Parameters Inducing Motivational Surges in Second Language Learning

  • Zana Ibrahim Department of English Language, School of Social Sciences, University of Kurdistan Hawler, Kurdistan Region - F.R. Iraq
Keywords: Directed Motivational Currents, Second Language Acquisition, Second Language Motivation


Motivational surges in language learning occur when a number of personal and contextual parameters come together to induce intense and long-term motivational experiences. In the second language learning literature, this phenomenon is known as the directed motivational current (Dörnyei, Muir, & Ibrahim, 2014). As a novel concept in the field, little is known about what might induce this extraordinary motivational surge. The current study empirically examined the parameters of nine participants who provided accounts of the conditions around the initial stages of their motivational currents. The qualitative analysis found that five factors triggered the motivational currents in the participants: emergent opportunities, negative emotion, moments of realization/awakening, new information, and meeting others who shared the goal. The study also revealed two main conditions necessary for a DMC to begin: goal/ambitions and perceived feasibility. The final section of this paper presents practical implications of the current findings in relation to how second language teachers and educators might benefit from the findings to help incite motivational surges in their language learners.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Zana Ibrahim, Department of English Language, School of Social Sciences, University of Kurdistan Hawler, Kurdistan Region - F.R. Iraq

Dr. Zana Ibrahim is the chair of the English Department at the University of Kurdistan Hewlêr. He holds a PhD in English from the University of Nottingham in the UK, and an M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the USA. He is a former recipient of Fulbright Scholarship sponsored by the US Department of State. Dr. Ibrahim has been actively involved in teaching English to a variety of student populations and levels both in Kurdistan and abroad. Previously, he has taught courses in academic reading and writing, translation and interpretation, language acquisition, applied linguistics, TESOL, materials development and syllabus design, and research methods at a number of universities in Kurdistan. His research interests lie mainly in the area of second language acquisition and pedagogy, applied linguistics, second language motivation, complexity theory, and positive affect. He is the co-theorist of the directed motivational currents concept and has co-authored the first publication on the construct.


Abouserie, R. (1995). Self-esteem and achievement motivation as determinants of students’ approaches to studying. Studies in Higher Education, 20(1), 19-26.

Al-Hoorie, A. H. (2017). Sixty years of language motivation research: Looking back and looking forward. SAGE Open, 7(1), 1-11.

Colaizzi, P. F. (1978). Psychological research as the phenomenologist views it. In: Valle, R. S., & King, M., editors.
Existential-Phenomenological Alternatives for Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 258-281.

Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among Five Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Ltd.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1988). Introduction. In: Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, I. S., editors. Optimal Experience: Psychological Studies of Flow in Consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 3-14.

Dörnyei, Z. (2010). Researching motivation: From integrativeness to the ideal L2 self. In: Hunston, S., & Oakey, D., editors. Introducing Applied Linguistics: Concepts and Skills. London: Routledge. pp.74-83.

Dörnyei, Z. (2009). The L2 motivational self system. In: Dörnyei, Z., & Ushioda, E., editors. Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. pp. 9-42.

Dörnyei, Z. (2006). Individual differences in second language acquisition. AILA Review, 19(1), 42-68.

Dörnyei, Z. (2001). Motivational Strategies in the Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dörnyei, Z. (1994). Motivation and motivating in the foreign language classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 78(3), 273-284.

Dörnyei, Z., Henry, A., & Muir, C. (2016). Motivational Currents in Language Learning: Frameworks for Focused Interventions. New York: Routledge.

Dörnyei, Z., Ibrahim, Z., & Muir, C. (2015). Directed motivational currents: Regulating complex dynamic systems through motivational surges. In: Dörnyei, Z., MacIntyre, P., & Henry, A., editors. Motivational Dynamics in Language Learning. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. pp. 95-105.

Dörnyei, Z., Muir, C., & Ibrahim, Z. (2014). Directed motivational current: Energising language learning through creating intense motivational pathways. In: Lasagabaster, D., Doiz, A., & Sierra, J. M., editros. Motivation and Foreign Language Learning: From Theory to Practice. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp. 9-29.

Dörnyei, Z., & Kubanyiova, M. (2014). Motivating Learners, Motivating Teachers: Building Vision in the Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dörnyei, Z., & Ushioda, E. (2013). Teaching and Researching: Motivation. Routledge.

Dörnyei, Z., & Ottó, I. (1998). Motivation in action: A process model of L2 motivation. Working Papers in Applied Linguistics. London: Thames Valley University. pp. 43-69.

Fereday, J., & Muir-Cochrane, E. (2006). Demonstrating rigor using thematic analysis: A hybrid approach of inductive and deductive coding and theme development. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(1), 80-92.

Finlay, L. (2012). Debating phenomenological methods. In: Friesen, N., Henriksson, C., & Saevi, T., editors. Hermeneutic Phenomenology in Education: Method and Practice. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. pp. 17-37.

Hycner, R. H. (1985). Some guidelines for the phenomenological analysis of interview data. Human Studies, 8(3), 279-303.

Ibrahim, Z. (2016a). Affect in directed motivational currents: Positive emotionality in long-term L2 engagement. In: MacIntyre, P. D., Gregersen, T., Mercer, S., editors. Positive Psychology in SLA. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. pp. 258-281.

Ibrahim, Z. I. (2016b). Directed Motivational Currents: Optimal Productivity and Long-Term Sustainability in Second Language Acquisition, Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of Nottingham.

Joffe, H. (2012). Thematic analysis. In: Harper, D., & Thompson, A., editors. Qualitative Research Methods in Mental Health and Psychotherapy: A Guide for Students and Practitioners. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 209-223.

Locke, E. W., & Latham, G. P. (2005). Goal setting theory: Theory building in induction. In: Smith, K. G., & Hitt, M. A., editors. Great Minds in Management: The Process of Theory Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 128-150.

Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist, 41, 954-969.

Moneta, G. B., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). The effect of perceived challenges and skills on the quality of subjective experience. Journal of Personality, 64(2), 275-310.

Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Noels, K. A., Pelletier, L. G., Clément, R., & Vallerand, R. J. (2000). Why are you learning a second language? Motivational orientations and self-determination theory. Language Learning, 50(1), 57-85.

Pintrich, P. R. (1999). The role of motivation in promoting and sustaining self-regulated learning. International Journal of Educational Research, 31(6), 459-470.

Sanders, C. (2003). Application of Colaizzi’s method: Interpretation of an auditable decision trail by a novice researcher. Contemporary Nurse, 14(3), 292-302.

Skehan, P. (1991). Individual differences in second language learning. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 13(2), 275-298.

Waterman, A. S. (1993). Two conceptions of happiness: Contrasts of personal expressiveness (eudaimonia) and hedonic enjoyment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(4), 678.

Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (2000). Expectancy-value theory of achievement motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 68-81.
How to Cite
Ibrahim, Z. (2017, December 28). Parameters Inducing Motivational Surges in Second Language Learning. UKH Journal of Social Sciences, 1(1), 24-33.
Research Articles