Motivation of American Students Studying Russian Language

The purpose of the present research study is to investigate main the motivational factors of American students studying Russian.

Motivation is an important issue in the foreign language field as it can help predict students’ enrollment rates in foreign language programs as well as students’ performance in these programs (Lambret and Gardner, 1959).

The status of Russian in the United States recently has moved to one of a less-commonly-taught language (Brecht, 95). As a result we are observing lower enrollment and higher attrition rates of students taking Russian (Brecht, 95). That is why the question concerning main motivational factors of American students taking Russian becomes an important one in regard to the potential problem in the field of teaching Russian.

The subjects who participated in the research study were students at a midwestern university enrolled at the beginning and advanced levels (to investigate initial and continuing motivational factors).

A questionnaire was developed by the researcher which incorporated past and recent findings on motivation from different fields, such as psychological theory of second and foreign language learning, expectancy theory, and some elements of industrial psychology and job satisfaction theory as well as several studies of motivation (Dorneyi, 96; Gardner and Lambert, 72; Oxford, 96; Brecht, 95), etc.

The incorporation of factors from these various fields has resulted in a rich instrument. Data is currently being collected. The presentation will mainly focus on the explanation of the questionnaire items and on a detailed discussion of the results of the study.