Motivation and demotivation in second language learning at Australian universities
AffiliationSchool of Languages and Linguistics
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2020 Giuseppe D'Orazzi
This research aims to identify the main factors underlying the motivation and demotivation of beginner students learning French, German, Italian and Spanish at Australian universities considering the context in which L2 learners are embedded. The theoretical basis for this research project is provided by previous studies on motivation and demotivation as listed by Dornyei (2001b; 2020b). The analysis of psychological/internal, pedagogical and socio-contextual/external variables involved in L2 learning (for an overview see Dornyei & Ushioda, 2011; Ushioda, 2020) is structured into three levels: micro, meso and macro (cf. Gayton, 2018; Gruba et al., 2016). The three levels correspond to three factors which emerged from a principal components analysis: the Psychology of the Language Learner (PLL), the Learning Experience (LE) and the Socio-cultural Environment (SCE). The continuous interaction of L2 learners with dynamics of power, trends and social fashions within the society (Larsen-Freeman, 2001) where they actively construct their own identities (Norton, 2013) aligns with mainstream poststructuralist views of learning processes (McNamara, 2011). Mixed methods design was utilised to explore students’ motivation and demotivation over two semesters. A questionnaire (cf. Oakes, 2013; Sakai & Kikuchi, 2009; Kikuchi, 2015) was completed by 719 students enrolled in a number of Australian universities in April/May 2018. 206 students out of the 719 students who participated in the first phase of the data collection then completed a second questionnaire in September 2018. A small group of students enrolled at the University of Melbourne were interviewed after the end of the first (June 2018) and the second semesters (October/November 2018). Both quantitative and qualitative data analysis support the idea that all three factors at the three levels of analysis play a crucial role in student motivation and demotivation. Changes in motivation and demotivation were also observed during a year of L2 studies at university. Psychological and pedagogical reactions to the L2 learning process are deemed increasingly important for students over time, while the socio-cultural environment affects students’ interest in learning an L2 depending on their personal experience of an L2 in a specific context. Differences across the four L2 cohorts were also identified and explored.
KeywordsSecond language learning motivation; Second language learning demotivation; Australian universities; Three-level model of analysis; French, German, Italian ad Spanish Studies; Sociocultural theory; Multilingualism; Monolingualism
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