Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

James R. Bliss

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Second Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Third Advisor

Jose Varela-Ibarra

Department Affiliation

Languages, Cultures, and Humanities

Abstract

This study examines the Eastern Kentucky University students’ current characteristics, purposes, and expectations for learning Japanese and/or Spanish language. A survey was conducted to collect data on EKU students’ demographics, as well as motivations and foreign language learning beliefs. Two hundred thirty eight students completed the questionnaire that includes a modified version of Horwitz’s (1988) “Beliefs about Language Learning Inventory” (BALLI). Descriptive statistics including means, standard deviations, and frequencies were utilized to analyze the BALLI items. Results indicated that EKU students’ demographics are diverse. Students in Japanese and Spanish language classes differed primarily in their language beliefs related to their motivations for studying their target language. While Japanese learners showed both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, Spanish learners leaned more toward extrinsic motivations. The statistical analysis of their responses revealed some interesting differences. Japanese learners expressed more confidence in their ability to learn the language and to interact with native speakers. This study also revealed that students of Japanese language demonstrated stronger belief in the contribution of knowing the relevant aspects of Japanese culture to their language learning experience.

Understanding students’ characteristics and behavior and identifying the factors that motivate them to learn can have a major impact on student recruitment and retention, the development of curriculum for instruction, and eventually, student success. Ultimately, findings of this study proposed several administrative advice and pedagogical recommendations for further development of both the Japanese and Spanish language programs at Eastern Kentucky University.

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