The Interplay of Motivation and Demotivation: The Case of EFL Learners Majoring in English

Sultan Al-Sharief


Motivation is widely viewed as a key factor to language learning success. This study investigates motivation among English language majors who are unexpectedly considered by most of their teachers as generally not motivated. Using the model proposed by Deci & Ryan (1985), the study classifies a sample of English male and female majors (n=365) into various levels of motivation. The study further examines the possible demotivational factors that may negatively influence the subjects’ motivation. Overall, the findings suggest that the view that the studied sample lack motivation is not accurate. However, the responses to the demotivational factors questionnaire indicate some effective demotivating factors. This effect is particularly statistically significant in relation to the method of teaching. The study concludes by stressing the importance of integrating motivational strategies in any method of EFL classroom teaching even if the learners are expected to be genuinely motivated.



Motivation, Demotivation, Language learning

Full Text:



Al-Tamimi, A., & Shuib, M. (2009). Motivation and attitudes towards learning english: A study of petroleum engineering undergraduates at Hadhramout University of Sciences and Technology. GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies, 9(2), 29–55.

Crookes, G., & Schmidt, R. W. (1991). Motivation: Reopening the research agenda. Language Learning, 41(4), 469–512.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum Press.

Dörnyei, Z. (1998). Demotivation in foreign language learning. Presented at the TESOL ’98 Congress, Seattle, WA, March.

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

Dörnyei, Z. (2003). Attitudes, orientations, and motivations in language learning: Advances in theory, research, and applications. Language Learning, 53(S1), 3–32.

Dörnyei, Z., & Ottó, I. (1998). Motivation in action: A process model of L2 motivation. Working Papers in Applied Lingaistics (Thames Valley University, London), 4, 43–69.

Dörnyei, Z., & Ushioda, E. (2010). Teaching and researching motivation (2nd ed.). Harlow, England; New York: Longman/Pearson.

Falout, J., & Maruyama, M. (2004). A comparative study of proficiency and learner demotivation. The Language Teacher, 28(8), 3–10.

George, D., & Mallery, P. (2011). IBM SPSS Statistics 19 step by step: A simple guide and reference (12th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Ghaith, G., & Diab, H. (2008). Determinants of EFL achievement among Arab college-bound learners. Education, Business and Society Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues, 1(4), 278–286.

Green, C. F. (1999). Categorising motivational drives in second language acquisition. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 12(3), 265–279.

Keblawi, F. (2005). Demotivation among Arab learners of English as a foreign language (pp. 49–78). Presented at the Second International Online Conference on Second and Foreign Language Teaching and Research, United States: The Reading Matrix Inc.

Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Malcolm, D. (2003). Investigating successful English learners in Arab medical schools. Supporting independent learning in the 21st century: Proceedings of the inaugural conference of the Independent Learning Association, Melbourne September (pp. 13–14).

Noels, K. A., Pelletier, L. G., Clément, R., & Vallerand, R. J. (2003). Why are you learning a second language? Motivational orientations and self-determination theory. Language Learning, 53, 33–64.

Peacock, M. (1997). The effect of authentic materials on the motivation of EFL learners. ELT Journal, 51(2), 144 –156.

Qashoa, S. H. H. (2006). Motivation among learners of English in the secondary schools in the eastern coast of UAE (Unpublished MA dissertation). British university in Dubai, Dubai, UAE.

Rueda, R., & Chen, C. B. (2005). Assessing motivational factors in foreign language learning: Cultural variation in key constructs. Educational Assessment, 10(3), 209–229.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68–78.

Sakai, H., & Kikuchi, K. (2009). An analysis of demotivators in the EFL classroom. System, 37(1), 57–69.

Schmidt, R., Boraie, D., & Kassabgy, O. (1996). Foreign language motivation: Internal structure and external connections. In R. Oxford (Ed.), Language learning motivation: Pathways to the new century. (Technical Report #11) (pp. 9–70). Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i, Second Language Teaching & Curriculum Center.

Sivan, E. (1986). Motivation in social constructivist theory. Educational Psychologist, 21(3), 209–233.

Skinner, B., & Austin, R. (1999). Computer conferencing—does it motivate EFL students? ELT Journal, 53(4), 270 –279.

Trang, T. T. T., & Baldauf Jr., R. B. (2007). Demotivation: Understanding resistance to English language learning - the case of Vietnamese students. The Journal of Asia TEFL, 4(1), 79–105.

Ushida, E. (2005). The role of students? Attitudes and motivation in second language learning in online language courses. CALICO Journal, 23(1), 49.



  • 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.