Academic journal article College Student Journal

Motivation, Motivation Intensity, Use of Chinese and Self-Rated Chinese Competence

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Motivation, Motivation Intensity, Use of Chinese and Self-Rated Chinese Competence

Article excerpt

Introduction

As an important affective variable, motivation has been extensively researched in second/foreign language (SL/FL) learning (Crookes & Schmidt, 1991; Dornyei, 2005; Liu & Zhang, 2013; Spolsky, 2000; Wesely, 2009; Yamashita, 2015). These studies have revealed that motivation plays an important role in SL/FL learning and that motivation is closely related to motivational intensity but higher motivation does not necessarily mean greater motivation intensity. In addition, though the initial motivation theory proposed by Gardner and his associates (Gardner & Lambert, 1972; Gardner, 1985; Tremblay & Gardner, 1995) was based on research in second language acquisition (SLA) contexts where the target language (TL) was mastered either through direct exposure to it or through formal instruction accompanied by frequent interaction with native speakers of the TL, motivation of learners studying in the native language speaking environment such as study abroad (SA) contexts has not been so much studied, especially for learners of SLs/FLs other than English (Hernandez, 2010b; Martinsen, 2008).

Meanwhile, it is generally endorsed that SA provides a rich context for learners to have the maximum exposure and access to the TL to improve their competence in the TL (DeKeyser, 2007; Magnan & Back, 2007; Perez-Vidal & Juan-Garau, 2011). Nevertheless, not much research has been conducted on the relationship between language contact and motivation and their roles in competence of the TL in SA contexts (Dewaele & Regan, 2002; Hernandez, 2010b; Martinsen, 2008). This is exactly the focus of the present research, which examined the associations between motivation, motivation intensity, use of Chinese outside of class and self-rated Chinese competence of international students studying in a Chinese university in Beijing.

Literature Review

Motivation

As an important affective variable, motivation has been extensively researched in SL/FL learning (Crookes & Schmidt, 1991; Dornyei, 1994, 2005; Liu & Zhang, 2013; Spolsky, 2000; Ushioda, 2011; Wesely, 2009; Yamashita, 2015). Based on research in SLA contexts where the TL was mastered either through direct exposure to it or through formal instruction accompanied by frequent interaction with native speakers of the TL, Gardner and Lambert (1972) formulated their psychological theory on motivation. They (1972) believed that a student's motivation to learn a SL was determined by both his/her attitudes and the type of orientation he/she had toward learning the language. They also made a distinction between integrative motivation and instrumental motivation. Gardner (1985; Tremblay & Gardner, 1995) extended the theory to be a socio-educational model of motivation, which hypothesized that a student's level of motivation was influenced by his/her attitudes towards the specific language community and the learning context. According to this model, motivation involved "three components, attitudes toward learning the second language, desire to learn the langue, and effort expended in learning the langue" (Gardner, Lalonde & Pierson, 1983, p.2).

Subsequent research has found that integrative and instrumental motivation are not opposite ends of a continuum but are positively related, that better achievements in a SL/FL can also lead to higher motivation, and that SL/FL learning goals can break up into different orientation clusters (Dornyei, 1994; Tremblay & Gardner, 1995; Ushioda, 1993). Thus more motivation theories have been proposed (Crookes & Schmidt, 1991; Dornyei, 1994, 2005). Even so, the concepts of integrative and instrumental motivation are widely accepted and studied in various SL/FL contexts (Allen, 2010; Belmechri & Hummel, 1998; Liu & Zhang, 2013; Wesely, 2009; Yamashita, 2015; Zhao & Li, 2014). For example, Wesely's (2009) mixed-method study of young learners showed that students were both integratively and instrumentally motivated to study the TL and that relationships with teachers and peers were influential factors in shaping their motivation. …

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