Motivation is defined in the English Oxford dictionary as; a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way. Motivation is the process that initiates, guides and causes us to act, whether it is eating something because we are hungry or reading a book to learn something new.
Essentially, motivation can be divided into two types; intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within and refers to the desire and pleasure we get from engaging in an activity for its own sake or the sense of satisfaction and fulfilment we feel when we have completed something. A student who is intrinsically motivated will tend to engage positively in their learning as they will be interested and have a desire to learn and develop further skills in learning a language. It is the experience of learning and not any external rewards that motivates them.
Extrinsic motivation by contrast, occurs when we are motivated to engage in an activity and are rewarded externally, i.e. external to the self. For example, a student will be extrinsically motivated and may study hard in order to pass their language exam and achieve good grades. It is the desire to gain a reward or avoid a negative outcome that is the motivator.
Successful language learning is linked to the students’ desire to engage in their learning, motivation is crucial and plays a significant part in the process of learning a language.
‘Language teachers cannot effectively teach a language if they do not understand the relationship between motivation and its effect on language acquisition’. (Karaoglu, S. 2008)
http://www.tesol.org/read-and-publish/journals/other-serial-publications/compleat-links/compleat-links-volume-5-issue-2-%28june-2008%29/motivating-language-learners-to-succeed (accessed 17/11/14)
As teachers we need to be aware of the different levels and types of motivation our students may be experiencing as each student will have different interests, expectations and learning styles....