Motivation as an element in second language acquisition and its effect on the Korean learner

Essay, 2011
11 Seiten, Note: B


Table of Contents


Gardner’s Socio Educational Model

Motivation and its role in language acquisition

Motivation and the Korean Learner

How can teachers in the Korean context make the language

learning process more motivational



Motivation as an Element in Second Language Acquisition and its Affect on the Korean Learner


Learners come into the language classroom with a vast array of differences that will effect their language acquisition, these differences determine their ability to acquire the target language. A major contributing factor is the amount of motivation that students have towards what they are learning. In Gardner’s Social Education Model which studied the effects of motivation and learner aptitude in the Language Classroom, motivation is defined as being “the learners orientation with regards to the goal of learning a second language” (Norris-Holt 2001). Gardner’s model identified two types of motivation: integral and instrumental, these different types of motivation will effect the individual learner in different ways and will in turn ultimately determine the success of acquisition.

This paper will review through Gardner’s Social Education model examining the different factors that can effect language acquisition; briefly look at motivation and its role within the language classroom; examine motivation within the Korean context and finally review through some possible suggestion that teachers could use to help motivate Korean students in regards to language learning.

Gardner’s Socio Educational Model

Gardner’s social model was designed to explain learning within a second language classroom. The model attempted to interrelate four aspects of second language learning (1) the social and cultural milieu (2) individual learner differences (3) the setting and (4) learning outcomes (Gardner 1979:193). The social cultural milieu can be defined as being the environment in which the individual learner is situated. This environment will determine their beliefs regarding the target language and the extent to which the learner wants to identify with the target culture (Ellis 2008) The second aspect which Gardner identified was the individual learners differences, according to the model the differences between learners will determine their learning behavior and the way they interact in the class. These learner differences include intelligence, language aptitude, motivation and situational anxiety (Giles and Coupland 1991). The third aspect that was identified was the setting or context in which the learning took place. In Gardner’s model two types of learning environment was identified a formal learning context and an informal learning context. It is believed that depending on the context in which the learning takes place differences between learners would be observed, with certain individuals doing better than others (Ellis 2008). The final aspect that was considered was the linguistic and non-linguistic out comes of the learning experience. The non-linguistic outcomes includes the learner’s attitude, self-concept, cultural values and beliefs, where as the linguistic outcomes are considered to be the individual’s second language proficiency (Ellis 2008).

Motivation and its role in Language Acquisition

Motivation plays an important role in language learning and provides the primary force that pushes an individual to learn a language. It is thought to be the driving force that maintains the long and often tedious process that is involved in second language acquisition (Dornyei 1998). Due to the nature of language learning the motivation required to learn a second language is multifaceted in nature. Gardner (1985:10) defines second language motivation as “the extent to which an individual works or strives to learn the language because of a desire to do so and the satisfaction experienced in this activity”.

Traditionally motivation was divided into two clear components, integrative motivation and instrumental motivation. Integrative motivation is based upon the learners genuine interest in learning a second language in order to become closer to the target culture. Individuals who demonstrate a low level of integrativeness would indicate no interest in learning the language in order to identify with the language community, where as those individuals who demonstrate a high level of integrativeness would show a considerable amount of interest in the target language community (Gardner 2001). In situations where a learner has become resident in a new community where the target language is spoken integrative motivation is a key component in assisting the learner to develop some kind of proficiency in the language. In such situations acquisition of the target language ensures that the learner would be able to function socially becoming a functional member of that community. In an EFL setting such as Korea the concept of integrativeness is not so apparent as the learner may never have the opportunity to fully integrate into the target community, therefore a more appropriate approach would be the desire for the individual to become bilingual, while at the same time becoming bi-cultural. Instrumental motivation on the other hand derives from a more utilitarian belief that learning a second language would provide the individual with some kind of positive benefit (Dulay, Burt and Krashen 1982). In Korea instrumental motivation seems to be the most dominant of the two with many students learning English as a means of passing exams (both at a tertiary and secondary level) and advancing their careers.

However the differences between these two motivations is sometimes not clear and in some learning environments it is difficult to distinguish between integrative and instrumental motivation. It is also important to note that motivation tends to be dynamic in nature and can vary through out the learning process (Lightbrown & Spada 2006). The dynamic nature of motivation can be seen in this example taken from Lightwood and Spada (2006): A secondary school learner from Poland is excited about an upcoming trip to Spain and decides to take a Spanish course. After a few months of grammar lessons he becomes frustrated with the course and stops going to the classes. A week after dropping out from the class a friend tells him about a great Spanish conversation course she has been taking, after listening to his friend talk about the course he suddenly becomes motivated to learn Spanish and signs up for the course that his friend recommended. After a few weeks he starts to develop some basic conversational skills and has a feeling of accomplishment. Due to this sense of accomplishment his feelings of satisfaction are so high that he decides to enroll in a more advanced Spanish course after he returns from his trip to Spain. As can be seen from this example the source and level of motivation can vary greatly through out the learning process and depending on the teaching environment, motivation at the time and satisfaction language acquisition will vary.

Motivation can also be positively influenced by external forces and if the language teacher is able to create a learning environment that is both interesting and relevant motivation can be improved. In order to promote motivation in the classroom teachers will need to create lessons that are appropriate to the learners age and level, create learning goals that are clear, achievable and challenging and provide an atmosphere that is supportive to the learners needs (Lightbrown & Spada 2006). Teachers that are in an EFL setting will need to be culturally aware, adapting material to be more localized and relevant. The teacher can also make students aware of the importance of language learning and the benefits that it will bring. For certain age groups and teaching situations it will also be possible to allow students to experience some of the target language’s culture in the form of cultural celebrations, or culturally themed events. By giving students an opportunity to be involved in the target culture they will see the relevance of their language education and how they will be able to utilize it in the real world.

On a more general level motivation can also be greatly affected by social factors. One such factor that affects the motivation of language learners is the power relationships that can be found between the learner’s mother tongue and the target language. For example members of a minority group trying to learn the language of a majority group may have a different level of motivation in comparison to those from the majority language trying to learn a minority language. (Lightbrown & Spada 2006). In an EFL setting like Korea where students receive only a limited amount of information about foreign countries and their cultures, learners tend to form opinions about foreigners based on the negative image portrayed by the media, this image has also affected the way that Koreans view the learning of foreign languages. Through its negative portrayal of foreign culture the media has managed to affect the attitude of Korean language learners causing them to feel that their own mother tongue is being watered down. With this kind of negative milieu towards learning foreign languages it comes as no surprise that for many Koreans learning a language comes with mixed feelings that in turn affects their overall motivation in the language classroom (Niederhauser 1997).

Motivation and the Korean Learner

Language learners come into the classroom with a range of motivations and Korean students are no exception. In most cases Korean English learners tend to demonstrate more of an instrumental motivation rather than an integrative motivation(de Guzman, Albela, Nieto, Ferrer & Santos 2006). Korean language learners express a belief that mastering the English language will allow them to reap financial and economic rewards as it is thought communicative competence in English will ensure that they can land a good job and perform better in the international arena (de Guzman, Albela, Nieto, Ferrer & Santos 2006). However Korean learners who exhibit a lower level of motivation are affected by a number of factors both internal and external. One such factor that has influenced the motivation of Korean language learners is prior learning experience. In most cases language learning within Korean schools has been taught through the traditional “Grammar- Translation Method”. This method has been highly favored by Korean teachers and consists of little more than memorizing rules and facts in order to understand and manipulate the morphology and syntax of the foreign language (Richards & Rodgers 2006). In such an approach students are bombarded by grammar rules and vocabulary lists (Richards & Rodgers 2006) with very little time being spent on relevant communicative activities. As a result students come away from the language classroom without understanding the practical application of the target language.


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Motivation as an element in second language acquisition and its effect on the Korean learner
University of Leicester
MA TESOL and Applied Linguistics
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
493 KB
Language classroom, Teaching Techniques, Motivation
Arbeit zitieren
Philip Elwell (Autor), 2011, Motivation as an element in second language acquisition and its effect on the Korean learner, München, GRIN Verlag,


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