Motivation vs Investment


Motivation vs InvestmentTraditional perspectives on second language (L2) learning claim that a student’s degree of learning a L2 relies on the degree of motivation. Accordingly, a student would invest in learning and using a L2, if that student is motivated either to gain some socio-economic benefits (instrumental motivation) or to integrate into (integrative motivation) the cultural group of the target language (TL). However, recent research (Norton & Toohey, 2011; Norton 2013; Norton & De Costa, 2018), being awakened by poststructuralism, claim that one’s learning a L2 does not merely rely on their personality variables such as motivation or lack of motivation. Instead, their investment in learning or practically using that language plays a significant role, and their willingness to speak or resistance depends on the power relations of the community inside the class (teacher and other students) and the wider community outside. In a “racist, sexist or homophobic” (Norton & Costa, 2018, p. 92) classroom, a language learner may not invest in using L2 though they are highly motivated.

The Aristotelian discussion (Poetics) on the tragic flaw that leads to one’s tragic downfall is a convincing analogue to understand the dichotomy between motivation versus investment.


Norton, B. & Toohey, B. (2011). Identity, language learning, and social change. Language Teaching, 44(4), 412-446.

Norton, B. (2013). Identity and language learning: Extending the conversation. (2nd ed.). Bristol:

Multilingual Matters. Norton, B. & De Costa, P. I. (2018). Thinking Allowed: Research tasks on identity in language learning and teaching. Language Teaching, 51(1), 90-112.



Culture Shock


On a blissful spring morning,
when I wedded this sweetie, then twenty and flirting,
I was blessed by the birds with their melodious chirping
and a ‘host of flowers’ still blooming.

On a sizzling summer day noon,
I saw a spooky snake chase a house rat in a cartoon,
and harsh stifling wind topple a sand castle down,
and the tigress standing, wearing a fierce frown.

On a dismal autumnal evening,
when grey leaves were fluttering down, while grieving,
and rosy dusk was cheering the tired sun declining,
I saw her at the door-step cheerfully waiting.

In this chilly, intense winter night,
I saw a geckos’ fight, then their flight through dimmed light,
and suddenly stop, entangle and roll in a bundle too tight,
and felt her hand meet mine and vow never to be apart.

Comment: Through the central image of marriage, and other images, I attempted to discuss the four stages of culture shock: honeymoon, frustration, adjustment and acceptance, that any individual would experience when living in a new land.

Photo: Pixabay



If you met with a sphynx
very, very weird
with a so weird, riddle,
would you take some trouble
and make a silly attempt?

I met such a sphynx
very, very weird
with a very weird riddle,
“Is it by birth or by deed
that one becomes rich or poor?”

A wise man has said,
“one doesn’t become
an outcast or a highcaste
merely by his birth,
but by his deeds”.

Yet, the world has divided
into polar opposites:
the rich vs the poor,
and us versus them.
Is it their birth or deeds
that make them so different?

This is the weird riddle
ze needs our help to resolve.

Photo: Pixabay

Blue Wood


We went into a wood,
a dark, deep wood,
having had a task,
a collaborative task
to wear colored glasses,
blue and green glasses,
and honestly describe
and then clearly scribe
what we, we two saw,
in this dark, wild wood.

He saw everything blue
especially, the sky blue;
I saw only dark green,
green trees, void green,
an endless stretch of green.
A heated verbal conflict
led to a physical conflict,
and I saw everything blue,
yet the bump on my eyelid
made everything blurred.

Photo: Pixabay



Conflict is not a monster that sets us apart;
conflict is but a benefactor disguised so smart.

No conflict, no drama; no drama, no conflict.
Can the action move forward, with no conflict,
from exposition to resolution, through climax,
or the hero become at least a little more complex?

Had those feudal serfs not challenged the gentry,
and you wouldn’t bravely challenge your spouse,
wouldn’t mansions still suffer without our entry;
would there be suspense for the mice in your house?

If everyone says, ‘Yes’ and no one says, ‘No’,
if everyone begins to love and no one hates,
then everything will just halt or leisurely flow;
will you then see different colors, shapes or states?

Without a friendly conflict between bow and string,
if you shoot in haste, without holding it in leisure
and gently releasing it, will it to its target fling
and you get any treasure or simply any pleasure?

Photo: Pixabay

Mother Love


She ran; madly she ran,
asking for mustard seeds,
only some, a little,
a handful of mustard seeds
to cure her son.

She ran; madly she ran
from one house to another,
where none had ever died,
asking for mustard seeds,
from a family of immortals.
“She is mad; her endeavor is mad;
it’s as futile as that squirrel mother’s act,”
onlookers thought; none spoke,
but she ran; madly she ran.

She started at dawn
when dew was glistening,
and bubbles were dancing
to the tune of oil lamps.
She ran; madly she ran,
passing the dying buds and roses,
burnt by the scorching sun,
but still she ran; madly she ran.

She ran; madly she ran,
with no food, with no drink,
with disheveled hair, loosened clothes,
while tears of blood were pouring
from her aching, motherly breasts.
She ran; still she ran, madly she ran.
“Sister, your run is mad;
we are mortals but not immortals,”
they said, but she ran; madly she ran.

She ran; faster she ran;
madly she ran,
until the sun died,
the life giver and killer died,
and till houses and trees wore
black veils to mourn for his death,
she ran, madly she ran.

Suddenly, her tears stopped;
she stopped, but with her son,
the lifeless flower,
still in her arms.

Sketch by Sachin Ranaweera

Let me sing my natural song


Lend me thy ears;
have mercy on my tears.
I’m a lonely old bird,
now in a cage,
a beautiful cage, made of pure gold
with so many doors, all but closed.

It’s true that I am singing,
but it’s the song
you want me to sing;
it’s not but my natural song,
the late autumnal song, the swan song.

Now my shrill whistle
may make your heart blissful,
and you may sigh a sigh
of love and of relief,
but I sigh a deep sigh,
a sigh of regret and of burden
because I cannot sing
my natural song.

You have hung the Nobel bell,
the bell of peace
around my tiny neck,
but I cannot ‘mew’
or wag my tail as does a kitten
because I’m a bird
who likes to sing
his natural song.

These golden plates,
golden spoons, golden beds
or your ball dances,
you dance for my pleasure,
cannot make me happy
for I have no appetite for any.

Without the freedom of heart
to sing my natural song
that springs form the depth of my heart
all those pleasures aren’t worth a penny.

Photo: Pixabay



I know this is gonna lie

motionless, emotionless, lifeless,

may be today, tomorrow or at any time,

while working, while walking or talking,

when its corroded, eroded rustic machine,

lacking supply of red oil, a block of its entangled wires,

cries louder: click – clock, click – clock, click-clock, click…

and suddenly, too suddenly, without letting anyone know,


Photo: Pixabay

A Poetic Debate

compare-643305_960_720A debate between two Williams
the Topic was old realism
the place I can’t remember
but there were three members
Williams stood for each hemisphere
Having great records as a spellbinder
and knowing the art of ending walls
Dionysus stood for both poles
In the old one
he gave one
more chances
but had no chances
this time, for such monkey dances

You oft escaped into unspoiled villages
and wrapped damsels in fancy images
You wandered only in corrupt places
and drew images of weary faces

You drew children as innocent flowers
and danced with them for many hours
Your children suffered from deficiencies
men were venomous as poisoned trees

You were so ensnared by all those -isms
You mean humanism criticism or tourism
Nay feminism and all those notorious -isms
Sure however except elitism and escapism

Stop your whining I love you both alike
you draw images as godlike or ghostlike
based on what you’ve seen how you view
your stances you need to view and review

Cuckoo Chick Little


A cuckoo chick little, cute very little
awoke from a dream, but not very peaceful.
He shivered in fear recalling the warning
by mother crow kind about his shrill cuckooing.
She promised him that the training of his voice
would make him caw, and he would feel rejoice.
Fear of torture made him try a silly attempt
not knowing that it would make him just repent.
A herald’s call of caw for a sudden attack
kept war heroes ready without any setback.
This tempted cuckoo chick, to try a sudden flight;
the rest I can’t say because it’s a sorry sight.

Drawing by Sachith Ranaweera