IGNITING THE VISION:
Guiding students to imagine the ideal L2 self
Katie Butler & Virginia Scott
Va n derbilt U n ivers ity
ACTFL 2014
OVERVIEW OF THE PRESENTATION
Virginia Scott:
 Realities of the American FL classroom
 Language teaching vs. language education
 Hypothesis regarding motivation for classroom FL learners
Katie Butler:
 Brief history and current theories of L2 motivation
 Classroom interventions
 Preliminary findings
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REALITIES …
 Most students who start their study of a foreign language in high
school or college do not continue beyond the second year.
 Students often leave their FL studies feeling like deficient native
speakers rather than proficient second language users.
 Many of our students will not have opportunities to travel outside
the U.S.
 Students (and their parents) often question the value of FL study.
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QUESTIONS … ?
What might make FL study worthwhile to all students – not just the
10% who are successful?
What can we do to motivate learners to continue their FL study
beyond the first/second year?
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TEACHING VS. EDUCATION
LANGUAGE TEACHING …
… to help students learn about a
particular language & culture.
… to develop L2 skills
(speaking, reading, writing, listening)
LANGUAGE EDUCATION …
… goes beyond an exclusive
focus on learning the target
language and learning about
the target culture.
… places critical reflection
about oneself, one’s own
language and culture, and the
target language and culture at
the heart of foreign language
education.
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LANGUAGE EDUCATION …
Students should be guided to explore questions such as …
 In what ways are the languages you speak part of your identity?
 What is the difference between your language and your nationality?
 What is a “native speaker”? Are you a native speaker of a particular language?
 Does your native language give you a sense of power? A sense of belonging to a group?
 Have you ever felt like a “language outsider”?
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LANGUAGE EDUCATION …
 What languages are/are not “cool”? Why?
 Name some languages spoken by people in power.
 Name some spoken by marginalized people.
 In what ways can learning a second language give you power?
 BIG QUESTION: What does “L2 self” mean?
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THE LANGUAGE LEARNER
Dörnyei’s “tripartite system of the human mind …
comprises cognition, affect, and motivation” (2010, p. 248).
 Cognition
understanding / awareness
 Affect
feelings (fear, joy, sadness)
 Motivation
desire / willingness to do something
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THE LANGUAGE LEARNER
AFFECT
Ideal L2 self
COGNITION
MOTIVATION
“… if the person we would like to become speaks an L2, the ideal L2 self is a powerful motivator to
learn the L2 because of the desire to reduce the discrepancy between our actual and ideal selves.”
(Dörnyei, 2010, p. 257)
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HYPOTHESIS
If a learner is aware of the role that language plays in his/her life,
and feels that knowing a second language can be an important
part of his/her ideal self, s/he will be motivated to continue.
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HISTORY OF MOTIVATION IN SLA
1. Social Psychological Period: macro-perspective
2. Cognitive-Situated Period: micro-perspective
3. Process-oriented Period: cause-and-effect
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NEED FOR A NEW THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
“Another question is whether any SLA motivation construct
that has been proposed and studies has been wrong? I
would suggest that none of them have been wrong. They
may have been incomplete; they may have been extended
too broadly or narrowly; research on the construct may
have been inadequate owing to limitations on current
technology or statistical procedures. The constructs may
have been limited because of the lack of a larger
theoretical framework in which to place them” (Schumann,
2014, xvi).
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SOCIO-DYNAMIC PERIOD
 concerned with “the situated complexity of the L2 motivation process and
its organic development in dynamic interaction with a multiplicity of
internal, social and contextual factors”
 attempts to “theorize L2 motivation in ways that take account of the
broader complexities of language learning and use in the modern
globalized world” (Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2011, p. 72).
One theory within this period:
Complex Dynamic Systems Theory
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SOCIO-DYNAMIC PERIOD
 Framework for researching SLA:
Complex Dynamic Systems Theory
 Zoltán Dörnyei’s framework for researching
L2 motivation:
L2 Motivational Self System
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L2 MOTIVATIONAL SELF SYSTEM
1. Ideal L2 Self
“the L2-specific facet of one’s ‘ideal self’”
2. Ought-to Self
“concerns the attributes that one believes one ought to
possess to meet expectations and to avoid possible negative
outcomes”
3. L2 Learning Experience
“concerns situated, ‘executive’ motives related to the
immediate learning environment and experience” (Dörnyei &
Ushioda, 2009, p. 29)
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L2 MOTIVATIONAL SELF SYSTEM
 Based on Possible Selves Theory (Markus & Nurius, 1986)
and Self-Discrepancy Theory (Higgins, 1987, 1996)
 “Motivation to learn the language is enhanced because
of the learner’s psychological desire to reduce the
discrepancy between current and possible future selves”
(Gergersen & MacIntyre, 2014, p. 261).
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CLASSROOM INTERVENTIONS USING L2MSS
 Creating the vision (construction of the Ideal L2 Self)
 Strengthening the vision (imagery enhancement)
 Substantiating the vision (making the Ideal L2 Self
plausible)
 Operationalizing the vision (developing an action plan)
 Counterbalancing the vision (considering failure)
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RATIONALE FOR L2 SELF INTERVENTION
“Although research suggests that aptitude explains a
relatively large portion of variability among learners, other
IDs such as motivation, which are more susceptible to teacher
intervention, may ultimately result in being much more robust
explanatory variables in TL learning (Juffs & Harrington,
2011). In other words, a highly motivated, self-confident
learner who may have a dispositional tendency toward low
cognitive abilities still has a fighting chance to acquire high
proficiency in a TL” (Gregersen and MacIntyre, 2014, p. 78).
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CLASSROOM INTERVENTION 1
Describe your future, ideal L2 self.
Reflection essay
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CLASSROOM INTERVENTION 1
Recurring qualities of students’ ideal L2 self






travel
family history
family future
career
leisure activities
love
with class discussion of these ideal L2 selves
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CLASSROOM INTERVENTION 2
Problems with the Monolingual View of Bilingualism:
A person cannot become a native speaker of another language.
A native speaker is born into the community in which the language
is used.
Most people are incapable of achieving native-like speech
(pronunciation, idiomatic oral proficiency, etc.) in a second
language.
Finally, the native speaker is only an abstraction.
(Cook & Singleton, 2013)
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CLASSROOM INTERVENTION 3
 Identify a positive L2 role model whose language
learning trajectory you would like to emulate.
 Identify a negative L2 role model whose language
learning trajectory you would NOT like to emulate.
Class discussion: What can we learn from these L2 users?
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SAMPLE POSITIVE L2 ROLE MODELS
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SAMPLE NEGATIVE L2 ROLE MODELS
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SAMPLE POSITIVE L2 ROLE MODELS
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SAMPLE NEGATIVE L2 ROLE MODELS
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SAMPLE POSITIVE L2 ROLE MODELS
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SAMPLE NEGATIVE L2 ROLE MODELS
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CLASSROOM INTERVENTION 4
Timeline to ideal L2 self
Sophomore
year:
Enroll in
Medical
French
Course
Junior and
Senior year:
Volunteer at
medical clinic
serving
immigrants
and refugees
In 3 years:
Start medical school
(alternate routes)
In 3 years:
Spend a year volunteering abroad
at a Francophone medical clinic
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SAMPLE TIMELINES
Beyond the L2 of the course
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RESEARCHING L2 MOTIVATION
“Are students aware that motivation is dynamic? Is
there light at the end of the tunnel? We’re not
researching just for our purposes but also to help our
students” (Ushioda, 2014, August).
ACTFL 2014
RESEARCHING L2 MOTIVATION
“Current quantitative methods of SLA inquiry are ill-equipped to
investigate these more complex, process-oriented, and contextual
perspectives, since such methods typically rely on superficial snapshot
measures at an arbitrary point in time, seek to generalize on the basis
of statistically representative patterns in the data, and are not sensitive
to the particularities of evolving motivational experiences or individualcontextual interactions. Within the last decade or so, more qualitative
methods of inquiry have gradually begun to complement the dominant
quantitative paradigm, in an effort to address the dynamic and situated
complexity of L2 motivation, and also mirroring a general trend in SLA
research” (Ushioda and Dörnyei, 2013, pp. 401-402).
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RESEARCHING L2 MOTIVATION
Pilot Study
Intervention
1: Description of future L2 self
Data collected
Written response, class discussion with
observation
2: Confronting learner beliefs
Written response to metaphor prompt,
class discussion with observation
Written response, class discussion with
observation
3: L2 role models
4: Timeline to ideal L2 self
Written response, class discussion with
observation
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FUTURE RESEARCH
“… [T]here is increasing recognition that mixed
methods approaches can help to capture more of
the complexity of the issues under investigation …
In particular, with current moves toward more
socio-dynamic perspectives on motivation, the
investigation of contextual factors and individualcontextual interactions is likely to entail
triangulation of multiple forms of data from
diverse points of view … in order to obtain a rich
holistic analysis of motivation-in-context, rather
than relying (as traditionally) on a single set of
self-report measures…” (Ushioda and Dörnyei,
2013, p. 402).
ACTFL 2014
REFERENCES
Byram, M. (2012). Language Awareness and (Critical) Cultural Awareness: Relationships, Comparisons and
Contrasts. Language Awareness 21(1-2): 5–13.
Cohen, A.D. & Macaro, E. (Eds.) (2007). Language learner strategies: Thirty years of research and practice.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cook, V. & Singleton, D. (Eds.) (2014). Key topics in second language acquisition. Bristol, UK: Multilingual
Matters.
Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The Psychology of the Language Learner. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Dörnyei, Z. (2010). The Relationship between Language Aptitude and Language Learning Motivation:
Individual differences from a dynamic systems perspective’. In E. Macaro (Ed.), The Continuum Companion
to Second Language Acquisition (pp. 247-267). London: Continuum
Dörnyei, Z. & Ushioda, E. (Eds.) (2009). Motivation, language identity and the L2 self. Bristol, UK:
Multilingual Matters.
Dornyei, Z., & Ushioda, E. (2011). Teaching and researching motivation. London: Longman
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Garrett, P. & C. James. (2000). Language Awareness. In M. Byram (Ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of
Language Teaching and Learning. London: Routledge, 2000.
Gregersen, T. & MacIntyre, P.D. (Eds.) (2014). Capitalizing on language learners’ individuality: From
premise to practice. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Hadfield, J., & Dörnyei, Z. (2014). From theory to practice: Motivation and the ideal language self.
London, UK: Longman.
Higgins, E.T. (1987). Self-discrepancy: A theory relating self and affect. Psychological review 94, 319340.
Higgins, E.T. (1996). The ‘self-digest’: Self-knowledge serving self-regulatory functions. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology 71(6), 1062-1083.
Macaro, E. (2003). Teaching and learning a second language: A guide to recent research. London:
Continuum International Publishing Group.
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Markus, H.R. & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves: Personalized representations of goals. In L.A. Pervin
(Ed.), Goal concepts in personality and social psychology (pp. 211-241). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
Norton, B., & Toohey, K. (2002). Identity and language learning. In R. B. Kaplan (Ed.), The Oxford
handbook of applied linguistics (pp. 115-123). New York, Oxford: Oxford UP.
Scott, V.M. (2010). Double Talk: Deconstructing Monolingualism in Classroom Second Language Learning.
Upper Saddle River, NY: Pearson.
Scott, V.M., Dessein, E., Ledford, J. & Joseph-Gabriel, A. (2013). Language Awareness in the French
Classroom. The French Review 86(6): 90-102.
Svalberg, A. M-L. (2007). Language Awareness and Language Learning. Language Teaching 40(4): 287–
308.
Ushioda, E. (2014, August). Researching L2 motivation among persons-in-contexts: Approaches and
challenges. Paper presented at the International Conference on Motivational Dynamics and Second
Language Acquisition
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