This purpose of this study is to investigate the different social and cultural factors related to Japanese university students' motivation and attitudes towards speaking English outside the formal classroom environment. A self-constructed questionnaire was administrated to a group of third- and fourth-year undergraduate students in June 2012. These Japanese students were learning English as a foreign language, and they were all majoring in library and information science at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. The questionnaire asked a total number of 112 students across their proficiency levels, their preferences and attitudes towards speaking English, as well as their self-confidence in interacting with the native English speakers, based on their daily-life experiences. The survey results indicated that although many of them had learned English for minimum 8 years, a large number of them experienced anxiety and lacked the necessary self-confidence while speaking English outside the formal classroom environment. In fact, owing to their fear and lack of self-confidence, a majority of them tended to shy away from English-speaking situations, i.e., to avoid as much as possible to have any direct interactions with other English-speaking foreigners. This study also reflected that the student respondents in general had very limited exposure to English outside of the classroom. It was the unique cultural differences, as well as the other social predispositions that often resulted in these students' reluctance in using English more often for daily communication needs.
Patrick Lo, University of Tsukuba, Japan
Stream: Language Learning
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