Complicated answer and to be honest, I think it's impossible for me to tease out which factor motivated me than the other two. I grew up in San Diego, - place with rich context and obvious application for learning the language. Mexican culture was a strong draw for me. I first wanted to learn German and tried to teach myself with a little phrase book when I was about 10. There was already a strong interest in language burgeoning in me. Then
I was good at Spanish in high school, and kept studying it, and I went to Spain, and wanted to get back and speak beautiful Spanish more than almost anything. A genuine passion for language has always driven me.
I grew up in a Midwestern town in Oklahoma. I didn't fit in so a lot of alone time. What drew me to French was the culture especially in painting. I started French in 9th grade. After 3 years of French, I took Spanish my senior year. In college, I had a minor in French but also took German for 2 years. I lived in Korea for 3 years and learned how to write and very basic phrases. I was working so much I didn't have time to study the language. The culture so often defines the language and the more interest you show by learning the language, the more opportunities open up. This aspect is especially true for the students today.
The only reason that I decided to major in Spanish (other than the fact that I was interested in it and was good at it) was so I could study abroad. So purpose- but a different purpose! Pretty much my purpose was get me to Spain!
I moved to South America and attended school. All instruction was in foreign language. My mother is from there, and I had been going back and forth from US. My BIC language was pretty strong as my grandparents never spoke English. But to do instruction I needed to learn CALP language.
I was a Rotary Youth Ambassador to Sweden during my Jr year of high school in the early 1980s. My host family spoke limited English, and most of my other interactions with Swedes required speaking Swedish. So there was clear purpose to learning; and as it got easier, I was closter to controlling my experiences in learning. I wound up majoring in Swedish in college and continuing into grad school for the same.
Although autonomy is now what continues to drive me to learn I am already a competent user of French (I have a degree in it) and in the earlier days of learning it was more about interaction with others and wanting to master the skill.
- I wanted to know Spanish to do nonprofit volunteer work.
- Spanish tapped into a deep and inexplicable region of joy in me.
- I was a "vocab nerd" in English, so Spanish gave a way to keep challenging myself linguistically.
- Spanish gave me a cultural perspective on the world that I couldn't get in English.
- I felt I was good at it.
In depths of Soviet Union, I was lucky to have started my journey in English at the age of 8. By the time I was a teen, I realized that I could function in the language (despite non-proficiency teaching, I must say).
Studying French in college with a career in mind, I already had a drive that put me in charge of my own success.