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Book of the month

May 18, 2009

Hello again,

This month I have chosen Zoltan Doernyei,(2001) Teaching and Researching Motivation
ISBN 0-582-38238-6, Persons Education Ltd., xii+295pp. Like the author, we may feel that the whole topic of language learning motivation is “characterised by a confusing plethora of competing theories, with little consensus and much disagreement among researchers”. Thus this book ...

...aims to bring some clarity to the topic by first summarising the different theories in the field, and pointing out their associated problems and gaps. Then it takes theory into the classroom to show how it can be applied. Finally, it looks at the approaches to research on motivation to learn a second language. Despite the scholarly approach, the book is easy to read and full of valuable information.

The first section is an extremely useful guide to the theoretical background and to
past research and includes an examination of the most influential
schools of motivational psychology. Starting from basics, the author finds common ground among definitions, explaining that motivation concerns choice, persistence and effort. He goes on to provide quotations from the main theorists on motivation in general and learner motivation.

This is followed by helpful suggestions about motivational strategies and techniques in the classroom. This section is perhaps the most useful to teachers and particularly interesting is the examination of two factors that the author considers to have been neglected. The first is learner demotivation. This concerns external stimuli and classroom activity that can sabotage motivation in learners, even when it is intrinsically strong. The second is the motivation of teachers and the effect their own enthusiasm and integrity can have on students’ desire to learn.

The final section of the book contains useful resources, including web-sites, lists of key reference works and over 150 questionnaire items that the author has successfully used in the past. This area covers topics that also form the subjects of separats works, some of which can be downloaded from the Internet. For example, Ten commandments for motivating language learners: results of an empirical study, which appears on a list of works cited and is available in pdf format.

For me this book is the essential wok on motivation, covering as it does the theoretical background with clarity, giving helpful advice for the classroom and inspiring teachers to conduct their own research.

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