Motivational orientations of American and Russian learners of French as a foreign language

Zoia Vinogradova, Purdue University


This study seeks to examine and compare motivational orientations of French learners across different dimensions: cultural background (USA vs. Russia), educational modality and age (college students vs. private courses learners), gender, and time of studying foreign language. 613 American and Russian learners of French completed the questionnaire addressing 10 motivational factors to study French language. Despite differences in nationality, age, educational background and learning experience, all groups of participants produced nearly identical motivational rankings. The rankings are topped by the Travelling orientation, which seems to be universally appealing, followed by the orientations within the Idealistic motivational cluster (Aesthetic Factors, Culture, Knowledge, and Ideal Self). The Pragmatic motivational cluster (Instrumental orientation, which is sometimes coupled to Emigration and Friendship dimensions) is by far less important. This disposition is also confirmed by the qualitative data. With regard to specific orientations it has been found that US learners score consistently higher in Sociability motivation, whereas Russians score higher in the Peers’ Encouragement and Aesthetic categories. In regard to gender differences, this study shows that male students appear to be more personable, e.g. among American learners males consistently outscore females in the Friendship category. Referring to age differences, it was found that the overall level of motivation tends to decline with age.




Neary-Sundquist, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Linguistics|Foreign language education|Sociolinguistics

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