In order to reinstate interest and motivation for learning foreign languages (FLs) other than English, the Swedish government has recently reformed the admissions system to higher education. Upper secondary students who continue with the FL learnt in secondary school are rewarded with extra credits that considerably enhance their grade point average (GPA). The purpose of this interview-based study is examine the impact this initiative has on the choices of 6 upper secondary students to continue with their FL, French, and on their motivation over one and a half semesters of study. Using self-determination theory and Dörnyei’s (2009a) L2 Motivational Self System model as analytical lenses, results reveal that for the three students whose motivation is rooted in intrinsic and/or self-determined extrinsic reasons for learning, the GPA-enhancing credits have little or no impact on either choice or effortful behaviour. For the other three students, none of whom, but for the extra credits, would have chosen to continue with French, the GPA-enhancement is almost the sole source motivation. However, because their reasons for studying French are not fully self-determined, learning lacks personal meaning. These students see little longer-term value in their efforts, nor meaningful applications for the skills they have developed. Consequently, goals do not extend beyond achieving a passing grade. The effects of making a fifth and sixth year of FL learning de facto compulsory on students’ willingness to use the FL in the future and on their FL-speaking/using self-concepts are discussed, and the consequences of the initiative are critically appraised.
Rugby: Association for Language Learning , 2013. 1-15 p.