Understanding the self: a review of Dörnyei’s Second Language Motivation Self System and its relevance in explaining motivation of the Zimbabwean foreign language learner
There are two main objectives that this study seeks to address simultaneously; to discuss the concept of self system as explained by Zoltán Dörnyei and to establish its relevance in explaining foreign language motivation in Zimbabwe. Basing mainly on recent empirical investigations done by Ndhlovu (in press) and Mkhize and Chisoni (2015), this study will also review Dörnyei’s L2 motivation self system model in its application to FLLcontexts with Zimbabwe being an example. The view expressed in this study is that although the model’s contribution in the L2/FL motivation discourse is unequivocally significant, it does not do justice to the understanding of the FL self system and its development especially in FLL contexts such as the Zimbabwean FLL setting. The model does not have a unitary significance since it seems to ignore social factors that are crucial in determining the nature of the FL self in most FL contexts such as Zimbabwe. In this study, these factors are known as the determinants and include factors such as cultural factors, lack of policy frameworks, FLL support and career opportunities among others. The understanding is that the impact of these determinants upon the former and present selves (positive or negative) not only determines the nature of the future self but also the amount of motivation that will determine both the learner's performance and continuity of learning the foreign language. The study then proceeds to offer suggestions or amendments that can be made to the model in an attempt to increase its significance to cover foreign language learning contexts such as Zimbabwe. The integration of these factors is demonstrated in a proposed new model entitled the L2/FL situational Self model of motivation. While avoiding to completely dismiss the concept of motivation, this model, just like Norton’s (2000/2013) concept of investment, seeks to incorporate socio cultural factors that determine the construction of the foreign language self.
 In this study, FL stands for Foreign Language while FLL stands for Foreign Language Learning. SL stands for Second language or L2, while SLL stands for Second Language Learning.