Motivational Changes in an English Foreign Language Online Reading Context

Article excerpt

Motivation theories are among the most important aspects of psychology and language education (Guilloteaux & Dornyei, 2008). Motivation is the primary source of stimulus to initiate second language learning and serves as the driving force to sustain students' interest in learning (Dornyei & Skehan, 2003). Without sufficient motivation, good teaching and curriculum planning cannot ensure successful learning. Students need to be continuously motivated during the long and laborious language learning process (Grabe, 2009). It has been demonstrated in extensive research on first language (L1) reading motivation that how much students read and how well they comprehend the text can be predicted by the intrinsic and extrinsic dimensions of motivation (Gottfried, 1990; Guthrie, Wigfield, Metsala, & Cox, 1999; Wang & Guthrie, 2004).

Motivation in second language (L2) contexts has been shown to follow a different path, and few researchers have addressed its connection to reading comprehension (Grabe, 2009). Until the 1990s, motivation for L2 learning was dominated by Gardner's (2002) integrative and instrumental motivation model. It was not until the early 1990s that there was an emergence of a wider range of motivation research (Dornyei & Skehan, 2003), and it was found that students with different language profiles had different learning motivations. For example, English foreign language (EFL) and English as a second language (ESL) students may be more influenced by academic and classroom factors that include a focus on goals, self-efficacy, and interest (Grabe, 2009; Ushioda, 2001).

Researchers' focus in empirical studies of L2 reading motivation has been on developing instruments to explore learners' motivation. Mori (2002) developed an L2 reading motivation questionnaire based on Wigfield and Guthrie's (1997) Motivations for Reading Questionnaire (MRQ). They tested 447 Japanese learners of English, and found four factors influencing motivation: the intrinsic value of reading, the extrinsic utility or value of reading, the importance of reading, and reading efficacy. Takase (2007) investigated the motivational effects of extensive reading among 219 high school EFL students in Japan. Results showed that the amount of L2 reading was predicted by L1 and L2 motivation. Apple (2005) surveyed 85 Japanese university learners' motivational changes after a 3-month extensive reading program. Results showed that students did not seem to improve due to the relatively short timeframe and the difficulty of ascertaining increased motivation among students whose motivation was initially high.

Individual differences have also been found to play a role in L2 motivation. Researchers have found that females were more motivated than males to learn languages (Carreira, 2011; Mori & Gabel, 2006; Sung & Padilla, 1998). Carreira investigated 268 EFL Japanese sixth graders' motivations for learning English and found a significant effect on intrinsic motivation for learning EFL, on interest in foreign countries, and on instrumental motivation, with girls having higher scores than boys. Sung and Padilla investigated 591 American students in Asian language programs and found that female students had more motivation to study a foreign language than male students did. Mori and Gabel investigated 453 second-year non-English majors' motivations in four dimensions: integrativeness, intrinsic value, negative value, and attainment value. Results showed that females had significantly higher scores in integrativeness than male students did. As for language proficiencies, Lau and Chan (2003) investigated 159 Hong Kong students' Chinese reading comprehension and demonstrated that good and poor readers had different strategy uses and reading motivations, with poor readers' motivations to read being very low. The pedagogical implications of these studies are that poor readers will be helped by reading programs with strategy training and teaching materials to enhance motivation. …