Attitudinal and Motivational Profiles of Second Foreign Language Learners in Multilingual Contexts

Susan Sayehli, Rakel Österberg, Jonas Granfeldt

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Abstract: Reports and studies repeatedly indicate that foreign languages other than English are facing major challengesin European educational systems (European Commission, 2012). In Sweden, pupils’ motivation to learn a secondforeign language (SFL) is reported to be low while motivation to learn English is high (Eurobarometer 2012, Tholin& Lindqvist 2009). While there are plenty of studies studying different aspects of multilingualism, until recently,only few studies have examined how learners’ motivations to learn different languages influence each other (Csizer &Dörnyei, 2005; Csizér & Lukács, 2010). In Sweden, Henry (2012) found that the motivation to learn English(conceptualized as the ideal L2 self, Dörnyei, 2009) was related negatively to the motivation to learn an SFL (idealL3 self of Spanish/German). This interpreted as an “English-is-enough”-attitude has also been argued to particularlyusurp instrumental motivations (Gardner & Lambert, 1972) to learn an SFL (Oakes, 2013). Even though SFLs facecommon challenges in educational systems, they enjoy different popularity in schools. While Spanish as an SFL hasexperienced an upswing (Hyltenstam & Österberg 2010), mainly at the expense of German, French is disappearingfrom parts of Sweden. Studies investigating the increased interest in Spanish have pointed to integrative motivationalaspects (Riis & Francia, 2013). Also gender usually affects language choice and learning motivations (Henry, 2010).Taken together however, little is known about how different attitudinal and motivational variables for differentlanguages affect each other and whether there are learner-general or language-specific motivational profiles acrosslearners in multilingual contexts.The research questions of the present study were therefore a) are there attitudinal and/or motivational differencesbetween learners of different SFLs b) how do attitudes to English, language background and gender interact with SFLmotivations and c) are there different motivational profiles of SFL learners in Sweden.The current study investigated attitudes to English (N=138) and the motivation to study German (n=45), Spanish(n=34) and French (n=59) of 9th grade SFL learners (age 15) of fifteen schools, randomly selected from a larger sample.Using an electronic questionnaire, we examined different attitudinal, motivational and affective constructs(instrumental motivation (7 items; Lambert & Gardner, 1972), L3 ideal self (9 items; Dörnyei, 2009), Willingnessto-communicate (WTC; 8 items; McCroskey and Richmond, 1991) and foreign language classroom anxiety (FLCA;9 items; Horwitz et al., 1986). Cronbach’s alphas for all but the instrumentality scale were over .80.Preliminary results showed that despite different popularity of SFLs, there were no significant attitudinal and/ormotivational differences between learners of different SFLs. Overall SFL learners did not express attitudes confirmingstrong “English-is-enough”-attitudes. Relating the constructs to each other we found, however, that the more Englishwas considered important (r = -.28, p=.001) and instrumentally sufficient (r=-.19, p=.33), the more negative were thelearners’ ideal L3 selves. There was no significant correlation between attitudes to English and instrumental SFLmotivations. A gender effect showed that females had more positive ideal L3 selves (F(1,124)= 7.0, p=.009), lowerFLCA (F(1,130)=8.78, p=004) and less WTC than males. A cluster analysis will show whether different attitudinal,motivational and affective variables will reveal different motivational profiles of Swedish SFL learners.The results so far support findings by Henry (2012) who found a negative relationship between ideal L2 and L3 self.Hypotheses by Oakes (2013) who suggested that an “English-is-enough”-attitude would usurp instrumental SFLmotivations was not supported. The results will be discussed in view of how different attitudinal and motivationalconstructs interact and, whether there are general or language-specific motivational profiles across learners inmultilingual contexts. Finally we will discuss implications of our findings for theorizing the motivational constructwithin SLA studies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Aug 30
EventEuroSLA 29, 2019 - Lund, Sweden
Duration: 2019 Aug 282019 Aug 31
Conference number: 29


ConferenceEuroSLA 29, 2019
Internet address

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
  • Learning


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