Different types of motivation

In the previous step we heard learners’ different reasons for learning English. Some of these reasons were internal, such as enjoying communicating with friends. Others were motivated by external factors, such as needing a good standard of English to get into university.

When we talk about motivation we generally talk about two types of motivation:

Intrinsic motivation:

Deciding to do something because you are interested in it and enjoy doing it. Your reasons are internal, they come from within you, and you are not driven by other people or by an end result or outcome.

Extrinsic motivation:

Deciding to do something because you are told you have to do it by someone else. Doing something because of external factors, such as needing to achieve a goal, wanting to get a reward, or seeking to avoid a disadvantage.

Many learners are motivated by a mixture of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, as they are often required to learn a language by their school or company (extrinsic motivation), at the same time as being personally interested in the new language and culture (intrinsic motivation). In many cases, intrinsic motivation can develop as the learners begin to make progress and realise how exciting it is to be able to communicate in another language.


In the previous step you watched our learners talking about why they are learning English and you made a list of their reasons for learning English. Now, look at your list of the reasons our learners gave and decide if they are examples of intrinsic motivation or extrinsic motivation:

Intrinsic motivation Extrinsic motivation

You can check your answers in the document attached below.

Use the comments section to tell us about something you’ve done recently and say what your motivation was. Was it intrinsic or extrinsic? Read other learners’ comments and see if you agree with their descriptions.

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This article is from the free online course:

Exploring the World of English Language Teaching

Cambridge Assessment English