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Foreign Language Motivation: Internal Structure and External Connections

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Title: Foreign Language Motivation: Internal Structure and External Connections
Authors: Schmidt, Richard
Boraie, Deena
Kassabgy, Omneya
Advisor: Brown, James D.
Issue Date: 1996
Abstract: Thousands of adults enroll annually in private EFL courses in Egypt. What spurs these learners to exert the effort required and pay the fees in a country where access to public education is free at all levels? Our understanding of such issues is limited by the fact that most research on motivation has been conducted in second rather than foreign language leaming contexts and in North American or European cultural settings. In the study reported here, a questionnaire was developed, based on current work on motivation in second and foreign language contexb and more general models from cognitive and educational psychology, and was administered to a sample of 1,554 adult learners at the Center for Adult and Continuing Education (CACE) at the American University in Cairo, with 1,464 questionnaires used for the analyses. Factor analysis and multidimensional scaling were used to identify the components of EFL motivation for this population. Results suggest that there are three basic dimensions to motivation for learning foreign languages, which we label Affect, Goal Orientation and Expectancy. In general terms, these are probably universal and neurobiologically based, although the analysis suggests a specific Egyptian orientation with respect to the precise definition and content of each dimension. Learner profiles wirh respect to these dimensions of motivation were related to age, gender, and proficiency. Motivation is also related to learning strategies and preferences for certain kinds of classes and leaming tasks. Those who scored high on the affective dimension of motivation preferred communicatively oriented language classes, while those high in anxiety tended not to like group work or other arpects of currently popular communicative language pedagogy. Students with a traditional approach to learning (e.g., choosing memorization strategies over inferencing from context) also preferred classes in which the teacher maintains control.
Pages/Duration: 72 pages
Appears in Collections:Working Papers

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