Student Teachers' Evaluation of the Motivational Strategies Used in Foreign Language Teaching

Article excerpt

How much importance is attached to motivational strategies in foreign language teaching by student teachers and the extent to which instructors use them in their courses was investigated. The study was performed with 179 student teachers attending the English Language Teaching Department of Mugla University, Turkey. The findings revealed that these student teachers thought motivational strategies were very important for learning a foreign language, and that their instructors use some of these strategies but did not use other strategies considered to be important by the student teachers. Interviews showed that students thought studying the cultural values of the target language facilitates fluent use of that language and assists retention.

Keywords: foreign language teaching, motivation, motivational strategies, teacher education, learner autonomy, Motivational Strategies Scale.

Motivation is one of the most important factors required for effective foreign language teaching (L2). In many studies it has been demonstrated that there is an important relationship between motivation and language learning achievement (Clement, Dörnyei, & Noels, 1994; Guilloteaux & Dörnyei, 2007; Oxford, 1994; Sprinthall, Sprinthall, & Oja, 1994). According to Brown (2001), motivation determines the goals that one wants to achieve and how much effort one expends to achieve these goals. That is, motivation is an internal drive, stimulating power, wish, or desire. Dörnyei and Otto (1998) define motivation as a state of arousal determining the priority of the wishes and desires of an individual and negatively or positively affecting his/her learning. Motivation can be construed as a state of cognitive and emotional arousal, which leads to a conscious decision to act, and which gives rise to a period of sustained intellectual andi or physical effort in order to attain a previously set goal (or goals) (Williams & Burden, 1997). According to Keller (1983), motivation refers to the choices people make as to what experiences or goals they will approach or avoid, and the degree of effort they will exert in that respect. An individual's motivational tendency is directly related to his/her opinions, beliefs, and judgments about objects, events, and subject areas (Boekaerts, 2002). Consequently, the term motivation has been used as "a general cover term - a dustbin - to include a number of possibly distinct concepts, each of which may have different origins and different effects and require different classroom treatment" (McDonough, 1981, p. 143).


Motivation in L2 learning does not only mean having a desire to start learning L2 but also includes willingness to make the required effort. Therefore, motivation in L2 is directly connected with how much effort the learner and teacher are willing to contribute. Motivation in foreign language teaching has an affective dimension. Affective learning cannot take the form of information transfer; students cannot learn emotions by studying. Emotions usually emerge as a result of success or failure (Ramizowski, 1981, cited in Erden & Akman, 1995). The readiness level of the student is an important factor in learning a foreign language. There are important differences between a motivated and an unmotivated student learning a foreign language. Factors such as interest and paying attention, making an effort, willingness to spend the required time, not giving up when challenges appear, strong willpower to reach the goal, being determined, and using strategies to achieve the goal are important in motivation (Dörnyei, 200Ib). A sufficient level of motivation may lead a person to believe that he/she can get over the difficulties and be successful despite the challenges. According to Tagaki (2005), factors such as ability to use L2, meeting personal expectations during in-class interactions, activities suited to the level of the student, and experiencing success in positive motivation in language learning. …