o explain why people think and behave in certain situations as they do.
Students’ lack of motivation in language leaning contexts is a major problem for language teachers. According to Dörnyei (as cited in Marie-Jose´ Guilloteaux, 2013), a lot of researchers have tried to help teachers find ways of motivating language learners. In spite of the studies which have been done in this regard, the cultural and ethno-linguistic differences in various contexts were one of the important motives of doing this research.
Accordingly, the aim of this research is to evaluate (a) the extent to which a list of motivational strategies derived from Western educational contexts are perceived as relevant by Iranian EFL teachers and (b) the cross-cultural validity of those motivational strategies. To this effect, the present study builds on Dörnyei and Csizér ’s (1998) initial investigation in Hungary and on its modified replication conducted in Taiwan(Cheng and Dörnyei, 2007) and strives to find out how the same concept functions in Iran.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Regarding the complex nature of motivation and its remarkable influence in second and foreign (L2) language learning, there are a growing number of studies focusing on motivation and motivational strategies in language teaching and learning settings. Dörnyei (as cited in Marie-Jose´ Guilloteaux, 2013) believes that until the early 1990s, most of the researchers studied motivation from a social psychological perspective. Much of the research in this period has been initiated and inspired by two Canadian psychologists, Robert Gardner and Wallace Lambert, who, together with their colleagues and students, grounded motivation research in a social psychological framework. Gardner and his associates also established scientific research procedures and introduced standardized assessment techniques and instruments, thus setting high research standards and bringing L2 motivation research to development (Ellis, 2008). Although Gardner’s motivation construct did not go unchallenged over the years, it was not until the early 1990s that a marked shift in thought appeared in papers on L2 motivation as researchers tried to reopen the research agenda in order to shed new light on the subject. The main problem with Gardner’s social psychological approach appeared to be, ironically, that it was too influential. While acknowledging unanimously the fundamental importance of the Gardnerian social psychological model, researchers were also calling for a more pragmatic, education-centered approach to motivation research, which would be consistent with the perceptions of practicing teachers and which would also be in line with the current results of mainstream educational psychological research. It must be noted that Gardner’s motivation theory does include an educational dimension and that the motivation test he and his associates developed, the Attitude/Motivation Test Battery (AMTB), contains several items focusing on the learner’s evaluation of the classroom learning situation. However, the main emphasis in Gardner’s model and the way it has been typically understood is on general motivational components grounded in the social milieu rather than in the foreign language classroom. For example, the AMTB contains a section in which students’ attitudes toward the language teacher and the course are tested. This may be appropriate for measurement purposes, but the data from this section does not provide a detailed enough description of the classroom dimension to be helpful in generating practical guidelines. Finally, Gardner’s motivation construct does not include details on cognitive aspects of motivation to learn, whereas this is the direction in which educational psychological research on motivation has been moving during the last fifteen years.
Gardner’s social psychological approach has never clearly approached the classroom implications of motivation theory and it did not help language teachers in promoting their teaching practice. However around the 1990s, second and foreign language motivation research has seen an explosion of interest and the researchers have studied motivation from a more education-based perspective. In this period the authors’ attention were shifted to cognitive-situated view of motivation and situation-specific factors like learning and teaching situation were given more attention (Ellis, 2008). Authors like Dörnyei (2001a) gave prominence to more process-oriented view of motivation with an emphasis on dynamic nature of motivation and its temporal variation. Recently, some nearly similar studies on motivational strategies have been carried out by some authors like Dörnyei and Csizér ’s (1998) in Hungary, Cheng and Dörnyei (2007) in Taiwan, Hsu (2008) in Taiwan, Kassing (2011) in Indonesia, Gilloteaux and Dörnyei (2010) in South Korea, and Alrabai (2011) in Saudi-Arabia. Thus, the similarities and differences in the use of motivational strategies by English teachers in different educational contexts have been identified. Similar to the aforementioned studies, in the present study, it has been attempted to identify the top 10 strategies that Iranian EFL teachers perceive as the most important for promoting students’ L2 motivation in the language classroom. By comparing the results of this study with others conducted in different educational setting in different countries, we can recognize the motivational strategies which are culture dependent or vise-versa. In addition, we want to design practical techniques for educators and teachers of English in Iran that can be used to effectively implement motivational strategies in the L2 classroom. And again this study wants to identify the proportion with which Iranian English teachers perceive the list of motivational strategies important for language classes or the proportion with which they use these strategies in their actual language teaching situations. By making a complete list of motivational strategies that are more useful and practical in EFL context of Iran, the English teachers can make use of them for finding ways of eliciting, enhancing, and sustaining students’ motivation.
As mentioned earlier, Dörnyei and Cheng (2007) carried out a research to identify the use of motivational strategies among Taiwanese English teachers. They explored the frequency and the importance of the strategies used by Taiwanese English teachers. They compared these results with the findings of the nearly identical study conducted by Dörnyei and Csizér (1998) in Hungry. Similar to the aforementioned studies in Hungary and Taiwan, the current study is based on Dörnyei’s (2001b) framework of motivational teaching practice in the L2 classroom, which was based on the process-oriented model by Dörnyei and Otto (1998). Therefore, the frequency and the importance of the use of motivational strategies among Iranian EFL teachers will be studied to reveal the similarities and differences between Iranian teachers’ ratings of motivational scales and the other countries’. Whether unique cultures of different countries can influence the teachers’ ratings or strategy use or not? Which strategies are culture-specific or culture-dependent?
1.3. Significance of the Study
Studying the literature of the research into the use of motivational strategies in ESL/EFL contexts in different countries shows that a small number of studies have been carried out in this realm. Dörnyei& Csizér (1998) listed a number of publications which analyze and describe motivational strategies, such as, Brown (2001), Cranmer (1996), Dörnyei (1994), Oxford and Shearin (1994) and Williams & Burden(1997). Yet, research focusing on motivating learners requires much more attention (Dörnyei & Csizér, 1998). There are a number of studies in the Far Eastern contexts, conducted in countries, like, Indonesia (Kassing, 2011), Taiwan (Hsu, 2009) and Korea (Marie-Jose´ Guilloteaux, 2012). Nearly a smaller amount of research has been carried out in the Persian Gulf littoral states, such as, the Saudi Arabia by Alrabai (2010) and Oman by A-Mahrooqi & Asante (2012).However, almost no research has been done into the use of motivational strategies in Iran. Since there is no prior study of this type in Iran, the present study may be a timely endeavor and have useful consequences for teacher educators, teachers, learners and researchers in the realm of EFL/ESL. Considering the huge differences in culture, religion, politics, language, and system of education among Iran and Western, Eastern, or Arab countries were a motive for conducting this study. The findings of current study will reveal whether these differences effect the way Iranian EFL teachers rate or use the motivational strategies or not. And again the findings will add to the pool of existing research, offering an insight into the Iranian EFL context and teacher-based motivational practices inside the classroom.
1.4. Research Questions
1. Which motivational strategies do Iranian EFL teachers rate as the most important or the least important to enhance motivation in their classes?
2. Which motivational strategies seem to transfer across contexts and which seem to be culturally/contextually dependent?
3. Which motivational strategies have the most and the least proportion of use in EFL context of Iran?
4. Is there any relationship between EFL teachers’ attitudes towards the importance of motivational strategies (Importance Questionnaire) and their attitudes towards the use frequency of motivational strategies (Frequency Questionnaire)?
1.5. Definition of Key Terms
Theoretical and Operational Definitions:
Motivation: “In a general sense, motivation can be defined as the dynamically changing cumulative arousal in a person that initiates, directs, coordinates, amplifies, terminates, and evaluates the cognitive and motor processes whereby initial wishes and desires are selected, prioritised, operationalised and
o explain why people think and behave in certain situations as they do.