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The Role of Second Language Motivation in Constructing the Self: An Empirical Study to Investigate the Role of Motivational Trajectories in Negotiating and Reconstructing Academic Sojourners’ Desired Selves in the UK


Abstract: This study is an endeavour to explicate the dissonance of the linguistic quality outcome of study abroad (SA) experiences by exploring the second language (L2) motivation of six academic sojourners in Manchester. A person-in-context approach revealed that developing intimate relationships with ‘native-speakers’, providing L2-mediated interaction opportunities with international students, and social approval were key determinants of the extent to which SA students were invested in social practices. Such social engagements were found to stem from second language motivation that is part of identity construction process. In addition, the thematic analysis of the narrative inquiries suggests that the global status of the English language defies the traditional conceptualisations of L2 motivation as most participants’ motivations were formed despite their negative or neutral attitudes towards the English community. The findings also endorse the role of the other as a robust motivational source by which learners can replenish their motivation stream, leading to social identity investment to construct their ideological selves. The paper concludes with a recommendation to re-interpret the conceptualisation of the Ideal L2 Self system because ‘native-speakers’ are rarely the closest parallels to L2 learners, and it should incorporate explicit intrinsic orientations. Furthermore, language institutions in SA contexts should direct their focus on establishing conversation clubs and hosting social events for SA students to provide a safe space for their identities to be developed, enacted and reconstructed.
Keywords: context / Constructing / SA students / native speakers / Second Language Motivation / reconstructed

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