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Vol. 10 No. 3 (2007)

Second language learning and acculturation: The role of motivation and goal content congruence

  • Sara Rubenfeld
  • Lisa Sinclair
  • Richard Clément
October 15, 2012


This study explored how having differing goals and motives for learning a second language influences adaptation in the foreign culture. Specifically, we compared English as a second language (ESL) students in two programs, which differed in their long-term goal orientations. Some students were taking ESL courses in order to attend university in their second language, whereas other ESL students took courses that were not followed by an immediate reward. Students in both programs completed measures of acculturation as well as measures of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for learning English. We found that adaptation to the foreign culture, in the form of acculturation, is best facilitated by congruence between students’ motives and goals. The findings are discussed in terms of their methodological and pedagogical implications.