Motivation, Self-confidence, and Group Cohesion in the Foreign Language Classroom


  • This research was supported in part by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to R. Clément and by a grant from the Hungarian Scientific Foundation to Z. Dörnyei. We express our gratitude to the teachers and students of the Budàpest Schools who participated in this study, to Emese Koppány, Elena Mihu, Nelli Szakács, and Ildikó Szigeti for their assistance in collecting and analyzing the data, and to Peter MacIntyre for his comments on a previous version of this paper.

regarding this article should be addressed to Richard Clément, School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5, Canada. E-mail:


Defining the motivational basis of second and foreign language acquisition has been at the center of much research and controversy for many years. The present study applied social psychological constructs to the acquisition of English in the unicultural Hungarian setting. A total of 301 Grade 11 students from the region of Budapest answered a questionnaire assessing their attitude, anxiety, and motivation toward learning English, as well as their perception of classroom atmosphere and cohesion. In addition, their teachers rated each of the students on proficiency and a number of classroom behaviors and evaluated the relative cohesion of each class group. Factor and correlational analyses of the results revealed that xenophilic (M=4.22on a 1–6 scale), sociocultural (M=3.96), instrumental (M=3.78), and media-use reasons (M=3.79) were most strongly endorsed by the students whereas an identification orientation (M=1.8l)was rejected. Factor analysis of the attitude, anxiety, and motivation scales confirmed the existence of attitude-based (integrative motive) and self-confidence motivational subprocesses and revealed the presence of a relatively independent class- room based subprocess, characterized by classroom cohesion and evaluation. Correlational analyses of these clusters further revealed that, while all subprocesses were associated with achievement, self-confidenceand anxiety showed no relationship to classroom atmosphere. We discuss these findings in the context of current theories of second and foreign language acquisition and with reference to their applied implications.