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Motivation: Reopening the Research Agenda

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Title: Motivation: Reopening the Research Agenda
Authors: Crookes, Graham
Schmidt, Richards
Issue Date: 1989
Abstract: Motivation is not currently the subject of extensive investigation in applied linguistics, despite the interest that many teachers have in it. Although there is intermittent discussion of social-psychological explanations of second language (SL) learning in major journals (Au 1988; Soh, 1987; Svanes, 1987) and although introductory texts on second language learning inevitably contain a chapter or sub-unit on the topic of motivation (Brown, 1987; Dulay, Burt & Krashen, 1982; Ellis, 1985; Klein, 1986; Stern, 1983), one indication of the current lack of vitality of research in this area is the fact that the discussion of motivation in such texts is curiously isolated from broader theoretical concerns. As far as second language acquisition theory is concerned, motivation is typically grouped together with various aspects of personality and emotion - miscellaneous factors which may play a role in acquisition. Current SL discussion on this topic lacks validity in that it is not well-grounded in the real world domain of the SL classroom, nor is it well-connected to other related educational research (though this should be particularly important in an interdisciplinary area). In this paper, we first review the limitations in what the SL research community has generally termed "motivation". Then we note the difference between the way the term has been used by SL researchers and how it is used by regular teachers. Taking these two points as indicative of the problematicity of this area of work at present, we then go on to review educational and psychological research done on the topic which should inform SL studies. We conclude by setting out a research agenda which if carried out might redress the current unsatisfactory understanding of this topic in the SL field.Motivation is not currently the subject of extensive investigation in applied linguistics, despite the interest that many teachers have in it. Although there is intermittent discussion of social-psychological explanations of second language (SL) learning in major journals (Au 1988; Soh, 1987; Svanes, 1987) and although introductory texts on second language learning inevitably contain a chapter or sub-unit on the topic of motivation (Brown, 1987; Dulay, Burt & Krashen, 1982; Ellis, 1985; Klein, 1986; Stern, 1983), one indication of the current lack of vitality of research in this area is the fact that the discussion of motivation in such texts is curiously isolated from broader theoretical concerns. As far as second language acquisition theory is concerned, motivation is typically grouped together with various aspects of personality and emotion - miscellaneous factors which may play a role in acquisition. Current SL discussion on this topic lacks validity in that it is not well-grounded in the real world domain of the SL classroom, nor is it well-connected to other related educational research (though this should be particularly important in an interdisciplinary area). In this paper, we first review the limitations in what the SL research community has generally termed "motivation". Then we note the difference between the way the term has been used by SL researchers and how it is used by regular teachers. Taking these two points as indicative of the problematicity of this area of work at present, we then go on to review educational and psychological research done on the topic which should inform SL studies. We conclude by setting out a research agenda which if carried out might redress the current unsatisfactory understanding of this topic in the SL field.Motivation is not currently the subject of extensive investigation in applied linguistics, despite the interest that many teachers have in it. Although there is intermittent discussion of social-psychological explanations of second language (SL) learning in major journals (Au 1988; Soh, 1987; Svanes, 1987) and although introductory texts on second language learning inevitably contain a chapter or sub-unit on the topic of motivation (Brown, 1987; Dulay, Burt & Krashen, 1982; Ellis, 1985; Klein, 1986; Stern, 1983), one indication of the current lack of vitality of research in this area is the fact that the discussion of motivation in such texts is curiously isolated from broader theoretical concerns. As far as second language acquisition theory is concerned, motivation is typically grouped together with various aspects of personality and emotion - miscellaneous factors which may play a role in acquisition. Current SL discussion on this topic lacks validity in that it is not well-grounded in the real world domain of the SL classroom, nor is it well-connected to other related educational research (though this should be particularly important in an interdisciplinary area). In this paper, we first review the limitations in what the SL research community has generally termed "motivation". Then we note the difference between the way the term has been used by SL researchers and how it is used by regular teachers. Taking these two points as indicative of the problematicity of this area of work at present, we then go on to review educational and psychological research done on the topic which should inform SL studies. We conclude by setting out a research agenda which if carried out might redress the current unsatisfactory understanding of this topic in the SL field.Motivation is not currently the subject of extensive investigation in applied linguistics, despite the interest that many teachers have in it. Although there is intermittent discussion of social-psychological explanations of second language (SL) learning in major journals (Au 1988; Soh, 1987; Svanes, 1987) and although introductory texts on second language learning inevitably contain a chapter or sub-unit on the topic of motivation (Brown, 1987; Dulay, Burt & Krashen, 1982; Ellis, 1985; Klein, 1986; Stern, 1983), one indication of the current lack of vitality of research in this area is the fact that the discussion of motivation in such texts is curiously isolated from broader theoretical concerns. As far as second language acquisition theory is concerned, motivation is typically grouped together with various aspects of personality and emotion - miscellaneous factors which may play a role in acquisition. Current SL discussion on this topic lacks validity in that it is not well-grounded in the real world domain of the SL classroom, nor is it well-connected to other related educational research (though this should be particularly important in an interdisciplinary area). In this paper, we first review the limitations in what the SL research community has generally termed "motivation". Then we note the difference between the way the term has been used by SL researchers and how it is used by regular teachers. Taking these two points as indicative of the problematicity of this area of work at present, we then go on to review educational and psychological research done on the topic which should inform SL studies. We conclude by setting out a research agenda which if carried out might redress the current unsatisfactory understanding of this topic in the SL field.
Pages/Duration: 40 pages
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/38564
Appears in Collections:Working Papers



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