LINGUIST List 12.1812

Fri Jul 13 2001

Review: Doernyei, Teaching and Researching Motivation

Editor for this issue: Terence Langendoen <>

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  1. Oebel, Doernyei: Teaching and Researching Motivation

Message 1: Doernyei: Teaching and Researching Motivation

Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 19:34:45 +0900
From: Oebel <>
Subject: Doernyei: Teaching and Researching Motivation

Doernyei, Zoltan (2001) Teaching and Researching Motivation, 
ISBN 0-582-38238-6, Persons Education Ltd., xii+295pp.

Reviewed by: Guido Oebel, Faculty of Culture and Education,
Saga (Japan) National University


'Teaching and researching Motivation' by Zoltan Doernyei is a book most
recently issued within the series called 'Applied Linguistics in Action'.
Although the study of motivation is a prominent area dealt with in the
field of psychology and education, unfortunately, contemporary
motivational psychology is - according to the author - 'characterised by a
confusing plethora of competing theories, with little consensus and much
disagreement among researchers'. That is why the book claims to achieve
the three following purposes:

1. 	To provide a concise summary of the various theoretical
positions and propositions in the field, outlining potential pitfalls
and future directions.

2. 	To summarise the classroom applications and implications of
the theoretical insights.

3. 	To describe the main approaches to conducting research on
motivation to learn a second or foreign language respectively.

In compliance with these three main goals, the book is made up of
three main parts, accompanied by a fourth section offering
practical information and resources.

Section I provides the theoretical background and a summary of
past research, followed by an examination of the most influential
schools of motivational psychology. After this general overview,
the role of motivation in L2 learning is examined.

In Section II, the focus is on the practical knowledge that has
been accumulated in past research. In an attempt to make the
concept of motivation more education-friendly, the term
motivation is replaced more and more frequently by the form
motivating, furthermore abstract theories give way to concrete
motivational strategies to be used in the classroom. This section
is concludes by discussing two issues which - according to the
author - 'have received very little attention either in mainstream
psychology or L2 research':

1. 	Demotivation, referring to those environmental stimuli and
classroom events that cancel out even strong existing motivation
in the students.

2. 	Teacher motivation, i.e., the nature of the teacher's own
enthusiasm and commitment and the close links with student

Section III attempts to reshape the notion of motivation from an
abstract concept into a concrete and researchable topic. The
section is particularly relevant to those planning their own
motivation research projects - thanks to the book I myself feel
encouraged to undertake such a project despite my poor expertise
in psychology. Doernyei provides definitions of motivation
research ranging from small-scale classroom investigations to
large-scale national surveys, aiming at finding answers to
practical questions - such as which tasks can generate more
learner involvement - , seeking to identify broad rules and
tendencies with the intention of producing academic publications.
By summarising the main principles of research methodology
particularly relevant to motivation research Doernyei indeed
furnishes especially newcomers in this field with valuable
information and guidelines.

Section IV is intended to serve as a practical reference section
containing a collection of concrete resources and guidelines,

- a summary of the relevant areas of the social sciences readers
may turn to for further information and motivational insights;

- an overview of the place of motivation research within the field
of applied linguistics and the ways in which it can be combined
with linguistics-based approaches in an integrated manner;

- a list and brief description of the main journals and information
databases considered useful in the past (highly recommendable!);

- a list of references to published motivation questionnaires and
three sets of actual questionnaire items from studies in which the
author has been involved (highly recommendable!)

Section I (What is motivation?) - Chapter 1: Main challenges of
motivation research
This chapter deals with the complex meaning of the term
'motivation' and discusses six main challenges of understanding
human motivation (consciousness vs unconsciousness/cognition vs
affect/reduction vs comprehensiveness/parallel multiplicity/

Section I - Chapter 2: Theories of motivation in psychology
This chapter deals with the most influential motivation theories
in motivational and social psychology and analyses how
contemporary theories have responded to the challenges of context
and time.

Section I - Chapter 3: Motivation to learn a foreign/second
This chapter deals with the main theories of L2 motivation (e.g.
Gardner's motivation theory, Schumann's neurobiological model,
Otto's process model) and analyses how L2 theories have
responded to the challenges of context and time.

Section II (Motivation and language teaching) - Chapter 4:
'Education-friendly approaches in motivation research'
This chapter deals with the 'reform movement' in L2 motivation
research, whose explicit objective was to make motivation theory
more appropriate for classroom application and presents the L2
motivational frameworks that have been developed with
educational relevance in mind.

Section II - Chapter 5: Motivation and motivating in the foreign
language classroom
This chapter summarises the main motivational areas where
the conscious enhancement of student motivation is a realistic
option and outlines the strategic arsenal available for language
teachers. Furthermore, three sets of 'motivational macro-
strategies', i.e., collections of general guidelines are presented to
provide orientation when introducing a motivation-sensitive
teaching practice.

Section II - Chapter 6: Student demotivation
This chapter introduces the notion of 'demotivation' and
summarises the most salient sources of demotivation in L2

Section II - Chapter 7: Teacher motivation
This chapter analyses the unique characteristics of the
'motivation to teach, describes what we know about motivation of
language teachers', and examines how teacher motivation affects
the motivation of the students.

Section III (Researching motivation) - Chapter 8: Making
motivation a researchable concept
This chapter deals with the main features of motivation
research and the difficulties inherent in it and discusses the main
decisions one has to make before launching into a research

Section III - Chapter 9: Methodological issues and considerations
This chapter deals with some key issues concerning the
research design of motivation studies and describes how to devise,
administer and analyse motivation questionnaires.

Section III - Chapter 10: Main types of L2 motivation research
This chapter deals with the main research traditions in
investigating L2 motivation presenting sample research studies
from the field as illustrations. Furthermore, it lists a number of
researchable issues and topics in the filed following each

Section IV (Resources and further information) - Chapter 11: The
locus of motivation research: Linkages to other topics and
This chapter summarises the disciplines related to L2
motivation research in the social sciences thus providing some key
references to them. Furthermore, it discusses the place of L2
motivation research within applied linguistics.

Section IV- Chapter 12: Sources and resources
This chapter summarizes the various information sources and
databases relevant to the study of L2 motivation and offers a
collection of motivation questionnaire items successfully used in
the past.

References (270p. - 287p)
Author Index (288p. - 292p.)
Subject Index (293p. - 295p.)

Critical evaluation

Doernyei's book provides the reader with clear, up-to-date and
particularly accessible accounts in the often underestimated field of
'Teaching and Researching Motivation'. By doing so, he furnishes even - or
should I say especially - less experienced target-recipients with the
tools they need to carry out their own practice-related research. Thus he
enables and simultaneously encourages readers to explore for themselves a
range of exemplary practical applications of research. The questions dealt
with are those familiar to all practitioners and researches, no matter
whether experienced or new to the field of applied linguistics. In
addition, a so-called companion web-site (
accompanies 'Teaching and Researching Motivation' is offered as an
extra-feature for free. By paying a visit to this site I found really
valuable additional teaching and learning material including links to
further recommendable resources on the web, useful sources and resources
relating to the study of motivation and search for specific information on
the site.

Finally, the book helps those interested in the topic spare money and time
as it may be considered an essential compilation of numerous previous
books shedding light on merely exclusive aspects of motivation.

Reviewer's Bio: Guido Oebel (PhD in linguistics) is a native German and
currently employed as an associate professor for German as a Foreign
Language (DaF) and FLL with Saga National University and as a visiting
professor with Kurume University, both on the Southern island of
Kyushu/Japan. His main areas of research are: comparative language studies
(inter alia Indo-European - Japanese), German dialects, sociolinguistics,
bilinguism, and adult language education.
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