The future in the lives of Turkish international sojourners studying in America : the role of future time perspectives and possible selves in explaining motivation to learn English



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Previous research using future time perspective or possible selves frameworks provided evidence that learners with definite and elaborate goals, and future self-guides are more motivated in school tasks (Reeve, 2009; Yowell, 2000), exert more effort, demonstrate persistence, and show greater performance (De Volder & Lens, 1982; Lens et al., 2002; Simons et al., 2000), and learners with positive possible selves were better able to face failure, demonstrated better performance, had higher levels of self-esteem, showed more persistence on tasks, and depicted greater motivation (Cross & Markus, 1994; Oyserman et al., 2004; Unemori et al., 2004). The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of future orientation constructs, future time perspective and possible selves, on Turkish college level learners' motivation to learn English and their identity construction, and how future projections of themselves as L2 users (the ideal L2 self, the ought-to L2 self, and feared L2 self) impacted their motivation to learn English and their identities. A total of 299 Turkish graduate students studying in the United States participated in the study. Also, this study examined the extent to which adding a measure of the feared L2 self construct contributed to explaining motivation to learn English and identity construction. The data were collected via surveys and interviews, and they were analyzed quantitatively, using qualitative data for triangulation. Findings suggested that the L2 motivational self-system (Dornyei, 2005, 2009) contributed to explaining Turkish learners' motivation to learn English and their oriented identities. Also, adding a feared L2 self variable to measures of the L2 motivational self system could help explain learners' identity construction but not their language learning motivation. In addition, future time perspective connectedness and value were not useful in explaining the L2 motivation, but future connectedness was found to be related to the ideal L2 self and feared L2 self, and valuing the future goals was related to the ought-to L2 self. Qualitative data showed that learners presented combination of several identities, including national and oriented. They imagined themselves as professional and successful English users, and their L2 related worries included losing their native language and being seen as "assimilated" or as "showing off" individuals.