When Learning English is Compulsory at School:

Maryam Azarnoosh


Research findings highlight the role of motivation in the long-term process of learning a second/foreign language. One’s motivation can change even in a short period of time under the influence of multifarious factors. To enrich our understanding of the attitudinal/motivational basis of foreign language learning this study attempts to investigate L2 motivational fluctuation, and the possibility of predicting EFL learners’ motivated learning behavior in light of Dörnyei’s (2005, 2009) theory of L2 motivational self system. To this end, 1670 junior high and high school students studying English as a compulsory subject in Iran filled out L2 motivational self system questionnaire. Independent samples t-test and regression analyses were applied; and the findings indicated a higher motivational disposition for junior high school students in comparison to high school students, except for their attitudes towards L2 community. For both groups, attitudes towards L2 learning was the best predictor of students motivated learning behavior.



L2 Motivational Self System, Motivation, Ideal L2 Self, Ought-L2 Self, Attitudes towards L2 learning, Iran

Full Text:



Aliakbari, M. (2004).The Place of culture in the Iranian ELT textbooks in high school level. Paper presented at the 9th Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics Conference, Namseoul University, Korea. Retrieved 1 March 2012 from http://www.paaljapan.org/resources /proceedings/PAAL9/pdf/Aliakbari.pdf

Al Moghani, H. M. (2003). Students’ perceptions of motivation in English language learning in Libya.Durham theses, Durham University. Retrieved 2 January 2013 from http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/1745/

Al-Shehri, A.S. (2009). Motivation and vision: The relation between the ideal L2 self, imagination and visual style. In Z. Dörnyei& E. Ushioda.(Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp.164-171). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Arnett, J. J. (2002). The Psychology of globalization.American Psychologist, 57, 774-783.

Azarnoosh, M., (2011). Asibshenasi frayande yadgiri va yaddehi zaban inglisi va shenasai rahkarhaye kaheshe oft tahsili dar mghate rahnamai va motavaset eostan semnan [The pathology of the process of teaching and learning English and the identification of the means to decrease underachievement in junior high and high schools of Semnan province], Unpublished research project, Education Organization of Semnan, Semnan. (In Persian).

Azarnoosh, M., & Birjandi, P. (2012). Junior high school students’ L2 motivational self system: Any gender differences? World Applied Sciences Journal, 20 (4), 577-584, doi: 10.5829/idosi.wasj.2012.20. 04.2732.

Brophy, J. (2009). Connecting with the big picture.Educational Psychologist, 44 (2), 147-157.

Celce-Murcia, M. (2001).Teaching English as a second or foreign language (3rd ed.). Boston: Heinle&Heinle.

Chalak, A. & Kassaian, Z. (2010).Motivation and attitudes of Iranian undergraduate EFL students towards learning English. GEMA Online™ Journal of Language Studies, 10(2), 37-56.

Clément, R., Dörnyei, Z., & Noels, K.A., (1994). Motivation, self-confidence, and group cohesion in the foreign language classroom. Language Learning, 44, 417–448.

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Csizér, K., & Dörnyei, Z. (2005).The internal structure of language learning motivation and its relationship with language choice and learning effort.Modern Language Journal, 89(1),19-36.

Csizér, K., & Kormos, J. (2009). Learning experiences, selves and motivated learning behavior: A comparative analysis of structural models for Hungarian secondary and university learners of English. In Z. Dörnyei& E. Ushioda.(Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp.98-119).Clevdon: Multilingual Matters.

Csizér, K., & Lukács, G. (2010). The comparative analysis of motivation, attitudes and selves: The case of English and German in Hungary. System, 38, 1-13.

Dahmardeh, M. (2009). Communicative Textbooks: English Language Textbooks in Iranian Secondary School. Linguistik online, 40(4), 45-61.

Dastgheib, A. (1996). The role attitudes and motivation in second/foreign language learning.Unpublished PhD dissertation, Islamic Azad University, Science & Research Branch, Tehran, Iran.

Dörnyei, Z. (1990). Conceptualizing motivation in foreign-language learning.Language Learning, 40, 45–78.

Dörnyei, Z. (1994). Understanding second language motivation: On with the challenge! Modern Language Journal 79, 505-518.

Dörnyei, Z. (2000). Motivation in action: Toward a process-oriented conceptualization of student motivation. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, 519-538.

Dörnyei, Z. (2001). Motivational strategies in the language classroom.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The psychology of the language learner: individual differences in second language acquisition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics: Quantitative, qualitative and mixed methodologies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dörnyei, Z. (2009). The L2 motivational self system.In Z. Dörnyei& E. Ushioda.(Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp.9-42). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Dörnyei, Z. (2010). Researching motivation: From integrativeness to the ideal L2 self. In S. Hunston& D. Oakey. (Eds.), Introducing applied linguistics: Concepts and skills (pp. 74-83).London: Routledge.

Dörnyei, Z., & Csizér, K. (2002). Some dynamics of language attitudes and motivation: results of a longitudinal nationwide survey. Applied Linguistics, 23, 421-462.

Dörnyei, Z., Csizér, K., &Németh, N. (2006).Motivation, Language Attitudes and Globalisation: A Hungarian Perspective. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Dörnyei, Z., & Ottó, I. (1998). Motivation in action: a process model of L2 motivation. Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, 4. Thames Valley University, London.

Dörnyei, Z., & Ushioda, E. (Eds.) (2009a).Motivation, language identity and the L2 self.Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Dörnyei, Z., & Ushioda, E. (2009b). Motivation, language identities and the L2 self: Future research directions. In Z. Dörnyei,&E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self (pp.350-356).Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Dörnyei, Z., & Ushioda, E. (2011). Teaching and researching motivation (2nded.). Harlow: Pearson Education.

Elliott, J.G., Hufton, N.R., Willis, W., & Illushin, L. (2005). Motivation, engagement and educational performance: International perspectives on the contexts for learning.Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ellis, R. (2008). The study of second language acquisition (2nded.). Oxford: OUP.

Eslami, Z.R., & Fatahi, A. (2008). Teachers' sense of self-efficacy, English proficiency, and instructional strategies: A study of nonnative EFL teachers in Iran. TESL-EJ, 11(4),1-19.

Gardner, R.C. (1985). Social psychology and second language learning: The role of attitudes and motivation. London: Edward Arnold.

Gardner, R. C. (2001). Integrative motivation and second language acquisition.In Z. Dörnyei & R. Schmidt (Eds.), Motivation and second language acquisition (pp. 1–19). Technical Report 23, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i, Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center.

Ghenghesh, P. (2010). The motivation of l2 learners: Does it decrease with age? English Language Teaching, 3(1), 128-141.

Haddad Narafshan, M., & Yamini, M. (2011). Policy and English Language Teaching (ELT) in Iran. The Iranian EFL Journal, 7(5), 179-189.

Henry, A. (2009). Gender differences in compulsory school pupils’ L2 self-concepts: A longitudinal study. System, 37(2), 177-193.

Higgins, E.T. (1987). Self-discrepancy: A theory relating self and affect. Psychological Review, 94, 319-340.

Kheirabadi,R., & Alavi Moghaddam, S.B. (2014). New horizons in teaching English in Iran: A transition from reading-based methods to communicative ones by “English for School Series”. International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World, 5(4), 225-232.

Kiany, G. R., Mahdavy, B., &Ghafar Samar, R. (2012). Motivational changes of learners in a traditional context of English education: A case study of high school students in Iran. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning,2(1), 3-16.

Kim, T. (2009). The sociocultural interface between ideal self and ought-to self: A case study of two Korean students’ ESL motivation. In Z. Dörnyei & E. Ushioda.(Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp. 274-294).Clevdon: Multilingual Matters.

Kim, T.Y. (2010). Reductionism, activity theory, and L2 motivation research: Toward new concepts and definitions. The SNU Journal of Education Research, 19, 1-32. Retrieved on October 26, 2011 from: http://works.bepress.com/taeyoungkim/17

Kormos, J., & Csizér, K. (2008). Age-related differences in the motivation of learning English as a foreign language: Attitudes, selves, and motivated learning behavior. Language Learning, 58 (2), 327–355.

Lamb, M., (2007). The impact of school on EFL learning motivation: an Indonesian case study. TEOSL Quarterly, 41(4), 757-780.

Lamb, M. (2009). Situating the L2 self: Two Indonesian school learners of English. In Z. Dörnyei& E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp. 229-247). Clevdon: Multilingual Matters.

MacIntyre, P. D., Baker, S. C., Clément, R., & Donovan, L. A. (2002). Sex and age effects on willingness to communicate, anxiety, perceived competence, and L2 motivation among junior high school French immersion students. Language Learning, 52(3), 537-564.

MacIntyre, P. D., Clément, R., Dörnyei, Z., & Noels, K.A. (1998). Conceptualizing willingness to communicate in a L2: A situational model of L2 confidence and affiliation. Modern Language Journal, 82, 545–562.

Markus, H., &Nurius, P. (1986).Possible selves.American Psychologist, 41, 954-969.

Matsubara, K. (2006). Learning environments and their influences on learner motivation. In K. Bradford-Watts, C. Ikeguchi, & M. Swanson (Eds.) JALT2005 Conference Proceedings.Tokyo: JALT.

Moiinvaziri, M. (2007). Motivational orientation in English language learning: A study of Iranian undergraduate students. Retrieved on July 10, 2011 from: http://www.usingenglish.com/articles/motivational-orientation- in-english-language-learning.html

Nikolov, M. (1999). ‘Why do you learn English?’ ‘Because the teacher is short.’A study of Hungarian children’s foreign language learning motivation.Language Teaching Research, 3, 33–56.

Noels, K.A. (2001).New orientations in language learning motivation: Toward a contextual model of intrinsic, extrinsic, and integrative orientations and motivation. In Z. Dörnyei& R. Schmidt (Eds.), Motivation and secondlanguage acquisition (pp. 43–68). Honolulu: University of Hawaii, Second Language Teaching & Curriculum Center.

Noels, K.A. (2003). Learning Spanish as a second language: learners’ orientations and perceptions of their teachers’ communication style.In Z. Dörnyei& E. Ushioda.(Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp. 97-136). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Öhlund, A.(2007). Motivation and attitudes in English: A study based on student opinions in the compulsory and the non-compulsory school systems. Retrieved 2 January 2013 from http://dooku.miun.se/engelska/englishC /C-essay/HT07/Final/Ling/%C3%85sa_%C3%96hlund_CEssay_ Final_Version.pdf

Oyserman, D., & Markus, H. R.(1990).Possible selves in balance.Journal of Social Issues, 46(2), 141-157.

Papi, M. (2010) The L2 motivational self system, L2 anxiety, and motivated behavior: A structural equation modeling approach.System, 38, 467-479. doi:10.1016/j.system.2010.06.011.

Papi, M., & Abdollahzadeh, E.(2012). L2 teacher motivational practice, student motivation and possible L2 selves: An examination in the Iranian EFL context. Language Learning, 62(2), 571-594. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9922.2011.00632.x

Papi, M., & Teimouri, Y. (2012). Dynamics of selves and motivation: A cross-sectional study in the EFL context of Iran. International Journal of Applied Linguistics. 22(3), 287-309. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-4192.2012. 00312.x

Rahimi, M., Riazi, A., & Saif, S., (2008). An investigation into the factors affecting the use of language learning strategies by Persian EFL learners. RCLA • CJAL, 11(2), 31-60.

Ryan, S. (2009). Self and identity in L2 motivation in Japan: The ideal L2 self and Japanese learners of English. InZ. Dörnyei, &E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self(pp. 120-143). Multilingual Matters: Clevedon.

Segalowitz, N., Gatbonton, E., &Trofimovich, P. (2009). Links between ethnolinguistic affiliation, self-related motivation and second language fluency: Are they mediated by psycholinguistic variables? InZ. Dörnyei, &E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self(pp. 172-192). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Shedivy, S. L.(2004). Factors that lead some students to continue the study of foreign language past the usual 2 years in high school.System, 32, 103-119.

Shoaib, A., &Dörnyei, Z. (2005). Affect in life-long learning: Exploring L2 motivation in a dynamic process. In Benson P., Nunan, D. (Eds.), Learners’ stories: Difference and diversity in language learning. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 22-41.

Taguchi, T., Magid, M., & Papi, M. (2009). The L2 motivational self system amongst Chinese, Japanese, and Iranian learners of English: A comparative study. In Z. Dörnyei& E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp. 66-97). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Ushioda, E.(1996). Developing a dynamic concept of motivation.InT. J. Hickey (Ed.), Language, education and society in a changing world (pp. 239–245).Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Ushioda, E. (2001). Language learning at university: Exploring the role of motivational thinking. In Z. Dörnyei& E. Ushioda. (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp. 91-124). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Vaezi, Z. (2008). Language learning motivation among Iranian undergraduate students. WorldApplied Sciences Journal, 375(1), 54-61.

Waninge, F. (2010).The elusive motivation: The development of motivation in real time. Master’s thesis, University of Groningen.

Wigfield, A., & Wagner, A. L. (2005).Competence, motivation, and identity development during adolescence. In: Elliot, A. J., Dweck, C. S. (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation. The Guilford Press, New York, pp.222-240.

Williams, M., & Burden, L. R.(1997).Psychology for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Williams, M., Burden, R., & Lanvers, U. (2002). ‘French is the language of love and stuff’: Student perceptions of issues related to motivation in learning a foreign language. British Educational Research Journal, 28, 503-528.

Yang, J., & Kim, T. (2011).The L2Motivational Self System and Perceptual Learning Styles of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Swedish Students.English Teaching, 66(1), 141-162.

Yashima, T. (2009). International posture and the ideal L2 self in the Japanese EFL context. In Z. Dörnyei& E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp. 144- 163). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.3n.6p.102


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2020 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.