An Investigation of Attitudes and Motivation of College Efl Students in a Japanese University

Norman Fewell


The issue of student attitudes and motivation is considered a topic of substantial importance by scholars; particularly those involved in research concerning L2 acquisition. The study of attitudes and motivation has been a topic originating from psychology and more recently educational psychology. Its application in L2 learning is most significantly accredited to the early works of Gardener and Lambert (1959), but it has always been a topic of interest for L2 educators. Attitudes and motivation have been extremely influential factors that can have either positive or even negative effects for L2 learners. A great deal of research has attempted to identify influential sources but there has not been any one key factor that has cultivated motivation or attitudes but rather numerous external and internal variables. There is no identifiable universal formula to explain the effects of these variables but rather varying combinations of sources influencing attitudes and motivation to different degrees, depending on the surroundings and the group or individual in question. This topic is extremely complex and many unidentifiable or inconclusive findings continue to persist in current research. The causes of attitudes and motivation, the significance, and the influence exerted in the L2 learning environment shall be examined. In this paper, I shall identify and discuss a selection of research that has produced relevant findings, investigate a small sample of my own L2 learners, and attempt to relate current literature in providing an explanation of the findings. It should also be noted that the definitions of attitudes and motivation are nearly indistinguishable and much earlier research had identified both factors as identical in some cases as noted by Ellis (1985). It is hoped that this paper shall provide valuable information and insight that will assist and encourage educators of the importance of student attitudes and motivation and the underlying aspects that accompany it when applied to a L2 setting.

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