Directed Motivational Currents: Using vision to create effective motivational pathways

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Christine Muir
Zoltán Dörnyei


Vision, that is, the mental representation of the sensory experience of a future goal state (involving imagination and imagery), is currently at the forefront of motivational innovation, and in recent years it has been seen increasingly more often in the motivational tool kit of practicing language teachers. Theories such as Dörnyei’s L2 motivational self system have explored the power that creating effective visions can harness (see, e.g., Dörnyei & Kubanyiova, 2014) and when viewed in conjunction with other current research avenues, such as future time perspective and dynamic systems theory, vision offers exciting potential. A Directed Motivational Current is a new motivational construct that we suggest is capable of integrating many current theoretical strands with vision: It can be described as a motivational drive which energises long-term, sustained behaviour (such as language learning), and through placing vision and goals as critical central components within this construct, it offers real and practical motivational potential. In this conceptual paper, we first discuss current understandings of vision and of Directed Motivational Currents, and then analyse how they may be optimally integrated and employed to create effective motivational pathways in language learning environments.


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Author Biographies

Christine Muir, University of Nottingham

Christine Muir is a Postgraduate Teaching Fellow at the School of English, University of Nottingham, UK, and is currently completing her PhD under the supervision of Professor Zoltán Dörnyei. She graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MSc in Language Teaching, having previously spent time teachingEnglish in Russia, Finland, the Czech Republic and the UK. Her current researchinterests include Directed Motivational Currents, vision theory, time perspectiveand dynamic systems theory.

Zoltán Dörnyei, University of Nottingham


Zoltán Dörnyei is Professor of Psycholinguistics at the School of English, University of Nottingham, UK. He has published over 60 academic papers on various aspects of second language acquisition and language teaching methodology, and is the author of several books, including: The Psychology of the Language Learner (2005, Lawrence Erlbaum/Routledge), The Psychology of Second Language Acquisition (2009, Oxford University Press), Teaching and Researching Motivation (2nd ed., 2011, Pearson, co-authored by Ema Ushioda) and Motivating Learners, Motivating Teachers: Building Vision in the Language Classroom (in press, Cambridge University Press, co-authored by Magdalena Kubanyiova).


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