ET990-2 Second Language Acquisition and Classroom Language Learning Student I/D: 1163612 1
There has been a paradigm shift in motivation research in respect of second language acquisition (SLA) over the last twenty years. In the early 1990s, there was a sense that the social-psychological tradition, which framed methods of enquiry, had run its course and that alternative perspectives were needed to revitalise and refocus the L2 motivation field (
(Dörnyei and Ushioda, 2011:46).
There was a subsequent phase, the cognitive-situated period, drawing on cognitive theories from educational psychology. Out of this came a process-oriented approach, focusing on changes in individual involvement over time. This, in turn, has evolved into (or perhaps merged with) a new socio-dynamic phase
(Dörnyei and Ushioda, 2011:69).
I will discuss several key empirical studies into L2 motivation, roughly arranged in order of whether they take a quantitative, qualitative or
approach. It must, however, be noted that despite the obvious distinctions
the preference to view these on a continuum
, they have ideological differences, a contrast in categorization and a contrast in the perception of individual diversity which permeates the methodology used. I will follow this with my own commentary, the implications which can be drawn for my own research and in what ways I have reflected about SLA in the last few months.
Quantitative social research grew out of the d
esire to emulate the ‘objective’ procedures found in
the natural sciences.
The use of measurable, statistically based evidence, ‘a priori categorization’,
variables rather than cases, and standardized procedures seeks to eradicate researcher subjectivity. It is systematic and rigorous, and uses in-built cross-checking indices
Language learners’ attitudes and motivation have traditionally been measured by means of
quantitative methods, typically using large-scale questionnaire surveys, to account for the attitudes of whole speech communities. Most empirical research up until the 1990s was dominated by a social-psychological approach initiated in bilingual Canada by Robert Gardner, Wallace Lambert and Richard Clément. This is understandable, according to Dörnyei
since learning the language of another community simply cannot be separated from the
learners’ social dispositions towards the speech community in question … the ‘students’ attitudes
towards the specific language group are bound to influence how successful they will be in incorporating aspects of that language (Gardner, 1985, in Dörnyei, 1998:122).