The Motivation of University Students of International Relations to Learn English




language learning motivation, L2 Motivational Self System, foreign language learning


This article reports on the findings of a study investigating the motivation of Bulgarian undergraduates of International Relations to learn English as a second language (L2). First, we consider language learning motivation in the context of three influential theoretical developments in research on motivation. Then, we report on a small-scale survey aiming to define the motivational profile of students of International Relations through the lens of the L2 Motivational Self System. The analysis of the survey data reveals similarities with findings of previous research as regards the favourable attitude towards English language learning, the prominent role of the ideal L2 self in the motivational pattern, and some doubt over the relation between the ought-to L2 self and the intended learning effort. The study results also indicate relations between travel orientation and the ought-to L2 self, and between the two types of instrumental motivation which have not been reported in previous research. These motivation peculiarities are explained through the specifics of the surveyed group that refer to students’ aspirations and potential careers in international relations.

Author Biographies

Zarina Markova, South-West University, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Zarina Markova, PhD in Methodology of FLT, is Chief Assistant Professor at the Department of German and Romance Studies, South-West University, Bulgaria. Her research interests lie in individual learner differences and foreign language education, teacher beliefs, and teacher education and development.

Dessislava Yaneva, South-West University, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Dessislava Yaneva holds a Master’s degree in Language and Linguistics in the Global World. She is currently on maternity leave, but her previous affiliation was with the Faculty of Law and History at South-West University. Her research interests are in the field of second language acquisition.


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How to Cite

Markova, Z., & Yaneva, D. (2020). The Motivation of University Students of International Relations to Learn English. English Studies at NBU, 6(1), 5–28.