Contradictory Others and the Habitus of Languages: Surveying the L2 Motivation Landscape in the United Kingdom

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Britain’s already poor record for language learning might be exacerbated by the Global English phenomenon,
in that utilitarian reasons for learning languages other than English are increasingly undermined
(Lanvers, 2014; Lo Bianco, 2014). This article offers a state-of-the-art review of UK research on
second language (L2) learning motivation and attitude. The introduction is dedicated to a review of language
education policy and numerical evidence on the decline in language learning. Part I reviews UK
motivational literature under the headings Primary school; Secondary school; University and beyond; Teachers,
parents, milieu. The evaluation of the literature reveals some striking lacunae, as well as a misfit between
common explanations of the UK’s language learning crisis and the social divide between those who
choose to learn languages and those who do not. Amotivation-in-context understanding of UK language
learning needs to account for the many contradictory Other influences impacting on learner motivation.
Therefore, Part II presents a new motivational model, based on Higgins’s Self-Discrepancy Theory, a
model which includes multifaceted Others as well as Own selves, including that of resistance/rebellion against
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-532
Number of pages16
JournalThe Modern Language Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2017

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  • learner motivation, Ideal self, Ought to self

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