International Journal on Studies in English Language and Literature (IJSELL)Volume 3, Issue 2, February 2015, PP 126-137ISSN 2347-3126 (Print) & ISSN 2347-3134 (Online)www.arcjournals.orgThe Importance of Motivation in Second Language AcquisitionLeila AnjomshoaFirooz SadighiDepartment of Foreign LanguagesKerman BranchIslamic Azad University, Kerman, [email protected] of Foreign LanguagesShiraz BranchIslamic Azad University, Shiraz, [email protected]/yahoo.comAbstract: According to Rost (2006) motivation has been called the “neglected heart” of languageteaching. As teachers, we often forget that all of our learning activities are filtered through our students’motivation. In this sense, students control the flow of the classroom. Without student motivation, there is nopulse; there is no life in the class. When we learn to incorporate direct approaches to generating studentmotivation in our teaching, we will become happier and more successful teachers. The issue of motivation,particularly in EFL settings, is so important that other considerations about teaching methodology seem topale in comparison. It is important to think about motivation as the essence of language teaching becauseof the stark realities of learning English for most of our students.Keywords: Motivation, Motivational theories, Language Learning1. INTRODUCTIONAll of the conditions that we know contribute to successful second language acquisition arelacking in most EFL contexts: there just isn’t enough English input in the environment, thereprobably aren’t enough opportunities for interaction with English speakers, there usually aren’tenough strong role models promoting the learning of English, and there may not be widespreadenough social acceptance for the idea of becoming proficient in English. Because of these adverseconditions, a learner has to have extraordinary motivation in order to succeed at learning English.Apart from the role that intellectual capacity and language aptitude play in a second or foreignlanguage learning (Gardner & Lambert, 1972 cited in Xu 2008), motivation is a major factor inthe successful study of language acquisition. It is considered goal directed and defined as “thecombination of effort plus desire to achieve the goal of learning the language plus favorableattitudes toward learning the language” (Gardner, 1985, p. 10 cited in Xu 2008). Motivation isalso an important contributor to language achievement in terms of linguistic outcomes, whichtraditionally embrace the knowledge structure of the language, i.e. vocabulary, grammar andpronunciation and the four basic skills of the language, including listening, understanding, readingand writing (Gardner, 1985 cited in Xu 2008).2. LITERATURE REVIEW2.1. Intrinsic and Extrinsic MotivationIntrinsic/extrinsic motivation refers to whether the motivation is more inside a person or outsideof him/her. Intrinsic motivation refers to the motivation which is originated inside a person. Thereis no reward except the activity itself. It means that the essence of motivated action that is, senseof autonomy and the desire is self-initiating and self-regulating while in extrinsic motivation thereis an anticipation of reward from outside and a person is motivated from an outside source ratherthan the self. Intrinsic/extrinsic motivation is related to the term locus of control which was firstintroduced by Rotter (1966, cited in chalak & Kassaian 2010). If a person places responsibility forher/his life within self, s/he has internal locus of control and is self-motivated character and if s/heplaces the responsibility on others and on circumstances outside self, s/he has external locus ofcontrol. In order to achieve internal locus and self-motivation, one should be eager to give up thesecurity of making excuses and to take responsibility of all her/his decisions and actions.Extrinsically motivated behaviours are carried out to get a reward from outside and beyond theself. Maslow (1970) believed that intrinsic motivation is noticeably superior to extrinsic because ARCPage 126

Leila Anjomshoa & Firooz Sadighiwe are motivated to achieve "self-actualization". Bruner (1966, cited in chalak & Kassaian 2010)claimed that one of the most effective ways to help students is to free them from the control ofrewards. In some cases, the two kinds of motivation may overlap to some degree because one maybe motivated from both an inside source and an outside one at the same time. Generally speaking,both kinds of motivation play important roles in learning and lack of motivation can causeprocrastination because motivation is the driving force that makes people act. In other words,presence of motivation can increase learning behaviour. Teachers need to know the type ofmotivation and its sources to meet the students’ particular needs.2.2. Instrumental and Integrative MotivationWithin the field of language learning, the typical model is the division made between integrativeand instrumental motivation (Gardner & Lambert, 1972, cited in Chalak & Kassaian 2010). If aperson learns a language primarily for a purpose like getting a job or fulfilling an academicrequirement, s/he is affected by instrumental motivation. In other words, instrumental motivationrefers to the motivation to acquire a language as means of achieving goals such as promoting acareer or job or reading technical texts while integrative motivation has to do with wanting to beaccepted by another community. Integrative motivation means integrating oneself within a cultureto become a part of that society. Gardner and MacIntyre (1993) have referred to these two typesof motivation as motivation orientations and mentioned that depending on learner's orientation(either career/academic-related 'instrumental" or socially/culturally-related "integrative") differentneeds must be fulfilled in Foreign Language Teaching (FLT).Some researchers believe that integrative motivation is essential for successful second languagelearning. Graham (1984, cited in Chalak & Kassaian 2010) made a distinction between integrativeand assimilative motivation. Integrative motivation is defined as the desire to learn L2 tocommunicate with the members of the second language society and find out about its culture. Itdoes not necessarily refer to the direct contact with L2 group while in assimilative motivationlearners wish to lose themselves in the target language and become an indistinguishable memberof that speech community. What is important is that the two orientations are not mutuallyexclusive. Some learners learn better if they are integratively oriented while others are moresuccessful if they are instrumentally motivated and some learn better if they take the advantage ofboth orientations. In other words, one may have both kinds of motivations: s/he may beinstrumentally motivated to pass a test or meet a requirement, but at the same time, s/he may lovethe culture of a community and want to learn and participate in its culture.Extrinsic and instrumental motivations are similar but not exactly alike. Extrinsic focuses on thefact that the reason is outside of a person, while instrumental is about the purpose of her/hislearning. Intrinsic and integrative motivations are also different because intrinsic motivation hasto do with what makes someone feel good while integrative motivation is about membership in alanguage community. The point worthy of mention is that during the lengthy process of learning,motivation does not remain constant. It becomes associated with mental processes and internal,external influences that the learner is exposed to. In other words, time is considered an importantaspect in the nature of learner's motivation.2.3. Current Status of English in IranChalak & Kassaian (2010) stated that, in Iran’s current educational context, English ispredominantly considered to be the first foreign language. English is taught at different levels inthe Iranian national educational system, ranging from primary schools to institutions of highereducation as well as in private language schools. English is the medium of instruction in someprogrammes at the university level. It is offered as foreign language (FL) courses in secondaryschools and as a language for specific purposes (LSP). It is also the language of some of theconferences in Iran. The demand in educational institutions and learning environments growincreasingly and it requires good planning and decision making to help learners and students toprosecute their studies and fulfill their goals. On the other hand, due to economic, educational orpolitical reasons, people -- in their search for better work and better educational opportunities -have become increasingly mobile and have started to migrate to different English speakingcountries. These reasons alongside with the other reasons such as ever-growing interest inlearning English as a prestigious language encourage the people to learn it. It means that peopleInternational Journal on Studies in English Language and Literature (IJSELL)Page 127

The Importance of Motivation in Second Language Acquisitionand particularly young generations usually have some kind of positive feelings towards English.Therefore, knowing and learning English has progressively become more prestigious and morepopular, particularly among high school and university students. Some Iranian researchers haveexamined the type of motivation and its orientation along with the attitudes of the learnerstowards learning English and found different results. For example, Moiinvaziri (2008) claimedthat students in her study were highly motivated in both instrumental and integrative orientations.On the other hand, studies such as Vaezi (2008) claimed that Iranian students had very highmotivation and positive attitudes towards learning English and they were more instrumentallymotivated. These contradictory results encouraged the researcher to conduct a survey withdifferent participants and at different setting.3. MOTIVATIONAL THEORIESMotivation can be defined as a need or desire that energizes and directs behaviour (Myers, 2001,as cited in Shirkey, 2003). The study of motivation has been influenced by various psychologicaltheories. Each of these theories state different sources of motivational needs, and each havecertain drawbacks. Let us examine some of these theories that have developed over the years.3.1. Behavioral ViewsBehavioral views of motivation concentrate on extrinsic factors (external rewards or punishments)and reinforcement of desired behaviors (based on John Watsons’ mechanistic concept thatbehaviors could be totally described in terms of observable responses to certain stimuli). Anextrinsically motivated student performs "in order to obtain some reward (good grades, teacherapproval, etc.) or avoid some punishment external to the activity itself," as opposed to a studentwho is intrinsically motivated and undertakes an activity "for its own sake, for the enjoyment itprovides, the learning it permits, or the feelings of accomplishment it evokes” (Lepper, 1988 ascited in Shirkey,2003).B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning theory proposes that the voluntary responses of people arestrengthened when reinforced by rewards and weakened when they are ignored or punished.Related to students, Skinner developed programmed instruction, in which students were givenpositive reinforcement for correct responses, motivating the student to proceed with desiredconsequences.The behavioral approach is limited, however, in that it stresses external motivating factors (praise,good grades, rewards, etc.), which may lead to certain drawbacks. For example, studentsmotivated in such a manner may be less likely to learn if no tangible reward is given. In certaininstances, extrinsic rewards actually decrease intrinsic motivation factors that may have beenpresent (Cameron & Pierce, 1994; Eisenberger & Cameron, 1996; Ryan & Deci, 1996 as cited inShirkey,2003).Following Skinner's lead, many behavioral learning theorists devised techniques of behaviormodification on the assumption that students are motivated to complete a task by being promiseda reward of some kind. Many times the reward takes the form of praise or a grade. Sometimes it isa token that can be traded in for some desired object; and at other times the reward may be theprivilege of engaging in a self-selected activity.Operant conditioning interpretations of learning may help reveal why some students reactfavorably to particular subjects and dislike others. For instance, some students may enter arequired math class with a feeling of delight, while others may feel that they have been sentencedto prison. Skinner suggests that such differences can be traced to past experiences. He wouldargue that the student who loves math has been shaped to respond that way by a series of positiveexperiences with math. The math hater, in contrast, may have suffered a series of negativeexperiences.The Power of Persuasive Models Social learning theorists, such as Albert Bandura, call attentionto the importance of observation, imitation, and vicarious reinforcement (expecting to receive thesame reinforcer that we see someone else get for exhibiting a particular behavior). A student whoidentifies with and admires a teacher of a particular subject may work hard partly to please theadmired individual and partly to try becoming like that individual. A student who observes anolder brother or sister reaping benefits from earning high grades may strive to do the same withInternational Journal on Studies in English Language and Literature (IJSELL)Page 128

Leila Anjomshoa & Firooz Sadighithe expectation of experiencing the same or similar benefits. A student who notices that aclassmate receives praise from the teacher after acting in a certain way may decide to imitate suchbehavior to win similar rewards.3.2. Cognitive ViewsCognitive views on motivation propose that behavior is influenced