This book offers a fresh approach to motivation that focuses on the concept of vision. Drawing on visualization research psychology, education and sports, the authors are able to describe powerful ways in which imagining future scenarios in one’s mind can promote motivation to learn a foreign language.
The book starts off by answering five keys questions. These questions lay out a plan for vision with action. Why write a book about vision in language education? Why focus on learners and teachers in the same book? What is the point of mixing the term ‘vision’ and ‘motivation’? What is this book intended to offer? Who are the authors and how have they come to write this book?
The first section provides a theoretical overview of the role of vision motivating human behavior. In one of the best known biblical proverbs that talks about prophetic vision, we are told, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Proverbs 29:18). Van der Helm (2009) talks about ‘the vision phenomenon’. He is able to identity three defining aspects of vision: (1) the future, (2) the ideal, and (3) the desire for deliberate change.
The second part of the book delves in motivating language learners through vision. The authors explain ways in which a language learner’s vision can be created, how it can be strengthened through imagery enhancement, how to cultivate realistic learner beliefs to make the vision plausible, transforming the vision into action, how to keep vision alive during the process, and counterbalancing the vision by considering failure. This is the heart of the book and the authors have fine explanations of strategies that are easily applied in the classroom.
The third part of the book addresses motivation and vision for language teachers. This section starts off with an Italian proverb, ‘Who shall kindle others must himself glow’. Chapter 8 examines several strategies for (re-)igniting the flame of language teachers’ vision, including the pre-requisite for such a transformation: the need to notice dissonance between the desired and actual selves. Chapter 9 concerns ways of guarding the vision against the many threats that emerge in teaching environments in the real world. These chapters deal with recalling prior learning experiences, engaging with values, moral purposes, and teaching philosophies.
The conclusion summarizes all the strategies for students and teachers. The closing thought was this: “While there are several practical techniques and procedures that can facilitate the generation of constructive vision, ultimately the essence of vision cannot really be taught as such but only modeled.” (p 161)
This, of course, is not a new message but it is one we need to be reminded of. We are continuously enacting our various ideal and ought-to selves in the classroom, and our students are sensitive to this and respond to the implicit messages. As Hermanson (2009:10-11) puts it, “Whether you are presenting to a large audience or mentoring a youngster, what you are offering is deeper than your words or techniques. What you are offering is your Self.”
Our classrooms are microcosms of the world; it is an opportunity to practice the ideals we cherish. The kind of classroom we create is a test of what one really stands for.
It follows that there are cases of the visions we enact with our behavior may not be those that we explicitly articulate and espouse. The messages we send in the classroom may not necessarily be the ones we wish to convey. Carl Rogers considered congruence—the ability to behave according to our true self and to be real and authentic without hiding behind faces or roles—one of the three prerequisites of the modern educator.
Dornyei and Kubanyiova have written a thoughtful account of vision and motivation. My one comment/criticism is that part three is significantly shorter than part two. If teachers truly are for their students, it would follow that section three should detail more strategies on how to kindle vision with language teachers.
Dornyei, Z. & Kubanyiova, M. (2014) Motivating Learners, Motivating Teacher: Building Vision in the Language Classroom. Cambridge University Press.
Hermanson, K. (2009) Getting Messy: A guide to taking risks and opening the imagination of teachers, trainers, coaches, and mentors. San Rafael, Ca: Rawberry Books.
Van der Helm, R. (2009) The Vision Phenomena: Towards a theoretical underpinning of vision of the future and the process of envisioning. Futures, 41: 96-104.