Language Learning Motivation as Ideological Becoming: Dialogues with Six English-Language Learners

  • Louise Harvey

Student thesis: Unknown


The field of language learning motivation has traditionally been a 'self'-centred one, characterising the individual learner as subject to influence by, but essentially separate from, the sociocultural environment. Models of language learning motivation have been concerned with theorising the self, but have not fully accounted for the role of the other. The recent emergence of sociocultural approaches has seen a welcome move towards addressing this gap, theorising the language learner as engaged in complex relationships with various others, all constituted by and constituting their sociocultural contexts. Within this paradigm, researchers have begun to consider ways in which language learning motivation may be part of broader motivation for learning in various life domains - intellectual, social, emotional, ethical - though this is as yet an emergent area of scholarship. This study adopts one such sociocultural approach, namely Ushioda's person-in-context relational view (2009, 2011). Using a theoretical framework and innovative dialogical research design based on the work of Mikhail Bakhtin, I present dialogues describing the learning experience and motivation of six English-language learners, and create a definition and interpretation of language learning motivation as ideological becoming, a process of learning to be in the world. This definition and interpretation integrate the language learner and their social context in ways which understand language learning motivation as socially constructed, involving relations with many different others; which understand language learning motivation as part of motivation towards broader personal and social growth and development; and which foreground learners' own voices and perspectives. In accounting for the reciprocal influence between the language learner and the world as heard through learners' own voices, this study offers an important conceptual contribution to the language learning motivation field. Furthermore, it represents a methodological contribution to both the language learning motivation field and to qualitative inquiry more broadly. Finally, it offers political and practical contributions, and makes suggestions for future research and researchers.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRichard Fay (Supervisor) & Susan Brown (Supervisor)


  • ideological becoming
  • dialogism
  • language learning
  • motivation
  • Bakhtin

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