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The Motivation and Investment of Female Bedouin Kuwaiti College-level Students in Learning English

Altarah, H. Y. (2021) The Motivation and Investment of Female Bedouin Kuwaiti College-level Students in Learning English. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Recent qualitative studies in the field of language learner motivation have emphasised the need to go beyond the traditional ‘self’ lens by incorporating learners’ sociocultural environment (e.g., Al-Shatti, 2019; Harvey, 2014; Lamb, 2017; Liyanage & Canagarajah, 2019). While some studies have attempted to respond to this, they have mainly relied on exploring learners’ engagements with others as expressed and heard through learners’ voices (e.g., Al-Shatti, 2019; Harvey, 2014), avoiding direct contact with learners’ social networks. Hence, to fully account for the role of others in language learners’ trajectories, this study highlights their complex relationships and impact as ‘articulated’ by learners as well as their social milieu, and as ‘observed’ by the researcher. Furthermore, unlike other studies, which mostly deal with the notions of motivation and investment independently, this research combines these areas by introducing a more holistic approach that also integrates participants’ desires and those of their social networks in a longitudinal and ethnographic empirical investigation. Moreover, this study presents the concept of ‘face’ as a potential factor that contributes to conceptualising learners’ language motivation and investment. Therefore, this project explores language learners’ motivation and investment (or lack of) through complex, intersectional, embodied, situated, affective, and interactional factors that accentuate various under-researched dimensions in the field. This cross-case thematic research examines the motivation and investment of six female Bedouin Kuwaiti college-level students in learning English. The study deconstructs and problematises traditional gender roles in the Bedouin society by stressing the intersection of gender with other sociological, psychological, and pedagogical perspectives. It introduces the trajectories of these learners as ‘whole people’ through their interactions with their social environments in various periods (showing their past, present, and future selves) and in distinct fields (in and out of class) through several interviews, observations, and field notes. Numerous theoretical concepts and frameworks (e.g., the notion of gender, face, shame, cultural capital, habitus, desire, ideological becoming, social and ethno-class) are used as lenses/conceptual categories to analyse the data and address the research questions. Although the experiences of the research participants can echo the paths of several other students around the world, the findings stress the significance of viewing language learners’ motivation and investment (or lack of) holistically and idiosyncratically, especially that the trajectories of the research six participants demonstrate different attitudes and positions. While the findings stress the prominent impact of participants’ social networks and learning experiences on their language motivation and investment, they more evidently emphasise the connection between their face, desires, and language experiences. In addition, the data accentuate the ideological, aspects of language learning in participants’ educational and social lives, which assist in comprehending their language motivation and investment. This will encourage language students, educators, and policy makers to embrace the social, psychological, and emotional needs and identities of language learners as multidimensional aspects that shape their motivation and investment.

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