The social and pragmatic parameters of L2 motivation: EAP teachers' perceptions

Louise Harvey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper is based on a qualitative study investigating English for Academic Purposes (EAP) teachers’ perceptions of their learners’ motivation and the ways in which these perceptions intersect with those of learners (Harvey 2010). International students now comprise a significant proportion of the UK university population, and it is considered that English, widely regarded as the language of business and commerce, is an important part of students’ future careers (University of Manchester, 2010). The view that English language proficiency facilitates access to learners’ future careers supports recent L2 motivation research, which suggests that learners are at least partly motivated by the concept of their future English-speaking self participating in a global culture. Thus EAP learners may be seeking access to this global culture at least in part via their membership in the UK education system, facilitating entry to international commerce or the global academic research network (Uzuner 2008). Based and building upon my previous work on learner motivation (Harvey 2008a, 2008b), I used focus groups and interviews to carry out a broad exploration of EAP teachers’ perceptions of their learners’ motivation in order to specify teachers’ understandings of the ‘social and pragmatic parameters of L2 motivation’ operating on their learners. The findings show that although teachers and learners may perceive broadly similar influences on learners’ motivation, there may be a mismatch between understandings of classroom behaviour, which teachers may simplistically regard as evidence of motivation levels. This draws attention to the importance of consciousness-raising about the nature of learners’ motivation and the implications of this for practice. I argue that this challenge may be met by a fuller consideration of motivation as imagination, identity and participation, which might in turn be addressed by the development of critical EAP and greater institutional/managerial awareness of the changing nature of L2 motivation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationhost publication
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventNew Dynamics of Language Learning: Spaces and Places, Intentions and Opportunities - University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
Duration: 6 Jun 20119 Jun 2011


ConferenceNew Dynamics of Language Learning: Spaces and Places, Intentions and Opportunities
CityUniversity of Jyvaskyla, Finland


  • English language learning, L2 motivation, English for Academic Purposes, teachers' perceptions, imagination, participation


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