L2 Motivation and Digital Technologies

  • Alastair HenryEmail author
  • Martin Lamb


This chapter uses Self Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behaviour. New York: Plenum Press, 1985) as a lens through which to review research describing motivational influences associated with digital technologies. Motivational effects are traced to pleasure generated from technology use (intrinsic motivation), and to the satisfaction of three basic psychological needs that generate and sustain high-quality motivation; the manner in which digital technologies enable learners to connect to others (relatedness); experiences of agency and independence in using the L2 in digital spaces (autonomy); and the generation of linguistic self-confidence (competence). Adopting an interdisciplinary position, it is suggested that in addition to understanding the effects of these “psychological nourishments” (Rigby & Ryan, The Routledge handbook of media use and well-being (pp. 34–48). New York: Routledge, 2017), there is a need for broader conceptualizations of motivational influences. Three concepts with particular relevance to L2 motivation are identified: the development of L2 vision through learners’ engagement with digital media, influences stemming from appraisals of verisimilitude when a digital technology forms a part of learning, and the effects of personal validation seeking when L2 media is created in networked environments.


  1. Adolphs, S., Clark, L., Dörnyei, Z., Glover, T., Henry, A., Muir, C., et al. (2018). Digital innovations in L2 motivation: Harnessing the power of the ideal L2 self. System, 78, 173–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blake. (2016). Technology and the four skills. Language learning and technology, 20, 129–142.Google Scholar
  3. Bodnar, S., Cucchiarini, C., Strik, H., & van Hout, R. (2016). Evaluating the motivational impact of CALL systems: Current practices and future directions. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(1), 186–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brevik, L. M., & Hellekjaer, G. O. (2018). Outliers: Upper secondary school students who read better in the L2 than in L1. International Journal of Educational Research, 89, 80–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Butler, Y. G., Someya, Y., & Fukuhara, E. (2014). Online games for young learners’ foreign language learning. ELT Journal, 68(3), 265–275.Google Scholar
  6. Cai, S., & Zhu, W. (2012). The impact of an online learning community project on university Chinese as a foreign language students’ motivation. Foreign Language Annals, 45(3), 307–329.Google Scholar
  7. Chapelle, C., & Sauro, S. (2017). Handbook of technology and second language teaching and learning. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chin, J., Dukes, R., & Gamson, W. (2009). Assessment in simulation and gaming: A review of the last 40 years. Simulation & Gaming, 40(4), 553–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen, M.-H., Tseng, W.-T., & Hsiao, T.-Y. (2018). The effectiveness of digital game-based vocabulary learning: A framework-based view of meta-analysis. British Journal of Educational Technology, 49(1), 69–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen Hsieh, J. S., Wu, W.-C. V., & Marek, M. W. (2017). Using the flipped classroom to enhance EFL learning. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 30(1–2), 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cho, M.-H., & Castañeda, D. A. (2019). Motivational and affective engagement in learning Spanish with a mobile application. System, 81, 90–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cornillie, F. (2017). Educationally designed game environments and feedback. In S. L. Thorne & S. May (Eds.), Language, education and technology (3rd ed., pp. 361–374). New York, NY: Springer International Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cornillie, F., Clarebout, G., & Desmet, P. (2017). Between learning and playing? Exploring learners’ perceptions of corrective feedback in an immersive game for English pragmatics. ReCALL: The Journal of EUROCALL, 24(3), 257–278.Google Scholar
  14. Cruaud, C. (2016). The playful frame: Gamification in a French-as-a-foreign-language class. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 1–14.Google Scholar
  15. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  16. Darvin, R. (2017). Language, ideology, and critical digital literacy. In S. L. Thorne & S. May (Eds.), Language, education and technology, encyclopedia of language and education (pp. 17–30). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behaviour. New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dörnyei, Z. (2009). The L2 motivational self system. In Z. Dörnyei & E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp. 9–42). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  19. Dörnyei, Z., Henry, A., & Muir, C. (2016). Motivational currents in language learning: Frameworks for focused interventions. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Dörnyei, Z., & Kubanyiova, M. (2014). Motivating learners, motivating teachers: Building vision in the language classroom. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Gamson, W. A. (2013). Games throughout the life cycle. Simulation & Gaming, 44(5), 606–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gilmore, A. (2007). Authentic materials and authenticity in foreign language learning. Language Teaching, 40(02), 97–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Golonka, E. M., Bowles, A. R., Frank, V. M., Richardson, D. L., & Freynik, S. (2014). Technologies for foreign language learning: A review of technology types and their effectiveness. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 27(1), 70–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hafner, C. A., & Miller, L. (2011). Fostering learner autonomy in English for science: A collaborative digital video project in a technological learning environment. Language Learning & Technology: A Refereed Journal for Second and Foreign Language Educators, 15(3), 68–86.Google Scholar
  25. Henry, A. (2013). Digital games and ELT: Bridging the authenticity gap. In E. Ushioda (Ed.), International perspectives on motivation: Language learning and professional challenges (pp. 133–154). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Henry, A. (2019). Online media creation and L2 Motivation: A socially situated perspective. TESOL Quarterly, 53, 372–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Henry, A., & Cliffordson, C. (2017). The impact of out-of-school factors on motivation to learn English: Self-discrepancies, beliefs, and experiences of self-authenticity. Applied Linguistics, 38(5), 688–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Henry, A., Korp, H., Sundqvist, P., & Thorsen, C. (2018). Motivational strategies and the reframing of English: Activity design and challenges for teachers in contexts of extensive extramural encounters. TESOL Quarterly, 52(2), 247–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Henry, A., Sundqvist, P., & Thorsen, C. (2019). Motivational practice: Insights from the classroom. Lund: Studentlitteratur.Google Scholar
  30. Henry, A. & Thorsen, C. (2018, advance access). Disaffection and agentic engagement: ‘redesigning’ activities to enable authentic self-expression. Language Teaching Research.Google Scholar
  31. Henry, M., Carroll, F., Cunliffe, D., & Kop, R. (2018). Learning a minority language through authentic conversation using an online social learning method. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 31(4), 321–345.Google Scholar
  32. Ito, M., Baumer, S., Bittanti, M., Boyd, D., Cody, R., Herr, B., et al. (2010). Hanging out, messing around, geeking out: Kids living and learning with mew media. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  33. Jauregi, K., de Graaff, R., van den Bergh, H., & Kriz, M. (2012). Native/non-native speaker interactions through video-web communication: A clue for enhancing motivation? Computer Assisted Language Learning, 25(1), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kern, R. (2014). Technology as Pharmakon: The promise and perils of the internet for foreign language education. The Modern Language Journal, 98(1), 340–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kessler, G., Bikowski, D., & Boggs, J. (2012). Collaborative writing among second language learners in academic web-based projects. Language, Learning & Technology, 16(1), 91–109.Google Scholar
  36. Kramsch, C. (2010). The multilingual subject. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Kukulska-Hulme, A., & Viberg, O. (2018). Mobile collaborative language learning: State of the art. British Journal of Educational Technology, 49(2), 207–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lai, C., Zhu, W., & Gong, G. (2015). Understanding the quality of out-of-class English learning. TESOL Quarterly, 49(2), 278–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lamb, M., & Arisandy, F. E. (2019, advance access). The impact of online use of English on motivation to learn. Computer Assisted Language Learning.
  40. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lee, G., & Wallace, A. (2017). Flipped learning in the English as a foreign language classroom: Outcomes and perceptions. TESOL Quarterly, 52(1), 62–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lee, J. S., Nakamura, Y., & Sadler, R. (2018). Effects of videoconference-embedded classrooms (VEC) on learners’ perceptions toward English as an international language (EIL). ReCALL, 30(3), 319–336.Google Scholar
  43. Liu, T.-Y., & Chu, Y.-L. (2010). Using ubiquitous games in an English listening and speaking course: Impact on learning outcomes and motivation. Computers & Education, 55(2), 630–643.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Macaro, E., Handley, Z., & Walter, C. (2012). A systematic review of CALL in English as a second language: Focus on primary and secondary education. Language Teaching, 45(01), 1–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Macrory, G., Chretien, L., & Luis Ortega-Martin, J. (2012). Technologically enhanced language learning in primary schools in England, France and Spain: developing linguistic competence in a technologically enhanced classroom environment. Education 3–13, 40(4), 433–444.Google Scholar
  46. McCrocklin, S. M. (2016). Pronunciation learner autonomy: The potential of automatic speech recognition. System, 57, 25–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mercer, S., & Ryan, S. (2016). Stretching the boundaries: Language learning psychology. Palgrave Communications, 2, 16031.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Moranski, K., & Henery, A. (2017). Helping learners to orient to the inverted or flipped language classroom: Mediation via informational video. Foreign Language Annals, 50(2), 285–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Newman, J. E., & Smith, R. K. (2016). Kinds of authenticity. Philosophy Compass, 11(10), 609–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pellerin, M. (2014). Language tasks and mobile Technologies: A paradigm shift in designing task-based CALL for young language learners/Activits langagires et technologies mobiles: un changement de paradigme dans la conception des tâches en apprentissage des langues. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 40(1), 1.Google Scholar
  51. Peters, D., Calvo, R. A., & Ryan, R. M. (2018). Designing for motivation, engagement and wellbeing in digital experience. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pinner, R. S. (2016). Reconceptualising authenticity for English as a global language. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Przybylski, A. K., Rigby, C. S., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). A motivational model of video game engagement. Review of General Psychology, 14(2), 154–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Przybylski, A. K., Weinstein, N., Murayama, L., Lynch, M. F., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). The ideal self at play: The appeal of video games that let you be all you can be. Psychological Science, 23, 69–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Przybylski, A. K., Weinstein, N., Ryan, R. M., & Rigby, C. S. (2009). Having to versus wanting to play: Background and consequences of harmonious versus obsessive engagement in video games. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 12, 485–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Reinders, H. (2017). Digital games and second language learning. In S. L. Thorne & S. May (Eds.), Language, education and technology (3rd ed., pp. 329–344). New York, NY: Springer International Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Reinders, H., & Wattana, S. W. (2014). Can I say something? The effects of digital gameplay on willingness to communicate. Language Learning & Technology: A Refereed Journal for Second and Foreign Language Educators, 18(2), 101–123.Google Scholar
  58. Reinders, H., & White, C. (2011). Learner autonomy and new learning environments. Language, Learning & Technology, 15(3), 1–3.Google Scholar
  59. Reinhardt, J. (2017a). Digital gaming in L2 teaching and learning. In C. Chapelle & S. Sauro (Eds.), Handbook of technology and second language teaching and learning (pp. 201–2XX). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  60. Reinhardt, J. (2017b). Social networking sites and language education. In S. L. Thorne & S. May (Eds.), Language, education and technology (3rd ed., pp. 389–400). New York: Springer International Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rigby, C. S., & Ryan, R. M. (2017). Time well spent? Motivation for entertainment media and its eudaimonic aspects through the lens of self-determination theory. In L. Reinecke & M. B. Oliver (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of media use and well-being (pp. 34–48). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  62. Sockett, G. (2014). The online informal learning of English. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Stockwell, G. (2013). Technology and motivation in English language teaching and learning. In E. Ushioda (Ed.), International perspectives on motivation: Language learning and professional challenge (pp. 156–175). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. The Douglas Fir Group. (2016). A transdisciplinary framework for SLA in a multilingual world. The Modern Language Journal, 100(s1), 19–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Thorne, S. L. (2017). Volume editor’s introduction. In S. L. Thorne & S. May (Eds.), Language, education and technology (3rd ed.). New York: Springer International Publishing.Google Scholar
  66. Thorne, S. L., & May, S. (2017). Language, education and technology (3rd ed.). New York: Springer International Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Thorne, S. L., Sauro, S., & Smith, B. (2015). Technologies, identities, and expressive activity. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 35, 215–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Toffoli, D., & Sockett, G. (2015). University teachers’ perceptions of online informal learning of English (OILE). Computer Assisted Language Learning, 28(1), 7–21.Google Scholar
  69. Ushioda, E. (2009). A person-in-context relational view of emergent motivation, self and identity. In Z. Dörnyei & E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp. 215–228). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Ushioda, E. (2011). Language learning motivation, self and identity: Current theoretical perspectives. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 24(3), 199–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Vannini, P., & Burgess, S. (2009). Authenticity as motivation and aesthetic experience. In P. Vannini & J. Patrick Williams (Eds.), Authenticity in culture, self and society (pp. 103–120). Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.Google Scholar
  72. White, C., Direnzo, R., & Bortolotto, C. (2016). The learner-context interface: Emergent issues of affect and identity in technology-mediated language learning spaces. System, 62, 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wu, W.-C. V., Yen, L. L., & Marek, M. (2011). Using online EFL interaction to increase confidence, motivation, and ability. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 14(3), 118–129.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social and Behavioural StudiesUniversity WestTrollhättanSweden
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations