Understanding the motivations of fluent speakers in beginner-level foreign language classrooms: A Hong Kong study

Kazuyuki NOMURA, Shin KATAOKA, Takako MOCHIZUKI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Fluent speakers of a target language choosing to enrol in beginner-level courses at tertiary institutes could be considered unfair. In this paper, however, based on data obtained from in-depth qualitative interviews with 12 students at a Hong Kong university, we show that fluent speakers of Japanese – a widely-spoken foreign language in Hong Kong – were motivated to engage in learning activities during beginner Japanese lessons, as those lessons constituted 'safe houses' in which the participants shaped subversive identities against the perceived institutional dominance (GPA-oriented system) of the university and negotiated security. Our key findings related to the participants' L2 motivations are three-fold. First, perceived ease pertained to the participants' motivations to enrol in the course. Second, the participants were motivated to 'outsmart' the university's dominant GPA-oriented system and 'cash in' their accumulated effort to achieve fluency in Japanese, 'converting' it into good grades. Third, the participants showed motivation because they believed beginning Japanese lessons to be sites in which they could feel secure, due to being able to speak Japanese and extend their Japanese-related social networks. This paper concludes with implications for L2 motivation research and suggestions for language teachers who are faced with such fluent speakers in beginner-level language classrooms. Copyright © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-632
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Volume40
Issue number7
Early online dateFeb 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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foreign language
Hong Kong
classroom
language
motivation research
university
spoken language
qualitative interview
social network
teacher
learning
Group
student

Bibliographical note

Nomura, K., Kataoka, S., & Mochizuki, T. (2019). Understanding the motivations of fluent speakers in beginner-level foreign language classrooms: A Hong Kong study. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 40(7), 618-632. doi: 10.1080/01434632.2019.1571068

Keywords

  • L2 motivation
  • Beginner language course
  • Fluent speaker
  • Pedagogical safe house
  • Subversive identity
  • Japanese