The L2 Motivational Self System and Language Needs of Refugees Learning English in the Netherlands
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Refugee language learners have been somewhat overlooked in foreign language acquisition research even though their pre- and post-migration factors may distinguish them from the average learner (cf. Capstick, 2018). This study explored the motivation of educated refugee EFL students (N=25) through the L2 Motivational Self System (Dörnyei, 2009) and examined how they differed from adult Dutch EFL students (N=25). Concurrently, a needs analysis on the same educated refugees (N=16) aimed to identify their language needs and to explore a possible relationship between their needs and motivation. The refugees demonstrated higher overall motivation and a significantly higher learning experience and ideal L2 self presumably related to the positive influence of their migration factors. Their strong ideal L2 self might also be explained by their strong long-term identity-formation process, which might be a result of their migration history. The Dutch EFL students scored significantly higher on the ought-to L2 self, which may be explained by the influence of stronger external motivational factors (Kormos, Kiddle & Csizér, 2011). Previous literature identified strong external motivational pressure from family (Papi & Teimouri, 2014; Kormos et al., 2011) and social contacts (Islam et al., 2013). However, this study introduces a new motivational construct in the form of societal encouragement, which may better characterise the external motivational factors in this context. The needs analysis found that the educated refugees prioritise academic and long-term language needs. These results suggest a possible relationship between setting long-term goals and developing a strong long-term ideal L2 self identity. Language courses may then boost refugee motivation further by promoting long-term goal setting and by fostering the development of the refugee ideal L2 self.