When considering the gap between boys’ and girls’ levels of English language learning motivation, some of the most eminent scholars in the field speculated in 2006 that: “the global nature of English will cause this gap to disappear completely because English will become the first L2 choice for virtually everybody, regardless of their sex” (Dörnyei et al., 2006).
The British Council’s 2017 English Impact study compared English language achievement and motivation amongst 15-year-old learners the Madrid region. 1773 learners of English completed a test and motivational questionnaire. Both levels of motivation and relationship between motivational variables were examined, and comparisons were drawn between gender groups, amongst others.
Despite the researchers’ earlier predictions, this study provides evidence to show that that boys continue to report lower levels of motivation than girls. Boys also appear to rely more than girls on external stimuli, such as parental and social expectations, to motivate them. In spite of higher overall proficiency scores, it is interesting to note that the female learners do not report themselves to be better at learning English than their male counterparts. In this session, we also discuss the potential implications of these findings for the language classroom.
Dr Janina Iwaniec, University of Bath.
Janina has worked as an EFL teacher in Poland and the UK, EAP tutor, applied linguistics tutor and TESOL lecturer. Her research interests include language learning motivation in foreign and second language contexts, gender role in language learning, and the role of contextual factors in language learning. She has published in System, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development and European Journal of Applied Linguistics.
Dr Karen Dunn, Senior Researcher British Council.
As Senior Researcher in measurement and evaluation at the British Council, Dr Dunn’s role involves analysing operational data for the British Council’s suite of English language tests (Aptis), as well as in-depth research into scoring and validity issues. She is also involved in project work addressing a range of language assessment issues. Karen holds a PhD in Applied Social Statistics and a Masters in Language Studies. The focus of her PhD research was on using Explanatory Item Response Theory (EIRT) to investigate word difficulty for L2 learners of English.