Exploring Motivation for Learning Japanese as a Foreign Language

2019-05-15T19:03:17Z (GMT) by Akari Osumi
Motivation always attracts language teachers’ attention as one of the most significant factors for second language learning. In the past decades, motivational studies have experienced transitions and developments, and various studies investigated language learning motivation. (Dörnyei and Ryan, 2015) However, those motivational studies indicate that research outcomes vary depending on languages, contexts, and individuals, and understanding L2 learning motivation requires investigations at the local level.<div>This study examined the motivation of Japanese learners at a large state university in the Midwestern United States by asking them to respond to an online survey with eleven motivational factors that include the L2 Motivational Self System (Dörnyei, 2005, 2009) and the anti-ought-to L2 self (Thompson & Vásquez, 2015). <div>The main findings are as follows. First, attitude towards leaning Japanese, classroom support, the ideal L2 self, and the anti-ought-to L2 self had significant relationships with students’ intended effort. Second, rather than how long/in which course students study, why/for what they are learning Japanese makes the most significant differences in their motivation. Third, the ought-to L2 self might not be the best motivational factor for learning Japanese since characteristics of Japanese are different from those of English, which is widely used around the world. Fourth, interest in Japanese anime, manga, and games did not correlate with participants’ ideal L2 self and intended effort although interest in the other cultural items showed moderate correlations with those factors. Fifth, the longer/higher-level their learning experience became, the less interest participants showed in Japanese anime, manga, and pop culture, indicating that their interest in these cultural aspects began to vary and shifted to the other aspects of Japanese culture. </div><div>The main pedagogical implications suggested by the study are that there is a need to help students to set realistic goals and visualize future self-image with the Japanese language so that they can continue learning regardless of the course level or length of study, and teachers should consider at which stages their students are, and on the basis of that, decide how much anime and manga to incorporate into their lessons.</div></div>