Introduction: Since motivation plays a considerable role in education in general and in learning foreign languages in particular, presenting a measurement instrument that could better reflect relevant self-imagery seems necessary. This study was conducted to validate a four-scale Second Language Motivational Self-system adapted by Teimouri (2017) and Papi et al. (2019) based on Higgins’ (1987) Self Discrepancy Theory in an Iranian context.
Background study: Dörnyei (2005) proposed that the L2MSS was made up of three main dimensions: ideal L2 self, ought-to L2 self, and the L2 learning experience. The ideal L2 self relates to the kind of desirable qualities one wishes to achieve in the future. The ought-to L2 self refers to the attributes that others believe one should possess to avoid unpleasant consequences. The L2 learning experience deals with the contextual environment (e.g., the effect of teachers, peers, the field of study, etc.). The more precise one’s L2 self is, the more motivational force it is potentially to have. According to both Markus and Nurius’s (1986) Possible Selves Theory and Higgins’s (1987) self-discrepancy theory, individuals who have more specific and logical plans in their minds as to what they would like to become are more likely to make effort in achieving towards their goals. Similarly, the existence of desired possible future selves does not necessarily show motivational force. Instead, to conduct the motivated behavior, certain circumstances need to be met. For instance, it is not adequate for learners to have a clear image of their favorable future self. In other words, when trying to develop the measurement instrument to elicit learners’ responses concerning their self-guide image, it is necessary to investigate the degree to which it is salient in their real selves.
The current measurement instruments of L2 self were unable to address self-concept in reality. For example, the instrument used to measure L2 self indicates that the questionnaire has to do with the construct of the ideal L2 self and usually asks questions such as “The things I want to do in the future require me to speak English”, “If my dreams come true, I will speak English fluently in the future” or “Whenever I think about my future, it is important that I use English” (Taguchi, Magid, & Papi, 2009). Most of the items do not properly reflect the tasks that EFL language learners need to deal with every day.
Methodology: Five hundred ninety-nine EFL learners (Three hundred eight female students and two hundred ninety-one male students) studying English as ESP in IAU East Tehran Branch participated in the study. The researchers of the study selected the expectation maximization (EM) method to address the missing data. Data was analyzed using structural equation modeling (SEM) through the confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) approach. The complete structural model for investigating the fitness of the model was drawn. The full structural model fits well with the data.
Conclusions: Findings confirmed that the adapted questionnaire showed an acceptable model fit. Reliability and validity estimates were also examined and provided satisfactory psychometric properties of the questionnaire. The four-factor correlated model including ideal L2 self-own, ideal L2 self others, ought-to L2 self-own, and ought-to L2 self others was a plausible measurement instrument for EFL learners.