Motivation has been consistently regarded as a critical determinant of language learning and achievement (e.g., Dornyei, 1994; Gardner, 1985; Gardner & Lambert, 1972) and FL motivation research has also been a productive field of study within L2 research (Dornyei, 2005). SLA researchers generally agree that motivation directly influences the frequency of students’ using L2 learning strategies, the input that the students can receive in the language they are learning, the achievement in academic learning, the efforts students devote to the language learning, persistence in the language learning tasks, and students’ interaction with native speakers (Oxford & Shearin, 1994). Inevitable links between motivation and learner autonomy have also been found in the field of L2 learning (Dickinson, 1995; Spratt et al., 2002; Ushioda, 2001).
Conceptualization of L2 Motivation
As maintained by Dornyei, “motivation is one of the most elusive concepts in applied linguistics and indeed in educational psychology in general” (Dornyei, 1999, p.525). The concept of motivation is complex and it is difficult to conceptualize. Although numerous definitions of motivation have been proposed, there is little agreement in the literature with regard to the exact meaning of this concept (Dornyei, 1998). For instance, Gardner (1985) sees motivation in the context of language learning as the combination of effort plus desire to achieve the goal of learning the language plus favorable attitudes toward learning the language. Crookes and Schmidt wrote “teachers would describe a student as motivated if he or she becomes productively engaged in learning tasks, and sustains that engagement, without the need for continual encouragement or direction” (Crookes & Schmidt, 1991, p.480). Brown (1994, p.34) gave the definition of motivation as “the extent to which you make choices about (a) a goal to pursue and (b) the effort you will devote to the pursuit.” More recently, motivation is “a process whereby a certain amount of instigation force arises, initiates action, and persists as long as no other force comes into play to weaken it and thereby terminate action, or until the planned outcome has been reached” (Dornyei, 1998, p.118). We can see that, in spite of the conceptual differences, most researchers agree that motivation is related to a person’s choice of a particular action, persistence with it, and effort expended on it. Manolopoulou-Sergi (2004) also pointed out that (a) motivation is a process, (b) it involves goals that individuals have in mind and try to attain (or avoid), (c) it requires activity on the part of the individuals, the activities that students engage in are geared toward attaining their goal, and (d) motivated activity is both instigated and sustained.