Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Varying Motivation towards Putonghua, English and a Third Language among Hong Kong Tertiary Students

Gillian M. Humphreys, Mary Spratt.

This paper will report on a large-scale study carried out in Hong Kong on tertiary students' motivation towards the learning of different foreign languages. Following on from Dornyei and Csizer's work on varying motivation towards different foreign languages among Hungarian school children, this study aimed at examining possible varying motivation among Hong Kong tertiary students towards Putonghua, English and a third language.

The survey involved a population of 450 students from three Hong Kong universities. The respondents were all studying English and Putonghua as compulsory languages, and a group of them were also studying a third language (either French, German or Japanese) of choice. The study used an amended version of Dornyei and Csizer's questionnaire, as well as asking students to provide similes to describe their experience of learning the various languages. Follow-up interviews were also conducted.

The results reveal quite distinct patterns of motivation towards each of the three languages. The paper will describe these patterns, discuss the variables underlying them, possible causes within the sociolinguistic context of Hong Kong, and possible pedagogic implications. It will also highlight similarities and differences between the findings of this study and Dornyei and Csizer's in a bid to contribute to the debate on models of motivation for L2 learning.


Gillian M. Humphreys  (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China)
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Gillian Humphreys has a BA in German, an MA in English Language Teaching and a PhD in German Literature. She now works the Hong Kong Polytechnic University but has also taught and studied in Germany and the United States. Her current research interests are in language attitudes and motivation.

Mary Spratt  (United Kingdom)

  • Motivation
  • Language Attitudes
  • Hong Kong Tertiary students

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)