Research studies

The impact of demotivation of ELF students at Sudanese Secondary Schools


Prepared by the researcher :  Dr. Hassan Mohammed Abdelaal Al Moukashfi, Assistant professor of English language, White Nile University, Kosti. Sudan. 

Democratic Arab Center

Journal of Afro-Asian Studies : Sixteenth Issue – February 2023

A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin.

Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
ISSN  2628-6475
Journal of Afro-Asian Studies

:To download the pdf version of the research papers, please visit the following link


The study aims to determine the main causes that lead to demotivation in learning English Language at secondary level-White Nile State, Kosti Locality. The study has used the descriptive analytical method to determine the main factors which demotivate students to learn English Language. A questionnaire was used to collect data randomly. Data was analyzed by using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). The study has reached to a number of results. The most important ones are: most students at secondary school in Kosti Locality are demotivated in learning English Language. The majority of English Language teachers are untrained. Then the school environment is poor and not good for students as well as teachers. Finally the study has recommended that English Language teachers at secondary school should be trained, school environment should be improved and modern technology and multimedia should be used in teaching English language.


As English has become the global language, it is rapidly becoming the domains of education. Moreover, it is the major language for many subjects in different levels in education as well as other fields. In addition to that, a lot of countries have made English their official language resulting in the increased use of the language as a medium of instructions both in basic and higher levels of their educational fields. So, everybody realizes that, English is a major means of communications and interactions throughout the world either as the first language or the foreign language. Besides being the language of science, arts, commerce and technology, English is also the language of business and air aviation.

As a result students are exposed to use more English and certainly expected to pass the English examinations to complete their studies. However, not all students find it easy to succeed in learning the language. Those who fail to achieve successful learning standards usually seem to be demotivated.

It is clear that, learning English as a foreign language is not an easy task, simply because there are many contradicting theories and approaches of teaching English. Therefore, and according to my humble experience in teaching English language, the researcher has noticed that, motivated students are doing better than demotivated ones when they are relaxed and comfortable. Krashen, (1983:64) states that: “effective filter hypothesis will be up when the learners are uncomfortable and demotivated. In addition it will be down when they are relaxed and motivated”. Furthermore, it is acknowledged in the educational field that motivation is an essential tool for success. In this context, many teachers and researchers believe and confirm that motivation is one of the most useful factors in an effective learning. Dornyei (1994:73) states that: “motivation has an influence on how much effort students’ make, interact and input they can receive in the language being learned”.

Statement of the problem

Although a number of teachers use different strategies and techniques in English lessons in order to make the lessons more interesting, attractive and to facilitate the process of understanding. In spite of all that some students are demotivated. Also, why those students are demotivated and what are factors that lead to demotivation. In addition to that and through this study, the researcher aims at helping his colleagues’ teachers to overcome the phenomenon of demotivation.

Questions of the Study

  1. To what extent do untrained teachers motivate their students?
  2. To what extend is the classroom size has a role in motivating students?
  3. To what extend does school environment help in motivating students?

The importance of the study

The paper will be of great importance because it opens the door widely to teachers of English language to diagnose and cure the phenomenon of demotivation. Therefore, the researcher considers the problem of demotivation which is neglected at secondary stage is of great importance for mastering English language.

Objectives of the Study

  1. Most of Sudanese teachers are untrained, reluctant and that lead to demotivation.
  2. The overcrowded classrooms and their physical conditions have created negative impact on the students.
  3. To investigate the school environment’s role in demotivated students.

Hypotheses of the Study

  1. Untrained teachers are demotivated to their students.
  2. The larger classroom size has a role in demotivated students.
  3. The school environment has a negative impact on learning English language at secondary level.

Methodology of the Study

To investigate the problem of demotivation and to choose the suitable solutions for it, the analytical descriptive method was used. The tools by which the researcher collected the data are the students’ questionnaire. The questionnaire was analyzed by adopting SPSS.

The Previous Studies

This study was conducted by Ahmed Babiker Ali (1999). It is entitled as,’ Problem of English Teaching in Higher Secondary School in Sudan. Teacher Education Program’:  It is M.A. degree in university of Khartoum .The main results that were obtained from the majority of the students are as: The objectives of teaching English language in secondary school are not clear, and teachers are aware of them. The methods of teaching English in secondary school are old and not communicative ones. The lack of teachers’ training at English language is the main cause of low standard of English language. The main recommendations of this study are as: teachers at secondary school should be included in ongoing training programs Also, teachers’ living conditions should be raised and improved and the objectives at the English language syllabus should be clear and free from bias.

This study was conducted by Ahmed Mohammed Haron (1992)The title of the study is ‘Problem Facing Sudanese Secondary School Students in learning English’.  It is M.Ed. at university of Khartoum, The main aims of this study is to know the causes of difficulty with students in learning English language. The main results are as: There is a big problem in learning English language. The syllabus of English Language is not well-organized. The teachers are not trained and qualified enough to remedy the problem of deterioration of English language learning. The most important recommendations of this study are that: Training and qualifying of teachers should be compulsory and providing teachers with audiovisual aids.

This study was conducted by Hatim Bashir Mustafa (1998).The title of the study is ‘Critical Problems Facing Secondary School Students in Learning English’ it is a M.Ed. International University of Africa, Khartoum. The main aim of this study is to find out the main problems that face secondary students in learning English language. The descriptive analytical approach was applied. The chief findings are: There is a general weakness in student’s performance in English language at secondary schools. There is a wide gap between teachers and students, and weakness in social relationship which reflected negative impact on the process of learning English language. The main recommendation of this study is that: Teachers should be involved in ongoing training. Schools should be provided by psychologists so to near the gap between teachers and students.

Literature Review


Demotivation is the opposite side of motivation. It concerns with various negative influences that cancel out existing motivation. Hence, the demotivated student is someone who has lost his interest for some reasons. Thus not every negative influence can cause demotivation and the researcher differentiates between the demotivated and unmotivated students. The demotivated students are those who have lost their interests for some negative influences. But the unmotivated ones are those who feel helpless and are not motivated in the first place. Also demotivation has been traditionally considered as low motivation rather than a phenomenon in its own rights. Therefore, a demotivated student is someone who lacks deliberate efforts, readiness willingness and excitement for achieving a target goal.

This clearly shows that demotivation has great impact on learning the language and it even sometimes stands as obstacle or hinder for mastering the intended language. So, it is of great importance to find a method or procedures to overcome this negative factor “de-motivation”. Also, students’ natural readiness or aptitudes for learning the language plays a vital role in understanding and mastering the language and motivates them a lot. Moreover, the methods that are used by teachers to motivate students have important role in reducing the de-motivation. So, some methods have greater motivating power than others. They depend very much on the way that the methods are taken into consideration students’ interests, i.e. when the method is closer to student, the motivation is high. A teacher is considered as the most important factor in motivating the students. Because the same methods are successful in the hands of some teachers and they are a complete failure with others. That means a teacher is the central process of motivating or de-motivating the students.

According to the above mentioned factor a teacher has great influence to bridge the gap between motivated and de-motivated students. This will take place throughout many procedures as: a teacher’s performance should be perfect in order to discover the deficiencies in teaching techniques and mastering of the language taught. Also, a good teacher must take into his consideration students’ opinions about their language teaching. Bertrand (1969:43) states that:

“I asked 300 French students of school leaving age how they imagined the ideal foreign language teacher? And he published the results of his enquiry, and among the characteristics of that ideal teacher were the follows:

  1. He has a youthful character (whatever his age.).
  2. He is highly cultured and bent on developing his students’ culture.
  3. He helps them to succeed in life.
  4. He makes them understand and have sympathy for foreigners.
  5. He deals with present- day problems and makes them forget the restricted world of school.

This citation confirms the important role of a teacher as the guidance of the educational process not only in school door but also in the society as general. Also, some experts in the field of education have mentioned other factors and features that are taken from the students’ opinions for good teachers as they are stated in: ELT Journal. Vol .xxx I (1977:100):

  • The good language teacher makes his course interesting.
  • He/she teaches a good pronunciation.
  • He/she explains clearly.
  • He/she speaks good English.
  • He/she shows the same interests for all students.
  • He/she makes the students participate in different activities.
  • He/she shows great patience.
  • He/she insists on the spoken language.
  • He/she uses an audio- visual method.
  • He/she marks the student’s work.

According to this above -mentioned points, the researcher can say that, students are capable to distinguish between a good teacher and the bad one. Therefore, their observations should be put into considerations and to use them properly so as to enhance the process of teaching. These observations should create a new situation for developing teachers’ awareness of new techniques in mastering English language. However, a researcher can assume that students are motivated if they have the feelings of learning good authentic language, specially the spoken language. Also, a good teacher should show the same interests in all students, whatever their qualities and weakness. Then he makes his students participate in all activities or at least to master many of the given activities. Thus the majority of the de-motivated students need teacher- classroom relationship and words of confidence and sympathy. Also they need special encouragement to overstep their English phobia.

Adding to that, some students have hostile attitudes towards school learning and this has negative impact on mastering English language. Smith, (1973:107) states that:

“… for instance assumes that a teacher learning a foreign language and preparing himself for teaching it does so out of interest and should consequently be competent. Now, this may be true in some parts of the world but need not be true in others.”

This citation explains clearly that all teachers in the field of teaching English language are not true teachers. Then the second part of the citation seems to be the dominant one. Most of students nowadays are de-motivated because the majority of teachers are not adequately trained as teachers of English language. Then, teachers who are chosen to join English department they need not have made their choice out of necessity.

Social factors that demotivate students

One of the most factors that may affect negatively on teaching English language is social status. This means that, at least the majority of teachers are classified with low salaries and their social situation is very hard to bear. So, the overall picture of teachers doesn’t look very cheerful. To answer this problem, the environment of teaching must be improved by giving teachers the highest salaries. Also, other facilities should be offered for teachers so as to help them doing their duties properly. These facilities as: free health insurance, free education for their children at different stages of education even the higher education. Then, students’ status should be considered, because it represents the gist or the cream of the education process. So students pursue social goals that focus on their relationships with others in the classroom. Social goals include such things as building friendships, maintain one’s reputation as good and likeable person, assisting others, pleasing the teacher and peers, and enjoying social interactions. Brophy (2004:99) states that:

“Student’s setting of achievement goals can be affected by the nature of their social goals. They are likely to be more highly achievement oriented if their social goals include pleasing their teachers or parents or take the form of social responsibility goals that emphasize keeping interpersonal commitments, meeting social role obligations and conforming to social rules and expectations.”

 But, some students may focus less on social responsibility goals than on other social goals such as intimacy goals or status goals. So, the effects of social goals on achievement orientations will depend on the values of the peer group. Some students will achieve less than their classmates even if they meet their individual needs effectively. Thus they need from their teachers to help them protect their confidence as students by establishing learning communities for them.

Individual differences

In general, intelligence, interests and language aptitudes are decisive factors in foreign language learning. However, it is very difficult to cater for in a centralized educational system with overworked teachers during the working day to school and against a social background. This is not only very yet appreciative of real aims of education but also is rather suspicious of sudden innovation that departed widely from the established pattern. But if the aim is to keep all the students highly motivated, a teacher must be aware of these differences. Then he tries as far as he can to individualize teaching. So, the researcher can say teaching English at secondary school is largely depends on the teacher and the kind of materials are used. So, it is highly advisable to teachers at this stage to pay more attention to their students. Therefore, the greatest attention should be paid to these two areas. Then teachers should retain contents in a form that makes them usable when they are needed. Thus the role of a teacher is as a facilitator and monitor for the students of these difficulties. Brophy (2004:40) States that:

“When the new learning is complex, the construction of meaning required to develop clear understanding and facilitated by interactive discourse that occurs during lessons activities clear explanation and modeling from the teacher are important.”

 So, a teacher should focus on the students’ activities and he tries hard to overcome these difficulties by various types of drills. These types of drills are such as, the problem solving or decision making contexts. These activities allow students to process the contents actively and make them their own by paraphrasing them into their own words. Meece (1994:63) reports that:

“… Case studies teach whose student showed contrasting degrees of orientation toward learning (mastery) goals. Lesson transcripts and other case material from their classrooms were analyzed not only for motivational strategies but for lesson presentation questioning pattern, feedback patterns, grouping arrangements and evaluations practice.”

The above-mentioned quotation indicates that students have different goals orientations and related achievements behavior. This is to great extent associated with differences in their teachers’ approaches to motivations and instructions. Also, a teacher’s motivational attempts should focus on the grading system. But a teacher’s role is not only for the weaker students but also the clever ones should have their interests. This is clearly stated by Brophy (2004:57):

“Student who focuses on achieving success tend to approach achievement situations willingly, to prefer tasks that are moderately difficult for them and so engage in those tasks with emphasis on developing their skills.”

From this citation, the researcher can say that success seekers always their motivation is high and situational challenger. In contrast to students who are focused on avoiding failure tend to fear achievement situations and thus to avoid them when possible. So, teachers could maximize students’ achievement motivation. This can be done by inducing them to set performance goals at levels that the students believe they have a chance to attain their goals with little efforts.

Characteristics of de-motivated students

 Different students show various ways for their de-motivation. This is connected with different factors and situations as well as conditions. So, some students’ reality accepted other students’ ideas and copied their answers instead of trying to make sense of what was being taught. Therefore, a teacher should reward students for their efforts or accomplishments. Some experts are classified demotivated student as: “someone who was once motivated but has lost his or her commitment interest for some reason”. This point emphasizes that, demotivated student has ground for doing best but other factors stand as hinders in his way. Then he seems that, he lost his interest and willingness to engage in the classroom atmosphere and the activities or other tasks.

Thus, a teacher can relate his personal experiences and use the language knowledge to communicate effectively in important situations without too much preachy. Moreover, responding to students’ questions are the main factors in harmonizing them with the new situations. After that teachers should have got positive feedback.

Data Analysis

Hypothesis NO (1) Untrained teachers are demotivated to their students  

 Table (6) shows that the most important expression of the first hypothesis for the sample of the study is that “Unskillful teachers do not motivate the students while teaching English language” whereas the relative importance of it compared to the terms of the hypothesis is 83%.
The general mean of the first hypothesis is 3.70, the standard deviation (1.12) and its relative importance is 74%. On average all opinions of the sample agree that untrained teachers are demotivated to their students

Hypothesis No (2)

The larger classroom size has a role in demotivated students

Table (12) shows that the most important expression of the second hypothesis of the study’s sample is that: “I feel uncomfortable in crowded classrooms when studying English language”. The general mean for the second hypothesis is (4.10), the standard deviation is (1.04) and the relative importance is (82%). On average, all the views of the sample agree that the larger classroom size has a role in demotivated students.

Hypothesis NO (3)

  1. The unstable academic year has negative impacts on teaching English

Table (18) shows that the most important expression of the third hypothesis for the sample of the study is that “the late arrival of English books to schools affects negatively on teaching English language”

The general mean of the third hypothesis is 3.6, the standard deviation is  (1.24) and the relative importance is 72% . On average all the views of the sample agree that the school environment has an effect on learning English language at secondary level.


The research has followed different approaches so as to look deep into the importance of neglected factors that facilitate the learning process. Also, the existence of demotivation among our schools hinders the positive learning. The hypotheses are based on observation and tested through student’s questionnaire and observation check list so as to have reliable results. Unfortunately, the questionnaire and observation check list of the study show that demotivation is heavily spread in our schools. The main reason for it is spreading of untrained teachers, poor school environment and the disintegration of the syllabus i.e. Spine Series. Therefore, the researcher finds a number of students unable to understand English Language properly, because of untrained teachers and other factors. Then the researcher finds reasonable percentage of the students who are deprived of motivation have felt frustrated and disappointed while they are involving in the learning process. Despite of the majority of the students know the importance of motivation. Therefore, teachers should be involved in ongoing training so as to help in answering this problem. In addition to that school environment should be improved.

Finally, the study is displayed obviously that, demotivation has received little attention from the educationists as well as the community. Therefore, in the near future and with assistance of the technological methods, demotivation will disappear completely from our schools. Also, the findings of this study are of great value and should be put into consideration while the educationists design syllabus. Moreover the recommendations of the study should be applied, because they elicit through scientific method and reliable data. The findings have obtained from the study show that, the study hypotheses have been confirmed as shown below: 54% of the students seem to be demotivated when they are taught by untrained teachers. So to overcome this problem, training courses, useful methods and proper strategies should be used. 79% of the students feel not relax when they are in crowded classrooms. Simply because, untrained teachers are unable to control such classrooms properly.

 Thus, the period doesn’t serve its purposes. To solve this problem, a classroom’s size must suit the number of the students. 87% of the students complain a lot from school’s environment and a great number of these schools lack the extra activities which breakdown the academic routine. These factors affect negatively on students’ achievements as well as on their tendency towards schools. Therefore, the frustration and demotivation will replace the activeness and vividness.


  1. Bertrand, D (1969): The Influence of Parenting Style on Adolescent Competence and Substance Abuse.
  2. Dornyej, Z (1995): Psychological Teaching, London, Macmillan

Press.Ltd (2001): Motivational Strategies in the

  1. Jere Brophy (2004): Motivating students to Learn, second edition,


  1. Krashen, S and Terrel, T (1983): The Natural approach, SanFrancisco: Alemany
  2. Meece, J (1994): The Role of Motivation in Self-regulated Learning.
  3. Alfred Smith (1973): Attitude in F.L.learning, English Teaching

Forum, X, 1, Jan /Feb

  1. Eisenberger (1999): ELT, Journal, vol. xxx1, 1977, P.100.
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