A Master of Arts thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Nour Al Okla entitled, "Motivational Influences on Adult Arab Learners of English in the UAE," submitted June 2015. Thesis advisor is Dr. Sara Cotterall. Soft and hard copy available.
This study explores the motivational influences that impact seven Arab undergraduate learners of English in the UAE as they pursue two semesters of study. The study investigates the role of English in the participants' lives and the different factors that influence their motivation to learn and use English in the multi-national context of the UAE. During a sixteen-week period, three rounds of interviews with the participants were conducted and participants' written responses to four written prompts and a self-portrait were collected to obtain data on the participants' beliefs, emotions, and expectations of learning English. The study draws on Dӧrnyei's L2 motivational self-system (2005, 2009) to explore the role of English in learners' representations of themselves in the future and the extent to which they consider English a language they ought to learn. The findings of the study suggest that the principal motivational influences affecting the participants' language learning were their previous learning experiences, their personal orientations towards the language, and contextual factors in their formal and informal learning setting. Furthermore, the study highlighted the diversity, dynamicity and complexity of the construct of learner motivation in the learners' learning experiences. Despite apparent similarities amongst the study participants, the data revealed significant differences in the ways they responded to the learning setting, the extent to which they used English outside of class and their perception of the role of English in their lives. The data also reflected change over time in participants' emotions, preferences and investment in the language. Analysis of the data revealed complex interactions amongst the unique characteristics of individual learners and aspects of their motivation resulting in the complex, dynamic system known as the L2 motivational self-system (Dӧrnyei, 2005, 2009). The study calls for raising learners' awareness of the factors which influence their motivation and strategies which enable them to manage their emotions during the ongoing learning process. It also suggests raising language teachers' awareness of the complexity, dynamicity, and uniqueness of language learner motivation so that they can better monitor and address the multifaceted influences that impact their learners' motivation in different contexts.