Motivating EFL students to develop in the target language is quite complex. In many cases, these students face
difficulties in learning English and are often demotivated to learn. Research in classroom motivation has found that
certain strategies can help these students adopt more positive attitudes and become more motivated in the learning
process. This exploratory study investigates the perceptions through interviewing students and surveying teachers’
views in an EFL Program of the problems that hinder these students’ learning in the English classes related to
motivation. Findings show that learners are not motivated to learn English because of an over-focus on writing skills
with very little new learning experiences, uninteresting materials, and unclear links between language courses and
their majors or future careers. Results also indicate that teachers complain of unmotivated students and pre-structured
syllabi leaving little room for communicative methods. Implications are made for the classroom.

1. Introduction
Motivating students in the English as a foreign language (EFL) classroom is often a complex and difficult task that
involves a multiplicity of psycho-sociological and linguistic factors (Dornyei, 1998; 2010a), but most English teachers
will attest to the important role motivation plays in the teaching/learning process. While motivation has been defined
in many ways (Liuoliene & Metiuniene, 2006), in this paper it is simply used by the authors to refer to effective
strategies that could help the learners develop their English language skills. How to go about this is a long story with
many ups and downs shared by many teachers in staff rooms. This paper, quite unique in the view of the authors,
attempts to tackle the problem of ‘motivation’ in the EFL Program at one American affiliated university in Lebanon.
This is part of our story. First we give some background of the context and some main related research.
Lebanon is a pluralistic country where multilingualism and multiculturalism prevail (Thonhauser, 2000). Although
Arabic, French, and English are the three main languages used in the country (Shaaban, 1997), many more languages
are heard and taught in the different educational institutions. The school systems at both the private and the public
sectors teach a minimum of three languages. Arabic, the native language, is only taught in Arabic language classes.
English or French, depending on the school medium of instruction, is taught as a language and is used to teach all
school subjects. Again either English or French is also taught as the third language (Shaaban & Ghaith, 1999;
Thonhauser, 2000). Despite the importance attached to the second/foreign language, when some students reach
university, they still face difficulties coping with English for academic purposes. In this paper, we present the
recurrent problems students face in these language classrooms.