Instrument to Measure Identity Motivation in Arabic Second-Language Learners


  • Danya A. Shaalan Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University
  • Badriyya B. Al-onazi Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University
  • Alya K. Alshammari Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University



Arabic, heritage and minority languages, multiple identities, Muslim, survey methods


Research in second-language (L2) learning has revealed that aspects of identity can be strong drivers of L2 motivation. L2 Arabic learning research shows that Arabic, Middle Eastern, and Muslim identity may play a special motivational role, as Arabic is both a heritage language (HL) and a liturgical language (LL). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has Arabic language institutes (ALIs) which offer L2 Arabic learning programs to scholars from outside KSA. Our aim was to revise, pilot, and assess the validity and reliability of an existing instrument to measure identity-related motivation to learn L2 Arabic in a sample of L2 Arabic learners at three KSA ALIs. We obtained instrument data from 98 learners (13% Arab, 11% Middle Eastern, and 97% Muslim), and conducted factor and other analyses to assess validity and reliability and confirm subscales. The most common languages of fluency were English (74%), Arabic (62%), any African language (40%), and any Indian language (21%). We found evidence of both reliability and validity, and identified four subscales as sources of L2 Arabic motivation that were slightly different than the original instrument: Islamic faith, for cultural exposure, for instrumental purposes, and to better understand Arab problems/politics. Subscale scores were highest (indicating stronger source of L2 motivation) for Islamic faith and cultural exposure, and lowest for Arab problems/politics. We include the final instrument and recommend that it be the subject of future studies aimed at increasing its validity and reliability, and assessing its performance in various groups of L2 Arabic learners.

Author Biographies

Danya A. Shaalan, Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University

Department of Applied Linguistics, College of Languages

Badriyya B. Al-onazi, Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University

Department of Language Preparation, Arabic Language Teaching Institute

Alya K. Alshammari, Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University

Department of Applied Linguistics, College of Languages


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