Beyond the Boundaries of the Self: Applying Relational Theory Towards an Understanding of the Teacher-Student Relationship as a Driver of Motivation in Foreign Language Learning
Keywords:FL motivation, learner psychology, L2 motivational self-system, relational theory
Previous research on the foreign language (FL) learner has yielded a rich body of knowledge on personality, individual differences, and conceptions of the self as a measure of motivation. While these contributions have greatly enriched our understanding of learner psychology, the current paper proposes an analytical framing of language learning based on relational theory, which positions human relationships with others as the main driver of the psyche and behavior. As human beings are relationally dependent from birth, according to this theory, the self can only be conceptualized in relation to others. Applied to language learning, this perspective shifts the focus from the attainment of knowledge as an individual, private endeavor, to a relational process in which students and teacher are interwoven perforce. As part of a larger study on student perceptions of teacher emotion, qualitative data were collected as case studies from eight adult learners and analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Results support the power of the teacher-student relationship to influence and motivate students both positively and negatively, affirming the notion of FL learning as a relational process in accordance with Gergen’s (2009) notion that relationships are not merely the self interacting with the other but a true confluence.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Sharona Moskowitz, Jean-Marc Dewaele, Pia Resnik
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