'French is the Language of Love and Stuff': student perceptions of issues related to motivation in learning a foreign language

Burden, Robert; Williams, Marion and Lanvers, Ursula (2002). 'French is the Language of Love and Stuff': student perceptions of issues related to motivation in learning a foreign language. British Educational Research Journal, 28(4) pp. 503–528.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0141192022000005805

Abstract

This article reports on an investigation into the motivation of secondary school students in the South-west of England to learn foreign languages. A questionnaire was constructed based on a model derived from the motivation literature to examine students' responses on 16 constructs related to motivation. This was administered to 228 students in years 7, 8 and 9. The analysis revealed a decrease in motivation with age, and higher level of motivation among girls than boys. It also revealed a strikingly higher motivation to learn German than French, which was even more marked when the boys onl1, were considered. These findings were further investigated using interviews. Both girls and boys were able to provide clear explanations for differences between the genders, as well as for the language differences. These included such aspects as French being considered feminine, it not being `cool' for boys to be seen to make an effort at French, and the tendency for boys not to try at anything that appears to be tedious.

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