orientation, i.e. the inclination to learn EFL for pragmatic reasons.

The Socio-economic Questionnaire

The socio-economic questionnaire (see Appendix B) was used to obtain data on the socio-economic status of the sample. The metaphors of economic capital and cultural capital based on Bourdieu's (1985, 1986) reproduction theory guided the design of the questionnaire. The two dimensions were measured using information on the participants' parental occupation and parental educational level respectively. Thus, the socio-economic questionnaire comprises two sections, (1) parents' occupation and (2) parents' education. Each section contains 6 questions which are either yes-no, multiple-choice, or frequency-type questions while the rest is open-ended.

The motivation questionnaire and the socio-economic questionnaire were administered sequentially to 142 students who were randomly selected from a target population of 250 students. They were fourth-year students at the English Department of the College of Arts and Education, the Hadramout University of Science and Technology. The responses from the 142 questionnaires were tabulated and then calculated to obtain the average score for the motivational and socio-economic factors. This was followed by a statistical analysis using the SPSS 11.5 for Windows to find out the correlation result between the variables.


The qualitative data for the study was obtained from interviews. To facilitate the process of eliciting supporting data, semi-structured interviews were carried out using six carefully constructed questions to address different concerns of the study. Each question contains a set of issues aimed at eliciting further information from the participants as follows:

What do you feel are the benefits of learning English?

Are your parents supportive of your learning English? Why? How?

How do you spend your time with your friends?

How do you perceive a Yemeni who is also a good speaker of English?

Would you like to identify yourself with Yemeni speakers of English who occupy prestigious positions in the society? Why?/Why not?

Do you think that you will need English in the future? Why?

Whilst the questions were designed to be open-ended to allow for a wide range of possible answers and to enable correlation with data from the questionnaires, as can be seen above, some of the interview questions are yes-no questions. In these cases, more information was elicited from the participants by asking them to explain and elaborate on their responses.

The participants for the semi-structured interviews were twenty students who were selected from the pool of 142 participants. The interviewees were given the choice to respond in Arabic so they could express themselves better. The interviews were audio-recorded and conducted one week after the completion of the questionnaires. The data were transcribed using Arabic punctuation signs to support the meaning of the utterances, and then translated into English. Following this, the semi-structured interview data were examined and categorised based on the themes developed in the framework of study.

Results and Discussion

The presentation and discussion of the results are guided by the main issues in the study as reflected in the research questions, namely the relationship between Yemeni university EFL students' motivation and economic capital, and between their motivation and cultural capital. The results on the students' socio-economic status and motivation to learn English presented and discussed below are derived from the descriptive and correlation analyses of the data from the questionnaires as well as those obtained from the interviews.

Basic Descriptive Analyses

The first section provides an account of the students' parental occupations and the accumulated volume of their family's cultural capital derived from the socio-economic questionnaire. Then, an overview of the motivational patterns of the sample that emerged from the results of the basic descriptive analyses conducted on the data of the motivation questionnaire is given. The mean score distribution (M), standard deviation (SD), and frequency and percentage distributions of sample's responses from the two questionnaires are presented. The different trends in the responses of the sample with regard to the components and subcomponents in the questionnaires are then graphically represented.

Parental Occupations

Overall, the results show that the occupations of the parents are diverse, ranging from professionals such as doctors, lawyers, school teachers, university lecturers, government officials to casual workers and labourers. The results indicate that 75 (52.8%) of the students' fathers are employed, while 67 (47.2%) of the sample confirm the unemployment status of their fathers. As regards mother's occupation, the survey shows that 76 (53.5%) of the samples' mothers are unemployed and 66 (46.5%) are employed. These results are displayed in the following two figures respectively.

Figure 1: Fathers' employment status.

Figure 2: Mothers' employment status.

Father's Past/Present Occupations are distributed within a range of 0-4 of Hollingshead's (1975) occupational scale. The average mean score of the sample is M= 3.3 (SD= 1.23) which is notably higher than the one obtained for the component of Mother's Past/Present Occupations (i.e. M= 1.90, SD= 0.89). After examining the frequencies and percentages of the participants' responses, some interesting results have emerged. It is evident that out of the 142 valid responses, only 20 (14.1%) of the students came from families where the fathers have/had menial jobs, that is, they were/are employed at somebody else's company, farm, or house as unskilled workers. A majority of the fathers (i.e. 48 (33.8%)) are semi-skilled workers: 25 (17.6%) of them are machine operators, barbers, bus drivers, childcare workers in non private household, cosmetologists, and file clerks, while 23 (16.2%) have/had jobs as guards, nursing aides, private housekeepers, seamstresses, service workers, taxi drivers, and truck drivers. Interestingly, only 7 (4.9%) of the participants' fathers have/had more slightly high qualified jobs as teachers, salespeople, small owners, military personnel, and administrators. Lastly, 67 (47.2%) of the fathers are unemployed or retired. All these results are presented in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Distribution of fathers' occupations across the sample.

In contrast, the results on Mother's Past/Present Occupations are distributed within a very limited range of scores of the Hollingshead occupational scale, i.e. 0-2. Mothers' jobs are distributed across the two occupational scales of 'extreme' job categories of unskilled and menial service jobs. Of the total number of employed mothers, 57 (40.1%) of them are menial service workers including farm labourers, service workers, bellhops, maids, dishwashers, janitors, and ushers, while 9 (6.3 %) are unskilled workers such as cooks, food service workers, garbage collectors, gardeners/ground keepers, labourers, laundry/dry cleaning operators, school monitors and waiters. More than half of the mothers i.e. 76 (53.5%), unemployed/retired, or are homemakers. The percentage distribution of the mothers' occupations is presented in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Distribution of mothers' occupations across the sample.

Cultural Capital

The cultural capital component focuses on the educational level of the parents. In the socio-economic questionnaire, this was measured based on two cultural aspects: (1) types of newspapers, and (2) frequency of reading. The type of newspapers is measured by a series of open-ended questions; whereas the frequency of reading newspapers is measured by frequency-type questions. The results of cultural capital are presented and discussed in terms of frequency and percentage distributions.

In this study, fathers in the sample's families clearly outperform mothers where the frequency of newspaper readings is concerned. It is found that 107 students (75.4%) declare that their fathers are educated, while 35 (24.6) are uneducated. Only 46 (32.4%) of the students agree that their mothers are educated, while 96 (67.6%) stated otherwise. These results are presented in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Parental education.

The types of Yemeni newspapers frequently read by the samples' parents are: Al-Ayyam (75%), Al-Sahwa (52%), Al-Thura (47%), and Yemen Times (24%). Of the 107 students, 62 (i.e. 57.9%) said that their fathers read newspapers everyday, 20 (18.7%) read newspapers twice or thrice a week, and 25 (23.4%) read newspapers only on Fridays. These results are displayed in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Fathers' frequency of reading newspapers.

The results show that mothers read much less compared to fathers. The results show that out of the 46 educated mothers, only 10 (21.7%) read newspapers everyday, 28 (60.9%) read newspapers twice or thrice a week, and 8 (17.4%) read newspapers only on Fridays. The results of the frequency of reading newspapers by mothers are presented in Figure 7.

Figure 7: Mothers' frequency of reading newspapers.

Motivation to Learn English

The results of the basic descriptive analyses indicate that the motivation of the sample is generally characterized by high levels of Integrativeness, Motivation, and Orientations. Table 1 presents the average mean scores and standard deviations of the four main dependent motivational variables.

Table 1: Average mean scores and standard deviations of the motivational variables (N=142).

Motivation Variables












Overall Motivation



An examination of the results given in the table above shows that there are considerably high levels of Overall Motivation (M= 5.6) which exist among 113 (79.3%) students in the sample. Likewise, the average mean scores of the three main motivational components are similarly high. The average mean scores of the three motivational components tend to be close to the highest score value in the motivation questionnaire, i.e. 7. This is evident from the two average mean scores of 5.6 equally obtained for Integrativeness and Motivation. In both cases 116 students (82%) positively rated all the items under these two motivational components. Also, the average mean score corresponding to Orientations is 5.5 with 108 students (76%) in the sample rating the items under this motivational component positively. The results in Table 1 are presented graphically in Figure 8.

Figure 8: The distribution of mean scores of the motivational components.

The high average mean scores and frequencies suggest that the majority of the Yemeni EFL students in the sample are highly motivated to learn English. The students in this study are mature enough to be able to provide responses on their actual socio-economic backgrounds and are regularly engaged in the English language to reflect on their attitudes and motivation towards learning the TL. In the individual semi-structured interviews, a majority of them (i.e. 19 students) expressed that they had become more interested in learning English and believed that it would offer an enjoyable challenge for them. They also felt satisfied with the possible future opportunities which seemed to have motivated them to study the language. The students also stated that their increased interest in English was accompanied by favourable attitudes towards the TL group members. In other words, the students expressed that there is an inherent desire to learn English in order to form ties with the Yemeni speakers of English. So, it can be said that the students in the sample are motivated and that they partake in language learning because of the satisfaction they feel and the interest they have gradually developed in the TL and the local TL group.

The positive integrative orientations among students in an EFL context like the Yemeni case must be given due importance. The inclination towards English is found in the responses from the semi-structured interviews. With reference to their fondness of learning English, 17 students stated that talking with other Yemenis in English was useful and helpful to practise expressing what they thought, and to enable them to know more about members in that group. Almost all the participants remarked that they were capable of communicating in English with their classmates and other friends in the surrounding area. This perhaps could be seen as a kind of confidence that generated the desire to be fluent in English and to integrate with the Yemeni speakers of English with good socio-economic positions in the society.

As English in Yemen is a compulsory foreign language subject and not a medium of instruction in schools or colleges, the high integrative tendencies shown by the sample indicate their inclination to be in the same socio-economic position as that of the local TL group. This group is the ideal example available in the students' closer environment. Hence, the students construct identities that are mostly congruent with the practices and traditions of that group, which support and boost both the integrative and instrumental motivation towards learning English.

An interesting comment by one of the participants in the semi-structured interviews is worth mentioning here: "... I would like to speak English like some Yemenis so the opportunity of securing a good job in future is ensured". This statement indicates the existence of high levels of both integrative and instrumental orientations in the sample. Interestingly, the findings from the individual semi-structured interviews are consistent with the descriptive results. Nineteen students in the interviews mentioned that they realised that English is more useful as a means of communication and they acknowledged that their growing interest in learning it would eventually help them to be hired in one of the oil companies. The students further expressed their wish and desire to be in the same level, either socially or economically, with the Yemeni speakers of English.

The students' answers in the interviews concerning the three motivational subcomponents, i.e. Motivational Intensity, Attitudes towards Learning the TL, and Desire to learn the TL, can be summarised as follows: (1) their belief in succeeding in English is clearly reflected by the amount of effort exerted in learning it, (2) the degree to which they aspire to achieve advanced proficiency in the language is associated with an ultimate interest and an actual desire to know the language, and (3) their admission that they think about and search for new ways and/or techniques to learn English better, and plan to continue to learn English.

All the above reasons may account for the increase in the average mean scores of the motivational components. The results reported accord those of Chou's (2005) study which found that English major students scored high in almost every aspect of the motivational factors. The participants of the interviews in the current study commented that learning English is a means to an end. It is a way for them to achieve pragmatic benefits, such as to be competent in English in order to get employed in the oil project and occupy high socio-economic positions just as the domestic TL group members has.

Correlation Analyses

This section discusses the relationships between the independent and dependent variables based primarily on the results of the correlation analyses. The analyses were conducted to determine the aspects of the sample's motivated behaviour that might vary as a function of the students' socio-economic factors. The relationships of the independent socio-economic variables and the components/subcomponents of the dependent motivational variables were assessed by correlating: (1) Cultural Capital, (2) Father's Past/Present Occupation, and (3) Mother's Past/Present Occupation against the constituent multi-item subcomponents in the motivation questionnaire, namely (1) Integrativeness (i.e. Attitudes towards the TL Group, Interest in Foreign Languages, Integrative Orientations), (2) Motivation (i.e. Motivational intensity, Attitudes towards Learning the TL, Desire to Learn the TL), and (3) Orientations (i.e. Instrumental Orientation and Integrative Orientation). The Pearson product-moment correlation was employed for this purpose.

It is important to add that all the significant correlations obtained in this study do not necessarily entail causal relationships. Indeed, correlations establish a relationship between two variables that, if strong enough, is inferred to be less attributable to chance. Any causal interpretations offered on the basis of significant correlations, throughout the presentation and discussion of the results in this paper, are based on the descriptive results presented earlier and the findings of the interviews. A summary of all the correlated motivational and socio-economic component variables is given in Table 2. The N is 142 for the whole data set. It should be noted that in the case of the negative correlations, as the coefficient value of one variable increases or decreases, the value of the correlated variable moves in the opposite direction. In the case of a positive correlation, as the value of one variable increases or decreases, the value of the correlated variable moves in the same direction.

Table 2: Correlations for the motivational subcomponents and socio-economic variables (N= 142).

Cultural Capital

Father's Past/Present Occupations

Mother's Past/Present Occupations

Attitudes towards the TL Group

r =0.84**

r = -0.71**

r = -0.48**

Interest in Foreign


r =0.83**

r =-0.74**

r = -0.52**

Integrative Orientation

r =0.88**

r = -0.71**

r = -0.57**

Motivational Intensity

r =0.83**

r = -0.73**

r = -0.55**

Attitudes towards

Learning the TL

r =0.82**

r = -0.71**

r = -0.51**

Desire to Learn

the TL

r =0.84**

r = -0.71**

r = -0.50**



r =0.80**

r = -0.75**

r = -0.53**** Significant at the 0.01 level.

As shown in Table 2, all of the correlations that included the motivational factors show interesting degrees of positive and negative relationships with the socio-economic variables. Clearly, the relationships between the motivational subcomponents and Mother's Past/Present Occupations, as well as with Father's Past/Present Occupations, are negative whilst Cultural Capital correlates positively with all motivational subcomponents. All of these relationships are significant at the 0.01 confidence level. Mother's Past/Present Occupation has a moderately negative correlation with all of the motivational subcomponents. The coefficient values for: Attitudes towards the TL Group, Interest in Foreign Languages, Integrative Orientation, Motivational Intensity, Attitudes towards Learning the TL group, Desire to Learn the TL, and Instrumental Orientation with Mother's Past/Present Occupation are r = -0.48; r = -0.52; r = -0.57; r = -0.55; r = -0.51; r = -0.50; and r = -0.53 respectively. All of these relationships are also moderate except for the one with Attitudes towards the TL Group, which has a weak correlation coefficient. All of these relationships might result from the absence of any influential role of the sample's mothers, given that the majority are illiterate, and those who work positions at the lower end of the scale.

In contrast, Father's Past/Present Occupations have a strong, significant, negative relationship with all of the motivational subscales. It is evident from the results that the role of fathers in the students' families outperforms the mother's role. The majority of students in the interviews expressed that their fathers played a more influential role in their families than the mothers. They stated that their fathers encouraged and supported their efforts to learn English language. Hence, the correlation coefficients of Father's Past/Present Occupations with the motivational subcomponents are: r = -0.71 with Attitude towards the TL Group; r =-0.74 with Interest in Foreign Languages; r=-0.71 with Integrative Orientation; r=-0.73 with Motivational Intensity; r=-0.71 with Attitudes towards Learning the TL; r=-0.71 with Desire to Learn the TL; and r=-0.75 with Instrumental Orientation. Finally, the Cultural Capital is strongly correlated with the motivational subcomponents. The correlation coefficients for this socio-economic component with the motivational subcomponent variables are: r= 0.84 with Attitudes towards the TL Group; r = 0.83 with Interest in Foreign Languages; r = 0.88 with Integrative Orientation; r =0.83 with Motivational Intensity; r =0.82 with Attitudes towards learning the TL; r = 0.84 with Desire to Learn the TL; and r =0.80 Instrumental Orientations.

The results on the relationship between parental past/present occupations and all the motivational subcomponents are in keeping with the results presented in the previous section. It can generally be observed that the less skilled occupation a student's father or mother had/has, the more integrative is the student attitudes towards the Yemeni speakers of English. This finding accords the point raised by Gardner (1985). He draws our attention to some evidence of stronger parental influence on the learners' opinions when the families tend to belong to the lower socio-economic stratum. The learners have a more pragmatic attitude towards English language learning.

Clearly, the parents' occupations are strongly related to the formation of students' attitudes towards the local TL group. Hence, it is suggested that the TL group for the sample of the present study is represented by Yemeni speakers of English, not native English speakers. This is evident from the students' responses in the interviews with regard to their perception of the members of the local TL group. The group members' distinguished social position creates within the students a desire to identify with their habits and practices. For students whose fathers or mothers have lower-ranked occupations, English learning tends to be associated with such characteristics. This supports the assumption of the study that English represents a prestigious practice typical of high-status groups, at least in the minds of more deprived students. Whilst this is the case, there is nothing conclusive about how fathers or mothers' involvements in language learning affect students' motivation, and how these parents with less prestigious jobs may impact the attitudes and motivation of these students. It is difficult to comment critically on the nature of the parental influence from the results of the study, but it seems that the fathers believe more strongly in the value of English for the attainment of high social status. It should also be noted that two of the twenty students interviewed, who were socio-economically better-off than the others, pointed out that English has been a much more widespread phenomenon in Yemen, and that being able to speak the language is not necessarily the privilege of only socially advantaged groups.

Although correlation is not causation, all of the aforementioned significant relationships between motivational component factors and the socio-economic factors are reflective of the students' integrative tendencies towards the local TL group and their high level of motivation towards learning English in general. Interestingly, two significant correlations are negative, that is, when either one of the parents have or had lower-ranked occupations. So, socio-economic factors are powerful predictors of the students' motivation to learn English. The results also show that cultural capital has a strong, positive correlation with all of the motivational variables. This is despite the fact that the majority of the students in the sample are from families with a parent with a low-ranked occupation, and have smaller amounts of cultural capital. As expressed by the students in the interviews, this may be due to the sample's knowledge of the importance of cultural capital, and the prevailing culture and linguistic characteristics of the parents.


The results of the study reveal that the Yemeni EFL students in the study developed strong integrative tendencies towards the local TL group and high level of motivation to learn English. Since language use is inextricably linked to social class and status, the students' motivation to learn English is influenced by membership in a certain socio-economic strata. It is evident from the study that that social stratification promotes a particular attitudinal identity construction/formation in the sample of this study. Social stratification actually influences all the sample of this study to learn English, observable via all their motivational levels. Socio-economic factors including parental occupation and cultural capital seem to be powerful factors contributing to the high levels of the students' motivation to learn English. The results of the study show the Yemeni EFL students with poorer economic backgrounds tend to be more optimistic and motivated. They exhibit consistent intra-group patterns of TL motivation, which points to the reproductive effects of Bourdieu's habitus.

Csizér and Dörnyei (2005a, p. 29) place the source of learners' identification/integration process in the internal representations of the self. Given this, the L2 learner devoid of his/her social contextualization, seems to be depicted as randomly desiring to seize certain attributes, which would make him/her agreeable or professionally successful in the society (ibid). This view of the L2 learner constructing an ideal image and dissociating him/her from the social reality has been challenged in the current study by the incorporation of some elements from the learners' social space. In this study, the sample's experiences in and with their social reality may have influenced their motivation, expectations and construction of new identities/images. The complex interactions between these dimensions are clearly reflected in the encompassing theoretical and conceptual framework of the current study. Unlike the concept of "possible selves" proposed by Csizér and Dörnyei (2005a), Bourdieu's habitus which is adopted in the current study, offers a psychosocially grounded construct to express the situation in which the sample internalizes ways of understanding their social positions and thinking about and reacting to their social world. Bourdieu's theory contributes well to the current study as it is based on a mental-social relational perspective. Ultimately, the concept of social stratification clarifies aspects of the cognitive formation of Yemeni students' attitudes towards the domestic TL group and their motivation to learn English.

It can be stated that socio-economic prestige is a crucial factor behind the strong integrative tendencies and the high motivation levels of the Yemeni EFL students in the sample. The students consider the use of English in their context as the prerogative of members in high-status groups, where knowledge of English allows them the access to better employment opportunities and the potential to move up the social scale. They perceive the ability to use English language as a means to social distinction and closer to the TL group.

In conclusion, the results of the study provide further confirmation of the impact of learners' socio-economic factors on their integrative tendencies in particular and on motivational patterns in general in FL learning. Integrativeness, the study shows, is particularly motivated by social aspirations. And the significant negative correlations between parental occupations and integrativeness that emerged in the present study deserve attention and exploration in other FL contexts.