Motivations and attitudes towards learning English in Pakistan
: a mixed-methods study of urban-rural postgraduate learners' motivations and attitudes towards studying English at a public university in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province

  • Mansoor Ali

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Postgraduate learners are not only important for contributing to the development of Pakistan, but their age and exposure to English has the potential to reveal interesting motivations and attitudes towards learning English when compared to lower-level learners. This thesis investigates the motivations and attitudes toward learning English in rural-urban contexts of postgraduate (MA/MSc) non-major English as Second Language (ESL) students in Pakistan. This thesis addresses three main objectives. First, to identify postgraduate learners' motivational orientations toward learning English and their attitudes toward English as a World Language (EWL); second to determine whether the learners' gender has an effect on their attitudes toward EWL; third to identify learners' perceptions about the de-motivational factors related to impeding their successful English learning in the classroom. This study employed a concurrent mixed-methods design. The data collected from a remote public university in the developing province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan, with the survey completed by 500 students, and the semi-structured interviews were conducted on 26 postgraduate students. The quantitative data were analysed using factor, correlation, and regression analyses and t-tests. The qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis.
In contrast to earlier studies, this study identified that learners exhibit a wide range of L2 motivational orientations. The findings confirmed the newly-discovered ‘National Interest’ orientation in its extended form categorised as 'National-Islamic Interests, and confirmed Dörnyei's recent Ideal L2 self in this context, and also points toward the emergence of the rarely noted 'L2 Indigenous Integrative’ orientation, related to using English for local purposes. Similarly, the other rarely noted orientations of 'EWL as a L2 motivation', 'Family Interests', and 'Use of English for Voicing Females' Rights' emerged in the study. The traditional concept of L2 Integrative did not emerge, which confirms findings from studies such those by Lamb (2004) suggesting that L2 Integrative may be unattainable in a globalizing world. The findings also highlighted four aspects of the learners' positive attitudes towards EWL: 'attitudes toward the non-native varieties of English', ‘attitudes toward English as a main source of global communication', ‘attitudes toward the use of English as a tool of cross-cultural communication', and ‘attitudes toward the supremacy of native speakers and their Englishes'. The study revealed that learners' attitudes toward EWL had a positive correlation with learners’ motivational orientations. In general, learners' gender did not have an impact on their attitudes toward EWL. However, females appeared to hold more positive beliefs in the supremacy of native speakers and their use of English. Finally, the three main sources of learners' de-motivation: teacher-related factors (methods of teaching, behaviour, etc.), learner-related factors (feelings of L2 anxiety and reduced confidence), and factors related to the classroom environment and facilities are highlighted. On the basis of all findings, theoretical implications, suggestions for language policymakers and recommendations for further research are provided in Pakistan.
Date of AwardMar 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorMario Saraceni (Supervisor), Mark Wyatt (Supervisor) & Darren Van Laar (Supervisor)

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