Motivation and Foreign Language Teaching - Strategies for Motivation

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2003

23 Pages, Grade: 1,3



1 Introduction

2 Motivation
2.1 Definition
2.2 Intrinsic motivation
2.3 Extrinsic motivation
2.4 Integrative motivation
2.5 Instrumental motivation
2.6 What sort of motivation is good for L2 learning?

3 Specific motivation strategies
3.1 Purposes
3.2 Advantages
3.3 Student needs
3.4 Teaching as the catalyst for learning
3.4.1 Teacher as Artist
3.4.2 Teacher as Technician
3.4.3 Teacher as Role Model
3.5 Relevance of learning
3.6 Creating interest
3.7 Feedback

4 Motivation in the second language classroom
4.1 Applying motivation strategies

5 Conclusion

6 Works cited

1 Introduction

The assumption that motivation and learning are directly connected to each other is supported by teachers, researchers and psychologists for a long period of time. They have pointed out that motivation can be regarded as the key issue in language learning processes, thus student motivation must be preserved, elaborated or even heightened. But how can this goal be reached by teachers or other instructors? In order to achieve this lofty mission, teachers and instructors have to make use of specific strategies for motivation. These strategies must be closely connected to the students’ lives and it has to be in the nature of these strategies to support the students in their learning process.

Learning usually takes place in a classroom atmosphere, thus motivation has to be involved in this environment to guarantee learning effiency.

This paper will give an overview about what different kinds of motivations are involved in the learning process and in second language learning in particular. Addionally it should give the reader an idea why motivation is so essential for learning processes. Further more it will take a critical look at what strategies for motivation teachers and other instructors can make use of in order to provide a successful learning environment. In the end it should be obvious how far the teacher can positively influence language learning processes, in particular second language acquisition processes.

2 Motivation

2.1 Definition

Motivation, or more specifically human motivation, can be defined as “an inner state of need or desire that activates an individual to do something that will satisfy that need or desire.” Motivation refers to a desire or need internal to the individual, thus it is not possible for others to actually motivate an individual but others “must manipulate environmental variables that may result in an increase or decrease of motivation”[1].

Basically every individual is motivated to do at least something, but this motivation is not necessarly directed to learn, at least not to learn for school. When it comes to learning processes one has to differentiate between various kinds of motivation that lead to a positive learning effect. As mentioned above, motivation has to come from the learner or student themself in the first place. If he is not able to motivate himself, the teacher has to “manipulate” the student in that way, that he is motivated to learn. The difference and importance of these and other types of motivation for learning and second language acquisition will be explained in the following in detail.

2.2 Intrinsic motivation

Tracing the word “intrinsic” down to its roots, it means “innate” or “within”, thus intrinsic motivation originates in the individual itself. Concerning learning it can be said that the drive or stimulation to learn comes from within the student, hence the teacher or instructor does not have to ‘manipulate’ the student in any way in order to make him learn. It is an inner desire of the student to fulfill a positive learning outcome.

Intrinsic motivation itself is goal related, therefore it is independent from any kind of external value. The goal can be defined as the desire to accomplish an understanding for any circumstances, which originates from ones own curiosity. It follows from this assumption that intrinsic motivators have a long-term effect and constancy, because oneself is directly involved in the process of motivating. Whatever derives from ones own motivation is more likely to be remembered than anything else. This makes intrinsic motivation a very effective means for learning processes. “Once an individual identifies the activity necessary to achieve the goal, it remains constant”[2].

Intrinsic motivation is a key issue when it comes to learning processes. When teachers talk about motivated students, they mostly talk about students who act out of an intrinsic motivation. But if every student would be intrinsically motivated the teachers would not have the problem of motivation. Therefore there have to be other types of motivations involved in the classroom environment.

2.3 Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation can be regarded as the opposite of intrinsic motivation. Whereas intrinsic motivation is closely goal related, extrinsic motivation has little relationship to a goal or better the goal is a different one than with the intrinsic motivation. As explained above, the goal connected with intrinsic motivation is a positive learning effect that lasts a long time, but the goal of an extrinsic motivated student is completely different. “When individuals are extrinsically motivated, they hold some desired outcome as a goal (e.g., getting a good grade or avoiding punishment), they recognize that a certain way of behaving is an expedient means to that goal, and they make plans to modify their behaviour in such a manner that they are likely to experience the desired outcome”[3]. Extrinsic motivated students “are motivated by an outcome that is external or functionally unrelated to the activity in which they are engaged”[4]. The encouragement derives from an outside force and thus stands in sharp contrast to the idea of intrinsic motivation, where the student himself is the driving force. Whatever is performed is based on the expectance of an outside reward. If we talk about the manipulation to motivate somebody, this manipulation would equal an extrinsic motivation, because “extrinsic rewards can be abused to bribe or coerce someone into doing something that they would not do on their own”[5].

Keeping in mind the idea of extrinsic motivation, it is self-evident that extrinsic motivation does not lead to permanent changes, because learning out of an extrinsic motivation only leads to a short term memory, which might serve the purpose to pass an exam, but does not lead to a positive and lasting long term learning effect. It is important to mention that the change of behaviour the individuals go through is not an innate desire but an a result of an external or extrinsic reward and the change in behaviour is not a permanent one.

Extrinsic motivation is of course effective just as intrinsic motivation, but the difference lies in the degree of effectiveness. The key determination for the effectiveness of either intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, is the duration of whatever is learned and this period is much longer when it comes to intrinsic motivation. Thus extrinsic motivation can be productive for learning but it is questionable in how far extrinsic motivation leads to the desired long term effect of learning.

The following types of motivation are somewhat closer related to second language learning and second language teaching. One differentiates between “integrative” and “instrumental” motivation. The reasons why this differentiation is made will be closer examined in the following.

2.4 Integrative motivation

As mentioned above there are two types of motivation that will be analized for their special relevance for second language learning. The question arises why there is a need to learn a second language if there is already a language given to oneself that enables him to communicate? This is when integrative and instrumental motivation become important.

When it comes to the acquisition of ones first language motivation is not really an issue, because this motivation can not really be judged in terms of good or bad motivation. Students who are supposed to learn a second language could argue the need for doing this, because they do not necessarily need the second language, while their first language already formed their social and mental life, thus the learning of an additional language could be regarded superfluous.

In order to reach the goal of a successful second language teaching, the teacher has to generate a certain interest within his students that make them want to be involved in classroom activity.

Integrative motivation describes and “reflects whether the students identifies with the target culture and people, in some sense, or rejects them”[6].

The idea of integrative motivation develops the assumption that the more that a student admires the target culture, the more successful the student will be in the second language classroom (in the following L2 classroom). The learning of a second language enables the students to participate more freely in the activities of other cultural groups, this idea formulates the ultimate goal of second language learning. There is an universal purpose of learning languages, that is the ability to communicate with people from other cultures. Characteristic for this kind of motivation is the urge on behalf of the teacher. It is on him to integratively motivate his student. The teacher has to point out this ultimate chance of second language learning, but it the decision of the students if they accept and realize this opportunity second language learning offers to them.

2.5 Instrumental motivation

The idea of instrumental motivation sets itself apart from the idea of integrative motivation. “Instrumental motivation means learning the language for an ulterior motive unrelated to its use by native speakers- to pass an examination, to get a certain kind of job, and so on”[7] ; hence instrumental motivation stands in sharp contrast to integrative motivation because instrumental motivation is not related to a specific culture or people from a specific culture whatsoever. Culture is the leitmotif when we talk about either integrative or instrumental motivation. If the teacher tries to instrumentally motivate his students he has to ask himself the question why his students should learn a second language. According to the idea of instrumental motivation, the teacher has to point out to his students that “studying a foreign language can be important for [them] because it will someday be useful in getting a good job”[8].




[3] Spaulding, Cheryl L. Motivation in the Classroom. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1992. pg 5-6

[4] Spaulding, Cheryl L. Motivation in the Classroom. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1992.p.4


[6] Cook, Vivian. Second Language Learning and Language Teaching. 2nd ed. London: Arnold, 1996,p.97

[7] Cook, Vivian. Second Language Learning and Language Teaching. 2nd ed. London: Arnold, 1996,p.97

[8] Cook, Vivian. Second Language Learning and Language Teaching. 2nd ed. London: Arnold, 1996,p.97

Excerpt out of 23 pages


Motivation and Foreign Language Teaching - Strategies for Motivation
University of Paderborn
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ISBN (eBook)
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Motivation, Foreign, Language, Teaching, Strategies, Motivation
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Sven Kost (Author), 2003, Motivation and Foreign Language Teaching - Strategies for Motivation, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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