Motivation of UK school pupils towards foreign languages: a large-scale survey at Key Stage 3

Coleman, James A.; Galaczi, Á. and Astruc, L. (2007). Motivation of UK school pupils towards foreign languages: a large-scale survey at Key Stage 3. Language Learning Journal, 35(2) pp. 245–280.



Motivation is one of the most significant predictors of success in foreign language learning. While individual and governmental commitment to the learning of foreign languages is growing throughout most of Europe and across the globe, it is stuttering in the United Kingdom. An entitlement to language learning in primary school is not yet fully in place, whilst the removal of language from the core curriculum at Key Stage 4 (ages 14 to 16) has led to a dramatic fall in numbers of language learners. Among national initiatives seeking to enhance learners’ interest in languages among school pupils are Specialist Language Colleges and the Languages Ladder. The latter, by certifying achievement through its associated accreditation scheme Asset Languages, seeks to engender a sense of success and motivate continuation of language study. This article reports on a study conducted in 2005-06 of the language learning motivation of over ten thousand school pupils at Key Stage 3 – the only group currently obliged to study a foreign language. The study analyses the nature of learner motivation and its relationship with gender, level of study (Years 7, 8 and 9) and type of school, and thus provides evidence for possible measures to increase numbers of teenagers studying a foreign language, and a baseline against which the success of policy initiatives can be measured in the future.

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