Unlocking Language Learning Motivation: A Deep Dive into Motivation Factors
Learning Tips

Linguists have studied a variety of different factors in individual learners, comparing their influence on learners’ second language acquisition process. Among the many factors, motivation has been one hot topic, with an entire plethora of research describing and demonstrating its effects, and The Guardian picking it up.

As common sense as it sounds, the more motivated you are, the more likely you are to see positive results in your language learning process! So, where do you find that motivation and harness it?

Types of motivation

Motivation has been the subject of study from much earlier, but in the late 19th century, researchers started looking at it as an affective variable influencing acquisition of second languages. Gardner & Lambert are some of the earliest big names in the field and they described the concepts of ‘motivation’ and ‘orientation’, where the latter is seen as a precursor. Integrative Orientation, “the willingness to become a member of another language group”, and Instrumental Orientation,“an interest in acquiring sufficient knowledge of the language for its instrumental value in goal attainment” (Gardner & Lambert, 1959), were 2 of the key concepts highlighted. Their study on French-English bilinguals in Canada found that integrative motive seemed to positively influence the test results of the participants.

Another related concept based on Deci & Ryan’s(1985) Self-Determination Theory, is that of the distinction between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation. The former refers to the enjoyment and satisfaction derived from engagement in an activity (i.e. language learning in this case), and the latter refers to actions taken with the practical purpose of being rewarded or avoiding punishment. Noels et al.’s (2000) study based on this theory found that learners need to be convinced that language learning was personally important apart from being simply interesting.

They purport that learners who internalised their reason for learning achieved better results.

You may have noticed the similarities like many other researchers--Pae (2008), for example, produced statistics that external regulation and instrumental orientation are correlated, while intrinsic motivation and integrative orientation are not. Wang (2008) follows up with the view that integrative orientation may encompass both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. For example, one can derive satisfaction (intrinsic motivation) from successfully assimilating into a foreign language community (extrinsic motivation) with the help of their fluency. Imagine your fluency in the language impressing a foreign business counterpart or facilitating smooth communication, which in turn results in practical rewards such as successfully closing a deal or completing a project, and also translates into a personal sense of achievement!

Based on Wang's (2008) recap of the Self-Determination Theory, "extrinsic motivation can range from unwillingness, to passive compliance, to active personal commitment" depending on the extent to which it has been internalised by the individual. In order words, regardless of what your initial motive was, as long as you are clear about it, you are more likely to turn it into actual energy to fuel your language learning.

Find your Motivation! 

No matter intrinsic or extrinsic, find your own motivation and hold on to it! Recognise what you are working for, internalise it, and set goals towards which you can direct the motivation. The goal can be as simple as being able to enjoy your favourite foreign language movie, or a more challenging one like impressing your business contact with your fluency. Once a goal is achieved, consider setting a new one; if you lose motivation midway, try finding a different direction to approach your learning from! Motivation can change dynamically, so be ready to explore and recognise your own wants and needs in your language learning journey.

How does Bluente help?

Starting your learning process with Bluente is the first step to kickstarting your motivation engine! Bluente is the first language learning app focused on business language, helping professionals brush up on vocabulary that can be utilised in real-life business settings. The practical focus on different niche genres and immersive practices build on your instrumental orientation towards acquiring language for pragmatic use, whereas the battery of different exercises, wide range of content, original in-house designs and levelling up through the courses help keep things interesting and satisfying. Bluente is constantly evolving in order to upgrade your language learning experience, with many more exciting and interactive features in the pipeline that are sure to up your motivation levels further.

So why not get onboard (maybe pull along a friend or two!) and let Bluente’s fun and immersive practices help fuel your business language learning? 



Deci, E. L.,& Ryan, R. M. (1985). The general causality orientations scale: Self-determination in personality. Journal of research in personality19(2),109-134. https://doi.org/10.1016/0092-6566(85)90023-6

Dörnyei, Z., & Ushioda, E. (2021). Teaching and Researching Motivation (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351006743

Gardner, R. C.,& Lambert, W. E. (1959). Motivational variables in second-language acquisition. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 13(4), 266-272. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0083787

Noels, Kimberly& Pelletier, Luc & Clément, Richard & Vallerand, Robert. (2000).Why Are You Learning a Second Language? Motivational Orientations and Self-Determination Theory. Language Learning, 50. 57-85. https://doi.org/10.1111/0023-8333.00111

Pae, T.-I. (2008). Second Language Orientation and Self-Determination Theory: A Structural Analysis of the Factors Affecting Second Language Achievement. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 27(1), 5–27. https://doi.org/10.1177/0261927X07309509

Wang, F. (2008). Motivation and English achievement: An exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis of a new measure for Chinese students of English learning. North American Journal of Psychology, 10(3), 633-646.

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