The relationships between practical value of English and instrumental motivation among Puerto Rican ESL students

Carmen Lydia Lopez, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to identify the relationships between student demographic background factors (gender, year in college, academic division, level of English instruction); the perceived practical value of English in kinship, friendship, educational, and occupational domains; self-perceived perception of English speaking, reading, writing, and listening proficiency; and the level of instrumental motivation toward learning English in school, in a career, for meeting important people, and in general. The research sample consisted of 146 English-as a-second-language (ESL) students recruited from English classes at Inter-American University of Puerto Rico in San German. The research instrument in this study was the English Instrumental Motivation Scale (EMS), a self-constructed survey questionnaire to be filled out by the respondents. Included in the questionnaire were the demographic background items, the variables of practical value of English, self-perception of English language proficiency, and the instrumental motivation for learning English. The survey instrument was validated through content analysis and a pilot study. The analysis of data was discussed in terms of the specific research questions. Preliminary analyses were conducted as follows: (a) presentation of frequencies and distributions of the sample on the background variables, practical value scales, and self-perceived English proficiency items; and (b) presentation of descriptive statistics and reliability coefficients on the IMES. Appropriate univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted. The results of this study have practical implications for educational practice. Students should be taught English especially directed toward developing facility in the occupational sphere. By providing a more bilingual environment in schools and colleges, educators can increase student instrumental motivation to learn English and, by inference, increase student English proficiency. The data suggest the need for reform in the instruction of English in Puerto Rico so that English is taught with a focus on the conveyance of meaning, utilizing the learning styles of Hispanic students, with an emphasis on the practical utility of English. Further research should be conducted using experimental designs to specify further the relationship between language attitudes, motivation, and language proficiency. In addition, an experiment in which students were taught using different methods of English instruction could be compared on gain in proficiency and instrumental motivation.

Subject Area

Language arts

Recommended Citation

Lopez, Carmen Lydia, "The relationships between practical value of English and instrumental motivation among Puerto Rican ESL students" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9034634.