What makes a learning experience intrinsically motivating for American high school language learners?
William S. Davis 1 *
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1 University of Arkansas
* Corresponding Author


The purpose of this study was to examine the self-determination theory (SDT) relationship between basic needs satisfaction and intrinsic motivation within the context of American high school (secondary) foreign language learners. Participants were 156 American high school students studying Spanish, French, or German as a foreign language. Participants completed a survey in which they described a personally satisfying or unsatisfying learning experience from their foreign language class and indicated their levels of intrinsic motivation and autonomy, competence, and relatedness fulfillment for that experience. Results demonstrated that the combination of the three basic psychological needs significantly predicted students’ levels of intrinsic motivation for the in-class language learning experience they described, in which autonomy satisfaction was the strongest predictor of intrinsic motivation. Themes from the participants’ qualitative responses and recommendations for need-supportive instruction are discussed.



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