Why Learn English? Cape Verdeans’ First Year Undergraduate Students’ Motivation

Academic Paper, 2016

29 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents

The Researcher
Statement of the Problem

Literature Review

Sample population
Plan for data analysis




Appendix I- Motivation to Learn English Questionnaire
Appendix II- Interview Questions to Students


The Researcher

I am a Capeverdean English professor, and currently I am pursuing a Doctorate in Education. I completed my Master degree in Education on May 2014 at Bridgewater State University in the United States of America, which makes me a teacher with a an excellent education background.

I am currently working on my Doctorate degree at Atlantic International University not only because I want to achieve career advancements but also because I am fascinated by the English language. Throughout my learning experience with the English language, I had amazing teachers who made me become passionate about this language as well as influencing me to want to teach it to students myself. I believe that some teachers may not be aware of the power they have and the difference one can make in a student’s life.

As a teacher, I understand that my job is not only to teach English to my students but also to teach them important qualities and values, because by interacting with them I have the responsibility to influence their thoughts, even their future goals. With that thought in mind, I have committed myself to achieving the following professional goals: getting to know my students and their interests, showing them the importance and advantages of learning a foreign language, and helping them pave their way for a successful future.

Knowing my students’ backgrounds and interests is very important to allow me to make the learning process more enjoyable and effective for them. For example, using songs, games, and other fun activities to teach grammar, and help students engage in class. Also, it is crucial that my students learn the importance and benefits of knowing a foreign language. For example, if my students are interested in travelling, once they understand that English is spoken all over the world, it becomes easier to engage them in class. That is also an example of using my knowledge of the students to facilitate the learning process.

Furthermore, I believe that students are the ones to make the world in the future a better place. However, having a successful future requires planning and defining goals. Just like the teachers who positively influenced my future, I want to be able to influence the future of my students by teaching them qualities like respect and responsibility.

Statement of the Problem

The term “Motivation” is currently one of the terms most used by educators and other responsible for education and it is also an issue that has been discussed by many authors in many fields of study regarding foreign language learning, owing to its powerful influence to students’ behavior and performance.

Therefore, this research project has as its aim to identify what motivates the 1st year Undergraduate students from a public University located at the center of Mindelo City in Cape Verde to learn English as a foreign language. Furthermore, this paper will also address what is the particular influence of Mindelo tourism in the students’ motivation and if the motivations presented contribute with their learning outcomes in English language. As a Professor I understand how relevant is motivation in the classrooms, and I believe that knowing how to motivate students is one of the most important skills a teacher should have. Therefore, my research project will be conducted to survey the 1st year undergraduate students in the first semester more precisely in the academic year 2016. The purpose is to find the answers for the following questions: 1) What is the first year undergraduate students’ motivation to learn English as a foreign language? 2) What is the role of Mindelo’s tourism in their motivation? 3) Does their motivation contribute to increase their performance in the English language?


Literature Review

This section of the paper will provide diverse views and studies about motivation in the classroom, and it will analyze previous research on motivational issues while learning a foreign language. With the purpose to verify how motivation is presented in the English Language learning process it is relevant to understand better what motivation is. All of the studies discussed below are peer-reviewed.

According to Maclellan, “Motivation is a psychological construct and is not synonymous with the actual behaviors involved in a specific activity.” (Hufton, Elliott and Illushin 2002, cited by Maclellan, 2008). In his case study entitled The Significance of Motivation in Student-Centred Learning: A Reflective Case Study, Maclellan’s goal was to understand to which extent student-centered learning influences students’ motivation. The sample used consisted of final year undergraduate student-teachers from a Scottish University. Maclellan’s methods were divided into 2 parts.

The first part of the methodology consisted of the creation of an analytic framework taking into consideration that the learning process takes places in a “cycle of episodes”: first there is a determination of a certain learning task, then students are expected to work on the assigned task, and finally their completion of the task determines a feedback from the teacher. These 3 stages were used to provide a framework in which the used data was categorized. Furthermore, two hundred segments of text that contain a piece of information (units) were extracted from a large bank of recording data. Approximately 60-75 units were randomly assigned to each of the task episodes of the learning cycle. The second part of the method consisted of theoretically analyze the units taking into consideration that each of the episodes themselves allow for a variation in determining the efficacy of student-centered or tutor-centered learning.

The results of the study were also categorized into the 3 different episodes, task determination, task continuation, and task completion. It was found that most participants believed that task determination was exclusively the teacher’s job, while a minority believed that students have a role in deciding their tasks. In the matter of task continuation, the majority of participants viewed the learning process as a group of tasks that have to be endured, while the minority viewed the learning process as an “open-ended” activity. Task completion was viewed by the majority as a “time-ordered” evaluation determinant which was controlled by the teacher, while the minority viewed the same concept as “an opportunity to reflect on process and achievement” Maccallen, 2008. After analyzing the findings, in which the majority of views pointed to teacher-centered approach, Maccallen proposed that teachers allow and require students to be more active in the classroom as to increase their motivation level and help them become less dependable on the teachers. This study proves to be an asset in dealing with teacher-centered and student-centered learning approaches, however, the findings cannot be generalized because they apply to a specific group of people, which the number was not supplied in the study. The possibility exists that if the same study is conducted with a different group of people in a different country, the findings would not be the same. The educational system of each country is different, and therefore views of the learning process are most likely to vary depending on the teaching culture.

According to Rueda & Chan (2005), motivation is a key factor in acquiring language proficiency when learning a foreign language. In their study entitled Assessing Motivational Factors in Foreign Language Learning: Cultural Variations and Key Contracts, they discuss the role of motivation in the success of language learning, as well as current motivational theories of foreign and second language learning. The purpose of this study was to find out to which extent current motivation frameworks are effective in relation to different cultural groups learning a foreign language, and also to provide a better understanding of the motivation factors that influence Asian and non-Asian heritage students’ learning behavior. Even though this study focuses more on Chinese learning, I believe it enriches my research since it addresses motivation, which is a topic that is general to every learning context. The authors also referred to the Gardner and Lambert’s hypothesis of two motivational theories: integrative and instrumental (Gardner & Lambert, cited by Rueda & Chan, 2005). The integrative theory applies to language learners that are searching for acceptance in the community where the language is spoken and are interested in learning their culture. On the other hand, the instrumental theory applies to language learners that expect to use the language skills for their own benefits and are usually not interested in learning the culture of the people who speak the language (Gardner & Lambert, cited by Rueda & Chan, 2005). For instance Cape Verdean students that arrive in the United States fall more into the integrative theory. They have to learn English to be able to communicate and to understand American culture. On the other hand, Cape-Verdean students that are learning English in Cape Verde because the subject makes part of the curriculum may fall more into the instrumental theory. They are learning English because the ability to speak the language will be helpful in their professional career.

Rueda and Chan’s study consisted of a very simple methodology. The participants of this study included college students from community colleges, state universities as well as private universities in southern California, and they were divided into two groups: 116 from Asian heritage and 34 non-Again heritage. All participants were asked to provide background information and to complete 2 questionnaires (one about participants motivation, self-efficacy, effort and belief about task-value, and the second was intended to gather information on students’ learning outcomes) using a 7-point Likert scale, with 1-strongly disagree and 7-strongly agree. The authors went on to provide a detailed description of the questionnaires, with number of questions, and the source from which questions were adopted. As a result, this study found seven main motivational factors: instrumentality, intrinsic motivation, passivity toward requirements, task value, and belief about effort, self-efficacy and effort devoted to Chinese learning language. The findings also show the diversity of Asian population, and that people are often mistaken when they tend to generalized the Asian population. This study only confirms what several researchers have already found on the topic, which shows its reliability concerning the possibility to replicate the study.

Hayenga and Corpus (2010) refer to intrinsic motivation as the act of “engaging in a task for its own inherent rewards whereas extrinsic motivation refers to engaging in a task in order to attain some separable outcome…”. In their study entitled Profiles of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: A person-centered approach to motivation and achievement in middle school, they aim to identify and evaluate combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation that occur naturally. In their article, these two authors discussed the academic consequences of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and posed the question to whether having high levels of both motivation types is good for the students, or if it has negative outcomes. They also discussed the possibility of these 2 types of motivation being mutually exclusive, meaning that, for example, a student high in intrinsic motivation is automatically low in extrinsic. However, they also mention in their study that other researchers have conducted studies that show that these two types of motivation can “coexist and perhaps even work together to motivate task engagement (Harter 1981; Gillet et al. 2009; Lepper et al. 2005; Ryan et al. 1995, cited by Hayenga & Corpus 2010). For example, a student is motivated to learn a foreign language because she is passionate about languages and it brings her satisfaction, happiness and pride to be able to speak that particular language. At the same time, the same student is motivated to learn that particular language because she wants to reach a particular outcome with it. This particular outcome can be either the fact that she will use the knowledge of the foreign language to achieve a professional goal.

In conducting the study itself, Hayenga and Corpus used 388 6th 7th and 8th graders from a public middle school in Portland, Oregon. The methodology consisted of administration of surveys in which participants answered intrinsic (addressing students’ curiosity-driven engagement, preference for challenging work, and ability to master materials independently) and extrinsic motivation (addressing students’ focus on pleasing authority figures, preference for easy schoolwork and dependability on the teacher) questions. They used a five-point Likert scale with answers ranging from 1-not like me at all, and 5-exactly like me. Through a detailed analysis of the data, Hayenga and Corpus arrived at the conclusion that academic achievement is positively related to intrinsic motivation whereas negatively related to extrinsic motivation. Surprisingly the authors also found that high levels of intrinsic motivation were not sufficient for good performance. Levels of extrinsic motivation also needed to be present for students to achieve success.

Furthermore, Meiai and Xuequan (2012), in their study named Leisure Motivation: An Integrative Review also discussed the concepts of integrative and instrumental motivation, as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation . This study focused on the study of leisure motivation which also relates to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Meiai and Xeuquan defined leisure motivation as any reason that stimulates the participation in certain leisure activities (2012). Even though this article does not consist of any primary study, it provides with a review of leisure motivation that I consider important to my study. Leisure motivation is a broader topic which does not necessarily have to be related to school. It is the will to do something that you enjoy during leisure time, as the name suggests. However, some students may view studying as a leisure activity. They read or write because they have fun while doing so, and that is their leisure time.

In their study “Why are you learning a second language? Motivational orientations and self-determination theory”Noels, Pelletier, Clément, & Vallerand (2003) went deeper in the two concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. This study was conducted in a French-English bilingual university, with a sample of 159 participants who were English speakers learning French as a second language. Questionnaires were applied and Instrumental, Friendship, Travel, and Knowledge scales were used; as well as scales designed to assess amotivation, intrinsic motivation, and extrinsic motivation levels. Also they used scales to measure antecedents and consequences of self-determination. They related these two terms to “self-determination”, and they also introduced the concept of “amotivation” which “refers to the situation in which people see no relation between their actions and the consequences of those actions; the consequences are seen as arising as a result of factors beyond their control” (Noels, Pelletier, Clément, & Vallerand, 2003). Amotivation is an interesting concept as it is the total opposite of motivation. In my point of view, it characterizes someone that is being forced to do something that they do not enjoy.


Excerpt out of 29 pages


Why Learn English? Cape Verdeans’ First Year Undergraduate Students’ Motivation
( Atlantic International University )
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
learn, english, cape, verdeans’, first, year, undergraduate, students’, motivation
Quote paper
Ernania Fortes (Author), 2016, Why Learn English? Cape Verdeans’ First Year Undergraduate Students’ Motivation, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/495197


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Why Learn English? Cape Verdeans’ First Year Undergraduate Students’ Motivation

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free