The Impact of School on EFL Learning Motivation: An Indonesian Case Study



    1. University of Leeds Leeds, England
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    • Martin Lamb is a lecturer in TESOL in the School of Education, University of Leeds, England. Before joining the University of Leeds, he spent 17 years teaching English and working on various TESOL projects in Indonesia, Bulgaria, and Sweden. His research interests include learner motivation and language education and assessment in social context.


There is much evidence that, in general, learners' motivation to study declines as they move through school and that the causes are both developmental and environmental. By contrast, the attitudinal basis of language learning motivation has been regarded as relatively stable, though recent empirical studies in various countries have also pointed toward a fall-off in interest and enthusiasm for foreign languages among pupils. This article reports on research into the motivation of Indonesian adolescents toward learning English over the first 20 months of junior high school. Using a mixed-method design, the study aimed to track changes in their reported motivation and learning activity and to identify internal and external factors which might be associated with the changes. It was found that the learners' initially very positive attitudes toward the language and expectations of success were maintained over the period, whereas their attitudes toward the experience of formal learning tended to deteriorate. Explanations for these outcomes are sought in the social context and, in particular, in how individuals view English as pertaining to their futures.