Motivation, again


I’ve made two attempts to talk about motivation (see the list of pages on the right) and here’s another. This time I offer a brief story of theory development which you might find interesting. I rely on Sam Croft’s (2014) excellent dissertation throughout; Much of the text is his, although I’ve butchered it and beg his pardon.


The Force

Research into motivation took a big step forward in 1972 when Canadian researchers Gardner and Lambert published their seminal work on the motivation of French and English speaking language learners in Canada (Gardner & Lambert, 1972). The authors suggested that understanding the relationship between the two communities was crucial in understanding their motivation to learn each other’s languages. This approach departed from previous conceptions of motivation, which focussed on the individual, and further drew a distinction between language learning and other subjects. Williams (1994) highlights the significance of this research, suggesting that it led to the conceptualisation of language learning as a process involving a fundamental alteration of self-image that was not part of the learning experience of other subjects in the curriculum.

Gardner introduced two terms which endure. The first is instrumentality, which refers to the pursuit of language study as a means to an end, for example in order to improve job prospects or to pass exams, the second is the concept of integrativeness, which Gardner (1972: 135) defines as the willingness to “identify with members of another ethno-linguistic group.” Gardner and Lambert’s work advanced the theory that intergative motivation was the key to success in second language learning.

The Counterforce


A series of longitudinal studies conducted in Hungary by Dörnyei and Csizér between 1993 and 2004 (Dörnyei & Csizér, 2002; Csizér & Dörnyei, 2005) aimed to empirically test integrativeness as a predictor of motivation. Hungary, a country with a small enough English speaking population to make integration with a target L2 community a practical impossibility, provided an excellent context in which to test their hypothesis that integrativeness was not,  in fact, the best predictor of motivation. And here comes the kicker. The results of the study showed integrativeness to perform extremely well in predicting motivated behaviour, leading Dörnyei, (2005) to call it the “integrativeness enigma.” As Ryan (2009) explains, the fact that this finding was obtained in a context where the possibility of integration didn’t exist made no sense, and thus the need for a reinterpretation of the concept of integrativeness became clear.

So Dörnyei and his associates developed the L2 motivational self system which refocused motivation theory away from the integrative paradigm towards a more internal approach directed at individuals hopes and aspirations for the future. Based on the psychological desire to “reduce the discrepancy between our current and future possible selves” (Ushioda and Dörnyei, 2009: 4), the new framework consisted of three central elements.

First, the ideal L2 self. This variable represents learners’ “ideal self image expressing the wish to become a competent L2 speaker” (Csizér and Kormos, 2005: 99). This variable, according to Ryan (2008), is the theoretical pivot of the entire framework, intended to replace integrativeness as the main variable in understanding motivated behaviour among language learners. The second component is the ought-to self, representing what learners believe their obligations and responsibilities as language learners to be. The third component is the L2 learning situation, which refers to a collection of variables such as the teacher, learner group and methods of instruction and the influence that these can have upon motivation.



It spoils the narrative a bit, but we must note, as Sam Croft faithfully does, that alongside the integrativeness enigma, one of the challenges tackled by the L2 self motivational system was distinguishing integrativeness from instrumentality (Csizér & Kormos, 2005). As Lamb (2004) points out, variables such as ‘desire to meet with westerners’ or ‘desire to use English websites,’ are increasingly difficult to categorise as driven by either instrumentality or integrativeness, and are in fact clearly linked to both. With the L2 self motivational system, there is a temptation to divide the ideal and ought-to L2 selves along similar lines. This is a temptation that must be resisted however, as recognising the interconnectedness of the all strands is necessary to avoid allowing the L2 self motivational system to become “yet another dichotomous, reductionist model of language learning motivation” (Ryan, 2009: 121).



So the outcome of a study which set out to falsify a theory (integrativeness is the dominant variable in predicting motivated behaviour) actually lent support to it. Surely, following Popper, we should expect this failed attempt to falsify a theory to have the positive effect of adding to its strength, no? Well no. As we’ve seen, what actually happened (and this is pretty typical of what happens in theory construction) was that the authors of the study decided that Gardner and Lambert had got it all (well, mostly) wrong anyway. While the original theory based itself on external factors such as target language speakers and communities, the L2 self motivational system turned the theory on its head (another favourite term in the history of theory development!) and focused instead on learners’ internal hopes and aspirations. Job done! Dornyei and associates, noteably Ushioda, have gone on to develop their theory and are now considered the leading lights in explaining how motivation affects SLA.

Poor old Gardner, eh? Theory construction in SLA is a tough world, make no mistake, and justice has a small part to play in its rough and tumble. It leads many, particularly those of a relativist bent, to confuse the sociology of science with progress in understanding the matters under investigation. But in this case, I wonder how much progress has been made. Dörnyei has certainly made some progress in pinning down the notoriously difficult construct of motivation, and perhaps his work can be incorporated into an eventual overarching theory of SLA, though I doubt it. But in rejecting Gardner and Lambart’s attempts to see motivation from a social psychological perspective, much has been lost. There are, after all, limits to the realms of science, and maybe a more political perspective can throw more light on things. If there is evidence of integrative motivation to learn English in places like Hungary and Japan, maybe it can be better explained by globalisation. To quote a post from Torn Horns  “the mania for English” in these countries “is not due to the fact that English is the language of things like the internet, academia and air traffic control; rather, it is due to the political decision to open up to the world market. The demand for English is a product of the demand for wealth.”


Csizér, K. & Dörnyei, Z. (2005) Language Learners’ Motivational Profiles and their  Motivated Learning Behaviour. Language Learning, 55/4: 613 – 659.

Csizér, K. & Kormos, J. (2009) Learning Experiences, Selves and Motivated Learning Behaviour: A Comparative Analysis of Structural Models for Hungarian Secondary and University Learners of English, Chapter 5, 67 – 98, in Dörnyei, Z & Ushioda, E. (eds.) (2009) Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self. Bristol: Multilingual Matters

Croft, S. (2014) Fostering Communicative Incompetence: A look at the role of entrance exams in reducing motivation to develop communicative competence at the pre tertiary level in Japan. Unpublished MA dissertation, University of Leicester.

Dörnyei, Z. (2005) The Psychology of the Language Learner: Individual Differences in  Second Language Acquisition, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum

Dörnyei, Z. & Csizér, K. (2002) Some Dynamics of Language Aptitudes and Motivation: Results of a Longitudinal Nationwide Survey. Applied Linguistics, 23: 421 – 462.

Gardner, R. C & Lambert, W.E. (1972) Attitudes and Motivation in Second Language Learning, Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Lamb, M. (2004) Integrative Motivation in a Globalizing World. System, 32: 3-19.

Ryan, S. (2009) The Ideal L2 selves of Japanese Learners of English. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Nottingham. Retrieved on May 29, 2011 from http://etheses.

Ushioda, E. & Dörnyei, Z (2009) Motivation, Language Identities and the Ideal L2 Self: a Theoretical Overview, Chapter 1, 1 – 9, in Dörnyei, Z & Ushioda, E. (eds.) (2009) Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self. Bristol: Multilingual Matters


19 thoughts on “Motivation, again

  1. Another great read, Geoff – thanks. I was reading away, thinking of it all as a nice summary and update of the latest chat on Motivation in ELT (which it mostly is), but then you managed to slip in a political issue towards the end – very deft. Maybe this is something we should all be doing in the classroom..?


    1. Maybe this is something we should all be doing in the classroom..?


      Or more significantly, thinking only about the case of native speaker teachers of English for the moment, with what justification and from what authority does it become acceptable for the teacher to make decisions about the appropriacy of the learner’s motives for learning English?

      “… The demand for English is a product of the demand for wealth.”

      What of it if this is a learner’s prime motivation for learning English? Is the decision not theirs to make?


      1. Hi Nik,
        I accept that in many contexts the inclusion of sociopolitical issues within an English language curriculum could easily be construed as indoctrination or linguistic imperialism. However, the complete avoidance of politics or other “taboo” issues in most published ELT materials and (consequently?) most ELT classrooms means that, in my view, English teachers are doing their students a disservice.
        As English is a global language, the main purpose of it is to facilitate communication across L1 groups, which usually means communicating with people of other nationalities and/or cultures. I don’t just mean communication with native speakers, I also mean communication between non-native speakers of English. It’s therefore important for students to know about the sociopolitical impact of the way they express themselves when communicating with other cultural groups.
        This is something that doesn’t feature highly in TESOL courses and, consequently, a lot of English language teachers don’t know how to deal with it. If a student makes a racist or homophobic comment in class, for example, many teachers would let it go and quickly move to the next stage. The student would surely benefit from being made aware of the impact that such a statement might have among other cultures, cultures that they might come into contact with when using English in an authentic situation. This isn’t about changing the student’s personal views, or about the teacher imposing their own views on the class, it’s about making the students aware of how people from other cultures might respond to such comments. I wrote about this in a post a while ago, and I hope Geoff doesn’t mind me plugging it here:
        I’m not sure if you agree with what I’ve said so far, but anyway I think the basic principle can be broadened further, and this is where it ties in more with your question about learners’ motives for learning English. Sure, many learners of English are motivated by money, by the financial rewards that they think that English can bring them or, conversely, the loss of income that may come from not reaching a required level in English. As with any kind of motivation, this can be exploited in the classroom and used as a means of facilitating progress. That’s all fine, but isn’t it relevant to encourage students to consider what has led to them having this motivation? Why is it that they are living in a world where they need to use English to communicate with people from other countries, even though those people’s first language isn’t English either? Why is it so important for them to be able to communicate with other nationalities these days anyway? Why do companies want them to have a certain level of English even though they may not actually need to use it in their everyday work? Is it the case that certain groups in their country are more likely to find work than others? Why is this? Does language have anything to do with it? Why does money and personal wealth feature so highly on people’s agendas anyway? What other things can contribute to well-being? Etcetera.
        These questions raise a lot of issues related to imperialism, globalisation, power and hegemony – issues that students may not have considered before but which have a direct impact on their lives, and which are also directly relevant to their motives for learning English. I’m not saying that teachers should be standing at the front of the classroom rallying their students to overthrow the system. I’m just saying that it’s maybe important for teachers (maybe even our responsibility) to raise such questions and encourage students to consider them.
        You probably read Scott Thornbury’s recent post on Power. I thought Geoff picked out a particularly good quote (no, not my comment – the one from Johnson), and put it in his own post here:
        Addressing issues of power in the classroom can be sensitive and, as you point out, teachers need to be careful not to be seen to be imposing their views on their students. But at the same time, we are working in education, and any form of education goes beyond the formal subject itself. Avoiding certain topics for fear of causing offence is not a responsible approach to education, and I think there is a case for bringing politics into TESOL training courses. ELT doesn’t exist in a vacuum, after all.


      2. Dear Steve,

        Thank you for your response, which I’m afraid I only just realised you’ve answered so apologies for the delay (if you care that is).

        I’m a bit tight for time just now, but I’d like to respond when I have more time as I think you raise some interesting points in this reply.




  2. Hi Nik,

    I’ll leave Steve to speak for himself. The suggestion that the demand for English is a product of the demand for wealth is offered as an alternative answer to the problem of motivation. How do we explain the fact that integrativeness emerges from the studies in Hungary as the dominant variable in predicting motivated behaviour when there is no L2 community to integrate into? Dörnyei suggests that the L2 self motivational system explains it. I floated the suggestion that wealth (in the context of globalised state capitalism which promotes the conspicuous consumption of a range of rarefied products, including “English”) might provide an alternative explanation.

    The aim is to understand the world (in order to change it, if you like) and one possible way of understanding some people’s desire to learn English is to see it as the desire for wealth, reified into the artificially-manufactured illusion of a James Bond life style. If you’re persuaded that learners are motivated to learn English for reasons which would disappear if they had real control over their lives, then you would, perhaps, work towards changing things. By the way, I don’t think this political take on motivation is very promising from an academic, research point of view, but then I don’t think motivation is a very good area for academic research into SLA..

    Meanwhile, one must respect those who think capitalism is just great and who want to be James Bond, and one must decide for oneself how to do one’s job as a language teacher.


    1. Hi Geoff,

      Thank you for this reply which I’ve only just discovered was here (so apologies for the delay).

      I did not mean to question the suggestion that a person’s desire to ‘make something of themselves’ or ‘do well’ is a driver in motivation.

      It quite clearly is a contributing factor in motivation – although as with other factors in motivation, I imagine it is one which is very slippery i.e. it comes in and out of focus over time and at times may become so out of focus that it appears to be lost altogether.

      (Imagine for example a young man who takes an English course in order to pass IELTS in order to get onto a master’s degree in order to get a job in a government ministry a long way down the road. Then, on the first day of class, he is completely blown away by the funniest, most charming woman he has ever met. He quickly discovers that her competency in English is considerably higher than his own. He therefore re-doubles his efforts as part of an attempt to impress the young woman.

      As implausible as this sounds, I’ve based that story more or less as it happened to a student of mine in I once had in Mexico. But anyway, my point is that his ‘motivation’ by the end of that scenario will have very little to do with becoming an international bright young thing living a James Bond lifestyle as you put it and a long way-off his goal of getting onto the fast-track government ministry as a civil servant).

      The aim is to understand the world (in order to change it, if you like) …

      Heh. Well, yes I can see where you’re coming from there.

      My question here would be about who does the understanding, how that understanding is undertaken and also who wants to make the changes.

      A doctor may quite reasonably give strong advice about what a patient might ‘really’ need and therefore how they might live – e.g. She may explain to a patient that he probably ought not to smoke while sitting on his barcalounger and stuffing Cheeto’s down his neck. We have clear and indisputable proof that poisoning one’s body to such a degree is likely to lead to wrack and ruin.

      An English teacher … not so much. In some ways, I think that dilemma is more interesting.

      one must respect those who think capitalism is just great and who want to be James Bond

      Agreed. But I also think in the countries I used to teach (and the students I now teach over the summers in the UK), it’s not so much James Bond that they emulate as John or Jane Doe, the white picket fence, the quiet neighbourhoods, the good schools, the absence of bribery and corruption etc.




  3. Hmmm, I feel compelled to step into the ring here.

    You state: ‘(By)rejecting Gardner and Lambert’s attempts to see motivation from a social psychological perspective, much has been lost’

    I’ve spent the last five years reading little else but Dörnyei’s theories of motivation and I don’t recall him ever ‘rejecting’ Gardner socio-psychological theory of motivation. Quite the contrary, in Dörnyei & Ushioda 2009, a whole chapter is dedicated to the continuing relevance of Gardner’s work. But the focus of much SLA research (and theory construction??) has moved away from generalizability to situated, local perspectives. Hence a theory that explains language-learning motivation in the Canadian context where two language communities live cheek by jowl is not necessarily relevant in a context such as Hungary, which, as you point out is quite uniquely monolingual.

    Similarly, Ushioda was the pioneer in using qualitative methodology to analyse SLA motivation. Before her work, motivation research followed the Gardnerian tradition of large scale surveys, statistical analysis and generalisable conclusions about large populations. Dörnyei and Ushioda’s research has brought the theory back to the level of the unique individual, their classroom experience and the influences of their immediate world. Far from rejecting a social psychological perspective, it has simply become more refined and personalised.

    I could go on, but I have children to collect from school. My own Ideal self will be defending my PhD research in the not-too-distant future, if I don’t get distracted by blogs like this. My current teacher self is already using techniques based on Dörnyei’s theories in my own classroom, with some success.

    By the way, Dr Martin Lamb will be in Barcelona in June for a workshop on Reliability and Validity in SLA Research. Here’s the link:


  4. Hi Jessica,

    Five years reading little else but Dörnyei’s theories of motivation! You sound in excellent shape after such a challenging experience ;.)

    Seriously, I accept that my assertion about Dörnyei rejecting Gardner’s socio-psychological perspective is far too sweeping, although, on the other hand, I think the fact that Dörnyei recognises the continuing relevance of Gardner’s work is consistent with his suggesting that Gardner got most of it wrong, which is what I think he does. I also agree, of course, that Ushioda has contributed a great deal to Dornyei’s work, and to his view of (mixed methodology) research. But, while it’s obviously the case that the focus of some SLA research “has moved away from generalizability to situated, local perspectives”, I don’t think this can mean that we need one theory to explain language-learning motivation in the Canadian context and another one for a context such as Hungary. As you say, “Dörnyei and Ushioda’s research has brought the theory back to the level of the unique individual, their classroom experience and the influences of their immediate world”. But in order to be of any use as a theory which contributes to an explanation of SLA, the theory must go beyond the personalised, which I believe it does. My doubts about Dörnyei and Usioda’s theory centre on its reliance on 3 constructs which strike me as ill-defined and circular,

    Anyway, Jessica, thanks very much for taking the time to put me straight, I wish you the very best of luck defending your doctoral thesis, and thanks for the tip off about Lamb’s workshop.


    1. I’ve read your previous posts on Motivation and I confess I don’t really understand your quibbles with the L2MSS. Surely the appeal is that it can explain L2 motivation at BOTH the macro- and the micro-level: the Canadian schoolboy with French-speaking neighbours and the Catalan university student with a healthy aversion for the English-speaking tourists who invade Barcelona every summer.

      While it’s true that I am possibly something of a zealot, having invested a great deal of time and energy into this line of research, I’ve found some convincing evidence of the existence and the influence of a positive L2 self-concept among my own learners.

      To say you play the devil’s advocate on your blog is something of an understatement, so I suspect your rather tame (by your standards) criticism of Dörnyei’s ideas is tantamount to an endorsement in Geoff world. 🙂


  5. Hi again Jessica,

    There’s no doubt that the L2MSS can explain the phenomena you mention, but I’m not sure it’s a convincing explanation. And finding evidence of the existence and the influence of a positive L2 self-concept among your own easy, once you’re sold on the theory. Is it possible, at least in principle, for you to find evidence that would falsify the theory? That’s the big test for me.

    You’re right that I’m impressed with Dörnyei’s work, but I think the L2MSS has rather overstretched itself. I confess I got so impatient with the 2 big 2009 books that I haven’t really kept up to date. I think that if I did get up to date, I’d probably be ready to attempt a better-informed and more critical review of the theory. Maybe after you’ve made mincemeat of your examiners at your viva (which I’m sure you will),you and I can take up the discussion properly. I volunteer to fully lay out my arguments against the L2MSS theory, so that you have a proper case to argue against. OK?


  6. Speaking of motivation, Auden again:

    What mad Nijinsky wrote
    About Diaghilev
    Is true of the normal heart;
    For the error bred in the bone
    Of each woman and each man
    Craves what it cannot have,
    Not universal love
    But to be loved alone.

    Won’t a theory of motivation in language learning need to be grounded in a theory of fundamental human motivation(s)? Certainly, I think, it’ll need this if it is to be integrated into a wider politics, though doubtless it is unnecessary so long as all we want is a set of instrumental constructs that serve to guide classroom practice. Such a fundamental theory would presumably reconcile current divergent theories about motivation in Canada and motivation in Hungary,


  7. What a brilliant, cynical, wicked old man he was that Auden!

    My take on theories of SLA is that they must have well-defined constructs, operationally-defined variables, and empirical content, and this is hardly the strong point of research in sociolinguistics. The general question of individual differences, and in particular the issues of aptitude and motivation, are vital for an explanation of a key phenomenon of SLA, namely incompleteness. “The clearest fact about SLA that we currently have” is that L2 learners “differ dramatically in their rates of acquisition and in their ultimate attainment.” (Sawyer and Ranta, 2001: 319). Unfortunately, despite its importance, L2 research into the sources of individual differences has lagged far behind research in other areas. The problem is partly due to the reliance on correlational research designs, and partly to the inherent difficulty of finding reliable and valid measures of the traits examined. Jessica will, I hope, manage to persuade us all that Dörnyei and Ushioda and their L2MSS doesn’t suffer from the weaknesses I sociolinguistic research. But anyway, as I think you imply, Patrick, a theory of motivation which seeks to explain rate of acquisition and ultimate attainment in SLA needs to be if not universally, then at least generally, applicable.

    Sawyer, M., and Ranta, L. (2001) Aptitude, individual differences, and instructional design. In Robinson, P. Cognition and Second Language Instruction. Cambridge: CUP.


  8. Reading SLA writing on motivation, I can’t help but think that a concept like motivation which has universal implications must have been given more complete treatment in journals of psychology rather than applied linguistics. Google scholar turns up a few articles which I would definitely read if I still had access to a library.


    1. Hi Mark,

      I’m sure there are hundreds of articles on motivation in psychology journals. But I doubt there are many that use a construct of motivation which can be used to explain the phenomena of rate of acquisition or of incompleteness in SLA. As I understand it, Gardner, Lambert, Dörnyei, Ushioda, and others (maybe including Jessica) took a pretty close look at the wider literature.


  9. Geoff, thanks for your post.

    You wrote:
    ” If there is evidence of integrative motivation to learn English in places like Hungary and Japan, maybe it can be better explained by globalisation. To quote a post from Torn Horns “the mania for English” in these countries “is not due to the fact that English is the language of things like the internet, academia and air traffic control; rather, it is due to the political decision to open up to the world market. The demand for English is a product of the demand for wealth.””

    The moment I read this part, I thought ‘yeah, that’s right, Geoff!’.


    Actually, I quite like this last phrase – ‘The demand for English is a product of the demand for wealth.’

    because- it really reminds me of the exact situation of the current school curriculum in Japan.
    In Japan, I do not really think many Japanese people feel that they need to learn English – to be honest. – despite of the fact that very large amount of people do go to English language schools.
    – simply because, they do not really need to use English for daily life. They can survive daily life without using any English.
    This ‘true’ feeling must be always running underneath of their mind. This is a very ‘hollow’ feeling.

    and then, why? why the current schooling system crazily say ‘English is the must language to learn’?
    Why Japanese business people talk about studying English all the time?

    a) Schools
    At least, the current schools are ‘threatened’ by the government’s order. The ministry of education in Japan- that is them, they clearly states ‘to become a member of globalized world’ or ‘to make any contribution to the world’ or anyway, what they want to say is – they do not want Japan to be isolated from the rest of the world, economically and politically, and to avoid the isolation, the government think ‘to learn English’ is the key. The government stress that to learn English means to have an access to the world – to make a smooth communication with people in the world.
    That is why the ministry stresses the importance for Japanese students to develop the skills of having debate, and negotiation with other people in the world in English. ‘English as lingua franca’- must be the one the govenment think.
    and the government put an order to increase English courses in the whole school sytems in Japan.
    Schools and teachers have to obey their order.

    There is a gap between the government and the local schools. The gorvenment think ‘English is hot’ but the local teachers’ feelings ‘English is just a mere subject for the university entrance exam’.

    b) Business
    To Japanese businessman, there are benefits to learn English.
    – for their promotion: many companies promise to do a pay-rise if employees achieved high scores of TOEIC (one of ETS’s English achievement test).
    – English language is useful to their jobs – they have to use English to deal with overseas’ business.

    Actually, in this respect, motivation is second to this notion. – What do you think?


    1. Hi Tommy,

      Thanks for your comment. It’s easy to suggest, using Gardner’s original instrumental / integrative distinction, that instrumental motivation is a factor in explaining the Japanese government’s and business community’s interest in learning English. The puzzle is why studies show Japanese university students , for example, scoring highly on integrative measures, and that’s the puzzle which Dörnyei and Ushioda claim to solve. An alternative, radically political explanation, is that Japanese society is deeply affected by profit-driven attempts to promote some kind of Disney World version of itself, where English plays an essential role.


  10. Thanks for your reply. – and please allow me to explain a bit more.

    You said “The puzzle is why studies show Japanese university students , for example, scoring highly on integrative measures, and that’s the puzzle which Dörnyei and Ushioda claim to solve. ”

    However, what do you think- probably ‘integrative motivation’ which Japanese university students have and ‘intrumental motivation’ which comes from out of their group- such as from Japanese government, or from Japanse society, etc., may be existing individually.
    Or ‘integrative motivation’ may originally exist regardless ‘instrumental force’ exists or not.

    The thing is, there are several questions about the statement ‘scoring highly on integrative measures’ as
    – probably the sample they took may coincidently be the group who possesses high integrative motivation
    – if Dörnyei and Ushioda took numerous samples which they must have done – to make this result validated,
    can we say- Japanese youths (or Japanese people) posess generally, and historically, highly-integrative motivation in their nature – ? (I dare to ‘generalise’ based on this result.)
    ..because, if anyone know about the history of Japan, and the nature of Japan,
    the history, the nature, and their language itself are based on highly-integrative force. (I think.)
    History: they do not eliminate some superior group if someone took over; the new group always try to keep a certain superior group, and instead of terminating their group, the new group tries to integrate them with the established superior group – (by marriage, or whatever.)
    Language (Japanese language)
    Japanese language is very peculiar as there are three different alphabets. Even some of their Kanjis (adoption from Chinese character) has various pronunciation per only one Kanji; this is shown the integration and make the kanji complecated. Their language imports many foreign words all the time, but their original words are not stopped using- they just add more and more, just like an organised mess in Tokyo city.
    People (nature)
    Historically people are very eager to know ‘the outside of the world’. They are very curious about what is happening ‘out there’, and they want to know the ‘truth’ that is happening outside of the world. (that is NOT only about ‘enthusiasm towards something ‘western”. (I don’t know why, but in this respect, this nature is very different from ordinary young Brits who are not quite interested in what is happening outside of the world.)
    Japanese people are more curious about new thing rather than being afraid.. historically. I think this is the nature. probably something to do with insularism as well.

    This is my personal notion based on my knowledge as I know their whole history and their language.

    What do you think of these?

    Geoff, you wrote:
    “An alternative, radically political explanation, is that Japanese society is deeply affected by profit-driven attempts to promote some kind of Disney World version of itself, where English plays an essential role.”
    I quite like your expression ‘some kind of Disney World version of itself’.. exactly. I know- probably they want to state some sort of ‘ideal-self’ as their government version..!

    3. Oh more about Gardner,
    I just remember what Dornyei said only the other day (at TUJ, Osaka, Japan in April).
    Dornyei said,
    “you know, Gardner had a passion. He felt the great mission about the motivation research- as his mission was to integrate two communities in Canada.. (does not mean in a certain country in the end..)” [=> English spoken and Canadian-French spoken communities are there in Canada]
    Dornyei also said,
    there is a limitation of Gardner in the end, as he himself is not a non-native speakers of English..
    Dornyei just simply described Gardner’s theory as a part of history of motivation research. Dornyei also said, in America, normally many young researchers who studied under the big name (like Gardner) are faithful to the big name, even after they left him. (and Dornyei joked about Peter MacIntyre (Dornyei said to us, he is a good friend though) but in England, it is very different.. (and joked about Dornyei’s own experience of his students.)


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