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Young language learners' motivation in Japan

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Title:Young language learners' motivation in Japan
Authors:Yamauchi, Shiori
Date Issued:17 Apr 2020
Abstract:To facilitate motivation in young L2 learners, we must understand what motivates them and how their motivation varies (cf. Carreira, Ozaki & Maeda, 2013; Ryan & Deci, 2000; Djigunović, 2012). Young second language learners are often believed to be certain of success and thus their motivation (among other factors related to their learning or teaching) may be insufficiently investigated. But researchers and teachers rightly continue to probe the motivation of all L2 learners, and variation across individuals and groups (Bronson, 2000; Djigunović, 2012; Deci & Ryan, 2000). Researchers who study young language learners' motivation have identified various factors amongst them (Bronson, 2000, Carreira 2012, Djigunović, 2012, Nikolov, 1999). Bronson (2000), using the theoretical framework of self-regulation, claims that the learning environment greatly impacts young learners’ motivation. Similarly, Wu (2003) maintains that perceived competence, autonomy, and the classroom learning environment are strongly associated with intrinsic motivation in learning a second language. Also, Nikolov (2002) revealed that young language learners’ motivation results from their preceding classroom experiences as well as the impacts from their caregivers, namely, teachers, friends and family (see also Deci & Ryan 1985, 2000; Carreira, 2016; Nolen, Horn & Ward, 2015). In Japan, Carreira (2011; 2016) and Carreira, Ozaki and Maeda (2013) drew on Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) to explore public elementary school students’ motivation in learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL). Their research showed that age correlates with different types of motivations such as intrinsic and instrumental motivation. Not surprisingly, their learners were typical of young Japanese learners, in that they live in a mainly monolingual society with no likelihood of meaningful contact with English users, limited contact with a native speaker of English. However, despite appearances or popular opinion, Japan has some areas more diverse than others. Thus, it is possible to study the different motivational factors of young Japanese language learners who live within a monolingual community yet learn English at an international school. In this respect, probing young language learners' motivation in such a context may add new implications in the field of young language learners’ motivation. In the study to be reported here, I investigated the motivations of Japanese elementary school students studying English in an international school in Okinawa, Japan.
Pages/Duration:46 pages
Appears in Collections: MA and AGC Scholarly Papers

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