Academic journal article International Education Studies

Foreign Language Learners' Motivation and Its Effects on Their Achievement: Implications for Effective Teaching of Students Studying Japanese at Universiti Brunei Darussalam

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Foreign Language Learners' Motivation and Its Effects on Their Achievement: Implications for Effective Teaching of Students Studying Japanese at Universiti Brunei Darussalam

Article excerpt

Abstract

An increasing number of students at the University of Brunei Darussalam are studying the Japanese language. However, research on the relationship between learners' motivation and their achievement has not been given sufficient attention in Japanese foreign language education compared to English in Brunei. The present study, which utilized a quantitative survey, attempted to address this information gap. Based on the Brunei university student sample, five main motivational factors were extracted by factor analysis, namely: (1) Interest in Japanese pop culture and traditional culture; (2) Interest in Japanese language orientation; (3) Understanding Japanese people and society orientation; (4) Career use of Japanese language orientation; and (5) Self-satisfaction orientation. Participants differed significantly in their Japanese language learning motivation by gender and age. Male students were more driven to study Japanese language by Factor 1-Interest in Japanese pop culture and traditional culture orientation while females were inspired mostly by Factor 5-Self-satisfaction Orientation. In addition, students placed in the oldest age-group category (24-27) scored significantly higher on Factor 3-Understanding Japanese people and society orientation, than members of the other two age-groups. Based on these findings, nine recommendations were made to improve the teaching and learning of Japanese language at the university. Further mixed-methods research was also recommended to gain additional insights.

Keywords: Japanese language, factor analysis, motivation, foreign students, teaching, learning, achievement

1. Introduction

Human behaviour is always generated by either an inner force commonly known as internal motivation or an outside force referred to as external motivation. Nobody knows exactly what "motivation" is since it is a psychological construct that cannot be seen, touched and felt. Despite this, the concept of motivation is observable thorough peoples' behaviour in everyday life and psychologists have developed various procedures for assessing it. However, assessing motivation through observation is a tricky business that entails waiting long periods of time for natural instances of motivated behaviour to occur. This is due to human beings' tendency to conceal some types of motivations particularly negative ones. Thus the term motivation has been defined in many ways (Silva & Weinberg, 1984). One of the definitions describes motivation as an internal state that drives an organism to act in one way or another (Flanagan, 2000). According to Silva and Weinberg (1984), internal motivation has two distinct aspects: direction and intensity. These authors argue that the direction component of motivated behaviour indicates whether an individual approaches or avoids a particular situation while the intensity part refers to the degree of effort put forth to accomplish the behaviour. In this way, motivation can affect the selection, strength, and persistence of an individual's behaviour.

1.1 Classical Theories of Internal Motivation

A number of human behaviours have always attracted the attention of researchers. At a homicide crime scene, for example, people often try to determine: "what was the motive behind the murder? Several other questions can be asked. During war, for instance, what motivates soldiers in a risky and vulnerable environment to fight on? In sports, we usually wonder what urges players to persist in the game even when they are fully aware of being in the losing team. Similarly in education we may ask, "what motivates students to learn difficult subjects such as mathematics, engineering, and languages like Arabic, Chinese or Japanese that use complex symbols to read and write?". Research on motivation has led to the emergence of a number of theories that attempt to explain why people behave or avoid behaving in certain ways. Theories of motivation come under three broad categories: (1) physiological approaches e. …

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