Abstract In Spain more than forty per cent of the population lives in officially bilingual regions in which the minority language is used as a means of instruction at school and university. In addition, the increasing importance attached to learning English has led to the proliferation of multilingual school programs in which different languages are used to teach content. With this background in mind, in this article students’ motivation to learn Spanish, minority languages (Basque, Catalan or Galician), and English (as the predominant foreign language) will be analysed. Since the percentage of immigrant students has steadily increased in the last two decades, special attention will also be paid to how they react to the multilingualism they have to face in the education system. The review of the literature will critically discuss the impact of global English on motivation to learn the other languages in contact and will examine the adequacy of current research approaches with a view to developing an agenda for further research needed.