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Motivational trajectories for early language learning across the primary-secondary school transition

Graham, S. ORCID:, Courtney, L., Tonkyn, A. and Marinis, T. (2016) Motivational trajectories for early language learning across the primary-secondary school transition. British Educational Research Journal, 42 (4). pp. 682-702. ISSN 1469-3518

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/berj.3230


The transition from primary to secondary school is an area of concern across a range of curriculum subjects, and this is no less so for foreign language learning. Indeed problems with transition have been identified in England as an important barrier to the introduction of language learning to the primary school curriculum, with implications for learners’ longer-term motivation for the subject. This longitudinal study investigated, through a questionnaire, the development of 233 learners’ motivation for learning French in England, during the transition from primary to secondary schooling. It also explored whether levels and patterns of motivation differed according to the type of language teaching experienced, comparing a largely oracy-focused approach with one with greater emphasis on literacy activities. Learners showed high and increasing levels of motivation across transition, placing particular value on learning French for travel. Being taught through an oracy or a literacy-focused approach had less impact on learners’ motivation than broader classroom experiences, with the development of a sense of progress and feeling that instruction met their learning needs being especially important. A growing disjuncture emerged between valuing the learning of French for travel/communication and learners’ low levels of self-efficacy for communication with native speakers, together with a desire for more communication-based activities. By the end of the first year of secondary school less positive attitudes towards learning French and less optimism about the possibility of future progress were beginning to emerge. The paper concludes by outlining the implications of the study for classroom practice in language learning.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Language and Literacy in Education
Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
ID Code:50473
Uncontrolled Keywords:transition; motivation; self-efficacy; early language learning


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