Iraq-Iran War, POWs, POW Camps, English, EFL in Captivity, self-actualization, logotherapy.
During the Persian Gulf War of Iraq-Iran (1980-1988), thousands of Iranians were taken captive by Iraqi troops. These prisoners of war (POWs) had to find ways to enrich and fill their time in prison camps. Learning English was one such activity. This study was carried out to appraise the motivations of the Iranian POWs for learning English, and to understand more about their textbooks, their classroom environment, the teaching methods and techniques employed, the skills emphasized, the teaching aids improvised, the types of exercises mobilized, as well as the test-taking techniques adopted. A relevant corpus of 21 memoirs and 7 interviews with Iranian ex-POWs were analyzed. The research draws upon Maslow’s (1970) “self-actualization” and Frankl’s (1984) “logotherapy” to shed light on the existential aspect of learning. Findings revealed that for these EFL learners, learning English was an attempt to fulfill their potential and/or to make life more meaningful.
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