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Mind Your Language: Exploring Students' Motivations Concerning Elective Second Language Learning

posted on 2023-05-22, 16:56 authored by Stephanie RicheyStephanie Richey, David MoltowDavid Moltow

(LOTE) in schools is again becoming an increasingly valued feature of education curricula throughout Australia (Lo Bianco, 2009), and recognises the importance of introducing languages at an early age to ensure that students are able to "effectively participate in a globalised world" (Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, cited in Group of Eight [Go8], 2007, p. 3). The study of languages is stated as a key area in the Australian Curriculum with the rationale that it is “a core component of the educational experience of all Australian students” (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2009, p. 3).

Despite the scholarly recognition of its value, Australia’s languages education is reportedly struggling due to neglect and inaction (Clyne, Pauwels, & Sussex, 2007). Recent research indicates steady decreases in the number of languages offered for study and the number of students who choose to enrol in language classes (Go8, 2007). The initial attrition rate from Year 8 to 9 is the largest and student enrolments continue to decline through to Year 12, with the percentage of students graduating with a second language falling from forty per cent in the 1960s to thirteen per cent in the late 2000s (Baldauf & Lawrence, 1990; Go8, 2007). All of the past language policies have failed to reach their stated goals, leading to Lo Bianco (2009) explaining that "Australia has an impressive record of policy development and program innovation in second language education, but a relatively poor record for consistency of application and maintenance of effort" (p. 6).

These issues became the initial basis for my interest in researching second language motivation, and the specific purpose of a Bachelor of Education Honours project undertaken in 2011 was to explore students’ motivations for learning a second language as an elective subject in senior secondary school (Clayton, 2011). This interest led to the commencement of my Doctor of Philosophy in 2013, and this chapter outlines how my Honours study has informed and shaped my current Doctoral studies along with the application of a new theoretical framework by Zoltán Dörnyei (2005), the L2 Motivational Self System. This chapter begins with a brief review of the literature outlining the history of L2 motivational research. The Honours study is then detailed, with a summary of the findings, followed by the proposal of the current Doctorate study. While no data has yet been collected, this proposal describes the future of educational research in the second language learning field, and as such fits the theme "where next?" upon which this book is based.


Publication title

What is Next in Educational Research?


S Fan, J Fielding-Wells






Faculty of Education


Sense Publishers

Place of publication

The Netherlands



Rights statement

Copyright 2016 Sense Publishers

Repository Status

  • Restricted

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