Motivation and Multilingualism in South Africa

  • Susan Coetzee-Van RooyEmail author


The chapter focuses on motivation and multilingualism in South Africa. The chapter approaches the issue of motivation from a context where individual and societal multilingualism is pervasive, and where languages are added in school and naturalistic settings. There are very few empirical studies from these types of contexts, and the chapter contributes new insights about motivation. The main finding from the survey study is that the motivation to acquire and learn additional languages in this context is influenced by the environment and the conventions about the use of specific sets of languages in specific domains. The main finding from the interview study is that the desire to foster meaningful relationships in a linguistically complex setting drives the motivation to add and learn additional languages. These findings point to the importance of the context of language acquisition and learning. Future research should explore the explanatory power of motivation constructs across different multilingual contexts.



This work is based on research supported in part by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa’s grant for rated researchers (Grant nr: 103477). I acknowledge that the opinions, findings and conclusions expressed in this publication generated by an NRF supported research grant are my own opinions and the NRF accepts no liability whatsoever in this regard. The NWU ethics clearance number for the project is NWU—00031—07—A1. I thank the participating survey and interview students; and interviewer Ms. Nompumelo Ngubeni for allowing me to re-analyse her interview data. I thank Bertus van Rooy for his assistance with the editing of the chapter, especially his clear proposal for a narrative summary of the main findings. I thank Martin Lamb and the associate editors for their patience and support during the editing process. They encouraged me to think critically which improved the chapter markedly.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.North-West UniversityVanderbijlparkSouth Africa

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