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The Motivation For EFL Learning In Early Primary School Education

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This research paper examines the motivation for English as a foreign language learning in primary school education. The purpose is to determine the amount of motivation students have for learning English as a foreign language. After reviewing literature, a study was done by a Bosnian teacher, regarding motivation, and it shows that students are highly motivated to learn EFL. The study was done in primary school, fourth grade students who filled out the questionnaire.


The key concept this work is focused on is the concept of motivation, respectively motivation for learning EFL in primary school education. Numerous definitions of what motivation is can be found. One of them states that the motivation is representing a group of motives or psychological conditions that are activating and directing human behavior and determines the intensity of that behavior (Krajnovic, 2010).

Human needs are different, and in that case the motivation is organized in accomplishing different goals. It is realizable to affect motivation in class, so the motivation itself is part of foreign language classes because it has a big part in mastering the particular language, and according to Gardner (1985) a student is truly motivated when his/hers desire to achieve the goal and positive attitude towards the goal are linked to the amount of hard work they put in.

Nowadays with the new technology; students, children, and adults in general, show great interest for modern technology, and less interest for formal learning. In this research paper the motivation of fourth grade, primary school students for learning EFL is examined, and it is tested in what amount the students are motivated for learning English language.

Literature review

We may ask the question what the motivation is. It is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of individual differences in mastering the foreign language. It is one of the most important components that affects the outcome of studying (Djigunovic, 1998), and it is especially important because it can be changed, it can be increased and encouraged.

“Is motivation a wish? A feeling? The way of thinking? A need or a group of needs? Process or a group of processes?” (Reeve, 2010)

Rheinberg (2004) is simplifying it and it points out that the motivation is about a person having a goal, trying and working on something that nobody can stop them from. That can also be explained by experiencing the motivation as a state to which something is attracting us, relates to us, a state in which we tend to do something, we want something and we do it.

Motivation can be described as a slight obsession with a certain thing (DeCharms, 1979)

“The term motivation is not reflecting homogeneous unit that we have in most of the cases. There is no something like a unique “motivation muscle” which requires a special cells in our body. The term motivation is in most of the cases abstract category that helps us specify and explain individual components or aspects of many different processes in our lives that guide our behavior“(Rheinberg, 2004).

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According to Dörnyei (2005) personality and language talent are the key factor for a good motivation. Also, Ellis (2008) claims that language talent, motivation, and personality are important while intelligence, age, and strategies of studying don’t matter so much.

The study that was done by Bosnian teacher as a sample 100 students participated from three different primary schools in Bosnia who are learning EFL. Participants included 49 females and 51 males. They were 4th grade students.

The instrument that was used is questionnaire. The questionnaire was contained of two parts.

First part of the questionnaire had general questions. Students were specifying their gender, how old are they, how long have they been learning EFL, etc. They were also mentioning if they have ever been in a country where English language is spoken, why are they learning English language and how long they watch English TV shows and movies. In the second part of questionnaire they had 25 statements and they only had to tick if they agree or disagree.

The research was conducted in May 2015/2016 school year. Firstly the principal was asked if the questionnaire can be done, and the aim of the study was represented to him. After the principal approved it, students got the questionnaire with all the instructions and a request to read and answer carefully.

The results showed us that students are very motivated for learning English language. Some of the reasons were that even though they are children they need English language for games, cartoons and TV shows that are mostly in English language to which they are constantly exposed and the more they watch programs in English the more motivated they are to learn it, which is in accordance to Karlak (2014). Another reason students mentioned is studying abroad, as many of them either plan to study or work abroad. Many students think they should know more languages and are conscious that English is spoken worldwide and it would be good to know it for a better communication with people. The results also showed that they spend a lot of time studying EFL, mostly starting from the 1st grade. Students are very motivated to learn EFL. They have English language everywhere around them, in their environment, so they accept it unconsciously.

Similar results can be found in M.Karlak (2014) who also stated, from different research, that students are very motivated for learning English. Karlak did the research with secondary school students while this one was done with primary school students, but still, the results are very similar.

Every research has advantages and disadvantages, and so does this one. What I consider as disadvantage is that the research had only one instrument, it had only questionnaire which leads to lack of some information. Also, it would be much better if there were more participants so the results could be more reliable. But an advantage I see is that the students were children who are honest in that age, they say what they mean and not what is socially acceptable.


Students are under the influence of their social environment, and they are aware of the old and well know proverb “The more languages you know, the more you are valued” since their early age. They are aware that it is very significant to know more languages aside from their mother tongue. The key concept of this research was motivation for learning EFL.

With this research it was proven that students are very motivated. Students are already, in that early age, aware that they need English in their life, that all the technology, applications, movies, computer games, television program is in English, so as the internet and its possibilities abounds with English language. So, they are surrounded by English language everywhere they look and they also learn it for a long period of time as it is obligatory subject in their schools and they know they will need it in the future. They stated that in their answers in the questionnaire, for example: “I learn it because almost everything is in English, like YouTube, movies and games”, “I learn it because that language is spoken worldwide”, “I learn it because I will need it in my life”

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The Motivation For EFL Learning In Early Primary School Education. (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 29, 2023, from
“The Motivation For EFL Learning In Early Primary School Education.” Edubirdie, 21 Feb. 2022,
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