A Comparative Study of Motivations in the Learning of East Asian Languages


Understanding learner motivations for studying a foreign language has long been recognized as an important factor in providing effective language instruction. In recent years, foreign language education has been devalued in higher education in the U.S., resulting in the removal of foreign language requirements or reduction of course offerings. In this context, understanding learner motivations for studying a foreign language is of great importance in building sustainable language programs. In December 2019, we conducted a survey involving 397 students at a private University in the U.S. to compare and contrast the needs, interests, attitudes, and opinions of the students of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Our research questions are as follows.
1. What are students' (primary) reasons for enrolling in 100 level courses?
2. What are students' (primary) reasons for continuing to study the language beyond 100 level courses?
3. What are students' (primary) reasons for not continuing to study the language?
The results reveal that the primary motivation for taking 100 level courses is degree requirements and/or General education requirements. However, the desire to become fluent in the target language becomes the primary reason for continuing learning the language. Our paper highlights the role undergraduate foreign language requirements and degree requirements play in students’ decisions to start learning East Asian languages. It also compares and contrasts their primary reasons for continuing learning and becoming fluent in East Asian languages. Finally, the paper discusses the pedagogical implications of the study and offers specific suggestions for teaching Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

Author Information
Hong Li, Emory University, United States
Mizuki Mazzotta, Emory University, United States
Sorin Huh, Emory University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ECLL2021
Stream: Psychology of the learner

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon