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The Presence of Intrinsic Motivation as The Prerequisite for The Successful Improvement Student`s Process

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Affective factors like emotions and attitudes play an essential role in language learning and teaching. We can see significant results on the topic in other areas of research, such as in the fields of psychology, sociology, and neuroscience. Affective factors are still under-researched in pedagogy and second language acquisition. Cognitive factors are often paired with affective factors, however cognitive factors and the concept of IQ were preferred over affective factors and EQ. IQ identifies academic abilities in other words intelligence and EQ identifies emotional intelligence. Intelligence tests are widespread; meanwhile, emotional intelligence is rarely measured in the education context. Affective factors have a high significance in education, with affective strategies teachers might be able to improve their student’s learning process. Teachers often face challenges like students’ lack of motivation and anxiety, these challenges come from negative emotions. The mentioned negative factors have different root causes, it can be from past failure, peer mockery, or various other reasons. During the second language acquisition, students might have difficulties with communicating or reading out loud texts in English. It is clear that negative factors prevent students’ chance to improve, therefore it is necessary to lower these factors. Positive factors, like motivation and self-confidence, then must be emphasized with various affective strategies to reach the ideal learning outcomes. A key element is missing here, which is intrinsic motivation, it represents students’ willingness to act without any external pressure. Students must have the willingness to accept effective strategies and let the improvement process happen. If they are open to the process they are involved in affective strategies, their self-confidence will be boosted and negative factors will be excluded and students will reach their language learning goals. The presence of intrinsic motivation is the prerequisite for the successful improvement process.

Implementing effective strategies to ESL classes in language learning and teaching will promote positive learning outcomes. Lowering negative factors, such as anxiety and lack of motivation might help, however, students must have intrinsic motivation for affective strategies to work, which builds up motivation and self-confidence in English language learning to reach higher performance and better grades.

For effective strategies to work in ESL classes, students must have intrinsic motivation, to learn English as a second language. Dörnyei Zoltán states that motivation is basically concerned with why people decide to do something, how long they are willing to sustain the activity, and how hard they are going to pursue it.

The power of intrinsic motivation is significant, it represents students’ willingness to act without any external pressure, it must be already given. With such a long learning process as is involved in second language learning, students have to make sure if they know why are they learning, what their goals are and whether they are insistent enough to make the effort to widen their knowledge.

Affective strategies fulfill their positive effects when intrinsic motivation is present in the language learning process. The work of Ramona Henter also supports that motivation is closely linked to English performance: – in fact, she has found that students with a specific purpose are more motivated and have a better attitude than students who will not need English in their future careers. This finding indicates instrumental motivation as a practical reason for studying. The study of Tony Lai Hsuan- Yau reveals that the majority of the target group in his research studied English mostly for instrumental reasons, such as tourism with intrinsic motivation, not because of external and ought-to reasons. His findings also show that the ideal self is strongly connected with intrinsic motivation. The presence of intrinsic motivation is supported to be inevitable.

Implementing effective strategies to ESL classes in language learning and teaching will promote positive learning outcomes. To increase students’ motivation Dörnyei recommends a useful framework, which is a future vision of themselves. A language-specific vision of a motivational self-system can be also used, which highlights the main sources of motivation, one of which is a vision of ourselves as effective speakers. Offering a new attractive vision might help students to set up future goals and see themselves with the envisioned outcomes.

Affective emotional dimension, such as motivation has a noticeable impact on the learning outcome. Józsa Krisztián and Fejes József Balázs mention two components of learning, which are learning motivation and learning strategies. According to their findings, the more motivated the learner is, the more likely he or she is going to use the right learning strategies. Using the right strategies will make their motivation stronger, and as a result, it will enable them to learn in a more effective way. Their studies prove the assumption, that positive affective factors’ impact on students’ development is noticeable and it is worth paying more attention to the conscious shaping of students’ affective tendencies.

Affective strategies might vary in shapes and forms, the crucial point is for them to promote positive learning outcomes. Aneta Pavlenko indicates the importance of internalizing emotions and having a context for words, since, as she explains, vernacular words in a natural context are linked to our memory and emotional reactions, in contrast with foreign-language words, which might be decontextualized in our mental lexicon.

Results of lowering negative factors and boosting self-confidence are obviously positive, they lead to learning success. Carol Dweck had several attempts to prove that even the children from an undeveloped area, who usually underperform and are used to constant failure will improve. Her method was transforming the meaning of effort and difficulty, before the shift of these concepts, students felt dumb, they were unmotivated, and had anxiety. With her method, Dweck proved that with the right methods student can feel competent enough to massively improve. In fact, with her methods, a constantly underperforming fourth-grader group from Harlem became the highest performing group in the state of New York in a single year. This concept shift lead to lowering negative emotions and replacing them with self-confidence and capability, as a result, their performance improved massively.

Students’ high anxiety level and lack of motivation, prevents them from effective language learning, lowering negative factors and simultaneously building up motivation and self-confidence might help to reach higher performance and better grades.

Dweck wanted to see how children cope with challenges and difficulties, so she faced students’ with slightly hard problems for them, then she focused on their reactions. Some of the students reacted in a positive way, they liked the challenges and understood, that their abilities could be developed. In contrast, other students had negative emotions, they even felt it was tragic, the reason behind it was that their intelligence was up to judgment and they failed. Their negative emotional state made them state, that they would rather cheat the next time if they fail, and they would feel better about themselves if they find someone with worse results. Dweck leads us to a core problem in the education system, students are obsessed with getting good grades, they must have constant validation, which might lead them to lack of motivation and anxiety due to failure.

Negative affective factors’ presence in the education system is visible. According to Józsa and Fejes, the number of students with a positive attitude towards school decreases with age. For the root cause in elementary school, they mention that negative attitudes core reasons are an academic failure, anxiety, and teacher rejection. The high school age group has several negative emotions due to the regulated school atmosphere, the lack of future usefulness, the hostile social relations, and the poor academic results. They also state that the reason behind the negative attitudes might be the school’s performance-centric, monotonous atmosphere.


Thus it could be concluded that motivation is an effective factor, which enables students to reach their future goals by recognizing why they want to learn English, what they are willing to do for it and how much they are devoted to reaching their goals. Offering an attractive future self could also help internalize the envisioned outcomes. In this case, intrinsic motivation can be the prerequisite of successful learning outcomes – as a result, effective strategies might work better in the ESL class. Students must be willing to accept effective strategies in order to successfully learn the English language.

Works Cited:

  1. Dörnyei, Zoltán. 2014. “Motivation in second language learning.” In, Teaching English as a second or foreign language, edited by M. Celce-Murcia, D. M. Brinton & M. A. Snow (4th edition, 518-531). Boston, MA: National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning.
  2. Dweck, Carol. 2014. “The power of believing that you can improve.” Filmed December 2014 at TEDxNorrkoping. 17 12 2014. Video, 10:12.
  3. Henter, Ramona. 2014. “Affective factors involved in learning a foreign language” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 127: 373 – 378.
  4. Hsuan, Yau, Tony, Lai. 2013.” The Motivation of Learners of English as a Foreign Language Revisited.” International Education Studies 6, no. 10 (Autumn): 90-98.
  5. Józsa Krisztián, Fejes József Balázs. 2012. “A tanulás affektív tényezői.” in Mérlegen a magyar iskola, edited by Csapó Benő. 367-406. Budapest: Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó.
  6. Pavlenko, Aneta. 2013. “The Affective Turn in SLA: From ‘Affective Factors’ to ‘Language Desire’ and ‘Commodification of Affect.’” In The Affective Dimension in Second Language Acquisition edited by Danuta Gabrys-Barker and Joanna Bielska, 14-28. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

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