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The number of studies examining teachers’ motivation and motivating impact on adult L2 learners in English as a foreign language (EFL) contexts is limited, while research carried out in a corporate environment is practically non-existent. This paper attempts to fill this niche by presenting the results of an interview study conducted with 18 EFL teachers who work in companies employing over 250 workers in Hungary. The aim of the study was to explore how motivated corporate language teachers were in their jobs, how they perceived their motivating impact, and what strategies they used to motivate their adult learners of English. The results reveal that EFL teachers in this context are highly motivated due to the freedom, flexibility, and variety that this environment offers. In addition, their relentless efforts to grow and develop all the time to approximate mastery in a highly competitive context also contribute to their motivation. Practicality, getting to know their learners, free conversation, appearance, and being tailor-made seem to play a key role in motivating their learners.

Abstract

The number of studies examining teachers’ motivation and motivating impact on adult L2 learners in English as a foreign language (EFL) contexts is limited, while research carried out in a corporate environment is practically non-existent. This paper attempts to fill this niche by presenting the results of an interview study conducted with 18 EFL teachers who work in companies employing over 250 workers in Hungary. The aim of the study was to explore how motivated corporate language teachers were in their jobs, how they perceived their motivating impact, and what strategies they used to motivate their adult learners of English. The results reveal that EFL teachers in this context are highly motivated due to the freedom, flexibility, and variety that this environment offers. In addition, their relentless efforts to grow and develop all the time to approximate mastery in a highly competitive context also contribute to their motivation. Practicality, getting to know their learners, free conversation, appearance, and being tailor-made seem to play a key role in motivating their learners.

Introduction

When Lamb (2017) claims that “motivation is recognised as a vital component in successful second language learning” (p. 1), he aptly refers to the power of motivation, which, besides other individual differences, accounts for the differential success in second language acquisition (SLA). The general consensus is that motivation is such an important factor in language learning that it may even override the effect of other traditionally essential individual characteristics and may compensate for deficiencies in cognitive abilities (Dörnyei & Ryan, 2015; Larsen-Freeman & Long, 2014; Sternberg, 2002). Motivation research will presumably always remain a field of scholarly enquiry, because as Schumann (2015) puts it:

Different conceptualizations of SLA motivation will continue to be proposed and will continue to inform our notions of the phenomenon. In a species capable of generating symbolic nonmaterial constructs that cannot be isolated as physical entities but only as conceptualizations built out of other concepts, the number of possible formulations of the phenomena is potentially infinite.” (p. 12)

In spite of the existence of numerous motivation theories that have evolved in the past 60 years, it is only the past decade that has witnessed a “surge in publications related to the pedagogical aspects of motivation” (Lamb, 2017, p. 4). Within the pedagogical field, the teacher’s role in motivating learners has remained an underresearched niche to this day (Dewaele, Gkonou, & Mercer, 2018) and “empirical studies on the issue of teachers’ role in motivating language learners have mostly focused on demotivating factors rather than motivating factors” (Rahimi & Hosseini, 2015, p. 64). This is most surprising, as reviewing the literature provides evidence that teachers play a significant role in creating and maintaining a motivating environment. This has been confirmed by numerous studies. To name but a few, Dörnyei and Csizér (1998) studied the use of teaching strategies to motivate learners among Hungarian teachers of English. The researchers assigned 51 motivational strategies and studied the significance attributed to each strategy by the teachers and how often teachers employed each strategy in their classes. The participating 200 Hungarian teachers of English rated their own behavior as an extremely underutilized motivational factor. Mezei and Csizér (2005) examined the relationship between a particular teacher’s motivational impact on motivated learning behavior and confirmed its critical role. Chan (2014), Lamb and Wedell (2015), Magid (2014), Mezei (2014), Radel, Sarrazin, Legrain, and Wild (2010), Roth, Assor, Kanat-Maymon, and Kaplan (2007), and Tanaka (2005) similarly verified that motivated teachers increase the motivation of their learners.

If we focus on the motivation of adult learners of English in an English as a foreign language (EFL) context, like Hungary, we can find fewer empirical studies. Some exceptions are Shoaib and Dörnyei’s (2005) interview study with adult learners examining the participants’ motivational history, Szaszkó’s (2007) study that investigated the effects of intercultural contacts on adult Hungarians’ motivation, and Murray’s (2011) study of Japanese adult learners of English, and Ishtiaq, Ali, and Salem’s (2015) article on the effects of cooperative learning strategy on motivation of Saudi EFL adult learners. Even though all of these studies are concerned (at least partly) with the motivation of adult learners of English, none of them address specifically the teacher’s impact on the motivation of adult learners in a corporate environment.

The above research niche provided the rationale for me to explore the teacher’s role in generating and maintaining the motivation of adult learners of English in a corporate environment. This article, therefore, addresses this neglected area of L2 motivation research by presenting the results of an interview study conducted with EFL teachers working in such contexts. The aim of this study is to explore what corporate language teachers think of their motivating impact, how they motivate their adult learners of English, and how motivated they feel in their jobs.

Literature Review

The literature review focuses on how the role of the teacher emerged or why it might possibly have been side-lined or completely missing in different theories of L2 motivation research. In the discussion, I will later demonstrate which elements of these theories are conspicuous in the interview data. Apart from the role attributed to teachers in motivating their learners, the literature review will also present Pink’s (2009) theory of motivation in the workplace, as one of the aims of the paper was to find out how motivated the participants of the study were themselves and what affected their level of motivation in their own working environment.

The social psychological period of L2 motivation research is characterized by the work of Gardner and Lambert (1972), who claimed that learners in the bilingual context of Canada would like “to identify with members of another ethno-linguistic group and to take on very subtle aspects of their behavior, including their distinctive style of speech and their language” (p. 135). The teacher’s role in motivation in Gardner’s (1985) theory is only referred to marginally, as part of the attitudes towards learning the language component, which is one of the three components besides motivational intensity or effort, and the desire to learn the language. However, it is not surprising that the teacher’s aspect of motivation is not elaborated in detail, as Gardner conducted his research in an English as a second language (ESL) context (which is the North American equivalent of English for speakers of other languages), where learners’ contact with L2 is less restricted to the classroom than in EFL contexts. This distinction between ESL and EFL context is still salient today, as Lamb (2017) claims, “despite enhanced mobility and expanding access to foreign languages online, most learners’ early encounters with the L2 still take place in classrooms” (pp. 1–2).

Another reason why the teacher’s role in Gardner’s motivational model was not paramount might have been the educational approach prevalent in North America at the time. Gardner’s first studies were conducted in the late 1960s, when the established language educational approaches in North America were audiolingualism and the situational approach, both of which were informed by behavioral psychology (Celce-Murcia, 1991). This also implies that learning activities and materials were carefully controlled and teaching took place in a high-constraint environment, where teachers might not have had the autonomy to rely on their own tools to motivate learners.

Nevertheless, with the concepts of instrumental and integrative orientations that Gardner and Lambert (1972) had established, they created concepts that are still relevant today, both from the standpoint of motivation research and the teacher’s role in motivation. If we consider the extent of migration taking place on a global scale, integrativeness does and will presumably play a role in L2-learners’ motivation. Another aspect of integrativeness is global integrativeness, more recently referred to as international posture (Yashima, 2002), in the case of which we cannot speak about language learners who want to assimilate into a community speaking a different language, but language learners of different nations aspiring to become members of a single English-speaking global community.

Deci and Ryan’s (1985) self-determination theory (SDT) was born in the cognitive-situated period. Their theory is one of the most influential theories in mainstream cognitive psychology till this day with its notions of extrinsic, intrinsic motivation, and flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1988). The concept of intrinsic motivation was incorporated in several motivational theories, e.g., Crookes and Schmidt’s (1991) comprehensive education-oriented theory of motivation and instruction design, which consisted of four components: interest (intrinsic motivation), relevance, expectancy, and satisfaction/outcomes. This theory was further developed and broadened by Dörnyei (1994) in his three-level model of L2 motivation, in which he conceptualized L2 motivation within a framework of three relatively distinct levels: language level, learner level, and learning situation level. Williams and Burden (1997) also produced a summary of L2 motivational components, which emphasized the role of contextual influences, including that of the teacher: “An individual’s motivation is also subject to social and contextual influences. These will include the whole culture and context and the social situation, as well as significant other people and the individual’s interaction with these people” (Williams & Burden, 1997, p. 121).

All of the above theories incorporate the teacher’s role in their motivational concepts to some extent. In Dörnyei’s (1994) three-level framework of L2 motivation, the learning situation level contains teacher-specific motivational components including the motivational impact of the teacher’s personality, behavior, and teaching style/practice, as well as the way he/she presents tasks and uses feedback. Dörnyei (1994) claims that this level seems to have a vital effect on overall motivation independent of the other two levels. Dörnyei and Csizér’s (1998) pioneering study on Hungarian EFL teachers presented groups of motivating techniques. The list was expanded by Dörnyei (2001) into 102 motivational strategies (microstrategies) grouped into 35 macrostartegies.

In this phase of L2 motivation research, the importance of the relationship between (lack of) teacher motivation and (lack of) student motivation was highlighted, namely how the teacher’s (lack of) enthusiasm is transmitted to the learner:

If a teacher does not believe in his job, does not enjoy the learning he is trying to transmit, the student will sense this and come to the entirely rational conclusion that the particular subject matter is not worth mastering for its own sake. Such a reaction on the part of young people is eminently adaptive.” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997, p. 77)

Good and Brophy (1994) argue that enthusiasm means that teachers clearly identify their reasons for being interested in the topic and then share these with the students. The same holds true for positive examples. Good teachers, apart from transferring cognitive information, are also committed to their subject, and their commitment is passed on to their students who will pursue their studies with similar enthusiasm. According to Csikszentmihályi (1997), learners are implicitly motivated by their teachers’ enthusiasm. More recently, studies on what learners think about the kind of teachers they find successful and motivating have confirmed the statements on teacher enthusiasm above. Research conducted in Iran by Ghanizadeh and Moafian (2010) among 826 EFL learners shows that interpersonal relationships, the teacher’s happiness, enthusiasm, support, and empathy have the highest correlations with learners’ success.

Therefore, the lesson from this era of motivation research is that an interesting and enjoyable learning environment is conducive to motivation not only because learners become intrinsically motivated, but also because if teachers enjoy the environment they work in, their enthusiasm is transmitted to the learners, which, in turn, will again help the learners maintain their motivation over a sustained period of time that learning a language requires. Thus, the teacher is, after all, a motivational factor that should be reckoned with.

The process-oriented period of motivation research around the turn of the millennium was concerned with the temporal nature of motivation, the motivational ebbs, and flows of L2 learning. In order to study this aspect of motivation in the second half of the 90s, Ushioda (1996) devised a framework of L2 motivation from a temporal perspective and concluded that “the notion of a temporal frame of reference shaping motivational thinking integrates the phenomenon of evolution over time, which seems central to the learners’ experience of and thus conception of language learning motivation” (1998, p. 82). A more elaborated scheme to model the temporal dimension of L2 motivation was developed by Dörnyei and Ottó (1998). Motivational influences were organized into two main dimensions: action sequence and motivational influences, along a pre-actional, an actional, and a post-actional phase. In the process-oriented period, motivation was also investigated across extended periods of learners’ lives to account for motivational influence and change in participants’ language-learning histories and experiences. Shoaib and Dörnyei (2005), for instance, conducted retrospective qualitative interviews with 25 learners of English to explore patterns in their motivation, and highlighted some transformational episodes, such as leaving school and entering the world of work or the experience of a holiday in an English-speaking environment.

The teacher is not mentioned explicitly in any of these models or studies. Contextual factors are incorporated in Ushioda’s (1998) motivational model, which also contains positive L2-learning experiences. If we assume that teachers may play a role in creating positive learning experiences and they play a contextual factor, we can hypothesize that teachers are part of her model. There is no reference to the teacher in Dörnyei and Ottó’s (1998) model either, in spite of the fact that it is the teacher who can help the learner set realistic goals (pre-actional stage), support the learner throughout the actional stage by providing an interesting learning experience, whereas in the post-actional stage, the teacher helps the learner evaluate the actional stage and set further goals.

The sociodynamic period researches motivation as it keeps changing through the interactions between context and self. This perspective filtered into L2 motivation research as well. In addition, by the turn of the millennium, English had become the global language, which had consequences on the conceptualization, development, and teaching of English (Seidlhofer, 2004).

The influence of self-theories is most apparent in the L2 motivational self system (L2MSS; Dörnyei, 2005), which draws on a mechanism that describes how the self regulates behavior by setting goals and expectations. Originally, Markus and Nurius (1986) coined the terms ideal self and ought-to self, which in Dörnyei’s L2MSS represent what learners would like to become and what they believe others would like them to become. These two selves, combined with the L2-learning experience, make up Dörnyei’s (2005) L2MSS. In the L2MSS, teachers are integrated in one of the three components of the concept: the L2-learning experience, which exists side by side with the other two concepts. However, the teacher’s role might be as prominent in helping the learners create their realistic ideal selves as in creating a motivating L2-learning experience. Helping learners visualize their future selves can take the form of a written narrative on how they see themselves at a given point of time in the future. Teachers can inevitably use this tool to motivate learners by making them more aware of their possible future selves, and by helping them formulate clearer and realistic goals about where they would like to be in a given time. Realistic goal-setting can also be regarded as part of an ideal self creating process. Interestingly, in Dörnyei and Kubanyiova’s (2014) “back to the future” portfolio, as well as in Magid’s (2014) and Chan’s (2014) studies on imagery, teachers are only assigned the task of execution, instead of assisting learners in creating their visual future selves and being part of the process.

The past decade of L2 motivation research is characterized by a “surge in publications related to the pedagogical aspects of motivation” (Lamb, 2017). Lamb’s (2017) state of the art review highlights the complex nature of the link between teaching and L2 motivation, and simultaneously, calls our attention to some novel phenomena. One such circumstance is the changing nature of teacher–learner relationships, in which “pupils are less accepting of a submissive role in class” (p. 3), and increasingly expect to be entertained as well, apart from being educated. His remark attests to a shift in attitudes toward teachers. They are not considered unquestionable, authoritative figures any longer, but are increasingly regarded as educational service providers on a level playing field with the learner. Another novelty in his writing is the outright Annunciation of the teacher as a motivator:

any good teacher is, by definition, a motivator of learning … teachers who actually target learner motivation could nurture and strengthen it so that it promotes greater learning effort during the course, produces even better results, and perhaps even carries forward to future periods of study.” (p. 6).

The idea of the teacher’s role being more salient, perhaps central in motivating language learners is further evidenced by the tendency that an increasing body of research has been carried out in recent years on the teacher’s motivational influence by reaching back to the cognitive situated period reviving and empirically validating Dörnyei and Csizér’ (1998) and Dörnyei’s (2001) motivational strategies (e.g., Guilloteaux, 2013; Ruesch, Bown, & Dewey, 2012; Sugita McEown & Takeuchi, 2014; Wong, 2014). In the same line of research, qualitative studies have revealed that “some individual teachers express more agency than others in developing their learners’ motivation, despite working in similar contexts” (Lamb, 2017, p. 14). This indicates that the personality of the teacher might play a crucial role in motivating learners, and while some teachers possess the quality to motivate more effectively, others might not. Lamb, Astuti, and Hadisantosa (2016) refer to this quality as persistent willingness and ability to emphasize with learners, while Lamb (2017) calls it responsiveness, which he defines as “the personal quality of empathy […] built up over years of practice, which defines the successful motivator” (p. 15).

Motivation in the Workplace

While SDT (Deci & Ryan, 1985) is an enduring theory of motivation in education including L2 motivation research, it has also proved to be a popular theoretical framework in the corporate world. Pink (2009) adapted SDT to the world of work in the form of a three-pronged model comprising autonomy, professionalism, and purpose. In his view, autonomy enables working adults to act with choice in relation to the tasks one does, the time when one does it, the team who one does it with, and the technique how one does it. While motivation in the workplace required compliance in former management theories, modern management requires engagement, which in turn might result in flow. Professionalism begins with flow where we pursue our tasks so deeply engaged that our sense of time and place melt away. The pursuit of professionalism requires an inquiring mind and the willingness to experiment one’s way to a fresh solution (Dutton & Wrezniewsky, 2001). While flow is essential to professionalism and can be experienced in a moment, professionalism unfolds over months, years, and sometimes decades (Ericsson, Krampe, & Romer, 1992).

The first two components of motivation, autonomy, and professionalism are essential, but a third ingredient, whose purpose is just as important as it provides a context for the first two. The most highly motivated people connect their desires to a cause that is greater and more enduring than themselves, and their everyday efforts. Another area where the second and third legs of the tripod, professionalism, and purpose meet is personal branding. One’s personal brand represents the values and principles one is able to constantly deliver to those one is serving. Llopis (2013) summarizes this in the following words:

Personal branding does not mean self-promotion – that you should be creating awareness for your brand by showcasing your achievements and success stories. Managing your personal brand requires you to be a great role model, mentor, and/or a voice that others can depend upon.” (p. 1)

Pink’s (2009) three prongs of motivation in the workplace (autonomy, professionalism, and purpose) coincide with three of Knowles’ (1980, 1984) five assumptions about the characteristics of adult education (andragogy). In 1980, Knowles made four assumptions about the characteristics of adult learners (self-concept, adult learner experience, readiness to learn, and orientation to learning), which he complemented with a fifth in 1984 (motivation to learn). Out of these five concepts, self-concept, adult learner experience, readiness to learn, and motivation to learn are similar to Pink’s (2009) ideas. Knowles’ (1980) self-concept encapsulates the notion that as a person matures, they increasingly move from being dependent to being self-directed. Knowles’ (1980) second and fifth concepts, adult learner experience, and motivation to learn denote a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning. These concepts resemble Pink’s (2009) professionalism, although it must be noted that while Pink’s (2009) concept of professionalism requires conscious effort from the worker; in Knowles’ (1980) model, adult learner experience refers to the assumption that as adult learners age, they accumulate more and more experience, merely, as a direct consequence of spending more time in their jobs. On the other hand, in Knowles, Holton, and Swanson’s (2014) theory, motivation to learn is born as a consequence of being pushed into unfamiliar territory: “each transition to a new stage creates a motivation to learn” (p. 207). Third, Pink’s (2009) concept of purpose and Knowles’ (1980) readiness to learn tap into comparable domains: moving beyond the self and working for a greater cause. Although Knowles’ fourth concept, orientation to learn, does not have a corresponding match in Pink’s (2009) motivation model, it is likely to play a significant role in motivating adults, as it is concerned with the immediacy of knowledge application and a shift from “subject-centeredness to life-, task- or problem-centeredness” (Knowles et al., 2014, p. 46).

Having reviewed the literature on the teacher’s role in L2 motivation research, as well as what generally motivates professionals in their own working environment, I was curious to find out which of the theories and underlying motivational concepts described in the literature review played an important part in the participants’ own professional motivation, and in their strategies applied to motivate their adult learners of English in a corporate environment. Consequently, the research questions I wanted to get answers to in my study were as follows:

  1. RQ1: How motivated do English teachers working in a corporate environment feel?
  2. RQ2: How do English teachers working in a corporate environment rate their own motivating abilities?
  3. RQ3: How do teachers of adult learners of English in a corporate environment motivate their students?

Research Method

In order to find out as much as possible about the subject of my investigation, and to provide the necessary depth and richness of information, qualitative data seemed to be the best source for several reasons. First of all, according to Lincoln and Guba (1985), acting as human-as-instrument is the only instrument, which is flexible enough to capture the complexity, subtlety, and constantly changing situation, which is the human experience. Second, an interpretive–descriptive approach is more suited to describe the complex nature of motivation. As Dörnyei (2007) contends, “qualitative methods are useful for making sense of highly complex situations” (p. 30). Their ideas resonate with Schumann’s (2015) stance on recent motivation research prioritizing individual accounts over groups.

Participants

I set out to build a purposive sample of 30 teachers using the principle of maximum variation, so I sought out language teachers of the organizations that participated in a previous study on corporate language education in Hungary (Kálmán, 2015). All of the participants were teachers of English at companies employing more than 250 employees representing a wide range of industries including the automotive; baby, feminine, and family care; banking; construction; electricity; fast-moving consumer goods; gas; information technology; insurance; nuclear; pharmaceutical; telecommunications; tobacco; and trading industries; as well as public administration. After conducting the 15th interview, I was nearing data saturation; therefore, I decided to do three more interviews and finally include only 18 participants in the study. Twelve of the participating teachers were female, the other 6 were male, 16 of them Hungarian, 1 of them a native Canadian, and 1 of them a native British teacher. The participants were aged between 29 and 61 years, each with at least 7 years experience in teaching adults (Table 1). To retain their anonymity, pseudonyms will be used in the study.

Table 1.

Participants

PseudoAgeGenderExperience (years)WorkplaceEFL/ESPEmploymentQualificationsNationality
Anna44F21Companies and language schoolsEFL and ESPSelf-employedEnglish MAH
Adam29M9Companies and language schoolsEFL and ESPSelf-employedEnglish MA, PhD in progressH
Albert45M12Companies and language schoolsESP (marketing, finance, and oil refining)Self-employedUniversity degree in finance/English MA, language coachH
Bill39M17Companies and language schoolEFL and ESPSelf-employedEnglish MAH
Craig44M19Companies and language schoolEFL and ESPSelf-employedEnglish MAH
Chloe28F7Companies and language schoolEFL and ESPSelf-employedEnglish MA, PhD in progressH
Dawn39F15Companies and language schoolEFL and ESPSelf-employedEnglish MA, foreign trade translator and interpreterH
Emily45F15Companies and secondary school, and universityEFL and ESPSelf-employedSocial Sciences MA, TESOL, TESOL trainer, and TOEFL trainerCA
Fiona61F39Companies and language schoolEFL and ESP (finance and health care)Self-employedEnglish BA, MA and Human Resources MAH
Helen45F23CompaniesEFL and ESP (banking)Self-employedEnglish BAUK
Ian47M29CompaniesEFL and ESP (general business, presentation, and negotiation)Self-employedEnglish MAH
Jackie41F15Companies and language schoolEFL and ESP (general business)Self-employedEnglish MAH
Kim34F12One companyESP (telco)Self-employedEnglish MAH
Margo58F35Companies and language schoolEFL and ESP (social sciences)EmployeeEnglish MAH
Peggy41F14One companyESP (insurance)Self-employedEnglish MAH
Ria56F31Companies, language schoolEFL and ESP (banking)EmployeeEnglish MAH
Rick45M19Companies, language school, and primary schoolEFL and ESP (business, agriculture, finance, and foreign trade)Employed + self-employedEnglish MAH
Sarah43F23Companies and language schoolEFL and ESPEmployed + self-employedEnglish MAH

Note. EFL: English as a foreign language; ESL: English as a second language; ESP: English for specific purposes; TESOL: teaching English to speakers of other languages; TOEFL: test of English as a foreign language.

The instrument

Based on the literature review, I devised a semi-structured interview guide. I opted for the semi-structured format as Wallace (1998) has maintained that combines, “a certain degree of control with a certain amount of freedom to develop the interview” (p. 147). The first draft of the interview guide was expert-reviewed and piloted. No further adjustments were needed after the pilots; the instrument was ready to be used (Appendix). About 30- to 45-min interviews were conducted in Hungarian, recorded, and transcribed; all English excerpts are my translations. The verbatim transcripts yielded a very rich database of approximately 60,000 words/100 pages.

Data analysis

In order to analyze the data, Crabtree and Miller’s (1999) template-organizing style was used. This data analysis method starts out with a template of codes, a code manual, which is based on background information on the topic (brainstorming and literature review in this case). First, the transcribed texts were coded using this predetermined template and the following code manual was made (Table 2) along the introductory questions and the three broad topics of the research instrument.

Table 2.

The original code manual

How motivated do you feel?How do you rate your own motivating abilities?How do you motivate your students?
Fluctuating;Better than average;By being well-prepared;
New books, new students, and teaching ESP enhances motivation;The long-term motivating effect of a teacher is stronger;Getting to know their learners;
Teacher and learner motivation mutually affect one anotherMotivating abilities can be developed through raising awareness and trainingPraise;
Encouragement;
Setting goals;
Interaction;
Personality;
Behavior;
Emphasizing instrumentality;
Emphasizing the integrative nature of English;
Eliciting ideal-self;
Eliciting vision

Note. ESP: English for specific purposes.

Having established the original code manual, the coding process was started with the initial coding, which meant highlighting relevant sentences and adding a label to them. As a second step, within second-level coding, all the codes related to one of the four broad areas of the instrument (e.g., How do you motivate your students?) were formulated and collected on an individual basis. As a third step, within the framework of third-level coding, more abstract commonalities related to one of the four broad areas based on all of the interviewees’ accounts (all the interviewees’ relevant data on “How do you motivate your students?”) were established. Finally, all of the emerging data were collated with the ones of the original code manual and this comparison resulted in the following emerging themes (Table 3), which complement the themes of the original code manual.

Table 3.

Emerging themes

How motivated do you feel?How do you rate your own motivating abilities?How do you motivate your students?
They motivate themselves with continuous training;They rate their own abilities based on continuous feedback;They motivate with a practical approach;
With variety;These abilities can be developed;By setting goals;
With novelties;By raising awareness;By making learners feel successful;
By attaining mastery;With reflection;By teaching ESP;
By experiencing the Pygmalion effect;By mastering people skills;By getting to know the learners;
With the right amount of workloadBy raising self-awareness;With free conversation so they can vent their frustrations;
Their motivating abilities are dual (short + long term)By creating trust;
By asking good questions;
By tailoring timing;
By personalizing handouts;
With their appearance;
With their personality and behavior: being friendly, empathetic, attentive, informal, enthusiastic, flexible, thorough, consistent, credible, punctual, tailor-made, and well-prepared

Note. ESP: English for specific purposes.

Results and Discussion

Teachers’ own motivation

The first set of questions intended to explore how motivated the participants themselves were as language teachers. I tried to find out what they generally did in order to remain motivated and asked them to describe a period in their lives when they had been extremely motivated and demotivated, respectively. I was also curious to find out whether they considered that their students were able to perceive the teacher’s level of motivation and finally asked them to speak about what they thought about the reciprocity of motivation transfer that takes place between the teacher and the learners.

With the exception of Helen – who was beginning to feel the signs of burnout sometimes – all of the participants turned out to be highly motivated. In the teachers’ words, we can see all of the three ingredients (autonomy, professionalism, and purpose) of Pink’s (2009) theory operationalized. In Peggy’s words, “I have found freedom and I can do what I really like. I can find out how I can be creative and how I can develop. As long as I feel I can develop, I will always be motivated” (p. 2). In order to remain motivated, all of the participants underlined the importance of training, development, and change, which echoes the importance of an inquiring mind and one’s willingness to experiment one’s way to a fresh solution (Dutton & Wrezniewsky, 2001). Sarah mentioned, “I consciously change the course books I teach from, the kind of ESP I teach every now and then to remain motivated” (p. 2). Albert has just finished coach training, which motivates him very much, whereas Bill had participated in a training course in Devon last summer.

Emily seeks to get to know her students more and more, so that she can tailor-make the lessons better and better to the needs and interests of the learners, “on many occasions our interests don’t meet, so consequently, I get to know unfamiliar areas of life, which motivates me” (p. 2). Helen is motivated by the usefulness of her job:

What motivates me is if I see that my students can use what they have learnt correctly on the job, and they can create an atmosphere where the subscribers feel that they are given the attention they have only dreamed of.” (p. 1)

When it came to describing a period in their professional life when they were highly motivated, the most frequently cited reason was attaining mastery of their profession. Half of the participants recalled a period in their lives “when I had been doing it for quite a few years and I felt that I was quite good at it, when I got a lot of positive feedback from many places” (Peggy, p. 1). Ria recalls a similar period related to English for specific purposes (ESP):

I have been teaching in the production plant since 2001. At the beginning it was difficult, because I didn’t know anything about production, the technical background. So it was difficult for me to accommodate to the local environment. After a few years I know very much. It’s a great feeling to chat with my students in such a way that they know I know what they are talking about whether it be a lath or a business process, so we’re on the same wavelength. It motivates me when I feel that I know what they need, even if they still don’t, I know what grammar, what vocabulary they need, what skills need to be developed, and it’s great.” (p. 2)

The importance of novelty in motivation also surfaced in another interview. According to Bill, it was a different methodology, a different approach that kept him very motivated. Some of the participants also mentioned the first few years of their careers when they had to prepare a lot for the lessons: “I had to learn a lot and I prepared very much for the lessons, and with great enthusiasm. When you learn something new, it usually takes a year or two” (Chloe, p. 2) The quotations above represent Pink’s (2009) notion of the asymptote, which is a mathematical function, a straight line approached by a given curve more and more but never reached by it. As it is impossible to fully realize, it is frustrating, challenging, and attractive simultaneously. On the other hand, the motivation the teachers described here underpin Knowles et al’s (2014) theory, according to which, motivation to learn is born as a consequence of being pushed into unfamiliar territory.

As far as the teachers’ demotivation is concerned, it seems to be connected either to the quantity of work or other external circumstances. Too much or too little demand for their work can account for demotivation. Half of the participants cited a period in their lives when there was not as much work available as they would have liked to do. Emily remembers this as follows:

There was once a more serious period when there weren’t enough clients for different reasons. For example, I can distinctly remember the first half of 2009. Several commissions were being cancelled because of the outbreak of the economic crisis, companies saved money on language education. Then I felt my capacity was underused. It was very demotivating.” (p. 2)

On the contrary, Helen recalled a period when “at the beginning I worked six days out of seven, still I felt I was getting nowhere, I didn’t feel I was developing as a teacher” (p. 2). Anna was speaking about such periods when she felt her life was dominated by work:

I get demotivated when I feel my work takes control of the life of my whole family. There was a period when I was physically exhausted. Waves crashed over my head and I felt I couldn’t cope any longer. I felt I was not able to come up to my usual standards and I felt I had enough.” (p. 3)

Apart from the quantity of work, other external circumstances also seem to influence teachers’ level of motivation. Ria mentioned that, “The syllabus we had to follow was provided by the HR department of the company and it had nothing to do with the lives of the participants” (p. 2). Chloe recalled a time when she had a group of four ladies, “whose level was very different, and on top of that there was a lot of friction between them” (p. 2), whereas Sarah referred to a course when “the circumstances were not right, we were in a warehouse, sometimes we got frozen, sometimes it was boiling hot in there” (p. 2).

Motivation transfer

The overwhelming majority of the participants (except Bill) convinced their students perceive how motivated they are in a given lesson. In Ian’s words “people are not stupid, you can’t fool them” (p. 2). Craig said, “I keep getting feedback during the lesson: body language, eye contact, etc. I can size it up very well whether I’m on top or not and they react to it very sensitively” (p. 2). Peggy said “my mood and the extent of my preparation are telling signs” (p. 2), while according to Ria, it is obvious:

If you are not convincing, if you don’t have this inner conviction, you’ll get it back from your students, too. They know it. Not only from the way you open your mouth, but also from the way you enter the classroom. What you have on your face, what gestures, what enthusiasm you radiate, they can get it in a second. You can’t fake it; they’ll find it out immediately.” (p. 2)

All of the participants confirmed the mutual transfer of motivation referred to as contagious enthusiasm by Csikszentmihályi (1997) that takes place between the teacher and the learners. They also agreed on and confirmed Carbonneau, Vallerand, Fernet, and Guay’s (2008) findings that suggest that teacher’s enthusiasm and passion function more as antecedents rather than consequences of student’s motivation, even though this relationship can also be bidirectional. There is a lot of evidence in the transcripts that underlie this: “Obviously, it is primarily the teacher’s responsibility to motivate the learner, not the other way round.” (Adam, p. 2), or Albert on the same topic, “if the teacher is not motivated, and it shows, the learner will never be motivated.” Craig spoke about his persistence never to give up, “If I notice that they are tired or sleepy, it makes me try three times as hard. I spot the grumpiest, most tired guy and I’ll try to convert his mood into a laidback, relaxed state of mind” (p. 3). Emily has the same attitude:

I have a group of three, and probably their personalities are very different, but I’m working hard on creating cohesion. It can be demotivating and these lessons sometimes give me a sense of failure. But it makes me try even harder. I won’t give up until I find the right way. They become what I think of them. I imagine their knowledge in the future and try to send signals to them accordingly and they will live up to this image. This is what I believe in.” (p. 4)

Above, Emily describes the Pygmalion effect, which works as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and in a language-learning context it refers to the phenomenon that McLeod (1995) describes as learners being either positively or negatively affected by their teachers’ implicit expectations, their empathy, and their own sense of self-efficacy. The Pygmalion effect was originally studied by Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968), who demonstrated that students try to live up to their teachers’ expectations.

Teachers’ ability to motivate

In the third section of the interviews, I explored how the participants saw their own motivating ability, and whether and how they thought it could be developed. I was also curious to find out about the temporal aspect of the teacher’s motivating influence (whether they considered it more determining within one lesson or over a period of months or years). Interestingly, all of the interviewees rated their motivating ability much higher than average, between 7 and 10 on a scale of 1–10. This high value might explain why they have been able to survive in a competitive segment of the language education market for several years. Alternatively, this might indicate that those teachers were more willing to participate in the study who were confident and satisfied with their careers. The most common reason for this high level of self-evaluation was the feedback they received from their students: “I’m saying this based on the feedback I get. Maybe it’s not fair, but it’s often the case that they compare me to their previous teachers from whom they didn’t learn that much” (Emily, p. 2). This is a clear manifestation of personal branding, which, according to Llopis (2013), represents the values and principles one is able to constantly deliver to those one is serving. The same experience is expressed by Helen: “I receive a lot of feedback and it is a very special experience when I start teaching a student after someone else. It’s interesting, because I don’t think I do anything special, still they keep telling me I do” (p. 5).

Apart from rating their own motivating abilities, I was also interested to find out what they thought of the trainability of their motivating ability. All the participants agreed that motivating abilities could be developed at least to some extent. Ria made a distinction between charisma (what Lamb, 2017 referred to responsiveness) and what she labeled “technical motivation” (similar to motivating strategies of Dörnyei & Csizér, 1998 and Dörnyei, 2001):

You can motivate in different ways. There’s a general ability to motivate that I would call charisma. There are teachers who stand up in front of people, start talking and everybody is interested in what they say. Perhaps, this is the hardest to develop, but if you learn to like what you do, even this can be developed. The other side that I would call technical motivation can definitely be improved.” (p. 3)

Even Bill, who is more skeptical on the grounds that “there are personality types who are simply not suitable for this profession” (p. 6), added that “I’m sure your motivating ability can be developed to some extent, as if you develop yourself, obviously you can do what you do in a more interesting way, which in turn enhances motivation” (p. 6).

In connection with the temporal aspect of motivation, I wanted to explore whether the participants saw their motivating influence was more significant during a lesson or over a longer period of time spanning months, maybe years. They all agreed that both were important, but the long-term effect was slightly more determining. Margo’s words summarize the most frequently voiced opinion:

The significance of the teacher is paramount during the whole process. The beginning is very important. It is tremendously important how the course starts. The day-to-day influence is important too, but it’s not a huge problem if there are some downs, but of course you have to maintain the motivation all through. And the end is very important, too.” (p. 3)

The importance of the first lesson is mentioned by Ian as well, “Your entrance is tremendously important. The first impression is a lasting one, it can overwrite a lot of problems that emerge later” (p. 3). Emily regards the long-term effect as more significant: “What matters is that you stand by your students for months or years, they can always count on you, which has a stronger effect on their motivation” (p. 3).

Motivating strategies

The last section of the interview focused on the strategies the participants used to motivate their learners. In the beginning, I was curious to find out whether they considered it their own task to motivate their learners, before I asked them how they did it. I was also interested to find out what elements of their personality and behavior they thought promoted their learners’ motivation. Subsequently, I went on to enquire whether they used the integrative and instrumental aspect of the English language as a motivator in their classes. Finally, I asked them about the importance of ideal-self and vision in motivating their students.

There was unanimous agreement among the participants that they considered it their own task to motivate their learners, which, if properly executed, coincides with Lamb’s (2017) statement that “any good teacher by definition is a motivator of learning” (p. 6). This does not exclude motivated learners in the beginning, but all of the teachers saw their role as key in motivation. In the strategies that the participants mentioned they deployed to motivate their students, the following five themes emerged:

  1. Practicality,
  2. getting to know your students,
  3. free conversation,
  4. appearance, and
  5. being tailor-made.

Perhaps, it is not surprising from teachers teaching adults in a corporate environment that practicality – to which Knowles et al. (2014) refer to as “the immediacy of knowledge application” – emerged as a major theme. Some of the phrases most commonly used in connection with practicality were “being hands-on,” “practice-orientated,” and “goal-orientated.” Dawn and Kim expressed how simulating real work situations can engage and motivate the learners. Let me quote Dawn’s words:

There was a role play in today’s class. It’s a real, acute problem, the management wants to offshore the production unit to a neighbouring country. We acted out a meeting on this. Two or three people had to think together, they had to live through this situation. We have had similar tasks related to sales, as well.” (p. 3)

This need for practicality is very much in accordance with what Tennant and Pogson (1995) described as one of the main features of adult learning: “practice as opposed to theory, direct usefulness as opposed to intellectual curiosity” (p. 42).

The second emerging tool that the participants use to motivate their adult learners is trying to get to know them and view them holistically. As Adam described:

I approach them as individuals first and only second as learners of English. They are private individuals with families, with interests, with a good mood, with a bad mood, with this problem or that problem. They have a job, they have tasks and learning English comes only after that. On the other hand, a much more positive human relationship develops between us, if I treat them as individual persons, or equal partners if you like.” (p. 6)

Peggy tries to get to know her students by finding out as much as possible about her students’ learning history to identify stumbling blocks that earlier prevented them from learning the language and tries to find the root cause of the problem. Ria tries to find out what kind of personality her students have or whether they are rather visual, auditory, or kinesthetic types with a view to finding the best method to teach them. Ian and Kim believe that “taking a genuine interest in your students is the best way of motivating them” (p. 6). Naturally, a teacher needs to have an open, enquiring mind for this. Adam and Chloe highlighted that getting to know your students can be greatly facilitated by talking about yourself, because it creates an atmosphere of reciprocity and mutual trust. Adam expressed this in the following way:

I incorporate personal things in the lessons several times. When I talk about my personal pictures, personal stories, they pay much more attention than if I talk about something remote. Also, in this way they open up and it helps me adjust the lessons to their interests. There was a course when I simply put down the course book, because it was boring. We had topics instead that really made them work.” (p. 4)

This can only be achieved if teachers approach their students with an open mind. No wonder, being open-minded turned out to be the most frequently mentioned characteristic when the participants were asked about the elements of their personality and behavior that they found crucial in motivating their students. Apart from being open-minded, the most common aspects mentioned by at least half of the participants were being friendly, empathetic, attentive, supportive, available, informal, accessible, enthusiastic, flexible, thorough, confident, competent, consistent, credible, punctual, tailor-made, and well-prepared.

The third tool of motivation that emerged was the use of free conversation in classes. This is the tool I wish to highlight in particular. Not only because it facilitates getting to know your learners, but also because this was the topic in the interviews that yielded the richest data and electrified the participants. Kim simply answered “they love talking about themselves” (p. 6). Anna said the following:

Free conversation is very important. This is how you can get to know your students. It’s a more personal relationship. I often teach guys, so we always discuss what they do in their free time: electronics, sport, whatever we have in common. I can find out what is important for whom, and later we can talk about topics that are important for them. In this way they will feel more at ease in the whole lesson. So teaching takes place in a relaxed atmosphere and I think it facilitates learning.” (p. 6)

Ria said the following on the same topic:

You can discuss anything in the lesson, and students love talking about themselves, so why not let them talk about themselves. There is always room in 90 minutes to discuss with some personal questions how they are, why they are tired, grumpy, angry, etc. Yes, I tend to know a lot of personal things about my students, just as I also feel like talking about myself, all of this in English of course. It creates trust, it’s part of forming a personal relationship. It always works.” (p. 9)

Adam highlighted that free conversation has the added benefit that the teacher and the students usually end up discussing work-related issues: “We generally start talking about what they are doing in the workplace, what their current tasks are, what kind of projects they have related to English and naturally they get engaged in this” (p. 6). Bill also confirmed the above and emphasized the importance of asking good questions, which he learnt in a coaching course:

I don’t mind listening to work-related problems, either. Obviously, I cannot help them solve these problems, but I can ask them questions that might help them. I used to do this before, but since I completed my coach training I’ve been using these questions more consciously. The technique of asking good questions is very important.” (p. 6)

The fourth topic that emerged was the appearance of the teacher. The majority of the participants emphasized this aspect of the corporate world. They stressed that it did not mean wearing expensive clothes or designer brands, but rather the attitude that one had toward grooming, neatness, and cleanliness. Albert summarized this as follows:

You have to accept it that in this environment appearance matters a lot more than perhaps anywhere else. It took me a few years to find the style I feel comfortable in, because you don’t want to be smarter than them, either. I started with a jacket and tie combo, but then I decided it was too much. I didn’t want to compete with them. They spend their whole life competing anyway. Then I thought I’d have to be more generous. I took off my tie, the shirt and the jacket remained. I feel this is OK now.” (p. 5)

Four of the teachers, Bill, Craig, Emily, and Fiona, were explicit about the motivating effect of attire, while Bill expressed the following opinion: “I know the way I turn up motivates them. My clothing suggests that I take them seriously, so they take the whole learning more seriously, too. I do it consciously” (p. 6). Craig claimed that, “smart clothes create the image of professionalism, I hope it’ not just the image (he laughs)” (p. 5). These findings confirm Howlett, Pine, Orakçıoğlu, and Fletcher’s (2013) conclusion that people were more positively rated on the attributes of confidence, success, flexibility, and the ability to earn money when they were wearing smarter clothes.

As a majority of the language courses in a corporate environment are one-to-one, or are organized in small groups of maximum four learners, it is not surprising that tailor-made teaching is, on the one hand, a requirement from the commissioners and, on the other, it is much easier to implement in this setting. All of the participants confirmed that it had a strong motivating influence on the learners, as they felt their needs were attended to, they could focus on what they really needed to learn and in this way they could develop faster, which in turn enhanced their motivation. According to Jackie, “personal needs are very important, because adults know what they want, what they need, so tailor-making the lessons is very important accordingly” (p. 4). Tailor-made teaching for Anna means that she keeps trying different methods to find the one that best meets the learning style of the participants. Besides, she said:

I keep sending personal messages, asking for personal feedback, on the basis of which I can make tailor-made exercises for the learners. I draw up the tailor-made syllabi on the basis of their individual needs, as well. I’m very flexible with homework. I don’t care when they do it as long as they do it. They can hand it in any time and they appreciate it and they do hand it in. Another thing that I always ask them is to bring in the materials they work with. That’s the best source of ESP and I can make exercises based on that.” (p. 9)

Peggy finds it crucial to be tailor-made in setting goals:

I think very personal goals have to be set right at the beginning and you have to be consistent and follow them up. We come back to them regularly and we discuss it on an individual basis whether these goals are still realistic and whether we are on track to achieve them, and if not what we should do.” (p. 5)

It must be noted here that a corporate environment is not as high constraint as a school, and the participants of this study are aware of that. Fiona said the following on this, “I’m lucky, because it’s not like in a school when you have a book. I have what we together choose to have, the main thing is to achieve the set goal by the end of the course” (p. 6). Albert said, “I have the freedom, the only thing I pay attention to is to stay within the frames of the particular corporate culture” (p. 7).

Instrumentality, integrativeness, ideal-self, and vision

In the final section of the interview, I asked the participants about four well-known concepts of L2 motivation: instrumentality and integrativeness (Gardner & Lambert, 1959), ideal-self (Dörnyei, 2009), and vision (Dörnyei & Kubanyiova, 2014). I was curious to find out whether the participants used these concepts of motivation explicitly or implicitly.

As far as instrumentality is concerned, it may seem obvious in a corporate environment that learning English has plenty of practical benefits, but four of the participants, Fiona, Ian, Peggy, and Sarah, said that in spite of this, they did like to emphasize it consciously with a view to motivating their learners. Another two interviewees (Albert and Rick) said that, “it’s obvious for the majority of people today that English can be used in many fields of life, but sometimes I have to explain it” (Albert, p. 7), whereas Anna and Margo said they felt it was not necessary any longer.

With the question targeting integrativeness, my aim was again to reveal whether the participating teachers used this aspect of learning English to deliberately motivate their students. Integrativeness can act as a motivator if a student would like to move and live abroad, and learns English in order to realize this ambition. All the participants agreed that it was so obvious for their students that they did not have to bring it up in class, but it came up anyway as “there are some learners who study specifically in order to leave the country” (Margo, p. 8; Chloe, p. 8). Dawn and Jackie mentioned that people learn English “in order to work abroad on a ship or in the healthcare” (p. 8), or as Fiona explained, “the parent company is in England, so many of my learners have to go to England or receive visitors from England on a regular basis” (p. 7).

Finally, I was curious whether the participants helped their learners visualize themselves in a few years time. According to Dörnyei and Kubanyiova (2014), by doing so, teachers can activate learners’ ideal-selves that might contribute to driving them to achieve the goals they set at the beginning of language learning and by explicitly talking or writing about the vision they have of themselves in the future, they might become more motivated. Four of the participants usually talk about vision only during the needs analysis when they discuss what goals the learners would like to achieve, but not in the lessons. Chloe attributed the lack of using this motivating strategy to Hungarian culture:

I don’t think it’s part of our culture. On the one hand, somehow we are not supposed to say nice things about ourselves when we assess our own performance. On the other hand, Hungarian people are infamous for being pessimistic. If someone should say something nice about themselves in say five years’ time, like I’m going to communicate very well in English, they will feel that this is unrealistic and they’d rather not say it, or they will consider themselves stuck-up.” (p. 8)

Two of them, however, used this tool for motivating their learners consciously. Albert described this in the following way:

My theory is that whether we can learn a language does not depend on whether we can rote-learn the rules, but it rather depends on whether we can imagine ourselves as competent language users. If we can imagine that we can learn the language, then we will really be able to, if we can’t, we will never be able to. I don’t talk about this in class explicitly, but apply it implicitly by asking questions like ‘What will it be like when you are already able 1020 to present well in English?’.” (p. 4)

Rick brings this up in class and hints at colleagues and managers as living proof: “I tell them to look at colleagues who are already managers because of studying English very hard and preparing all the time and I tell them that they can do it too, even if they don’t have a degree.” (p. 7).

Conclusions

This study addressed a neglected area of motivation research – corporate adult language education – by presenting the results of an interview study conducted with EFL teachers working in such contexts. The aim of the study was to explore how motivated corporate language teachers were in their jobs, what they thought of their motivating impact, and how they motivated their adult learners of English.

The data have revealed that all of the participants of the study are highly motivated language teachers. The level of their motivation can party be explained by the freedom, flexibility, and variety they have found in working in a corporate setting, but more importantly, by their relentless efforts to grow and develop all the time to approximate mastery in teaching. These efforts have borne their fruit: they are increasingly confident not only as teachers or language teachers, but also as teachers of ESP, and this confidence gives a further boost to their motivation. Although it seems that their motivation is mainly nurtured by inner factors, such as experience, confidence, and the need to grow, demotivation seems to be brought about by external circumstances only: too much or too little work accompanied by fatigue and burnout or a feeling of redundancy. The results reflect and confirm Pink’s (2009) theory of motivation in the workplace, in as much as the motivation of the participating teachers derives from autonomy, professionalism, and purpose.

They are aware of their motivating abilities, which they rate higher than average. They base this assumption on continuous feedback they receive in and out of the classroom, and they are convinced that the ability to motivate can be developed individually and in institutionalized ways as well. Reflection and awareness of one’s own motivational influence belong to the former, whereas institutionalized ways of training and raising awareness of one’s motivational influence belong to the latter category. Apart from raising awareness of motivational influence, developing teachers’ self-awareness is also of key importance, as by knowing themselves better, teachers can find more pleasure in their work. This, in turn, is conducive to raising their own level of motivation, as well as that of their learners due to the reciprocity that exists between the two. The themes that have emerged as key motivators in a corporate context were practicality, getting to know one’s learners, free conversation, appearance, and being tailor-made.

While several of the concepts and theories mentioned in the literature review can be detected in the words of the participants, it seems that based on the findings, the L2 motivation research period, whose theories and concepts most aptly describes what really motivates adult learners of English in a corporate environment, is the cognitive situated period of L2 motivation research. Presumably, it is not accidental that current research in L2 motivation is reviving this period, while modern theories of motivation in the workplace also draw on the results of cognitive psychology of the same era. While the findings of this study are confined to the corporate world, it would be exciting to replicate the study with teachers working in different environments to find out to what extent the results described here are generalizable in broader contexts.

Author’s contribution

None.

Conflict of interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.

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  • Lamb, M., Astuti, S. P., & Hadisantosa, N. (2016). ‘In their shoes’: What successful Indonesian school teachers do to motivate their pupils. In M. Apple, D. Da Silva, & T. Fellner (Eds.), Language learning motivation in Asia. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lamb, M., & Wedell, M. (2015). Cultural contrasts and commonalities in inspiring language teaching. Language Teaching Research, 19(2), 207224. doi:10.1177/1362168814541716

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Larsen-Freeman, D., & Long, M. H. (2014). An introduction to second language acquisition research. New York, NY: Routledge.

  • Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic enquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

  • Llopis, G. (2013, April 8). Personal branding is a leadership requirement, not a self-promotion campaign. Forbes. Retrieved January 10, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2013/04/08/personal-branding-is-a-leadership-requirement-not-a-self-promotion-campaign/#5cad034b15c0.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Magid, M. (2014). A motivational programme for learners of English: An application of the L2 motivational self-system. In K. Csizér & M. Magid (Eds.), The impact of self-concept on language learning (pp. 333357). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist, 41(9), 954969. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.41.9.954

  • McLeod, S. H., (1995). Pygmalion or Golem? Teacher affect and efficacy. College Composition and Communication, 46(3), 369386. doi:10.2307/358711

  • Mezei, G. (2014). The effect of motivational strategies on self-related aspects of student motivation and second language learning. In K. Csizér & M. Magid (Eds.), The impact of self-concept on language learning (pp. 289310). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mezei, G., & Csizér, K. (2005). Második nyelvi motivációs stratégiák használata az osztályteremben [Using L2 motivating strategies in the classroom]. Iskolakultúra, 12, 3042.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Murray, G. (2011). Older language learners, social learning spaces, and community. In P. Benson & H. Reinders (Eds.), Beyond the language classroom (pp. 132145). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pink, D. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Penguin.

  • Radel, R., Sarrazin, P, Legrain, P., & Wild, T. C. (2010). Social contagion of motivation between teacher and student: Analyzing underlying processes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(3), 577587. doi:10.1037/a0019051

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rahimi, M., & Hosseini, F. K. (2015). The role of teachers’ classroom discipline in their teaching effectiveness and students’ language learning motivation and achievement: A path method. Iranian Journal of Language Teaching Research, 3(1), 5782.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. (1968). Pygmalion in the classroom. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

  • Roth, G., Assor, A., Kanat-Maymon, Y., & Kaplan, H. (2007). Autonomous motivation for teaching: How self-determined teaching may lead to self-determined learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(4), 761774. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.99.4.761

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ruesch, A., Bown, J., & Dewey, D. P. (2012). Student and teacher perceptions of motivational strategies in the foreign language classroom. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 6(1), 1527. doi:10.1080/17501229.2011.562510

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schumann, J. H. (2015). Foreword. In Z. Dörnyei, P. MacIntyre, & A. Henry (Eds.), Motivational dynamics in language learning (pp. XVIXX). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Seidlhofer, B. (2004). Research perspectives on teaching English as a lingua franca. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 24, 209239. doi:10.1017/S0267190504000145

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shoaib, A., & Dörnyei, Z. (2005). Affect in lifelong learning: Exploring L2 motivation as a dynamic process. In D. Nunan (Ed.), Learners’ stories: Difference and diversity in language learning (pp. 2241). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sternberg, R. J. (2002). The theory of successful intelligence and its implications for language aptitude testing. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Individual differences and instructed language learning (pp. 1343). Philadelphia, PA/Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sugita McEown, M., & Takeuchi, O. (2014). Motivational strategies in EFL classrooms: How do teachers impact students’ motivation? Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 8(1), 2038. doi:10.1080/17501229.2012.741133

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Szaszkó, R. (2007). Felnőtt nyelvtanulók motivációja és interkulturális találkozásai [The L2 motivation and intercultural encounters of adult language learners]. Iskolakultúra, 4, 138144.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tanaka, T. (2005). Teacher influence on learner motivation. Osaka Female Junior College, Retrieved in the EFL classroom. System, 37, 5769. Retrieved from http://www.wilmina.ac.jp/ojc/kiyo_2005/kiyo_35_PDF/2005_06.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tennant, M., & Pogson, P. (1995). Learning and change in the adult years. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • Ushioda, E. (1996). Developing a dynamic concept of L2 motivation. In T. Hickey & J. Williams (Eds.), Language, education and society in a changing world (pp. 239245). Dublin, Ireland/Clevedon, UK: IRAAL/Multilingual Matters.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ushioda, E. (1998). Effective motivational thinking: A cognitive theoretical approach to the study of language learning motivation. In E. A. Soler & V. C. Espurz (Eds.), Current issues in English language methodology (pp. 7780). Castellón de la Plana, Spain: Universitat Jaume I.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wallace, M. (1998). Action research for language teachers. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  • Williams, M., & Burden, R. L. (1997). Psychology for language teachers. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  • Wong, R. M. H. (2014). An investigation of strategies for student motivation in the Chinese EFL context. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 8(2), 132154. doi:10.1080/17501229.2013.777449

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yashima, T. (2002). Willingness to communicate in a second language: The Japanese EFL context. The Modern Language Journal, 86(1), 5466. doi:10.1111/1540-4781.00136

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Appendix: The final version of the interview guide in English – translated from Hungarian

Thank you for volunteering to take part in the interview. The aim of the interview is to work out a motivational model that is effective and usable in a corporate environment, and with the help of which the motivation of adult learners of English can be enhanced and maintained over the long term. Please answer the questions honestly. In order to be able to prepare the transcript and analyze the conversation, I would like to record our conversation so long as you agree, but the data obtained from you will be treated anonymously during the research.

General information

  1. How old are you?
  2. How long have you been teaching?
  3. Where are you teaching?
  4. Are you teaching general English or ESP? Why did you decide to do so?
  5. Are you working as an employee or do you have your own business? Why?
  6. What qualifications do you have?
  7. Why did you choose to teach adults?

How motivated do you feel in your work?

  1. How much do you care about your students’ development?
  2. What do you do in order to remain motivated as a language teacher?
  3. Please describe a period when you felt very motivated.
  4. Please describe a period when you felt very demotivated.
  5. How much do you think your students can perceive how motivated/demotivated you are? How can they judge this?
  6. How do you think the teacher’s and the learner’s motivation affect one another? Please tell me an example from your own experience.

How well can you motivate?

  1. How do you rate your motivating abilities? Why do you think so?
  2. Have you ever had a positive or negative experience when you felt you greatly affected your student’s motivation? If yes, please describe it!
  3. Do you think you can exert a stronger motivating influence within a lesson or over a longer period of time (in months and years)? Why do you think so?
  4. Do you think a language teacher’s ability to motivate can be developed or is it innate? What do you to develop this ability?
  5. If it can be developed, how?
  6. What personal experiences do you have about motivating/demotivating teachers when you were learning a language?

How do you motivate your students?

  1. To what extent do you consider it your own task to motivate your students?
  2. In what way is it different to motivate adults versus school children?
  3. How can you create a motivating environment for your students?
  4. What tools/trick do you use in order to make your students more motivated?
  5. In your opinion, what elements does your personality have that might motivate your students?
  6. In your opinion, what elements does your behavior have that might motivate your students?
  7. Do you use certain tasks to motivate your students? If yes, what kind?
  8. Do you offer a free choice of topic for conversation in order to motivate them?
  9. How do you make the lessons tailor-made? Why do you do that?
  10. Do you use evaluation as a tool of motivation? How?
  11. Do you talk about the fact in class that English-speaking individuals can utilize their knowledge of English in many fields of life? What role do you think this plays in your students’ motivation?
  12. Do you talk about the fact in class that English-speaking individuals can get by in many countries of the world if they speak English? What role do you think this plays in your students’ motivation?
  13. Do you talk about the fact in class that English-speaking individuals can get by in many countries of the world if they speak English? What role do you think this plays in your students’ motivation?
  14. What would motivate you if you started to learn a language now? What kind of teacher would you like for yourself?

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  • Lamb, M. (2017). The motivational dimension of language teaching. Language Teaching, 50(3), 301346. doi:10.1017/S0261444817000088

  • Lamb, M., Astuti, S. P., & Hadisantosa, N. (2016). ‘In their shoes’: What successful Indonesian school teachers do to motivate their pupils. In M. Apple, D. Da Silva, & T. Fellner (Eds.), Language learning motivation in Asia. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lamb, M., & Wedell, M. (2015). Cultural contrasts and commonalities in inspiring language teaching. Language Teaching Research, 19(2), 207224. doi:10.1177/1362168814541716

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Larsen-Freeman, D., & Long, M. H. (2014). An introduction to second language acquisition research. New York, NY: Routledge.

  • Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic enquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

  • Llopis, G. (2013, April 8). Personal branding is a leadership requirement, not a self-promotion campaign. Forbes. Retrieved January 10, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2013/04/08/personal-branding-is-a-leadership-requirement-not-a-self-promotion-campaign/#5cad034b15c0.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Magid, M. (2014). A motivational programme for learners of English: An application of the L2 motivational self-system. In K. Csizér & M. Magid (Eds.), The impact of self-concept on language learning (pp. 333357). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist, 41(9), 954969. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.41.9.954

  • McLeod, S. H., (1995). Pygmalion or Golem? Teacher affect and efficacy. College Composition and Communication, 46(3), 369386. doi:10.2307/358711

  • Mezei, G. (2014). The effect of motivational strategies on self-related aspects of student motivation and second language learning. In K. Csizér & M. Magid (Eds.), The impact of self-concept on language learning (pp. 289310). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mezei, G., & Csizér, K. (2005). Második nyelvi motivációs stratégiák használata az osztályteremben [Using L2 motivating strategies in the classroom]. Iskolakultúra, 12, 3042.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Murray, G. (2011). Older language learners, social learning spaces, and community. In P. Benson & H. Reinders (Eds.), Beyond the language classroom (pp. 132145). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pink, D. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Penguin.

  • Radel, R., Sarrazin, P, Legrain, P., & Wild, T. C. (2010). Social contagion of motivation between teacher and student: Analyzing underlying processes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(3), 577587. doi:10.1037/a0019051

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rahimi, M., & Hosseini, F. K. (2015). The role of teachers’ classroom discipline in their teaching effectiveness and students’ language learning motivation and achievement: A path method. Iranian Journal of Language Teaching Research, 3(1), 5782.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. (1968). Pygmalion in the classroom. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

  • Roth, G., Assor, A., Kanat-Maymon, Y., & Kaplan, H. (2007). Autonomous motivation for teaching: How self-determined teaching may lead to self-determined learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(4), 761774. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.99.4.761

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ruesch, A., Bown, J., & Dewey, D. P. (2012). Student and teacher perceptions of motivational strategies in the foreign language classroom. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 6(1), 1527. doi:10.1080/17501229.2011.562510

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schumann, J. H. (2015). Foreword. In Z. Dörnyei, P. MacIntyre, & A. Henry (Eds.), Motivational dynamics in language learning (pp. XVIXX). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Seidlhofer, B. (2004). Research perspectives on teaching English as a lingua franca. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 24, 209239. doi:10.1017/S0267190504000145

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shoaib, A., & Dörnyei, Z. (2005). Affect in lifelong learning: Exploring L2 motivation as a dynamic process. In D. Nunan (Ed.), Learners’ stories: Difference and diversity in language learning (pp. 2241). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sternberg, R. J. (2002). The theory of successful intelligence and its implications for language aptitude testing. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Individual differences and instructed language learning (pp. 1343). Philadelphia, PA/Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sugita McEown, M., & Takeuchi, O. (2014). Motivational strategies in EFL classrooms: How do teachers impact students’ motivation? Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 8(1), 2038. doi:10.1080/17501229.2012.741133

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Szaszkó, R. (2007). Felnőtt nyelvtanulók motivációja és interkulturális találkozásai [The L2 motivation and intercultural encounters of adult language learners]. Iskolakultúra, 4, 138144.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tanaka, T. (2005). Teacher influence on learner motivation. Osaka Female Junior College, Retrieved in the EFL classroom. System, 37, 5769. Retrieved from http://www.wilmina.ac.jp/ojc/kiyo_2005/kiyo_35_PDF/2005_06.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tennant, M., & Pogson, P. (1995). Learning and change in the adult years. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • Ushioda, E. (1996). Developing a dynamic concept of L2 motivation. In T. Hickey & J. Williams (Eds.), Language, education and society in a changing world (pp. 239245). Dublin, Ireland/Clevedon, UK: IRAAL/Multilingual Matters.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ushioda, E. (1998). Effective motivational thinking: A cognitive theoretical approach to the study of language learning motivation. In E. A. Soler & V. C. Espurz (Eds.), Current issues in English language methodology (pp. 7780). Castellón de la Plana, Spain: Universitat Jaume I.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wallace, M. (1998). Action research for language teachers. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  • Williams, M., & Burden, R. L. (1997). Psychology for language teachers. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  • Wong, R. M. H. (2014). An investigation of strategies for student motivation in the Chinese EFL context. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 8(2), 132154. doi:10.1080/17501229.2013.777449

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yashima, T. (2002). Willingness to communicate in a second language: The Japanese EFL context. The Modern Language Journal, 86(1), 5466. doi:10.1111/1540-4781.00136

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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