Abstract (5). With this consideration, this paper


The paper address the issue of motivation in English Second Learners bearing in mind the fact that motivation is the single most important factor that determines the success of second language learning in the students.

The paper begins by explaining what motivation entails and various theories that can be applied in ESL. The paper then demonstrates that use of motivation theories such as; Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, Integrative and instrumental motivation, self-efficacy theory and Expectancy Theory, can motivate ESL in public school with favorable results.

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Examples of the strategies which have sound theoretical basis that I as a teacher will utilize in order to motivate my students are also given. The paper also highlights the major positive results that will result from implementation of motivation methods in class. Sound motivation is proposed as an effective tool in encouraging high performance in English Second Learners.


In order to effectively teach students language skills, a teacher must be able to make them interested in the language. In addition, the teacher must be able to maintain their interest in the language. This is a hard task especially if the students do not see the importance of learning the new language.

A teacher has to find means through which to motivate the students to learn the language and eventually have a passion for it. Lins goes ahead and declares that motivation is the single most important factor that determines the success of second language learning in the students (5). With this consideration, this paper will set out to research on various methods that may be used to motivate English Second Learners in a public school.

This article will set out to define motivation and then proceed to highlight various aspects of motivation. A number of motivational theories will be highlighted and the manner in which their usage can be exploited to improve the performance of English learners discussed. The paper shall propose the implementation of various motivational theories as the key to motivating students therefore leading to great success.

Theoretical Reference

Before setting out to motivate, we must first of all have a proper understanding of what motivation is. Motivation is defined as a “process of stimulating people to action to accomplish desired goals” (Kondalkar 245).

In the second language learning setting, motivation may be defined as the extent to which the learner makes choices about which learning goals to pursue and the effort they are willing to devote to succeed in acquiring second language skills. There are a number of theories of motivation that can be implemented in to motivate English Second learner (ESL).

Arguably the most influential motivational theory is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. This theory as proposed by Abraham Maslow states that human needs can be viewed as a hierarch and people are constantly ascending from the lowest to the highest.

Maslow theorizes that when one set of needs is satisfied, it ceases to be a motivator to the individual and without the lower needs being satisfied, it is difficult for an individual to aspire to fulfill the higher level needs. Brown contends that when motivating students, this theory is applicable in the classroom setting since achievement of lower-order needs can pave the way to achieve the higher order needs (74).

Integrative and instrumental motivation as first proposed by Gardner and Lambert continue to be very influential in L2-related research (Brown 74). Integrative motivation is a term used to refer to the scenario where a student learns a language for his/her own personal growth.

An integrative oriented student will learn a language from a desire to integrate successfully into the target language community. Instrumental orientation is related to learning a second language for functional purposes. Lins goes on to define instrumental motivation as “related to the potential pragmatic gains of L2 proficiency such as earning more money or getting a better job” (7).

This is the motivation that was traditionally more strongly linked to successful second language acquisition by a student. Brown takes care to note that both integrative and instrumental motivations are mutually inclusive and while some assume that instrumental orientation is a greater motivation; both orientations are of importance (75).

A social cognitive theory that can be used when addressing motivation is Bandura’s self-efficacy theory. In this theory, Bandura proposes that a person’s attitude and abilities play a crucial way to the way they perceive situations and consequently respond to them (Lins 23). Self efficacy influences the direction and steps that an individual will taken when pursuing their goals.

It influences the amount of effort that is given to certain endeavors and the amount of perseverance that will be exhibited in the face of obstacles and failures. A person with high efficacy will be more motivated to act and succeed in a given task as compared to a person with low efficacy. As such, increasing the self-efficacy of the individual results in higher motivation levels.

Another motivation theory that can be utilized in motivating students is the Expectancy Theory. Chapman and Hopwood state that the expectancy theory as proposed by Vroom assumes that individuals choose intended actions, effort levels and occupations that “maximize their expected pleasure and minimize their expected pain, consistent with hedonism” (120).

Expectancy theory asserts that a person’s individual motivational force is a function of their expectancy. In other words, the probability that one’s effort will result in a first-level outcome will result in the person being motivated to act in a certain manner. Students will be more likely to approach the things which bring about a positive effect such as rewards and avoid the things which result in negative effects.

Methodology: Implementation of Theory

Appling motivational strategies that borrow from the theories presented above can bring positive learning effects from the students. Motivational strategies are defined by Dornyei as “those motivational influences that are consciously exerted to achieve some systematic and enduring positive effect”.

The first goal that I shall set out to achieve will be creating a friendly atmosphere in my classroom and establishing a good rapport both between myself and the students and among the students. Hedge asserts that interaction in the classroom helps to create a favorable learning environment and also assists the students to learn from each other (13).

Additionally, this action will play a monumental part in motivating the students since students need to feel like they belong and are appreciated. Brown asserts that the mere feeling of belonging to a class will enable the student to devote full energy to attaining academic success in class (74). Without this feeling of belonging and safety, the student will not have achieved the lower level needs as articulated in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

The student will therefore be unlikely to devote their effort to attaining the higher needs of academic attainment. I will therefore endeavor to facilitate an atmosphere which demonstrates that I as the teacher care for the students and other students care about each other too. To facilitate this, I will encourage everyone to be acquainted with each other and to work together in a cooperative mode rather than competing with each other for the sole purpose of better grades.

Another strategy that I shall implement is allowing students the freedom to choose the activity that best suits them. I shall therefore come up with a number of tasks aimed at achieving similar educational goals for the students. This is from a realization that students have varied learning methods and optimal results can be achieved by providing students with varied opportunities in which to select the activity that best suits their unique needs.

Hedge reveals that there are differences among learners that affect the learning process and for learning to be most effective, the teacher must take these factors into consideration (16). I will therefore endeavor to present material in a manner that is relevant to each student. By doing this, I will have created a personalized learning process for the students. Dornyei and Csizer state that personalizing the learning process makes the course relevant to the student and is key to promoting development in the classroom (217).

Helping students to develop their confidence will be an essential part of motivation. This is because increased confidence in their abilities will result in increased competence. Cauley, Linder and McMillian declare that “students who feel that they have the competence or power to attain a goal invest more effort and persistence in a task that those who lack it” (34).

Activities which boast the confidence of the students in the language will therefore be of great importance in bringing about excellence in the learning efforts. One way in which students can be assisted to recognized development is by being told so. For some students, past successes may be attributed to luck or help as opposed to personal capability.

Comments from a teacher can help to build efficacy in the student. The reason for this is that the student has faith in the instructor’s opinion since it represents expertise and is taken as an accurate assessment (Madden 412). I will therefore be keen to emphasize on the strengths of the students.

In a practical sense, I will closely monitor the accomplishments and progress made by my students and takes the time to celebrate any victory, no matter how small. My feedback will mostly be positive and this praise will encourage the student to work hard.

I will also make a point to give small tokens in addition to verbal praise. Madden states that receiving of a reward by a student will validate their self-efficacy since the reward is a symbol of positive development (412). By combining performance rewards with proximal goals, I can strengthen goals commitment in my students.

Students do not want to learn something that is useless since they are looking for skills and knowledge that will somehow be beneficial to them in their lives. With this consideration, I will make sure that I always relate the material learnt to the real world. To begin with, I will have each student spell out how they hope to make use of their leant English skills in future.

Having done this, I will ensure that I reconcile each lesson to the interests of the student’s. This will ensure that the student’s perceive the material presented in class as both relevant and important for their lives both in the class setting and outside.

Once motivation has been created, it is important to maintain the same in the students. One of the ways in which I shall achieve this is by using goal-setting methods. Cauley, Linder and McMillian reveal that the effort and resilience shown by an individual is higher in the students who have come up with their own goals than for those who have had their goals stipulated by another person (142).

With this consideration, I shall encourage the students to set their own short-term goals. I shall advice that these goals be both challenging and achievable for the student. In addition to this, I will emphasize on the importance to reach the goals within the set time and offer continuous feedback to the students.

Results and Discussions

Dornyei and Csizer declare that “without sufficient motivation, even individuals with the most remarkable abilities cannot accomplish long-term goals, and neither are appropriate curricula and good teaching enough to ensure student achievement” (203). Motivation is therefore not only desirable but mandatory for the success of ESL. One of the reasons why motivation is such a challenging issue is because not all students will be motivated by the same things.

This article has considered that motivating behavior is complicated since individuals have varying value systems. While some students are motivated by a personal drive to succeed, others are motivated by their fellow classmates or even the subject challenges. My methods have taken this into consideration by proposing the use of personalized learning process for the students.

The paper has reiterated the importance of setting goals that are challenging but not too difficult as to cause discouragement. This is because high performance results from clear expectations by the individual. Research indicates that students strive harder if they think it is possible to reach the academic expectations that they are expected to reach.

This is in line with the Expectancy theory as articulated by Vroom. When coming up with assignments for my students, I will make a point to set material that students can succeed in. People do not participate wholeheartedly in activities whose achievement they deem futile. Instead, they choose to engage in activities in which they feel they have a high probability of success.

A challenging issue will be how to deal with tests and assessments which are indispensible for the sake of marking progress. Typically, tests represent to students a means for marking out the achievers and the non-achievers in the classroom. Brown proposes the use of tests and exams as tools for self-diagnosis as opposed to comparisons of one’s performance against a norm (79). With such an approach, students will not be discouraged by tests but will see them as valuable tools for marking progress in their learning

Motivation is important for both the teacher and the students in class. Lack of motivation by the students also affects the teacher in that he/she becomes frustrated and less effective. Having motivated students is therefore desirable both for the success of the students and the effectiveness of the teacher who will be enthusiastic when facing motivated students.


This article set out to define motivation and demonstrate how some motivational theories can be utilized so as to obtain a positive learning effect from English Second learner. The paper began by explaining what motivation entails and various theories that can be applied in ESL.

This paper has demonstrated that use of motivation theories such as; Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, Integrative and instrumental motivation, self-efficacy theory and Expectancy Theory, can motivate ESL in public school with favorable results.

From the various arguments presented in this paper, it is clear that motivation is an integral part in ensuring the successful learning of English Second Learners. Therefore, by utilizing the methods I’ve outlined herein, the motivation of my students to learn English will be raised significantly.

Works Cited

Brown, H. D. Teaching by principles: an interactive approach to language pedagogy. 2nd Ed. White Plains: Longman, 2001

Cauley, Klaus., Linder, Francis, and McMIllan, Jones. Educational Psychology 89/90. Guilford, Connecticut: The Dushkin publishing Group, Inc. 1989. Print.

Chapman, Christopher, and Hopwood, Anthony. Handbook of management accounting research, Elsevier. 2007. Print.

Dornyei, Zoltan, and Csizer, Kata. “Ten commandments for motivating language learners: results of an empirical study”. Language Teaching Research 2,3 (1998); pp. 203-229.

Domyei, Zoltan. Motivational Strategies in the Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Print.

Hedge, Tricia. Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom. Oxford: OUP, 2000.

Kondalkar, P. Organization effectiveness and change management, PHI learning Pvt. Ltd. 2002. Print.

Lins, Tanja. Motivation and Second Language Learning. GRIN Verlag, 2007. Print.

Madden, Lowell. “Motivating Students to Learn Better Through own Goal-Setting”. Education Vol. 117 No.3. 2004.