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In Sweden, students have extensive encounters with English outside the classroom. The major motivational challenge facing teachers is therefore to create goal-directed learning opportunities that connect with students’ out-of-school experiences. With the purpose of investigating the practice of teachers who are successful in meeting this challenge, ethnographic research was carried out in the classrooms of 16 “successful motivators” (Lamb, 2017). These teachers were identified in a survey were a randomly drawn sample of English teachers in grades 6–9 had been asked about beliefs and practices. The research took place during 2015 and 2016. Three types of data were collected: (a) field data: observations of lessons, including informal conversations with teachers and students, (b) interview data: semi-structured interviews with teachers and focus group interviews with students, and (c) documentary data: lesson plans, teaching materials, and artifacts produced by students. 

Investigations of the following topic areas are currently being carried out:
• Teachers’ motivational strategies 
• Digital media creation and L2 motivation
• Culturally-responsive teaching and L2 motivation
• Teacher–student relationships and the influences on students’ motivation
• Teachers’ self-disclosure practices and the influences on students’ motivation
• Teacher empathy and students’ motivation
• Student engagement
• Motivation and project work 


Autumn 2014 – questionnaire survey of secondary school English teachers (N=252) at 64 randomly-selected schools

Autumn 2015 – Spring 2016 – lesson observations (N=258) in the classrooms of 16 teachers identified as having a motivational practice

Autumn 2016 – Autumn 2017 – data analysis and production of research outputs 


Journal articles

Henry, A., Korp, H., Sundqvist, P. & Thorsen, C. (2018). Motivational strategies and the reframing of English: Activity design and challenges for teachers in contexts of extensive extramural encounters. TESOL Quarterly, 52 (2), 247-273.

Henry, A. & Thorsen, C. (2018). Teacher-student relationships and L2 motivation. Modern Language Journal 102 (1), 218–241.

Henry, A. & Thorsen, C. (2018, advance access). Teachers’ self-disclosures and influences on students’ motivation: A relational perspective. International Journal of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education.

Henry, A. & Thorsen, C.  (2019). Weaving webs of connection: Empathy, perspective taking, and students’ motivation. Studies in Second Language learning and Teaching. PDF

Henry, A & Thorsen, C. (2019). Disaffection and agentic engagement: ‘redesigning’ activities to enable authentic self-expression. Language Teaching Research.

Henry, A.  (2019). Online media creation and L2 motivation: a socially-situated perspective.


Henry, A., Sundqvist, P. & Thorsen, C., (2019). Motivational Practice: Insights from the Classroom. Lund: Studentlitteratur.
First chapter: PDF

Conference presentations

Korp, H., Henry, A. & Sundqvist, P. (2014). Multi-sited ethnography as a means for studying good practice in ESL classrooms. Oxford, United Kingdom, 15th –17thSeptember.

Korp, H, Thorsen, C, Henry, A. & Sundqvist, P. (2015). Differences in English teachers’ approaches to pupils’ out-of-school English encounters in relation to school and pupil demographic factors. NFPF /NERA. Gothenburg, Sweden, 4th –6th March. 

Sundqvist, P., Korp, H. & Henry, A. (2015). Generating engagement: A content analysis of the motivational qualities in EFL teachers’ descriptions of motivating activities. American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) Conference, Toronto, Canada, 21st–24th March.

Henry, A. & Sundqvist, P. (2016). Creativity and Mobile Devices in Intensive Group Projects. American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) Conference, Orlando, Florida, 9th–12th April.

Henry, A. & Sundqvist, P. (2016). Intensive group projects in the L2 English classroom: A path to successful teaching. Språk Så In I Norden. Stockholm, Sweden, 18th April.

Henry, A. & Sundqvist, P. (2016). Combating demotivation: Intensive group projects in L2 English classrooms. ASLA, Uppsala, Sweden, 22 April.

Henry, A. & Sundqvist, P. (2016). Intensive group projects: Directed motivational currents in language classrooms. Psychology of Language Learning 2 (PLL2). Jyväskylä, Finland, 22-24th August. 

Henry, A. (2017). The triggering of students’ transportable identities in classroom interaction: The role of teacher self-revelation. American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) Conference, Portland, Oregon, 18th-21st March. 

Thorsen, C. & Henry, A. (2017). Culturally responsive mindsets: Motivational teaching practice in EFL Classrooms. American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) Conference, Portland, Oregon, 18th-21st March. 

Thorsen, C. & Henry, A. (2018).  Online media production and L2 motivation: An ethnographic study. PLL3, Tokyo, June, 8th.

Thorsen, C. & Henry, A. (2018). L2 motivation and students’ engagement with digital media: An empirically-grounded account. Exploring Language Education, Stockholm, June 20th.


  • Barn- och ungdomsvetenskap

Forskningsmiljö / Institution

  • Barn och unga
  • Institutionen för individ och samhälle

Medverkande Högskolan Väst

Övriga projektmedverkande

Pia Sundqvist, Karlstad University


  • Karlstads unversitet


  • Vetenskapsrådet


2014 - 2020

Deltagare - forskargrupp

Alastair Henry

Alastair Henry Professor Professor i ämnesdidaktik

Cecilia Thorsen

Cecilia Thorsen Universitetslektor Docent i pedagogik
Senast uppdaterad