From Motivation to Mastery: Unveiling the Impact of L2 Motivational Self-system on Attainment Scores among Iranian EFL Learners

Main Article Content

Soghra Ahangari
Azizeh Chalak


Introduction: The acquisition of a second language has consistently emerged as a fundamental concern among students globally, paralleled by the enduring significance of motivation for second language learning. The primary objective of this study was to examine the intricate interplay between the motivational dimensions of the L2 self-system, encompassing the ideal L2 self, ought-to L2 self, and L2 learning experience, and their potential impact on the attainment test scores of Iranian pre-intermediates and intermediate EFL learners. By exploring the correlation between these specific motivational factors and the learners’ test performance, the study shed light on the nuanced dynamics and significance of these motivational constructs within Iran’s distinct cultural and educational context.

Methodology: A descriptive correlational study was explicitly devised to ascertain the correlation between the L2 motivational self-system and the attainment test scores of Iranian pre-intermediates and intermediate EFL learners. A total of 150 students, encompassing both males and females, aged between 18 and 29 years, representing various academic disciplines, participated in this study. Ryan’s (2009) Motivational Factors Questionnaire was administered among the participants. The study involved the analysis of 21 items pertaining to ought-to L2 self, ideal L2 self, and L2 learning experience.

Results: Adopting multiple regression analysis, it was indicated that the ideal L2 self and L2 learning experience were noteworthy predictors significantly impacting the attainment test scores. However, ought-to L2 self could not significantly predict the attainment test scores.

Conclusion: By virtue of the valuable implications engendered by the findings of this study, they confer upon L2 pedagogy a distinctive advantage, empowering instructors with the capacity to promote the students’ ideal L2 self-concept, thereby optimizing their learning experience.

Article Details

How to Cite
Ahangari, S., & Chalak, A. (2023). From Motivation to Mastery: Unveiling the Impact of L2 Motivational Self-system on Attainment Scores among Iranian EFL Learners. Journal of Contemporary Language Research, 2(4), 207–214.
Research Articles


Alanazi, H. D. (2020). Investigating L2 motivation self-system theory for learning English as a foreign language among Saudi cadets. Thesis. The University of Limerick, Ireland.

Al-Hoorie, A. H. (2018). The L2 motivational self-system: A meta-analysis. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 8(4), 721-754. DOI:

Bagheri Nevisi, R., & Afsooshin, M. (2019). Ideal L2 self, ought-to L2 self, and EFL learners' L2 functional use. Language Horizon, 3(2), 147-164.

Berkovits, S. A. (2005). Gambling on Las Vegas: bringing professional sports to Sin City. Gaming Law Review, 9(3), 220-231. 10.1089/glr.2005.9.220

Cho, M. (2020). An investigation into learners' ideal L2 self and its motivational capacity. Reading and writing, 33, 2029–2048.

Csizér, K., & Kormos, J. (2009). Learning experiences, selves, and motivated learning behaviour: A comparative analysis of structural models for hungarian secondary and university learners of English. In Z. Dörnyei & E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self (pp. 98-119). Bristol, Blue Ridge Summit: Multilingual Matters.

Dincer, A., Yesilyurt, S., Noels, K. A., & Vargas Lascano, D. I. (2019). Self-determination and classroom engagement of EFL learners: A mixed-methods study of the self-system model of motivational development. Sage Open, 9(2), 1-15.

Dörney, Z. (2003). Questionnaires in second language research. Routledge.

Dörnyei, Z. (2009). The L2 motivational self-system. In Z. Dörnyei & E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self (pp. 9-42). Bristol, Blue Ridge Summit.

Dörnyei, Z. (2019). Towards a better understanding of the L2 learning experience, the cinderella of the L2 motivational self-system. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 9(1), 19-30.

Dörnyei, Z., & Csizér, K., & Németh, N. (2006). Motivation, language attitudes and globalisation: A hungarian perspective. Multilingual Matters.

Dörnyei, Z., & Ushioda, E. (2009). Motivation, language identity, and the L2 self. Multilingual Matters.

Dörnyei, Z., & Otto´, I. (1998). Motivation in action: A process model of L2 motivation. Working Papers in Applied Linguistics. Thames Valley University, London.

Kim, T. Y. (2012). The L2 motivational self-system of Korean EFL students: Cross-grade survey analysis. English Teaching, 67(1), 29-56.

Csizér, K., & Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The internal structure of language learning motivation and its relationship with language choice and learning effort. The Modern Language Journal, 89(1), 19-36. 10.1111/j.0026-7902.2005.00263.x

Fezler, W. (1989). Creative imagery. Simon and Schuster.

Gardner, M. P. (1985). Mood states and consumer behavior: A

critical review. Journal of Consumer Research, 12(3), 281-300.

Gardner, R. C. (2006). The socio-educational model of second language acquisition: A research paradigm. Eurosla yearbook, 6(1), 237-260. DOI:

Gould, D., Dieffenbach, K., & Moffett, A. (2002). Psychological characteristics and their development in Olympic champions. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14(3), 172-204.

Gu, M. M., & Cheung, D. S. P. (2016). Ideal L2 self, acculturation, and Chinese language learning among South Asian students in Hong Kong: A structural equation modeling analysis. System, 57, 14-24. DOI:

Hall, E., Hall, C., Stradling, P., & Young, D. (2006). Guided imagery: Creative interventions in counseling & psychotherapy. Sage.

Horowitz, M.J. (1983) Image formation and psychotherapy. Northvale, NJ. Jason.

Islam, M., Lamb, M., & Chambers, G. (2013). The L2 motivational self-system and national interest: A Pakistani perspective. System, 41(2), 231-244.

Jang, Y., & Lee, J. (2019). The effects of ideal and ought-to L2 selves on Korean EFL learners' writing strategy use and writing quality. Reading and Writing, 32(5), 1129–1148.

Leuner, H., Horn, G., Klessmann, E., & Klemperer, I., Lachman, E.,

Singer, J. L. (1983). Guided affective imagery with children and adolescents. Plenum Press.

Martinović, A. (2018). The L2 motivational self-system: Differences among learners. Jezikoslovlje, 19(1), 133-157.,extrinsic%20types%20of%20instrumental%20motives.

Moskovsky, C., Racheva, S., Assulaimani, T., & Harkins, J. (2016). The L2 motivational self-system and L2 achievement: A study of Saudi

EFL learners. Modern Language Journal, 100(3), 67-78. DOI:

Noels, K. A., Pelletier, L. G., Clément, R., & Vallerand, R. J. (2003). Why are you learning a second language? Motivational orientations and

self‐determination theory. Language Learning, 53(S1), 33-64.

Papi, M. (2010). The L2 motivational self-system, L2 anxiety, and motivated behavior: A structural equation modeling approach. System, 38(3), 467-479.

Plonsky, L., & Ghanbar, H. (2018). Multiple regression in L2 research: A methodological synthesis and guide to interpreting R2 values. The Modern Language Journal, 102(4), 713-731.

Rahimi, S., Tajaddini, M., & Fatehi Rad, N. (2022). Dörnyei's motivational self-system theory and EFL learners' L2 selves. Journal of Language and Translation, 12(2), 99-114. DOI: 10.30495/TTLT.2022.690712

Rajab, A., Roohbakhsh Far. H., & Etemadzadeh, A. (2012). The relationship between L2 motivational self-system and L2 learning among TESL students in Iran. Social and Behavioral Sciences, 66, 419-424.

Ryan, S. (2009). Self and identity in L2 motivation in Japan: The ideal L2 self and Japanese learners of English. In Z. Dornyei, & E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp. 120-143). Multi-lingual Matters.

Sak, M. (2020). The role of ideal L2 self in predicting L2 willingness to communicate inside and outside the classroom. Eurasian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 6(2), 189-203.

Sherafati, S., & Ghafournia N. (2019). The relationship among L2 motivational self-system, reading comprehension ability, and gender: A study of EFL learners in Iran. Applied Linguistics and Applied Literature: Dynamics and Advances, 7(2), 29-45.

Singer, J. L. (2006). Expanding Imagery in Patient and Therapist. In

J. L. Singer, Imagery in psychotherapy (pp.161–186). American Psychological Association.

Taguchi, T., Magid, M., & Papi, M. (2009). The L2 motivational self-system amongst Chinese, Japanese, and Iranian learners of English: A comparative study. In Z. Dörnyei & E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp.66-97). Multilingual Matters.

Ueki, M., & Takeuchi, O. (2013). Forming a clearer image of the ideal L2 self: The L2 Motivational Self System and learner autonomy in a Japanese EFL context. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching. 7(3), 238-252.

Ushioda, E. (2009). A person-in-context relational view of emergent motivation, self, and identity. In Z. Dörnyei & E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self. Second language acquisition (pp. 215-228). Multilingual Matters.

Yan, T., Conrad, F. G., Tourangeau, R., & Couper, M. P. (2011). Should I stay or go: The effects of progress feedback, promised task duration, and questionnaire length on completing web surveys. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 23(2), 131-147.