Home background and the L2 motivational self-system in a developing country context

There have been several significant innovations in the study of second language (L2) motivation over the past decade.

One has been recognition, in both new models and research endeavours, of the dynamic nature of language learning motivation and the importance of macro- and micro-contextual influences on individual learners’ motivation to study.

Another has been the use of new methods of research, notably ethnographies and interview studies which have brought fresh theoretical perspectives to bear on individual language learners’ motivation and which reflect the ‘social turn’ in the study of applied linguistics more generally.

A third major initiative has been the introduction of a ‘self’ perspective, notably in the work of Zoltan Dörnyei, which builds on and challenges the concept of integrative motivation in the influential socio-educational model of Robert Gardner.

This research was influenced by each of these developments. Primarily, it aimed to further our understanding of Dörnyei’s L2 Motivational Self-System model by testing its validity in new populations: among younger language learners (aged 13-14) than have hitherto been studied, and among learners in rural, urban and metropolitan school contexts.

It was hypothesised that both the age of the learners and their particular sociocultural milieu would influence their motivational disposition as described by the Self-System model. It also investigated the relationship of the model’s key constructs – the Ideal L2 Self and the Ought-to L2 Self (the L2 ‘self-guides’) – with the traditional social-psychological constructs of integrativeness and instrumentality.

Exploiting the results of the survey, an interview study then explored in more depth the development of L2 self-guides in the rural setting, such contexts being relatively neglected in the L2 motivation literature.

The research site was Indonesia, where the stark differences in town and country are in many ways typical of contemporary developing countries whose regions are differentially exposed to the forces of globalisation.

Project Publications

  • Lamb, M. (2012). A Self System Perspective on Young Adolescents’ Motivation to Learn English in Urban and Rural Settings. Language Learning, 62(4), 997-1023.
  • Lamb, M. (2013). ˜Your mum and dad can't teach you!': constraints on agency among rural learners of English in the developing world. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 34(1), 14-29.