To Investigate ESL Students’ Instrumental and Integrative Motivation towards English Language Learning in a Chinese School in Penang: Case Study

  •  Yee Hong    
  •  Malini Ganapathy    


Malaysians have long realised the importance of being competent in English as one of the success factors in attaining their future goals. However, English is taught as a second language in Malaysia, and it is not easy to teach under such a foreign context, because authentic input may not exist beyond the classroom, especially in Chinese private schools. In this scenario, English is learnt as a subject with 10 sessions per week, which is considered insufficient for students to master the language effectively. Past research highlights the significance of motivation in English language acquisition. Motivated students tend to put in more effort in their academic endeavours by showing more persistence in their learning process. The purpose of the study was to identify and analyse whether instrumental or integrative motivation plays a more important role in promoting Form Four ESL students’ English language learning. Furthermore, examine the areas of problems that affect ESL students’ motivation towards English language learning. This study was a qualitative case study that used focus group interviews to elicit data from 12 students in a secondary school in Penang. The findings of this research indicate that students are more instrumentally motivated than integratively motivated in ESL learning. Instrumental motivation is found to have a greater impact on students’ English language learning. This research also highlights that vocabulary and grammar are the biggest areas of problems that are encountered by students during their ESL learning process, which further influence their speaking and writing skills.

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