Self-determination Theory as a Grand Theory of Motivation in EFL Classroom

Hossein Rahmanpanah


Self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985a) is on this tenet that autonomy-supportive teaching style promotes autonomous/intrinsic motivational regulations among the learners through supporting the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. This study first presents an overview of self-determination theory (SDT) and its five mini-theories as well as their application to the study of second language acquisition. Then, this study indicates how autonomy-supportive teaching style within self-determination theory paradigm nurtures autonomous/intrinsic motivation, basic psychological needs, personal interests, and integrated values among EFL learners. This study provides evidence on the fact that when teachers become more aware of the consequences of their communicative styles and behaviors in the classroom; they gain a greater capacity to behave in an autonomous way, rather than in an impulsive and reactive way. Moreover, this study indicates how teachers’ awareness toward their behaviors during the instruction is their first step in becoming more autonomy-supportive teachers. Collectively, this study concludes with implications for language teachers in EFL classroom.


autonomy; competence; relatedness; motivation; self-determination theory

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