Motivations, beliefs, and Chinese language learning: a phenomenological study in a Canadian university
Internationally, more and more people are learning Chinese as a second or foreign language. Many studies (Gardner, 1958; Spolsky, 1969; Dörnyei, 1994; Oxford & Shearin, 1996; Williams & Burden, 1997) have shown that learning motivation plays an important role in language learning, while language belief (Horwitz, 1988) determines the strategies and efforts learners are going to put into language learning. Both motivation and belief are key factors in successful language learning. This research carried out an investigation of the phenomenon of Chinese language learning in the Canadian context. Through in-depth, open-ended individual interviews with six students who were learning Chinese in a Canadian university, the researcher intended to listen to their actual experiences of Chinese language learning in order to examine their motivations for learning this language and to describe their beliefs about this language. The results showed Chinese language learners had a variety of motivations to learn the Chinese language, from cultural interest, communication with native Chinese speakers, travel, friendship, to job opportunities. These motivations came from their real life experiences with the Chinese people around them. As for the Chinese language, not all students thought it was difficult. All participants in this study believed listening and speaking was more important than reading and writing. They adopted many learning strategies to learn Chinese. The implications for Chinese language instructors as to how to motivate students and for the Chinese language students motivating themselves were also discussed.
Motivations, Beliefs, Chinese Language Learning