Motivational orientations, attitudes, and demotivation : a case study of Muslim Arab learners of English in public schools in Northern Israel
The current study investigated aspects of language learning motivation among Arab learners of English in Israel. The study involved 385 participants from 6 public (state) schools in Israel in years 9 and 10. The study examined a number of motivational components including attitudes, motivational orientations (reasons for studying English) and demotivation with a special focus on the effect of the immediate learning environment on each of them. In collecting the data, a mixed methodological approach was followed combining survey questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. The results of the study suggested that Arab learners of English in Israel had positive attitudes towards learning foreign languages in general and English in particular but possessed rather negative attitudes to native speakers of English. The participants rated high the instrumental and intrinsic orientations but quite low the integrative one. Results on language learning demotivation showed that there were two main sources of demotivation. The first related to factors external to the learner and linked to the immediate learning context and the other included factors that were mainly linked to the perceived difficulties with learning English. On the whole, the participants expressed light satisfaction with their immediate learning contexts although there were sharp differences among students coming from different classes. Some differences were found between male and female students. The interviews with students confirmed many of the above findings though they indicated that some aspects of the instrumental, in particular, were not applicable to Arab learners. The results of the study were analysed by considering the socioeconomic and political conditions of the Arabs in Israel and by considering some of the cognitive motivational theories. The results of the interviews opened new ways in which attitudes, motivation and demotivation in language learning could be understood.