Discussion of the topic of motivation in second-language (SL) learning contexts has been limited by the understanding the field of applied linguistics has attached to it. In that view, primary emphasis is placed on attitudes and other social psychological aspects of SL learning. This does not do full justice to the way SL teachers have used the term motivation. Their use is more congruent with definitions common outside social psychology, specifically in education. In this paper, we review the standard applied linguistics approach to this topic, and go on to provide an overview of research into motivation in mainstream education. This is used both to demonstrate the utility of other concepts of motivation to the SL field and as the basis for a research agenda for SL investigations of motivation thus conceived.