Volume 40, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
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This paper presents the findings from a study that examines the motivations of adult Australians of non-Italian origin to learn Italian in continuing education contexts in Sydney. The study embraces a view of motivation as a multifaceted phenomenon that is produced in a social environment through the interaction between the second language learners and the context in which they operate. The findings reveal that in the Australian multicultural context, the motivation to learn Italian is influenced by a process of negotiation of identity, triggered by both the presence of a well-established Italian migrant community, and the exposure to Italian cultural elements. Thus, the ‘investment’ of students in learning Italian may be generated by the desire to acquire some forms of symbolic capital rather than material resources, as in the case of other more ‘global’ languages (e.g., English). The willingness to invest in the acquisition of elements of symbolic capital indicates learners’ desire to achieve goals related to self-growth and identity development, which in turn generates greater gains in wellbeing. Interviews with the participants also reveal that intrinsic factors, such as affiliation (with the target language speaking community, as well as with the community of learners in Sydney), and self-realization (correspondence with the ideal self-image of a competent language speaker), are key motivators for this group of students. The desire to belong to a community, of either speakers of Italian or like-minded people involved in the same learning trajectory, highlights the importance of cultivating meaningful relationships to increase individuals’ wellbeing and to nurture a sense of attachment and affiliation.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): belonging; ideal L2 self; Italian; L2 motivation; wellbeing
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