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Applied Linguistics Review

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EFL motivation development in an increasingly globalized local context: A longitudinal study of Chinese undergraduates

Yihong Gao / Xiaoying Wang / Yan Zhou
Published Online: 2014-04-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2014-0004


As part of a larger longitudinal study, this paper examines the development of Chinese students' EFL learning motivation throughout university undergraduate study, in an increasingly globalized local context. The study adopted a social constructivist perspective of language learning and combined research methods; the participants were over 1,000 undergraduates from 5 universities. The quantitative data were collected through a questionnaire (based on Gao et al. 2004) including motivational intensity and motivation types – instrumental, cultural, and situational, implemented annually from university entrance to graduation. The qualitative data consisted of individual and group interviews, student journals, and observations. Integrated data analysis revealed that sustained high-level long-term instrumental motivations coexisted with an increase of L2- oriented cultural motivations and situational motivation, particularly in the first and fourth year. The increased L2-oriented cultural motivations indicated neither ``ntegrativeness'' in the sense of becoming a member of the native English speaker community, nor a culturally neutral ``global identity.'' The increase of such L2- oriented cultural motivations was also accompanied by a sustained ``social responsibility'' motivation oriented to learners' home culture. Such complexities of motivational development call for further investigation in increasingly globalized EFL contexts.

Keywords: EFL; learning motivation; globalization; longitudinal study; Chinese students

About the article

Yihong Gao

Gao Yihong is Professor of Linguistics and Director of Research Institute of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, School of Foreign Languages, Peking University. Currently she serves as vice president of China English Language Education Association. Her major research interest lies in the social psychology and sociocultural contexts of English language learning and teaching.

Xiaoying Wang

Wang Xiaoying is Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics, School of English and International Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University. Her major research interests are language assessment, L2 motivation, and classroom research.

Yan Zhou

Zhou Yan is Professor of English and a Research Fellow at the National Research Centre for Foreign Language Education based at Beijing Foreign Studies University in China. Her research interest includes language teaching and learning, teacher education and professional development, and language education in the EFL context.

Published Online: 2014-04-11

Published in Print: 2014-04-01

Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 73–97, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2014-0004.

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