by Dimitrios Thanasoulas
Dornyei (1998b) study differs from those by Oxford (1998),
Chambers (1993) and Ushioda (1998) in that it focused on learners
who had been identified as being demotivated, rather than
looking at a general cross-section of students and asking
them about bad learning experiences (for details about the
nature of the research, please see Dornyei, 2001: 150-151).
Among other things, Dornyei identified the following demotivating
The teacher (personality, commitment, competence, teaching
2. Inadequate school facilities (group is too big or not the
right level, frequent change of teachers);
3. Reduced self-confidence (experience of failure or lack
4. Negative attitude towards the L2;
5. Compulsory nature of L2 study;
6. Interference of another foreign language being studied;
7. Negative attitude towards L2 community;
8. Attitudes of group members;
expectations and student achievement
not all demotivating factors relate to teachers' stance and
behaviour, it cannot be denied that the latter do have a responsibility
in this respect. In particular, teachers' expectations of
students' achievement are instrumental in increasing demotivation
(or decreasing motivation). Research has shown that teacher
expectations affect the students' rate of progress, functioning
as a self-fulfilling prophecy (also referred to as the 'Pygmalion
effect' after Bernard Shaw's play), with students living up
or "down" to their teachers' expectations. These
expectations trigger off various events and teacher behaviours
which, in turn, influence student performance. On a positive
note, these influences are likely to affect the students'
self-concept, level of aspiration, achievement strivings,
classroom conduct and interaction with the teacher (Dornyei,
2001: 176). On a negative note, though, the Pygmalion effect
can reduce student motivation. Brophy (1985: 180) lists eight
concrete ways by which negative expectations can make inroads
into students' self-efficacy:
Giving up easily on low-expectation students
2. Criticising them more often for failure
3. Praising them less often for success
4. Praising them inappropriately
5. Neglecting to give them any feedback
6. Seating them in the back of the room
7. Paying less attention to them or interacting with them
Expressing less warmth towards them or less interest in them
we can glean from all the above is that demotivation is a
salient phenomenon that should concern every classroom practitioner.
It goes without saying that it is a complex issue and the
present analysis has not done it justice. There are so many
factors that affect student motivation, not the least of which
is the role of the teacher. Effective teachers are not necessarily
those who successfully transfer cognitive information. Rather,
the positive impact of "good teachers" consists
in their strong commitment towards the subject matter which
becomes 'infectious', that is, instils in students a willingness
to pursue knowledge and learn how to learn (Csikszentmihalyi,
1997). Only motivated teachers can "produce" motivated
J. E. (1985). Teachers' expectations, motives and goals for
working with problem students. In Ames, C. and Ames, D. (Eds.),
Research on motivation in education: The classroom milieu.
Academic Press, Orlando, FL, pp. 175-214.
Chambers, G. N. (1993). Talking the 'de' out of demotivation.
Language Learning Journal. 7: 13-16.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Intrinsic motivation and effective
teaching: A flow analysis. In Bes, J. L. (Ed.), Teaching well
and liking it: Motivating faculty to teach effectively. Baltimore:
Hopkins University Press.
Deci, E. L. and Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and
self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.
Dornyei, Z. (1998b). Demotivation in foreign language learning.
Paper presented at the TESOL'98 Congress, Seattle,WA, March.
Dornyei, Z. (2001). Teaching and Researching Motivation. England:
Pearson Education Limited.
Oxford, R. L. (1998). The unravelling tapestry: Teacher and
course characteristics associated with demotivation in the
language classroom. Demotivation in foreign language learning.
Paper presented at the TESOL'98 Congress, Seattle, WA, March.
Ushioda, E. (1998). Effective motivational thinking: A cognitive
theoreticalapproach to the study of language learning motivation.
In Soler, E. A. and Espurz, V. C. Current issues in English
language methodology. Universitat Jaume I, Castello de la
Plana, Spain, pp. 77-89.
English Literature and Linguistics at Athens University
and then did an MA in Applied Linguistics at Sussex
University. After that, he earned an MBA from Mooreland
University and is currently finishing the second year
of my PhD studies in Education at Nottingham University.
His academic interests include fostering cultural awareness
and learner autonomy, as well as such issues as language
and ideology, Critical Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics,
Sociolinguistics, and the Psychology of Education.
can be contacted at:
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