Teaching and Researching Motivation (Second Edition)

September 2012 – Volume 16, Number 2

Teaching and Researching Motivation (Second Edition)

Author: Zoltán Dörnyei & Ema Ushioda (2011)  
Publisher: Pearson Education Limited
Pages ISBN-10 Price
326 pages 1408205025 $42.07 USD

Teaching and Researching Motivation is a substantially revised second edition of the same book, which was first published in 2001. It maintains the structure and style of the successful first edition and has carefully preserved existing material, along with introducing an abundance of new perspectives on motivational research. A valuable feature of the new edition is the contribution of co-author, Ema Ushioda, who provides a timely analysis of non-positivist research in the field. The new edition is intended to appeal to L2 researches and language teachers.

The book is divided into four sections; each consists of two to four chapters. In Section One, What is motivation? — the first chapter addresses how theories of motivation have evolved over time, as a result of the shifting research emphases placed on cognition and affect. This discussion is rather brief and insufficiently explains why affective models of motivation were deemed unsatisfactory by researchers. The chapter concludes by outlining some of the difficulties associated with linear, reductionist models of motivation. The authors return to this topic again in Chapter Four. There, they outline some new approaches to conceptualising L2 motivation from a socio-dynamic perspective.

Of particular interest in Chapter Four is the discussion regarding the L2 Motivational Self System. The authors go to great lengths to demonstrate how this theory of L2 motivation is superior to the construct of integrative motivation proposed by Gardner in his socio-educational model (1959). They attempt to validate the theory by referencing some recent research studies that have found the Ideal L2 Self to be a better predictor of a learner’s overall motivational disposition than the concept of integrativeness, which was originally proposed by Gardner. Although it is clear that the L2 Motivational Self System could have major implications for researchers of L2 motivation, the authors provide a vague assessment of how the L2 Self differs from the construct of Integrative Motivation. As a result, the less-experienced reader could easily misinterpret the L2 Self as being a new cognitive conceptualisation of Gardner’s construct of integrative motivation. This would, of course, be ill advised, as the L2 Self is a cognitive construct, whereas integrative motivation is an affective one. In addition, the range of quantitative studies presented by the authors to confirm the L2 Motivational Self System is somewhat limited, thus contravening any claims of validation by the authors.

Section One concludes with the authors’ presentation of a comprehensive account of motivation from a dynamic systems perspective. The most significant point made by the authors is that process-oriented perspectives of motivation all fail to account for the fact that learner attributes display an enormous amount of variation from time to time and situation to situation. As a result, the authors recommend that researchers should refrain from examining learner attributes individually, and that they should instead adopt a dynamic systems approach, which studies how systems change with time. Such research would involve using qualitative exploratory investigations to analyse longitudinally the conglomerates of cognitive, motivational, and affective factors.

In Section Two, Motivation and Language Teaching, the first chapter is particularly noteworthy as it outlines the motivating strategies available to teachers in the classroom. The authors highlight the fact that scant attention has been given, thus far, to developing motivation strategies. A useful framework for organising motivating strategies is provided, which is based on the process-oriented model devised by Dörnyei and Ottó (1998). From a personal perspective, more attention might have been directed to illustrating the kinds of self-motivating strategies that learners can use to motivate themselves, and maintain their level of motivation, rather than focusing almost entirely on the teacher’s responsibility in stimulating motivation.

The way motivating strategies can be used within the L2 Motivational Self System is the major focus of Chapter Five. Here, the authors focus on the intriguing motivational function of imagination and the various strategies that teachers can use in classroom activities to help learners create a positive L2-related vision of their ideal L2 self. It is recommended that teachers adopt a wide range of teaching strategies that help encourage learners to keep their visions alive and create realistic expectations. The product of this approach should be learning that is more autonomous and stimulate the use of more self-regulatory strategies. Nevertheless, on a practical level, it is, perhaps, questionable whether the majority of L2 teachers would be willing or able to invest sufficient time in creating and maintaining ideal L2 selves for individual learners, as well as devising individualised study plans.

Section Two then moves on to discuss the notion of learner demotivation. The authors provide a thorough analysis of the range of factors that may have a negative effect on L2 motivation. This is followed in Chapter Seven by an analysis of teacher motivation. The suggestion is made that teachers are naturally intrinsically motivated; however, they often become demotivated because of various reasons presented by the authors. The most absorbing feature of Chapter Seven is the potential effect that teacher motivation can have on the motivational disposition of learners, and the supposed link that exists between teacher beliefs and student behaviour.

In Section Three, Researching Motivation, the authors include two chapters. Chapter Eight is short and outlines some of the main issues a researcher needs to take into consideration before beginning to research motivation. Topics discussed here include describing the differences between quantitative and qualitative research, as well as the merits of undertaking cross-sectional or longitudinal research. There is also a helpful discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of mixed methods research. In Chapter Nine, the authors present some of the main research methods used to analyse L2 motivation. This involves describing the various types of quantitative methods used in the past, as well as the qualitative methods now available for researchers. A particularly helpful addition to the book is a collection of short summaries of previous studies, which illustrate many of the statistical methods presented in the chapter. The authors end the section with some reflection on how a complex dynamic systems approach may be used in researching motivation. Unfortunately, the reader is left rather disappointed by the lack of any real decisiveness from the authors regarding how best to go about undertaking a research project using a dynamic systems approach.

In Section Four, Resources and Further Information, prospective researchers of L2 motivation are presented with useful links to relevant literature both inside and outside the field of L2 studies, as well as additional resources relevant to the study of L2 motivation. A particularly useful contribution is the collection of questionnaires used by various researchers throughout the years.

This is a thought-provoking book that will stimulate further research on L2 motivation. Major highlights of the new edition include the heightened emphasis on the importance of qualitative studies in motivation research, an up-to-date analysis of the concept of the L2 Self System, and a lasting reminder as to how complex dynamic systems theory is heavily influencing research in the field. I have no hesitation in strongly recommending the new edition, and fully agree that the book should be considered essential reading for researchers in the field of motivation research.


Dörnyei, Z., & Otto, I. (1998). Motivation in action: A process model of L2 motivation. Working
Papers in Applied Linguistics
, 4: 43-69.

Gardner, R.C., & Lambert, W.E. (1959). Motivational variables in second language acquisition.
Canadian Journal of Psychology 13: 266-72.

Reviewed by
James Rock
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, Italy

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