University of South Australia
The ability to speak English is increasingly important in many parts of the world, and perhaps especially in countries such as Malaysia, where English is used both educationally and professionally. However a number of studies of Malaysian students (e.g. Samsiah et al., 2009; Muftah & Rafik- Galea, 2013) have shown that there are issues around English language learning, and suggest that these issues relate to student motivation. Given the little research which has been done in Malaysia, it is important to know more about the motivation of those students who are apparently not successful in their English language learning. This paper will investigate Malaysian university students’ motivation in learning English. The 190 participants are first year students at the Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) who achieved poorly on the Malaysian University English Test (MUET), reaching only Band 1 or Band 2. The students are chosen from across five different faculties at UMK to provide a variety of views about these students’ L2 motivation. The motivation of the students in learning English is analysed in the light of Dörnyei’s (2009) L2 Motivational Self System, which looks at L2 motivation in terms of three dimensions: ideal L2 self, ought-to L2 self, and L2 learning experience in understanding L2 motivation. Data was collected via a questionnaire modified from Taguchi et al. (2009), and has been analysed using descriptive statistics. The paper will discuss the overall motivational patterns towards learning English of these low-achieving Malaysian university students. The findings suggest that students are highly motivated to learn English, however they are largely influenced by external factors, because of the importance of English for their professional education and future careers.
motivation, English, low proficiency level, university students, Malaysia