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A study of the motivation of adult learners who learn Chinese as a foreign language in the UK

WANG, C. (2023) A study of the motivation of adult learners who learn Chinese as a foreign language in the UK. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00112916


L2 motivation is an important factor in second language acquisition. The study of CFL (Chinese as a Foreign Language) motivation is significant for students, teachers and institutions alike, as drop-out rates within this group are high and a cause for concern. However, to date, little attention has been devoted to studying the motivation of adult HE (Higher Education) and FE (Further Education) learners on additional courses in the UK. This study aims to understand the nature of CFL motivation, its dynamic fluctuation and the possible reasons that lead to demotivation by identifying CFL motivation factors. Moreover, the study explores the changes to motivation over time, the reasons for such changes, and the relationship between motivational factors identified by individuals and their classroom experiences. Through questionnaires, interviews and classroom observations, both cross-sectional and longitudinal, quantitative and qualitative data have been collected. This research also interviewed Chinese teachers in the UK regarding their understanding of students’ motivations and the motivational teaching strategies that they employ. Learners in this study also provided their views on motivational teaching practices and the learning strategies which they adopt to generate and maintain their motivation outside of the classroom. This study described the profile of learners with initial motivation for CFL as cosmopolitans who have an appreciation of diverse cultures and positive attitudes towards Chinese culture. The study found that CFL motivation is circular in nature and can be conceived of as “interest in learning – positive attitude – motivation – positive learning experience – interest in learning” and “supportive teacher/sympathetic approach – motivation – supportive teacher/sympathetic approach – motivation”. A seven-factor CFL framework has been constructed. This comprises “Perceived Value”, “Attitude”, “Teaching Support”, “Confidence”, “Cultural Engagement”, “Intention”, and “Milieu”. Among these seven v factors, “Perceived Value” has been identified as the dominant component. Self-efficacy, self-determination and self-regulation abilities can also be seen as significant CFL motivation components. Furthermore, this study also found a significant positive correlation between teachers’ motivational strategies in the classroom and students’ motivational strengths, and that teacher behaviour might cause fluctuations in students’ motivation. Indeed, pedagogy was found to be a key factor in influencing learner motivation, together with individual and social factors that may contribute to demotivation in CFL learning. When exploring motivational strategies, teachers’ empathy and learner autonomy emerged as two important dimensions. In summary, this study addresses the theoretical gaps in the field of motivation research for adult CFL learners in the UK. In addition, the research into demotivation and motivational strategies of this study’s participants provides other perspectives to understand this motivation. This study also offers suggestions for improving the motivation levels of CFL learners in post-compulsory education in the UK. These suggestions are relevant for learners, classroom practices and educational institutions.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Graham, S.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:112916


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