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Review of Motivation and Second Language Acquisition
AUTHOR: Robert C. Gardner TITLE: Motivation and Second Language Acquisition SUBTITLE: The Socio-Educational Model SERIES TITLE: Language as Social Action --Volume 10 PUBLISHER: Peter Lang YEAR: 2010
James Rock, Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), Milan, Italy
The socio-educational model of second language acquisition has undoubtedly had a significant influence on the field of second language research. Fuelled by a vast volume of empirical research undertaken over the last few decades, proponents of the model claim that it has successfully demonstrated its relevance by accounting for individual differences in second language achievement.
This book opens with a short preface that briefly refers to some of the confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the exact nature of the motivation to learn languages as referred to in the socio-educational model. Gardner then proceeds to provide a brief description of the contents of each chapter of the book.
Chapter One, “On the definition of motivation and its investigation”, begins with a description of some fundamental aspects of the socio-educational model. The point is made that learning a second language in school is unlike learning any other subject, as affective reactions towards the second language cultural group come into play. This is referred to as the cultural component of second language learning and is represented by the construct of integrativeness. The concept of ‘integrative motivation’ is considered to be a fundamental component of the socio-educational model and is described by Gardner as an affective construct that includes the aggregate of integrativeness, attitudes towards the learning situation, and motivation.
In the following section, a brief investigation of what is actually meant by learning a second language precedes a more in-depth analysis of the meaning of motivation. The complexity of this construct is highlighted and it is argued that it cannot be assessed in terms of a single component. Gardner recommends assessing motivation in terms of three components: the desire to learn the language, attitudes towards learning the language, and motivational intensity. He stresses, however, that an individual’s level of motivation is greatly enhanced if he/she reflects an integrative orientation and favourable attitudes towards the learning situation.
Gardner then moves on to discuss various types of orientations in second language learning. He calculates that even though a total of 67 so-called orientations are referred to in the book, many of them could be classified as reflecting an integrative or an instrumental orientation. The chapter concludes with a principal components analysis of the relationship between several variables that are considered to be important in learning another language. A factor analysis produced five factors, and of the five factors, only one indicated any obvious link with the major components of motivation. This leads Gardner to suggest that a large number of the variables analysed in the study effectively had a great deal in common. A short description of the six classes of variables found in the socio-educational model concludes the chapter (Ability, Motivation, Culturally relevant variables, Educationally relevant variables, Language anxiety, Instrumentally relevant variables).
Chapter Two, “On the history of the socio-educational model”, discusses the history of the socio-educational model in three phases. Gardner identifies phase one, “Ancient History”, as dating from 1945-1972. Phase two, “Early History”, took place in the 1970s and early 1980s, with the final phase, “Modern History”, occurring in the 1980s. In section one, “Ancient History”, a short description of some earlier research (Nida, 1956; Whyte & Holmberg, 1956) that inspired the socio-educational model is discussed. The earliest empirical research associated with the model is traced back to Lambert’s (1955) research on bilingual dominance and the development of bilingualism in the 1950s. This research, along with other studies by Mowrer (1950) and Ervin (1954) provided Gardner with the theoretical foundation for the notion of integrative motivation. This was further explored in his PhD research, where he discovered that achievement in French was associated with language aptitude, motivation to learn French, and integrativeness.
In the following section, “Early History”, Gardner refers to a series of studies undertaken at the University of Western Ontario that developed a battery of tests known as the Attitude / Motivation Test Battery (AMTB), designed to measure important social psychological variables associated with learning a second language. This involved using a construct-oriented approach to test construction (in this approach, the variables of interest are selected based on a clear theoretical foundation, and an attempt is then made to define items that provide as broad a coverage of each variable as possible). In a study by Gardner & Smythe (1975a), factor analysis revealed that French achievement correlated significantly with some attitude and motivation measures. A follow up study revealed that the internal consistency reliability of the derived scales was generally good for all measures and that ability and affective factors were responsible for individual differences in achievement in a second language. Later research focused on investigating the relation of measures of language aptitude and affective factors to measures of achievement in French across Canada. The results demonstrated that motivation and aptitude correlated highly with achievement. In the final section, termed “Modern History”, Gardner investigates the processes underlying the socio-educational model. A series of hypotheses linked to the model are proposed and tested.
Chapter Three, “The Modern Age”, begins with a review of some research studies that have been conducted by Gardner and his colleagues since 1991. Most of these were undertaken in reaction to a suggestion by Crookes & Schmidt (1991) that a new research agenda should be implemented which was more in line with mainstream psychology and more teacher friendly. Gardner states, however, that he had in fact been adhering to their newly proposed research ever since the model’s inception. Consequently, the opening section of this chapter presents some laboratory-based studies linking motivational variables to actual learning over time, and some classroom-based studies looking at changes over the academic year. This is followed by several studies involving structural equation modeling that investigate aspects of the socio-educational model. Results from all of the studies presented in the chapter confirm that there is a very consistent pattern of relationships between measures based on the socio-educational model of second language acquisition and that the model is very instructive in understanding the process of learning another language. This is followed by an analysis of alternative models that have been proposed by other researchers. These include those proposed by Clément (1980), Dörnyei & Otto (1998), Noels (2001) and Czizér & Dörnyei (2005). Gardner suggests that none of the models make predictions that are at odds with any of the other models and are, thus, all essentially in agreement with the socio-educational model.
In Chapter Four, “The socio-educational model: structure and hypotheses”, attention is given to explaining the theoretical aspects underlying the socio-educational model. The chapter begins with Gardner stating that the socio-educational model distinguishes itself from many other models due to the focus placed on the processes involved in second language learning in a classroom context. It is not, therefore, simply an examination of the relationships between individual difference variables. This is followed by some discussion of the fundamentals of the model, and a review of some representative versions of the model. Gardner highlights the dynamic nature of the model in which individual difference variables are seen as influencing achievement in a second language. He also stresses that although the educational context is important, it is students’ openness to other cultural groups (i.e. integrativeness) that will predominantly support the motivation to learn another language.
In the following section, the five constructs of the socio-educational model are explained in greater detail. Integrative motivation is also discussed and defined as being the aggregate of integrativeness, attitudes towards the learning situation, and motivation. The point is made by Gardner that the model was designed in the interest of parsimony, and he freely accepts that there could very well be other variables that might have a direct effect on language achievement. However, according to him, the model identifies the primary characteristics of integrative motivation. The chapter concludes with an examination of some hypotheses that follow from the model. Gardner notes that a major advantage of the socio-educational model over other models is the availability of a measuring instrument (i.e. the AMTB) to examine the underlying variables and constructs, and the hypotheses that flow from the model.
Chapter Five, “The attitude motivation test battery”, describes the processes involved in developing the AMTB. This represents a scientific instrument that can be used to obtain clear and objective measurements of integrative motivation. The five constructs found in the socio-educational model involve aggregates of the scales from the AMTB. Gardner is keen to point out, however, that it is how the constructs interact that reflects integrative motivation and not simply the correlations of the aggregate scores with measures of achievement. The approach to test construction is described, and is followed by a detailed discussion of definitions of the constructs, the relevant scales, and the items included in the test. Attention is also given to describing the International AMTB and how the test is scored. The chapter concludes with a reference made to the Mini-AMTB. This was initially developed in order to investigate the convergent validity of the scales of the full AMTB. Gardner, however, does not recommend using the mini-AMTB as a substitute for the full scale version.
Chapter Six, “Attitudes, motivation, and language anxiety in an EFL European context”, extends the research associated with the socio-educational model beyond the confines of the Canadian context. This was undertaken in response to criticism by some researchers that the model was solely appropriate for a bilingual country, such as Canada. Consequently, much of the research in this chapter discusses the applicability of the socio-educational model in a European foreign learning context. A detailed analysis of a large study undertaken with several grades of Spanish secondary school students is presented. This study essentially confirmed that the AMTB findings obtained in Canada are also applicable to a foreign language learning context. Gardner also underlines the fact that affective variables are likely to change during the language course, depending on the students’ prior level of attitudes, motivation, language anxiety, and language achievement. Furthermore, for students low in anxiety, final grades increase substantially with increases in motivation. However, for students with high levels of anxiety, increases in motivation have a much smaller impact on achievement.
In Chapter Seven, “Learning English as a foreign language around the world”, Gardner investigates whether the socio-educational model is relevant in contexts around the world when the foreign language is a global one, rather than a clearly identifiable official second language, such as French in the Canadian context. Attention is given to describing some earlier research that analysed samples of students in six countries throughout the world where English is taught as a foreign language. Gardner specifically focused on assessing the reliability of the 12 scales from the AMTB. Results indicated that the International AMTB demonstrates substantial internal consistency reliability from country to country. Discussion is also given to analysing the factor structure of the 12 scales. Here, once again, there was seen to be general consistency in all of the samples investigated. The focus then turns to investigating the correlation between integrative motivation and measures of achievement in the six countries. Results indicated that the correlations were all significant and generally substantial. The chapter concludes with some discussion regarding the mediating effects of motivation. The model, according to Gardner, does not predict direct paths between either integrativeness or attitudes towards the learning situation and language achievement. Results clearly support this hypothesis by demonstrating that the predictive value of integrativeness and attitudes towards the learning situation are due to the mediating effects of motivation.
Chapter Eight, “Language classroom motivation”, is written by Mercé Bernaus and focuses on the role that motivation in the classroom plays in the acquisition of skills taught in class. It is hypothesised that the affective characteristics of teachers, as well as their professional behaviour in class, can directly influence the classroom motivation of students. Attention is given to discussing some of the teachers’ professional and affective factors that influence motivation. This includes indicating some helpful actions that teachers can actually implement, so as to uphold motivation in the second language classroom. In the following section, research by Madrid (2002), on the most powerful motivational strategies used by teachers of English in Spain, is discussed. Madrid concludes that teachers should implement those motivational strategies that increase the students’ interest, attention, and satisfaction with English class. The chapter concludes with an analysis of ways of maintaining teachers’ and students’ motivation, as well as some discussion of new approaches to language teaching that can help motivate teachers and learners.
In the concluding “Epilogue”, Gardner briefly summarises some of the earlier points discussed throughout the book. He once again underlines the point that it is the strength of motivation that matters in second language learning and not the type of motivation. He argues that motivation is a broad-based construct, and that motivation comes from within the student. Consequently, although teachers can maintain and promote a student’s motivation, they are unable to motivate the student. Gardner then illustrates some underlying issues associated with the socio-educational model. This is essentially an opportunity for him to reply to a number of comments and criticisms that have been made about the model and its associated research. Some criticisms that have been targeted at the model are as follows: there is a conceptual gap between motivational thinking in the second language field and in educational psychology (Dörnyei, 2005); the research findings are inconsistent (Au, 1988; Crookes & Schmidt, 1991); the socio-educational model is appropriate only to bilingual contexts (Oxford, 1996); and finally, there is a need to reinterpret integrativeness (Dörnyei, 2005). Gardner proceeds to successfully demonstrate that many of the criticisms and comments are unjustified, and are generally seen to be based on misinterpretation of the model by researchers.
In “Motivation and Second Language Acquisition”, it is remarkable how Robert C. Gardner successfully manages to compress such an enormous quantity of information into only 226 pages. Thus, my immediate reaction upon completing the book was the sheer quantity of significant points that I had highlighted during my reading. Having been faced with the unenviable task of summarising over fifty years of research and ensuring the socio-educational model remains relevant in modern second language research, Gardner has produced a fitting contribution to the field of second language research.
The book is well written and complex points and studies are discussed in an extremely comprehensible manner, thus ensuring that the reader never becomes bogged down with unclear terminology and statistical references. Gardner’s decision to delay any kind of presentation of the stages of the socio-educational model, until the reader is fully aware of the model’s evolution and the concepts behind the model, is much appreciated. Chapter One is particularly helpful, therefore, for those readers who are less familiar with research on motivation. Many of the key concepts explored in the book are clearly defined here, thus ensuring that the reader is set up nicely for more in-depth discussion in the subsequent chapters. Furthermore, splitting his discussion of the historical evolution of the model (Chapter Two) into three distinct time periods significantly helps clarify details of the model’s development for the reader.
The emphasis placed by Gardner on clarification is strongly felt throughout this book. He goes at length to set the record straight regarding the historical development of the model and, thus, frees it from ambiguity and unwarranted criticism. He thoroughly describes the various stages involved in the model and its underlying rationale (Chapter Four), and provides a detailed description of how the AMTB was developed (Chapter Five). Furthermore, Gardner presents a vast array of earlier studies supporting the validity of the socio-educational model in second and foreign language learning contexts (Chapter Six). In doing so, Gardner demonstrates that many criticisms are simply due to misinterpretation of the model.
A pleasing feature of the book is Gardner’s full commitment to the model and the magnanimous way he responds to what he feels are unjust criticisms of it. He simply addresses their relevance to the socio-educational model and wholeheartedly accepts that there may well be alternative ways of considering the dynamics involved in learning a second language. Nevertheless, the reader is left in no doubt that Gardner successfully deals with the various criticisms of the model. This is predominantly due to the exhaustive research that Gardner has undertaken on the model and the fact that so many of his studies in different cultural contexts have withstood the test of empirical verification.
This is a thought-provoking book that will hopefully stimulate further research. From a didactic standpoint, the fact that the language classroom situation could have different influences on individual students depending on their prior levels of motivation, attitudes, language anxiety and language achievement would appear to be particularly significant for those proposing techniques to motivate students. In conclusion, therefore, I fully agree that this book is highly recommended reading for any course on motivation in second language acquisition, as well as for any researchers or graduate students in the field of motivation research.
Au, S. Y. (1988) A critical appraisal of Gardner’s social psychological theory of second-language (L2) learning. Language Learning, 38, 75-100.
Clément, R. (1980) Ethnicity, contact and communicative competence in a second language. In H. Giles, W. P. Robinson, & P. M. Smith (Eds.), Language: Social Psychological Perspectives: Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1980, 147-154.
Crookes, G. & Schmidt, R. W. (1991) Motivation: Reopening the research agenda. Language Learning, 41, 469-512.
Czizér, K. & Dörnyei, Z. (2005) The internal structure of language learning motivation and its relationship with language choice and learning effort. Modern Language Journal, 89, 19-36.
Dörnyei, Z. (2005) The Psychology of the Language Learner: Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Dörnyei, Z. & Otto, I. (1998) Motivation in action: A process model of L2 motivation. Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, 4, 43-69.
Ervin, S. (1954) Identification and Bilingualism (mimeo). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.
Gardner, R. C. & Smythe, P. C. (1975a) Second language acquisition: A social psychological approach. Research Bulletin No. 332, The University of Western Ontario.
Lambert, W. E. (1955) Measurement of the linguistic dominance of bilinguals. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 50, 197-200.
Madrid, D. (2002) The power of the FL teacher’s motivational strategies. Cauce, 25, 369-422.
Mowrer, O. H. (1950) Learning Theory and Personality Dynamics. New York: Ronald.
Nida, E. A. (1956) Motivation in second-language learning. Language learning, 7, 11-16.
Noels, K. A. (2001) New orientations in language learning motivation: Towards a model of intrinsic, extrinsic, and integrative orientations and motivation. In Z. Dörnyei & R. Schmidt (Eds.), Motivation and Second Language Acquisition. Honolulu, HI: The University of Hawaii, Second Language Teaching & Curriculum Center, pp. 43-68.
Oxford, R. L. (1996) New pathways of language learning motivation. In R. L. Oxford (Ed.), Language Learning Motivation: Pathways to the New Century (Technical Report No. 11). Honolulu: University of Hawaii Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center, 1-8.
Whyte, W. F. & Holmberg, A. R. (1956) Human problems of U.S. enterprise in Latin America. Human Organisation, 15, 1040.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
James Rock is a lecturer in the Department of Foreign Languages and
Literature at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart (Università
Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), Milan, Italy. He teaches both undergraduate and
postgraduate courses. His current research interests include second
language acquisition, vocabulary learning strategies, and the use of
Q-methodology in learner strategy research.