The relationship between motivation and pragmatic awareness: A case study of Turkish EF learners

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Bursa Uludağ University, EĞİTİM BİLİMLERİ ENSTİTÜSÜ, EĞİTİM BİLİMLERİ ENSTİTÜSÜ, Turkey

Approval Date: 2023

Thesis Language: English


Supervisor: Çiğdem Karatepe



Over the last few decades, the idea behind language instruction in the classroom has changed and evolved considerably. Especially, with the emergence of the communicative language teaching method, the orientation of language teaching has shifted from a teacher-centered and grammar-oriented perspective to a more communicative and student-focused instruction. Therefore, communicating in the language and delivering the intended message have been among the main goals of language teaching and learning. To achieve these goals, pragmatic elements of the language should be part of the instruction, and students should be aware of these pragmatic components in the language. However, awareness is not only related to the delivery of the instruction as several individual factors affect the awareness of language learners, and motivation is one these factors. Motivation has received ample attention, especially in second language acquisition (SLA) studies, as it is both a triggering factor and a hindrance in language learning. Therefore, analyzing the relationship between motivation and pragmatic awareness is essential. Although many researchers and scholars have emphasized the need for it, very few studies have examined this relationship worldwide. What’s more, to the researcher’s knowledge, there are no studies focusing on this issue in Turkey. Therefore, the current study aims to investigate the motivation level of the language learners at the tertiary level in Turkey. It also aims to examine the level of their pragmatic awareness and the factors affecting it. What’s more, analyzing the relationship between the motivation and pragmatic awareness of the participants is another purpose of the current study. The study took place in the spring semester of the 2021-2022 academic year, consisting of 235 participants from A2, B1, B2, and C1 levels from two major universities in Turkey. Following a mixed-method research design, a five-point Likert scale questionnaire based on Dörnyei’s L2 motivation theory (L2MSS) designed by Taguchi et al. (2009) was first implemented, and ten appropriacy judgment tasks were given to the participants to determine their pragmatic awareness level. Later, semi-structured interviews were conducted to elicit further information and have a deeper understanding. Quantitative data were analyzed through descriptive statistics, Mann-Whitney U test, Kruskal-Vallis Test, Spearman Correlation test, and Multiple Linear Regression analysis in SPSS while the qualitative data were transcribed, coded, analyzed, and presented in a flow chart. The findings show that language learners at the university level in the current study are highly motivated to learn English. They mainly learn English to move and live abroad, and to have further academic studies after they finish their bachelor’s degrees. They are also aware of the need to learn English for their future careers. Additionally, the participants have a high level of pragmatic awareness, although their level of pragmatic awareness varies in different speech act situations. There might be several factors causing this deviation, such as lack of pragmatic instruction, scarcity of pragmatic content in the coursebooks, overgeneralization and excessive use of specific linguistic forms in any speech act situation, and students’ not paying enough attention to contextual factors. It is also concluded that the motivation level of the participants positively affects their pragmatic awareness. There is a positive correlation between pragmatic awareness and the components of the ideal L2 self, cultural interest, and attitudes towards the L2 community. Furthermore, cultural interest and attitudes toward the L2 community are the motivational factors that best anticipate the pragmatic awareness levels of the participants in the current study. The results of the study have revealed that language learners at the university level in Turkey have a high motivation to learn English and their level of pragmatic awareness can be positively affected by their motivation to some extent.

Keywords: pragmatics, speech acts, pragmatic awareness, motivation, L2MSS