Emotion and motivation in language learning

Waninge, Freerkien (2017) Emotion and motivation in language learning. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis investigates the interaction of emotion and motivation in language learning. By means of three independent research studies, I analyse the interaction of affective, motivational, and cognitive factors as they appear in relation to the context of a classroom. Rather than studying motivation, affect, or cognition in relative isolation in terms of their impact on language development, I argue that it is worthwhile to study the amalgams formed by these three forces by means of a dynamic systems–based research methodology.

The research methodology employed for the first research study is primarily based on the concept of attractor states: salient and relatively stable states of a dynamic system. I demonstrate the existence of four main classroom states: interest, boredom, neutral attention, and anxiety. The factors forming the attractor basin for these states are cognitive, affective, motivational, and contextual in nature. This indicates that affect and motivation have an impact on language learners via the state they produce through their interaction with cognitive and contextual factors.

In the second research study of this thesis, I analyse the self-regulation and perseverance of ten language learners from various backgrounds. I argue that a learner’s attractor basin produces a stronger and more positive attractor when there are strong motivational elements present, such as a well thought-out goal orientation. Although other factors may diminish in strength due, for example, to a new teacher with whom the learner does not get along, or a new topic that is no longer enjoyable, a well-defined and sufficiently internalised goal orientation can be the key to successful self-regulation and, ultimately, greater success in learning the target language.

In the final research study, I demonstrate that the factors that contribute to the construction of the aforementioned state in the classroom are different for younger and older learners. For older learners, the motivational element plays a significantly more prominent part, while for younger learners the affective, cognitive, and contextual elements are more important. Furthermore, the older learners have the ability to analyse and deconstruct their classroom state, while this is not the case for younger learners. Instead, the experience of the classroom for younger learners is made up of an indistinguishable combination of affective, cognitive, and contextual elements, which combine into an overall feeling of “I like it” or “It is difficult”. Although this can result in the impression that a young learner’s state is determined entirely by affective elements, this is not, in fact, the case; rather, these states are most likely a combination of affective, cognitive, and contextual elements.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Dörnyei, Zoltàn
Keywords: SLA, motivation, emotion, language learning
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1050 Educational psychology
P Language and literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Item ID: 47639
Depositing User: Waninge, Freerkien
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2017 04:40
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2020 10:32
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/47639

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