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A Sociological Perspective on Motivation to Learn EFL: The Case of Escuelas Plurilingües in Argentina

Lifrieri, Verónica (2005) A Sociological Perspective on Motivation to Learn EFL: The Case of Escuelas Plurilingües in Argentina. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study explores the effects of socio-economic background on attitudes towards L2 motivation within Gardner's (e.g. 1985, 2000, 2001, 2002) Integrative Motivation framework. Recent findings by Dörnyei & Csizér (2002) and Csizér & Dörnyei (2005) have cast doubt on the explanatory power of 'integrativeness' for monolingual contexts of language learning. While the authors propose a reformulation of the concept based on the learners' construction of "possible selves", this thesis stresses the need to delve deeper into the origins of such representations to better understand FL learners' attitudes and motivation. Socio-economic background is thus proposed as a potentially fruitful avenue of investigation. Despite the current emphasis on contextualized motivation (Clément & Gardner 2001, Dörnyei 2001b, Gardner 2002, McGroarty 1998, 2001, Spolsky 2000), and strong indications from sociology about the impact of social stratification on human behavior (Grusky 1994), no systematic empirical work shows how socio-economic status may impinge upon FL motivation. To investigate the socio-economic dimension of motivation, two questionnaires were designed based (1) on Gardner's (1985) AMTB and (2) on Bourdieu's (1986) tripartite conceptualization of capital. Parental occupation was also used as an additional measure of socio-economic level. Both questionnaires were administered among 39 fourth-graders (9-10 years of age) enrolled in EFL intensive classes in six public so-called Plurilingual Schools in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Though not conclusive or generalizable due to the reduced pool of respondents and the novel testing conditions and instruments, this study gives some evidence in support of a predictive role of economic capital and parental occupation on motivation. Overall, more economically disadvantaged EFL learners showed more positive attitudes towards the benefits of learning English to attain present and future goals, and they were more generally motivated to learn the language as well. Possible interpretations of these results in light of Bourdieu's 'habitus' as well as the potential effects of parental expectations and performance anxiety are discussed.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lifrieri, Verónicavel1@pitt.eduVEL1
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDeKeyser, Robertrdk1@pitt.eduRDK1
Committee MemberJuffs, Alanjuffs@pitt.eduJUFFS
Committee MemberKiesling, Scott Fkiesling@pitt.eduKIESLING
Date: 7 June 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 6 April 2005
Approval Date: 7 June 2005
Submission Date: 19 April 2005
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Hispanic Linguistics
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: English; foreign language learning; language motivation; social class
Other ID:, etd-04192005-163359
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:38
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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