‘The Danish speak so many languages it’s really embarrassing’. The impact of L1 English on adult language students’ motivation

Lanvers, Ursula (2012). ‘The Danish speak so many languages it’s really embarrassing’. The impact of L1 English on adult language students’ motivation. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 6(2) pp. 157–175.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17501229.2011.641970

URL: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/rill

Abstract

The decline of language learning in the UK is a concern for academics, linguists and educators alike has been rationalised by the demotivating effect of Global English: as many UK learners have English, arguably the most powerful global language to date, as a first language, they may lack motivations to learn other languages. However, to this day, few studies have explored language learning motivation in learners with English as L1 in relation to Global English. This study investigates the impact of L1 English on learner motivation in mature students studying a variety of languages ab initio at the Open University. Eleven semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted, evaluated using Grounded Theory, and interpreted using L2 Motivational Self System. Results not only suggest that motivation for this self-selected group of language learners could best be described as a complex web of highly intrinsic and person-in-context motivators but, crucially, that their unique perception of learner identity contrasting their motivations to other UK learners allowed these students to use the perceived ‘L1 learner disadvantage’ to their advantage.

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