Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Applied Linguistics

Committee Chair

Teresa Dalle

Committee Member

Emily Thrush

Committee Member

Charles Hall

Committee Member

Reginald Martin


L2 Motivation has evolved since Gardner and Lambert introduced the socio-educational model and highlighted the importance of attitudes and affect to the SLA process. Though the field expanded focus, little work has been done into L2 teacher motivation; instead, most studies have focused on student attitudes and motivation. This research addressed that need by examining teaching motivation in Saudi Arabia. This study explored the effects that living in Saudi Arabia, segregated from the host community by a high level of social distance, has on teachers' attitudes and motivation to teach, by asking four questions:Do EFL teachers in Saudi feel isolated from the host culture?Do teachers acculturate to Saudi society?How do EFL teachers in Saudi Arabia percieve the social distance between students and teachers?If teachers feel a great cultural distance, what effect does this have on foreign teachers' attitudes towards their students? What effect does this have on the teachers' motivation? A qualitative design was deemed most appropriate. Operating in the exploratory-interpretive paradigm, it aimed to discover meaning as the participants interpreted it. Both the phenomenological orientation of understanding the essence of lived experiences and the ethnographic orientation of exploring shared behaviors, beliefs, and language were used. Eleven English teachers, who shared a contextual location and a few characteristics, were purposefully selected to participate in two semi-structured interviews, which were intended to elicit meaningful and culturally relevant responses, and provide unanticipated information. The interviews revealed the following: money was the teachers' primary motivation for working in Saudi Arabia; most teachers arrived wanting to learn Arabic; social distance prevented cultural experiences; the subjects reported low levels of job satisfaction and commitment; and the subjects were more motivated by extrinsic than intrinsic work factors. These results contribute to an understanding of L2 teacher motivation and raise further questions about the role of foreign EFL teachers in Saudi Arabia. Limitations of the study and suggestions for further research were identified.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.