This paper presents some preliminary findings of an on-going longitudinal study of initial motivation and motivation maintenance in beginner distance adult learners of Spanish in the UK. Adapting a framework of executive motivational influences developed in the context of classroom teaching (Dörnyei, 2001a) to the distance learning process, data was obtained from questionnaires and follow-up interviews with a sample of questionnaire respondents. This paper explores meaningful descriptors of the most prevalent types of motivation found within this group. Drawing primarily on the interview data, it also presents early steps towards learner autonomy taken by these learners based on their own perceptions, and highlights the predominance of metacognitive over other strategies at this stage in their learning. Finally it analyses some of the motivational influences of tutors and of other learners, and their roles in supporting and affirming the learning endeavour, and indicates areas for follow-up research with beginner distance language learners within this study
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