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Title: The motivation of adult foreign language learners on an Italian beginners' course : an exploratory, longitudinal study
Author: Ferrari, Liviana
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis reports on a qualitative, longitudinal investigation into what shaped and sustained the motivation of two cohorts of L1-English learners of Italian during a beginners‟ course. Motivation was not limited here to L2 learning, but extended to what the participants perceived as the dynamic interplay of personal and contextual influences, responsible for their sustained participation and engagement with the learning environment. The distinctiveness of the study firstly lies in its methodological approach which, unusually for L2 motivation research, is entirely qualitative on epistemological grounds, in an attempt to give learners a true voice and position them firmly at the centre of the enquiry. Innovative aspects are also the choice of L1-English adult learners of a foreign language as participants, and that of Adult Education as a setting, given that L2 motivation studies have traditionally involved learners of English as a foreign or second language in schools or universities. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken at the beginning, middle and end of a 30-week Italian beginners‟ course, using the Dörnyei-Ottó (1998) Process Model of L2 motivation as a loose conceptual framework. Summative focus groups were also conducted in the final stage. The data was analysed using an interpretive approach to explore salient themes and issues from the participants' perspectives. The findings suggest that, whilst the learners‟ initial goals and reasons for joining the course appear to have fuelled initial motivation, the positive learning experience and interpersonal dynamics developed in the classroom were largely responsible for sustaining it. The study also reveals novel insights into L2 motivation from adult learning perspectives, which take into account social participation and leisure participation motives. Finally, the thesis proposes a new conceptual model, which may prove useful in order to flexibly represent the dynamic, situated and complex nature of adult FL motivation – and arguably L2 learning motivation in general.
Supervisor: Danijela, Trenkic Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available