Research studies

The Importance of Motivation in Mastering English as the Foreign Language (EFL)


Prepared by the researcher :

  • Dr. Hassan Mohammed Abdelaal Al Moukashfi, Assistant professor, White Nile University, Kosti. Sudan, 
  • Dr.Salih Abdallah Ahmed Abdalla Associated Professor, Applied linguistics, Faculty of Arts, University of El-Imam El-Mahdi    

Democratic Arabic Center

Journal of Afro-Asian Studies : Nineteenth Issue – November 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 factors that increase motivation in learning English Language at secondary school, White Nile State, Kosti Locality. The study followed the descriptive analytical method to examine the main factors which motivate students to learn English Language. A questionnaire was used to collect data randomly. Data was analyzed by Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The study has come to a number of findings. The most outstanding ones are: most students at secondary schools in Kosti Locality are well-motivated in learning English Language if they are taught by qualified teachers. The majority of English Language teachers are untrained. Finally, the study has recommended that, training courses should be held regularly and useful modern methods and proper techniques should be used in teaching language.


Motivation is a very important factor inside classrooms so as to confirm and reinforce the success of the students. When students are motivated, they participate within the classroom positively and focus on their learning with an open eye and alert mind. Therefore, the lack of motivation for learning English language is considered to be among various factors that responsible for the failure of mastering English language, the main purpose of this study is to investigate and reinforce the secondary school students’ motivation for learning English as a foreign language.

Chapter One: Framework methodology and Previous studies

 Statement of the problem

 The study attempts to investigate the importance of motivation in learning English language. Also, the most important methods and techniques that reinforce students’ motivation should be highlighted.

Questions of the Study

To what extent is motivation important in mastering English language? What is the relationship between motivation and mastering English language? To what extent do different methods and techniques have great impact on mastering English language?

The importance of the study

This study is of great importance, because, it opens the way widely to English language Teachers to pay more attention of the neglected factor(motivation) in learning English language Teachers. So, the study sheds light on the concept motivation. Also, those who design syllabus will get benefit from it.

 Objectives of the study

    The main objectives of the study represent of:

  1. To investigate Students’ motivation towards learning English language at secondary school in Sudan.
  2. To find out the relationship between motivation and mastering English language via school environment.
  3. The majority of Sudanese teachers use various methods and techniques to motivate their students in mastering English language.

Hypotheses of the study

  1. Students’ at secondary school are motivated towards mastering English language.
  2. There is a great relationship between motivation and Mastering English language.
  3. Using various methods and techniques play an important role in mastering English language.

Methodology of the study

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

The Previous Studies

1.This study was prepared 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 study are: the lack of teachers’ training at English language is the main cause of low standard of English language. The objectives of teaching English language in secondary school are not clear, and the 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.

2.This study was prepared by Ahmed Mohammed Haron1992. 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 aim 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 teachers are not well-trained and qualified enough to solve the problem of declining of English language learning. The most recommendation is that, training and qualifying of teachers should be compulsory and providing teachers with audiovisual aids.

Chapter Two: Literature Review


A number of schools attempt to define the term motivation. Some of these definitions are as Brow states (1997:168) “Motivation is quite simple, the anticipation of reward driven to acquire positive reinforcement and driven by the previous experiences of reward for behavior”. Another definition which is stated by Maehr (1997:73): “Motivation is a theoretical used to explain the initiation, direction, intensity, persistence and quality of behavior especially goal- directed behavior.”. Furthermore, Harmer (2001:51) defines motivation as “some kind of internal drive which pushes someone to do things in order to achieve something”. Also, McCarthy (1998:65) defines motivation as “aids position of learners that is characterized by their willingness to initiate learning activities their continued involvement in learning tasks, and their long-term commitment to learning “. Motives are hypothetical constructs used to explain why people are doing things and what they are doing them? So, motives are distinguished from related constructs such as, goals and strategies.

 Thus, motive is usually constructed as relatively general needs or desires that energize students to initiate purposeful action sequences. Also, motivation is the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behavior. Therefore, motivation involves biological, social and cognitive forces that activate behavior. Thus, motivation makes someone to act positively in a way that gets him closer to his objectives.   Brophy (2004:4) states that:

“Learning is fun and exciting at least when the curriculum is well matched to students interests and abilities and the teacher emphasize hands-on activates. When you teach the right way, motivation takes care of itself.”

This citation emphasizes that, teaching students require a highly-motivated both a teacher and a student.

 “School is inherently boring and frustrating. We require students to come. Then try to teach them stuff that they don’t find meaningful. There is little support for academic achievement in the peer it culture and frequently at the home as well. A few students may be enthusiastic about learning, but most of them require the grading system and the carrots and sticks” Ibid

This italicized citation expresses the core ideas behind much of the advice traditionally offered to teachers about motivating students. In this view, teachers seek to maximize pleasure and minimize frustration. Also, they can shape student’s behavior by manipulating reinforcement contingencies. Therefore, motivation places much more emphasis on individual’s decisions. Suzanna Graham (1997:96), Gardner (1985:147) defines motivation as “the efforts, want (desire) and affect associated with learning a second language” Thus, it should be taken after deep thinking and complete readiness. Some cognitive psychologists see underlying need or derive as the compelling force behind our decisions Ausubel (1968:69) identifies six needs undergirding the construct of motivation:

The need for exploration, for seeing “the other side of the mountain” for probing the unknown.

The need for manipulation, for operating on the environment and causing change.

The need for activity, for movement and exercise, both physical and mental.

The need for stimulation, the need to be stimulated by the environmental, by other people or by ideas, thoughts and feelings.

The need for knowledge, the need to process and internalize the result of exploration, manipulation, activity and stimulation, to resolve contradictions, to request for solutions to problems and for self-consistent system of knowledge.

The need for ego enhancement, for the self to be known and to be accepted and approved of by others.

As the result of that different schools have different views to the term motivation. These schools are Behavioristic School, cognitive school, and constructive school. Their views are as follow, briefly:

Behavioristic School: it focuses more on the anticipation of reward desire to receive positive reinforcement, external individual forces in control, whereas: the cognitive school is driven by basic human needs {exploration and manipulation} degree of effort ended and internal individual forces in control. But the constructive school gives more emphasis on, social context, community, social status, security of group, internal interactive forces in control.

Nature of Motivation

The nature of motivation primarily refers to the quality and ability of student’s cognitive engagement in a learning activity. It does not focus on the intensity of the physical effort. They devote to it or the time they spend on it. Yule (1997:195) states that “it has been noted that those who experience some success are among the most motivated to learn”” So, students were born with the potential to develop a great range of motivational dispositions.

 A few such dispositions appear to be inborn as part of the human condition and can be observed in everyone as Brophy (2004:17) states that:

“It is helpful to view motivation to learn as a schema- a network of connected insights, skills, values and dispositions that enable students to understand what it means to engage in academic activities with the intention of accomplishing their learning goals and with awareness of the strategies they use in attempting to do so.”

The total schema cannot be taught directly, although some of its conceptual and skills components can. These motivational dispositions which include key insights and cognitive strategies are learned as the result of socialization at home and instruction at school.

Types of motivation

There are many types of motivation which work together to form the process of successful learning. Each one has certain aspects that distinguished it from the others.

Extrinsic motivation: it is mainly concerned with factors outside the classroom and it is often involving rewards as money, social recognition and praise.

Intrinsic motivation:

It is concerned with what takes place inside the classroom. It is caused by outside factors for reasons like passing the examinations. Also, intrinsic motivation comes from the enjoyment of a person to do something. Therefore, motivation is the most important for people in general and for students in particular so as to make them to do better and learn more.  Moreover, it increases students’ self -confidence and self-dependence.

Integrative motivation:

For this type of motivation students’ need to be attracted by the culture of the target language community. In addition to the strong form of integrative motivation, students wish to integrate themselves into that culture. A weaker form of such motivation would be the desire to know as much as possible about the culture of the target language community (TLC).

Instrumental motivation:

This term describes a situation in which students believe that mastery of the target language will be instrumental in getting them a better job. These instruments should help them in attainment of such goals.

Motivation in the classroom

A teacher’s personality and everyday behavior in the classroom can become the most powerful motivational tool. It encourages students to overstep their English phobia. So, a teacher will need to cultivate and display the attribute of individual student who is effective as models and socializes it to the target tools. These tools begin with characteristics that make teachers well-liked as: a cheerful disposition, friendliness, emotional maturity, sincerity, and other qualities that indicate good mental health and personal adjustment. A teacher who attempts to socialize students with the available tools will have positive effects on them. So, to the extent that, students admire his values, opinions and appreciate his efforts. Thus Davis (2001:96) state that:

“. . . therefore, get to know and enjoy your students, learn their preferred names quickly and use these names frequently as you interact with them. Great them warmly each day and spend some time getting to know them as individuals.”

According to the above -mentioned quotation when a teacher does so, he will learn a lot about students’ backgrounds and interests. As the result of that a teacher can incorporate into his teaching in ways that are compatible with curricula goals. Furthermore, a teacher can help students get to know and appreciate learning as a person. This should be done by sharing some of his background, life experiences, interests and opinions to his students.

 This proves that, if a teacher does these things properly or deals with his students as close as possible, he will get full interactions and excellent responses. Also, they will help them to become more open and genuine in their interaction as well as retaining their respect for a teacher’s authority. Moreover, a teacher tries to help his students to know one another by interviewing them publicly in ways that allow them to share information about their families’ interests and hobbies. So, motivation is useful when students are freely engaging in self-chosen activities and the learning usually satisfies their curiosity.

 When students are intrinsically motivated, learning is more goals oriented. But these conditions are difficult to establish in the classroom for many reasons:

First, school attendance is compulsory and curriculum contents and learning activities are selected primarily on the basis of what society believes students need to learn, not on the basis of what students would choose if they are given the opportunity to do so. Also, schools are established for the benefit of students. However, student’s point of view is different.

 It is that, time in the classroom is devoted to enforce attempts to meet externally imposed demands.

Second, teachers usually must work with classes of 40 or more students. Therefore, they cannot always meet each individual’s needs. As the result of that, certain students sometimes are bored and others are confused or frustrated.

Third, classrooms are social settings, so that failure often produces not only personal disappointment but public embarrassment.

These types of conditions don’t help in developing the intended skill. Because, for the fear of failure and they are focused on negative emotions.

To achieve all these conditions, a teacher should establish and maintain a classroom as a learning community i.e. a place where students come primarily to learn and succeed through collaboration together. Then, a teacher should focus on things that are worth learning and to develop the content in ways that help students to appreciate its significance and application potential. It is commonly observed that certain preconditions must be in place before motivational strategies can be effective.

 Therefore, lower level’s needs must be satisfied before higher level needs. So, students’ motivations are affected not only by the nature of their learning and the rewards they expect to learn, but also by their environment and other learning conditions. These conditions are as students’ social relationship with co-learners and especially their feelings about their teachers. Glasser (1990:57) urges that:

“Teachers should act as lead managers rather than boss mangers. Lead managers motivate by reinforcing rather than pushing, showing rather than telling, empowering rather than overpowering, emphasizing co-operative work toward shared goals rather than rule enforcement.”

From this citation a teacher should cooperate with students completely. Then he deals with their psychological inners properly so as to get their true feelings. Also, students can express their genuine needs when a teacher socializes himself with them.  Comer: (1980:87) proves that:

“School’s Environment in which students feel comfortable, valued and secure encourages then to form positive emotional bonds with teachers and peers and positive attitude toward school, while in turn facilitates their academic motivation and learning”.

 Chapter Three: Data Analysis 

  1. Students’ at secondary school are motivated towards learning English language. Table (6) shows that the most important expression of the first hypothesis for the sample of the study is that “trained teachers motivate the students while teaching English language” whereas the relative importance of it compared to the terms of the hypothesis is 85%

The general mean of the first hypothesis is 3.80, the standard deviation (1.12) and its relative importance is 74%. On average all opinions of the sample agree that qualified teachers are motivated to their students

  1. There is a great relationship between motivation and learning English language.

Table (12) shows that the most important expression of the second hypothesis of the study’s sample is that: “I feel comfortable in small classrooms when studying English language”. The general mean for the second hypothesis is (3.90), the standard deviation is (1.05) and the relative importance is (86%). On average, all the views of the sample agree that the small classroom size has a great role in motivating students.

  1. Using various methods and techniques play an important role in learning English language.

Table (18) shows that the most important expression of the third hypothesis for the sample of the study is that “modern methods and techniques help a lot in teaching English language”

The general mean of the third hypothesis is 3.8, the standard deviation is (1.16) and the relative importance is 75%. On average all the views of the sample agree that the school environment has an effect on learning English language at secondary level.


The study has followed different approaches so as to dig deep into the importance of neglected factor (motivation) that facilitate the learning process. Also, the existence of motivation among our schools enhances the positive learning. The hypotheses are based on observation and tested through student’s questionnaire have reliable results:

 1.The main reason for it is neglecting of unqualified teachers. Therefore, teachers should be involved in training courses so as to help in solving this problem.

  1. school environment is poor and it should be improved.

 3.This study are of great value and should be put into consideration while the educationists design syllabus, in addition to that, various methods and techniques should be used while teachers are teaching English language.

  1. Then the researchers find 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.

 The recommendations of the study should seem to be well-motivated when they are taught by qualified teachers. So, to reinforce the students’ motivation, training courses, useful methods and proper strategies should be used. 84% of the students feel relax when they are in small classrooms. Simply because their teachers are managed to control such classrooms properly and the period serves its purposes. Finally, the study revealed obviously that, motivation has received little attention from the educationists as well as the community. Therefore, in the near future and with assistance of the technological methods, motivation will be the main factor in our schools.


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Baker, L (1997): Home and Family Influences on Motivations Brow, H.D (1997): The English Teacher as Researchers ELT Journal

Davis, H. (2001): The Quality and Impact of Relationship between Elementary school children and teachers. Edition) London: Longman

Graham, S (1997) Effective language learning.

Harmer, J (2001): The Practice of English language Teaching (3rd. Edition) London: Longman.

James Comer (1980): Errors in Language Learning and Use, Harlow Jere Brophy (2004): Motivating students to Learn, second edition, London

Maher and Meyer, H (1997): Understanding Motivation and Schooling: where we have been, where we are and where we need to go? Educational Psychology Review,9,371

MC Cathy. B (1990): Using the 4 M A T system to bring learning Styles to School Education Leadership UK. Addison Wesley Longman.Vol.16 (4)

William Glasser (1990): The Quality School: Managing Students without Correction, New York: Harper and Row.

Yule. G, (1997) The study of language, low price edition, Cambridge University Press.

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