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Second Language Motivational Orientations of Undergraduate Students at a Pakistani Public Sector University.

Byline: Muhammad Ajmal Khurshid


The study aims to examine the types of motivational orientations exhibited by students at the Pakistani universities for second language acquisition (SLA). The paper attempts to find the most influencing motivational orientation and the significant gender differences pertaining to acquire English as a second language. The quantitative data is collected through structured questionnaire from 197 students to evaluate the moderating dynamics of second language motivational orientations among undergraduate students at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan. The findings of the study indicate that the instrumental and extrinsic orientations noticeably stimulate the motivation of second language learners in Pakistani context. Besides, contrary to the western researches, this paper demonstrates that the instrumental orientation of SLA is relatively higher in male students than females.

Moreover, the study presents recommendations to facilitate the acquisition of second language that contribute considerably to the field of motivational research.

Keywords: Motivational orientations, SLA, gender differences, Pakistani context.


English is the lingua franca of the contemporary world and there is a great scope of English language not only internationally but in Pakistan correspondingly. It is the second language and the medium of instruction in almost all academic and professional fields. In Pakistan, English is not only taught as a language but rather as a compulsory subject from class one to graduation level. In addition, English serves as an official language in Pakistan and the most esteemed jobs in the country also necessitate a high level of proficiency in it. It is believed to be the emble m of power, status, authority and social gain. Though it has national and international scope, still majority of the people in Pakistan; especially students are below average in speaking and writing English.

The significance of motivation as the major learner variable in acquiring second language has been defined in many researches (Gardner and Smythe, 1979 Oxford and Shearin, 1994; Schmidt and Crookes, 1991, Cohen and Dornyei 2002). Motivation influences the strategies of language acquisition, frequency of communication with target language speakers and the proficiency of language (Oxford and Shearin 1994).

Gardner's research confirms motivation as an influential factor in the learning of second language (1985) and he divides the motivation into two sub factors; integrative motivation and instrumental motivation. If a learner of second language has a positive attitude towards the second language community to the point that he aims to amalgamate himself into the traditions and cultural values of second language and wants to become like the speakers of second language, the L2 motivation of such a learner is integrative. On the contrary, if he is acquiring the language for the reasons of personal gains or benefits; such as to get a reasonable job, promotion in career or success in an examination, his motivation may be called instrumental (Gardner and Lambert, 1972, Gardner, 1985). Following Gardner's classification of second language motivation, Smythe, Clement and Gliksman (1976) also confirmed integrative orientation to be the most significant motivational factor in the SLA.

However, in self-determination motivation approach, Deci and Ryans (1985) elaborate that if a task is carried out just for the sake of delight and gratification, it is stated as an intrinsic motivation. Intrinsically motivated learners select their task willingly and such kinds of tasks add challenge to their aptitude, and demand the use of their innovative capabilities. Whereas, those who perform language activities, not because of any internal interest, but in order to achieve an instrumental gain are extrinsically motivated.

Among the major objectives of this study, one is to find out motivational factors of undergraduate students at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. Secondly, the purpose is to know the most influencing factor in motivating the SLA, which not only drives the interest of second language learners but also directs their motivation in acquiring a second language. Moreover, the researcher wants to find out whether there are any significant gender differences with respect to motivation. Through findings, an effective method may be adopted to teach a second language. The study may assist the educational strategy makers and teachers to evaluate the reasons for which learners are attracted to learn a foreign language. They can devise realistic goals and objectives and choose proper teaching methods and materials for teaching a heterogeneous class according to the motivational needs of students.

Significance of the Study

The current study deals with the SLA motivational orientations in Pakistani context, where English like many other countries, is taught as a second language almost in all academic institutions; whether private or public. The findings of this research will be helpful for the teachers and syllabus designers to pursue a systematic process by selecting the most suitable methodology and content to teach English effectively in a varied class; so that the students may not face any ambiguity in the acquisition of the target language. A further collaboration can be made by presenting the strategies to help learners develop their innate abilities through communication-oriented language teaching, which can boost the learner's confidence in all four skills. By doing so, all the four motivational orientations can be stimulated, which may benefit all kind of learners.

Research Questions

1. What are the motivational orientations?

2. Which is the most influential motivational orientation for SLA among undergraduate students at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore?

3. Are there any significant gender differences among the Pakistani learners with respect to second language motivational orientations?

Literature Review


Motivation is considered as a general notion and an essential condition that drives an individual to take an action in a range of situations. The empirical investigation of second language motivation in various EFL contexts worldwide have created some valuable researches that have contributed a lot to the theory of this field. Many researchers, for example, Gardner and Lysynch (1990), Graham (1984), Gardner and Lambert (1972), and Dornyei (1990) have emphasized the significance of motivation as an important language learning factor.

In English language acquisition, motivation is elaborated with respect to Gardner's (1985) Second Language Acquisition Model in socio-psychology, which stated that integrativeness and attitude are two variables that influence the learners' motivational orientations (Conttia, 2007; Qashoa, 2006). They further stated intrinsic satisfaction, extrinsic satisfaction, success and reward as different sources of motivation. Frith (1997) contrariwise called curiosity, self-efficacy, attitude, need, competence and external motivation as the essential components of motivation. Whereas, Sakai (2007) on the other hand referred that task performance, action control and appraisal are the three major motivational components. Moreover, according to Tremblay, and Masgoret (1997) there are three different scales to measure motivation: 1) attitudes towards language acquisition 2) desire to acquire language 3) motivation principally depending on attitudinal behavior are three scales to measure motivation.

Learners' personal distinctions show significant effects on the learner's general second/foreign language performance. Nagano (1995) supposed that attitude and motivation are the most influential factors in the acquisition of second language. This argument is further supported by Ushioda (2008), who argued that success in learning a second or foreign language will be impossible without these two important components.

Drillings and O'Neil (1994) on the other hand stressed that the motivational variables such as effort, anxiety, curiosity, individual differences and environmental factors play a significant role in acquiring a second language, however surprisingly these variables have been getting less than deserved attention by researchers in the field. Moreover, Hofstede (1995) was of the view that motivation varies from culture to culture and motivation theories are subject to cultural limitations. In various cultures, the attitudes and individual values have close ties with culture that visibly play significant role in learner's motivation.

Apart from these motivational factors, the success of any strategy employed by any teacher depends on, at least, three variables: the teacher, the student, and the material to be learned. (Kolesnik 1978). No single fixed strategy can motivate students. If a person has enough determination and necessary abilities coupled with personal and social motives to learn, one will be able to learn, with or without a teacher because human needs and drives are not only universal but also, more or less, innate. Kolesnik in his findings mentioned several good strategies that are aimed at facilitating the process of motivation; however, he insisted that no teacher can motivate any student unless the student has a certain degree of positive behavior and willingness to learn.

Kinds of Motivational Orientations of Second Language Learning

The researchers have established the following important motivational orientations to determine the attitude of an individual towards the second language acquisition.

Instrumental and Integrative Motivation

Gardner (1996) has linked instrumental motivation with extrinsic motivation and integrative motivation with intrinsic motivation. Instrumental motivation is related with practical worth and compensation of acquiring a second language, as learners demonstrate little or no concern for the people, who are the speakers of target language.

Learners acquire language for practical purposes such as making progress in their profession etc. Integrative orientation, on the contrary, shows an earnest desire and a personal concern in people and culture demonstrated by the target community. It encourages the acquirer to interact with target language speakers out of sheer interest.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Deci and Ryan (1985) proposed another widely used and accepted model in educational psychology to understand the kinds of motivation; intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsically motivated learners of second language are encouraged mentally to learn a second language for their well-being and a sense of identity. They are self-motivated in acquiring a second language. However, extrinsic motivation is related more to the learner's outside world. The learners are motivated extrinsically when they have definite aims to achieve a target through acquiring a target language, and without these external rewards they consider it useless to acquire proficiency in that target language. Leaver, Erhman, and Oxford (2003) proposed that a learner who is motivated intrinsically, discovers benefit in the pleasure of language acquisition task itself and attains a feeling of competence in performing an activity which according to Bandura (1997) is also known as self-efficacy.

Besides, Walqui (2000) in his findings had shown that the success of second language learner is present in his intrinsic motivation as compared to extrinsic motivation. However, this cannot be denied that these both motivational orientations of a second language leaner may exist simultaneously.

Gender Differences

The language stability is significantly affected by the social factors prevalent in any society. There is a relentless battle concerning the growth and stability in any society, and English plays a key role in it. The socio-cultural situation of any country expedites female English literacy to a great degree and affects women's learning of English. English literacy, despite countless claims, is still not satisfactory in the South Asian countries particularly. Improving English literacy for women may have a substantial effect on the society at large; enlightening not only the social grounds but economical too. Cumming and Gill (1991) in their research, conducted in Vancouver, British Columbia, about socio-cultural factors facilitating females' participation in acquiring English as a second language, stated that different types of restrictions are imposed on the lives of Indo-Canadian women.

For example, men control personal lives of their female partners and the women are supposed to commit to responsibilities such as child and extended family care to bring about the cultural expectations. Variables such as personal and educational background, religious constraints, family values, and socio-economic status not only effect their motivation but affect person's decision-making strategies as well. Ehrlich (1997) stated:

The second language settings can also create gender differentiated outcomes in the second language acquisition either because the native culture or the target culture of learners creates different kinds of opportunities for or imposes different kinds of restrictions on women and men. (p. 433)

Similar results are reported by Goldstein (1995) regarding Portuguese immigrant women in Toronto, who felt uncomfortable attending English language classes at night and their husbands prevented them from attending the classes due to the presence of so many men in the classroom. Mohammad Reza Ahmadi's research findings (2011) pertaining to Iranian EFL male students declared that inspirations of males are more career-oriented than those of females, as males have stronger instrumental orientation to acquire English as a second language. On the other hand, with respect to females' second language motivational orientation, he stated that females have stronger integrative motivational orientation than the instrumental orientation as compared to men.

The Role of Attitudes and Motivation in Second Language Learning

This research is concerned with multiple aspects such as learners' expectations, attitudes, and motivations related to the second language acquisition. Naiman, Todesco, Stern, and Frolich (1996) suggested that motivation and attitude are strong factors of success in acquiring second language. They elaborated that a proactive approach, high motivation, a positive attitude towards speakers of the language, and willingness to use the language in real communication settings are some of the various qualities of good language learners. Brown (1987) described how attitude formation develops in the early stages of one's life and is the result of environmental influences such as parents, peers, and the attitudes of other people with which one interacts on regular basis. Our present experiences and opinions, decisions, attitudes, etc. are also primarily influenced by our past experiences.

Unpleasant past experiences with language and / or its speakers will tend to generate and develop attitudes that can be categorized as unfavorable. Gardner and Lambert (1972) also reported a similar research conducted in the Philippines in which researchers switched from the research of French to the research of English. They concluded that instrumentally motivated students, who received support in their homes and identified with English language culture succeeded in English language development more than those who were not instrumentally oriented. Furthermore, Spolsky (1969) supported the argument through his investigation of relationship between integrative motivation and the level of proficiency achieved that "the attitudes of students have a great effect on how well they learn". (p. 281)


The quantitative method is followed to investigate the motivational orientations and for the analysis of the data "Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS)" was used. The gender difference was measured using sample t-tests in inferential statistics.

Institution and Participants

The data was collected from 197 second language learners at University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore (20 students from each departments) of both genders. The selected university has international reputation and students come to it from across Pakistan. Some international students across the world also come here to get their professional education. Therefore, it was easy for the researcher to get diversity in participants for his sample. The data was collected through structured questionnaire. The decided sample of this study was 150 students. Therefore, the questionnaire was administered on 200 students. Because of unexpected high response rate, the researcher managed to get 197 filled questionnaires back from the students and included all of them in data analysis process to attain a more realistic picture.


The instrument was developed by following the renowned researchers of the theory of motivation in the SLA; Ryan and Deci (2000), Christo Moskovsky and Fakieh Alrabia (2009) and Fazul-ur-Rehman, Dr. Nabi Bux Jumani and Abdul Basit (2010).

The questionnaire was composed of 36 research items (see Appendix B: Questionnaire). The research items in the questionnaire have been organized respectively comprising different number of items for each of the four motivational orientations. A Pearson correlation matrix of the 36 items of the questionnaire was run, yielding a Cronbach's Alpha Coefficient Index of Internal Consistency .83. This proves the reliability and authenticity of the questionnaire (see Appendix A: Table 1 - The Reliability of Questionnaire).

Data Analysis

To know the most influential motivational factor of second language acquisition, the mean values of all the factors were calculated (see Table 1: The Mean Value and Std. Deviation of the Motivational Orientations). According to the table below, the mean value of the f1 is 3.1630, which is less than 3.4, shows that the students of English/second language learning in the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan are less intrinsically motivated. The mean value of the f2 is 3.8487, which is more than 3.4, indicates that the students of the second language acquisition in the UET, Lahore are more extrinsically motivated.

The mean value of the f3 is 4.1396, which is also more than 3.4, demonstrates that the students of the SLA in the UET, Lahore are more instrumentally motivated. And the mean value of f4 is 3.3779, which is less than 3.4, exhibits that the students of the SLA in the UET, Lahore are less integratively motivated as compared to their extrinsic and instrumental motivation. Later, when the mean value of f2 and f3 was compared, it was found that the most influential factor of the SLA is instrumental motivation f3.

Table 1 The Mean Value and Std. Deviation of the Motivational Orientations

###Mean###Std. Deviation###N





The sample t-test (see Appendix A: Table 3) indicates that the instrumental second language learning motivation of the males is significantly different from that of females. The findings conclude that there is no significant difference between males and females regarding their intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of the SLA. However, there is a significant gender difference in instrumental motivation of the SLA, while the integrative motivation of the participants for the SLA has no effect on gender.


The result (see Table 1: Group Statistics) shows that the males are motivated instrumentally more than females. This may be explained easily if we look at the gender biased trends of Pakistani society. In most of the families in Pakistan, males tend to manage financial state of affairs. In order to do so, learning English has become undeniably important in Pakistan, as most of job-related tests and interviews are conducted in English language.

Findings and Discussion

Through the research conducted for gauging the motivational orientation of the second language acquisition among the students of the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, the following findings are hereby presented:

The Most Influential Motivational Orientation of the Second Language Learning

From the data analysis of this research, it is clear that there are two motivational orientations present among the second language learners. One is extrinsic motivational orientation of the second language acquisition and the second is the instrumental orientation of the second language acquisition. However, the deep analysis of the data reveals that the most influential type of motivational orientation of the second language acquisition is instrumental. In this case, the learner acquires a second language for practical purposes such as getting a degree, job and making progress in future professional life. The students do not have any internal intention to learn this language or to interact with the native people of the target language. They are mostly encouraged by their parents, teachers, peers, friends and people around them to learn it because of the instrumental importance attached to English language in the Pakistani society.

The research findings of the present study go against the findings of Ramage's (1990), whose investigations declared that the number of intrinsically motivated students is increasing than the students whose interest to acquire a second language is for the sake of achieving other objectives. Whereas, this study on the contrary, presents that the number of extrinsically motivated students is higher as compared to those who are intrinsically motivated.

In contrast, this study approves the research findings of Zahra Vaezi (2008), who found the Iranian students' positive attitudes towards learning English, although they were motivated instrumentally. However, the present study disagrees with one of the findings of Zahra Vaezi, where she proposed that males are less motivated than females towards communication, affiliation and self-efficacy.

Walqui's (2000) research findings are also disapproved by the present research, as he stated that the success of the second language learner is present in his intrinsic motivation as compared to extrinsic motivation. The research outcomes of this investigation are however synonymous to the research findings of Schunk and Pintrich (1996). They focused on the instrumental motivational orientation and according to them, the external rewards offered to language learners can become a factor to increase or decrease intrinsic motivation.

Instrumental Orientation of the Second Language Learning and Gender Difference

The investigation of this study shows that the orientation of males for English language learning is highly instrumental, as they have to become the bread earners of their families and perform important social roles. The dominant orientation for the second language learning in females is extrinsic since they are encouraged and influenced most of the time by their parents, teachers, friends and the people around them to learn English.

The study is contrary to various investigations, which have been carried out by Massey (1994), Pagliaroli (1999), Netten, Riggs and Hewlett (1999), as these studies confirmed the notion that motivation of females to acquire second language is more than males. This idea is further proved by Williams Burden and Lanvers (2002), who confirmed that females are more motivated to acquire second language than males. In another research conducted by Csizer and Dornyei (2005b), comprising over 8000 old Hungarian students (13 and 14 years), provided the similar evidence that male students are less motivated second language learners. Whereas, the current study does not favor all the above mentioned researches and proves that males are motivated more as compared to females in learning English as a second language.

Moreover, the findings of this investigation approves Mohammad Reza Ahmadi's research findings (2011) pertaining to Iranian EFL male students, who have stronger instrumental orientation to learn English as a second language. However, the present study disapproves his research investigation with respect to female second language learning students particularly, as according to him; females have stronger integrative motivational orientation than the instrumental orientation. In this study, females are not motivated integratively to a large extent rather their extrinsic motives are higher.

On the other hand, Xiong Xin (2008) argued that the intrinsic motivation of girls is stronger than boys. However, this study shows that there is no significant difference between males and females regarding their levels of English language motivational orientations including intrinsic, extrinsic and integrative ones. Both sexes seem to be equally interested and motivated to acquire English language. However, there is only one exception in this regard, which is instrumental orientation. Males and females differ in their levels of instrumental orientation, as males are instrumentally more motivated than females.


To sum up, the current study has been conducted to determine the most influential motivational orientation along with the significant gender differences among the second language undergraduate learners at a Pakistani public sector university. The study demonstrates a diverse picture than what it had been reflected from the previous internationally recognized researches of Gardner, Smythe, Clement and Gliksman (1976), which confirmed integrative orientation to be the most influencing in the second language acquisition. However, the present study states that instrumental motivation is the most important orientation to acquire second language. Another result of the study, as opposed to the previous researches, states that the instrumental motivational orientation for English language acquisition is substantially higher in male students than females, since they hold a responsibility of fulfilling the financial needs of their families.

In order to get a handsome job, the acquisition of English language is substantial. At the same instant, the study reveals that females are less extrinsically motivated towards the second language acquisition, as they are less burdened economically in a Pakistani society. Furthermore, the findings of the study appear to support English language acquisition as a second language for utilitarian value rather than as a vehicle to integrate into the mainstream culture of the English speakers. The study shows that there are issues that need to be addressed among the learners at the Pakistani universities. Importantly, therefore, the policy makers, government, higher authorities and the teachers should provide responsive and conducive second language acquisition environment to the students to enhance the motivational orientations of students of both sexes collectively according to their needs.


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Table 1 The Reliability of the Questionnaire

Reliability Statistics###Cronbach's Alpha###N of Items

f1###Intrinsic Motivational Orientation###.597###9

f2###Extrinsic Motivational Orientation###.704###11

f3###Instrumental Motivational Orientation###.746###7

f4###Integrative Motivational Orientation###.719###9

Table 2 The Group Statistics

Test###Gender###N###Mean###Std. Deviation###Std. Error Mean









Table 3 The sample t-test

Test###t###Df###Sig. (2-###Mean###Std. Error###95% Confidence Interval

###tailed)###Difference###Difference###of the Difference








Second Language Motivational Orientations of Undergraduate Students at

A Pakistani Public Sector University

Respected Participant,

###This questionnaire has designed to make a comprehensive investigation about

the second language motivational orientations of undergraduate students at the

University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. Your sincere

opinion about these simple questions related to this topic is required. The information

provided by you, will help to identify the dynamic nature of second language

motivation that is very important in all second language contexts. Therefore, it is

requested to respond to the questions sincerely and frankly. Your participation is

voluntary and will be kept confidential. Your responses will be used only for academic

purposes. Only the researcher will have access to the information you give. There are

no right or wrong answers. I am interested only in your personal opinion. In front of

every question, there are five options: strongly disagree (SDA), disagree (DA), neutral,

agree (A) and strongly agree (SA). Please tick the option which best expresses how true

the statement is about your feelings or situation.

Gender:###Male --------###Female --------------


I have stronger tendency to speak English.

I want to learn but it is difficult to learn.

I feel hesitation and anxiety while speaking it.

I enjoy learning it very much.

Learning English is a hobby for me.

Learning English is a challenge to learn

I feel easy to learn it.

I learn English because it attracts me.

I am fond of learning it.

English is important to me because it will broaden

my views.

I learn it because my parents, teachers want me to


I learn it to show my abilities in social activities.

Everybody should speak English

I learn to add social status.

I learn English to go abroad

I learn English as an international language.

I learn English and the society encourages me

I learn English and my parents encourage me.

I learn English and my friends encourage me.

I learn English and my teachers encourage me.

I learn English to get a job.

I learn English to acquire higher education.

I learn English to have more opportunities in all

fields of life.

I learn English to impress the people.

I learn English to get social dominance.

I learn English because people like English speaking


I can't make progress without learning English.

I learn it to read English related books.

I learn to watch English programs.

I learn it to communicate with native speakers

I learn English to know about culture of native


I learn it to meet and speak with more and varied


I learn it to know and understand English art and


I learn it to participate in the activities of other

cultural groups.

I learn it to watch English movies.

I learn it to listen to English songs.
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Author:Khurshid, Muhammad Ajmal
Publication:Journal of Educational Research
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jun 30, 2017
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