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Plenaries

We are pleased to announce the abstracts for the lineup of plenary speakers for PLL3. The five speakers are Mimi Bong, Zoltán Dörnyei,
Lourdes Ortega, Richard Ryan, and Ema Ushioda.


Mimi Bong

Korea University

Wanting to Prove You’re Smart: The Detrimental Effects of Ability Validation Goals 

Students strive to achieve for various reasons. Some do to improve their capability; others to prove their ability or to hide their lack of ability; still others to outperform the other students or to avoid performing worse than the others. Achievement goals, or the reasons and purposes underlying achievement behaviors, are important determinants of motivation and performance in specific achievement contexts. In this talk, I will briefly introduce how the achievement goal theory has evolved over the past four decades, along with major findings from each generation of the achievement goal research. I will then move on to the remaining issues and challenges in the study of achievement goals, arguing for the need to distinguish between five achievement goals. Specifically, I will present evidence that adolescent learners pursue both social and competence-oriented achievement goals at school (Lee & Bong, 2016) and that, within achievement goals, they distinguish between: (a) mastery and performance goals by their view toward the nature of competence (Dweck, 1986; Nicholls. 1984); (b) approach and avoidance goals by valence (Elliot, 1996); and (c) ability and normative goals by their construal of the function of achievement in relation to competence (Grant & Dweck, 2003). Complex interplay of achievement goals with presumed antecedents and consequences, including individual differences, classroom contexts, and other motivation constructs such as self-efficacy beliefs will also be discussed. I will conclude my talk with the implication of this body of research for foreign language acquisition.

Zoltán Dörnyei
University of Nottingham

Towards understanding perseverance in L2 learning: Long-term motivation, motivational currents and vision

Motivation, by definition, concerns the choice and direction of a particular action, the effort expended on it and the persistence with it. While most scholars would agree with this conceptualisation, the curious fact is that one of the motivational dimensions – persistence – has received far less attention in past research than the other components; indeed, as Grant and Shin (2012) explain in The Oxford Handbook of Human Motivation, “Compared to research on the direction and intensity of effort, few theoretical models and empirical studies have focused on the maintenance or persistence of effort” (p. 514). This imbalance is in contrast with the perception of classroom practitioners, who know all too well that student motivation is not constant but displays continuous ebbs and flows as well as a steady ‘leak’, that is, a tendency to peter out with time. For these reasons, a better understanding of the nature of student perseverance would be crucial for promoting sustained learning behaviours that are required for the mastery of an L2. This paper first addresses the question of why motivation theories have traditionally displayed a certain amount of uneasiness in relating motivation to time, and then starts to fill the existing theoretical gap by summarising relevant lessons from three research strands: (a) established motivation research concerning long-term motivation (e.g. time perspective, contingent path theory, velocity and goal pursuit); (b) the theory of vision; and (c) the recent conceptualisation of directed motivational currents. The talk will conclude by highlighting the manifold practical implications of these issues.

Lourdes Ortega
Georgetown University

Understanding vulnerability and privilege in multilingualism: What can the psychology of language learning offer?

Psychology is about understanding human behavior, and researchers working on the psychology of language learning seek to understand the attitudes, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors of multilinguals. Researchers of language learning have always assumed that the experience of learning a new language fosters critical self-awareness, expands world horizons, and promotes respect for human diversity and human difference. They have also always known that there are complex, difficult relationships between globalization, poverty, and multilingualism. Multilingual lives can be lived by some harmoniously and by others conflictively, by some as a privilege and by others as a vulnerability. What can research into the psychology of language learning offer in order to help address these social justice issues explicitly? I examine constructs from the study of psychology, in general, and the psychology of language learning, in particular, in search for promising directions that may help transform language learning experiences into opportunities to affirm social justice for individuals, classrooms, and communities.

Richard M. Ryan
Australian Catholic University

Motivation in Development, Second Language Learning, and Teaching: Research on Promoting Engagement Using Self-Determination Theory

People’s quality of engagement, learning, performance, and well-being are strongly affected by how autonomous or controlled their motives for acting are. This is especially true in second or foreign language learning, in which autonomous motivation is one of the main predictors of persistence and success. Self-determination theory (SDT) specifically details how different types of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation affect learning outcomes. In addition the theory describes how the styles and strategies of teachers can promote or undermine more autonomous engagement in learners and the positive consequences that follow from it. In this talk, Professor Ryan will provide an overview SDT, with special emphasis on how autonomy-support relates to classroom relationships and to learning outcomes. He will also address the applicability of SDT across stages of development and across collectivist and individualist cultural contexts. Finally, he will review relevant SDT research with parents, and in schools, workplaces, clinics, sports and other settings where motivation matters.

Ema Ushioda
University of Warwick

Whose interests does language learning motivation research serve? Stretching the boundaries

The study of motivation has been one of the most prolific areas of research in the psychology of language learning. It has been driven by the goals of understanding and explaining motivational phenomena associated with L2 learning, with a view to contributing to theory and knowledge building. Yet, despite our growing research concern with language learners ‘as people’ (as reflected in the core topics addressed at this conference) rather than abstract bundles of variables, it seems worth asking how far the research we do is really designed to serve the interests of the people we research, beyond the customary ‘practical implications for teaching’ distilled from our findings. Back in 2005, Ortega argued for ‘an ethical lens that interrogates our ends and purposes when generating research on second language learning and teaching’. She made the case that the value of such research is to be judged not simply by its rigour and significance ‘but ultimately on the basis of its potential for positive impact on societal and educational problems’. Over a decade later, impact or relevance to society has become central to debates about the value of academic research. In this talk, I will challenge the L2 motivation field to give critical consideration to the wider social purposes and values of the research we do, beyond the goals of academic contribution to knowledge and theory development. I discuss how we might channel our own scholarly interests in theorizing and researching motivation into a more clearly socially responsive direction.

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