Identity, motivation and autonomy in language learning

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Having these assumptions as starting points, Menezes examines a corpus of language learning narratives written by Japanese and Brazilian English learners.

In the analysis, she places special emphasis on identity, motivation and autonomy as interconnected agents in the process of language acquisition. In her view, minimal differences in identity, motivation and autonomy, among other factors, can cause very different results in the acquisition outcomes.


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The second section has four chapters about language learners and teachers in independent learning settings, such as SACs, and distance education. Castillo Zaragoza notes that the research literature on SACs usually takes a monolingual posture even though language learners usually have access to a variety of resources, such as materials, advisors, other learners and native speakers as well as other languages. Based on 33 interviews in two Mexican public universities, this exploratory inquiry reveals how learners have seen the importance of developing their plurilingual identity, have high intrinsic motivation and use their agency in a context that does not explicitly encourage multilingualism.

Given that self-motivation is crucial in distance learning, how do these language learners keep going when the going gets tough? After outlining the key issues in relation to autonomy and motivation within the context of distance language learning, this chapter considers how theories play out in practice by examining the experiences of adult distance learners of French, German and Spanish, who logged anything that negatively affected their motivation, how they handled setbacks and what inspired or motivated them during a period of seven months while studying with the Open University UK. It also concludes by suggesting how these experiences could be used to enhance distance language learning programmes.

Both groups of learners are learning English as a second language with the Hong Kong students majoring in English while their German counterparts are preparing for their future careers as English teachers. In the study, these learners wrote and shared their multimodal language learning histories through course wikis, and asynchronous responses were also posted.

By doing so, learners from both countries would initiate conversations on the process of second and foreign language learning and raise awareness on experiences of foreign language learning in different cultural and educational contexts. Drawing on the autobiographical narratives written by six learners, three from Hong Kong and three from Germany, Chik and Breidbach explore their life-long development of language learning.

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Despite a lack of sustained English-speaking environments, in the analysis the six learners were found to have exhibited high levels of motivation and mediated their identities through specific individual practices. In light of the growing body of academic work on the L2 self, the narratives examined in this chapter illuminate popular culture as the overarching link in identity, motivation and autonomy cultivation. However, within educational psychology, there is a rich body of literature dealing with implicit theories of learning in fields as diverse as music and sport.

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This chapter is an attempt to apply this line of research to the field of language learning. Although primarily conceptual in nature, the chapter draws on data obtained from attitudinal questionnaires, language learning histories and interviews. In the chapter, Lamb reports on the results of a follow-up study into the evolving motivation of provincial Indonesian junior high school learners to learn English. In the study, Lamb associates the significant gains that the participants had made in oral proficiency in English with both strong future self-guides and sustained autonomous language learning.

The chapter draws out the implications of these findings for the elaboration of theories linking L2 motivation and autonomy to future-related learner identities. In the chapter, Malcolm describes how they dealt with the experience of failing as an incentive to develop greater autonomy in language learning both for immediate gains, to improve their English language skills for study purposes, and for their imagined future selves as globalised English-language competent medical specialists.

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With the help of competent and experienced others and through such actions as summer study semesters in English-speaking countries, these learners were also found to have exercised their agency to improve their English ability. Thirty-two teachers from six countries UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Japan and China responded to an initial e-mail survey and follow-up interviews were conducted with four of these participants. In this chapter, Huang conceptualises autonomy and agency and identity as interrelated but distinct concepts.

Following an interpretative-qualitative paradigm, and foregrounding insider perspectives, the chapter gives particular attention to the role of agency and identity in the long-term development of autonomy in language learning. As mentioned earlier, this book is a collection of attempts to explore the links between identity, motivation and autonomy.

A volume of collected studies such as this one is by no means exhaustive and further efforts are still needed to deepen our understanding of these crucial concepts. Nevertheless, we hope that this collection of studies, using a whole spectrum of new theoretical perspectives and reporting freshly collected research evidence in a variety of contexts, will further the research on autonomy, identity and motivation as interrelated concepts. Benson, P.

Language Teaching 40 1 , 21— Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Holland, J. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.


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Larsen-Freeman, D. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Palfreyman, D. Applied Linguistics 24, — Ushioda, E. Van Lier, L. Bern: Peter Lang. Wenden, A.


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Applied Linguistics 23, 32— Williams, M. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. For over a dozen years now, I have been interested in the twin areas of motivation and autonomy in language learning and their interactions. By interactions, I mean interactions in a practical sense, in terms of how motivation and autonomy interact in learner behaviours and classroom practices; and I also mean interactions in a conceptual sense, in terms of how these two constructs of motivation and autonomy have been theorised and developed in somewhat different traditions of inquiry, reflecting different literature bases, philosophies and research paradigms, and yet clearly these constructs share much in common.

To put it simply, we might say that motivation theory has broadly developed in a positivist cognitive paradigm, which is characterised by psychometric measurement and the development of abstract computational models of mental processes and learning outcomes and behaviours. This is true for both mainstream motivational psychology as well as the specific field of language learning motivation research. Autonomy theory, on the other hand, originated in the very different domain of political and moral philosophy; and autonomy theory in language education has broadly developed in a constructivist paradigm, grounded in specific contexts of practice and the needs and concerns of particular learners.

As I will argue in this chapter, if our pedagogical concern is to engage the motivation of particular rather than generalised learners, then we need a theoretical perspective that addresses its uniquely personal and contextually grounded nature.

Identity, Motivation and Autonomy in Language Learning - Book - Read Online

In this regard, I will further argue that insights from autonomy theory and practice can usefully inform our analysis of motivation, and in particular, I will discuss how processes of engaging, constructing and negotiating identities are central to this analysis. Motivation has traditionally been characterised as an individual difference ID variable that is implicated in learning success, alongside other ID variables such as aptitude, personality, anxiety or cognitive style for a recent overview of ID research in second language acquisition SLA , see Ellis, — Anchored in psychometric approaches to the measurement of personal traits, ID research deploys measurement techniques and statistical procedures that make certain assumptions about the normal distribution of particular traits in a given population.

By this, I mean a focus on real persons, rather than on learners as theoretical abstractions; a focus on the agency of the individual person as a thinking, feeling human being, with an identity, a personality, a unique history and background, with goals, motives and intentions; a focus on the interaction between this self-reflective agent, and the fluid and complex web of social relations, activities, experiences and multiple micro- and macro-contexts in which the person is embedded, moves and is inherently part of.

My argument is that we need to take a relational rather than linear view of these multiple contextual elements, and see motivation as an organic process that emerges through the complex system of interrelations. This focus on the individuality of the person and on the contextually grounded and relational nature of motivation does not reflect a purely theoretical interest in how we conceptualise motivation.

As I indicated in the Introduction, if our pedagogical concern is to engage the motivation of particular rather than generalised learners, then we need a theoretical perspective that addresses its uniquely personal and contextually grounded nature. A problem with the traditional computational models of motivation that have dominated the field is that they seek to make generalisable predictions about what kinds of motivation might lead to what kinds of learning behaviour in what kinds of context, and thus to identify what kinds of pedagogical intervention might be needed to change maladaptive patterns of motivation and so improve learning behaviours and outcomes Ushioda, In contrast to the literature on language learning motivation, as Riley observes, a key characteristic of writing on autonomy is its concern with the learner as a fully rounded person, with a social identity, situated in a particular context.

Invariably, they fall back instead on memorised routines and content from textbook dialogues, such as asking one another how old they are, where they live and what their favourite subjects are at school, and thus engage in a kind of pseudo-communication where the emphasis is on practising language rather than expressing personal meanings and identities see Example 1.

Thus, when asked to talk in pairs, they engage their own motivations, identities and personal interests in their conversations, since this is how they have been socialised to use and think of English, i. Their conversations also proceed in a far more natural and organic fashion and exhibit the interactional features of authentic communication see Example 2.

Pdf Identity Motivation And Autonomy In Language Learning Second Language Acquisition 2011

I will refer here to another interesting analysis of conversations in the language classroom that, though not explicitly focused on motivation, certainly sheds light on the motivational dimension. Beyond the language classroom pp. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Murphey, T. Group dynamics: Collaborative agency in present communities of imagination. Mercer, S. Williams Eds. Murray, G. A self-directed learning course. Strong Eds.

Identity, Motivation and Autonomy in Language Learning

Imagination, metacognition and the L2 Self in a self-access learning environment. Murray, X. Lamb Eds. Metacognition and imagination in self-access language learning.

Gardner Ed. Gaziantep: Zirve University. To make a difference, imagine a difference. The Language Teacher, 36 4 , Norton, B. Non-participation, imagined communities and the language classroom. Breen Ed. Harlow: Pearson Education. Pavlenko, A. Imagined communities, identity, and English language learning. Davison Eds. New York: Springer.

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