An Investigation of Motivation to Transfer Second Language Learning

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Research on motivation in second language (L2) education has tended to focus on learning; this study took an alternative perspective, examining students' motivation to transfer L2 learning. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews with 40 students who were enrolled in several sections of a university English-for-academic-purposes (EAP) writing course and who were concurrently taking other academic courses in various disciplines. The interviews focused on whether students were motivated to transfer learning from the EAP course to their other courses and what factors influenced this motivation. Analysis of the interview data indicated that true motivation to transfer (i.e., a combination of desire, favorable attitudes, and effort) was rare. The factors that influenced these students' motivation to transfer learning from the EAP course to their other courses fell into eight categories (e.g., perceptions of opportunity for transfer; personal beliefs about transfer). Implications of these findings for theory, practice, and future research related to L2 transfer motivation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-69
Number of pages19
JournalModern Language Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics

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