Attitudes to and motivation for learning English in Japan
The aim of this research is to determine Japanese first-year university students’ attitudes to and motivation for learning English. A successful English-language education system is crucial for Japan, under great pressure to internationalise during her most prolonged recession ever. To help make the education system successful, knowledge of learners’ attitudes and motivation is essential. Chapter 1 discusses Japan as a stage for English-language education. Japan is identified as uniquely homogenous and insular. Internationalisation of industry and a drop in the college-age population forcing universities to compete for students are identified as recent phenomena driving reform in the English-language education system. Chapter 2 describes the roughly 130-year history of Japanese English-language education from first contact to the present day. Changes in the English-language education policies of successive Japanese governments are discussed through examination of the Ministry of Education ‘Course of Study’ guidelines. Chapter 3 surveys the theoretical literature on attitudes and motivation in foreign and second language learning. Significant and relevant empirical research from Japan and other countries is reviewed. Chapter 4 determines an approach to the main research question through a number of subsidiary questions, using the theoretical framework from Chapter 3. A detailed research design (methods, schedule, and data collection procedures) is drawn up and discussed. Chapter 5 presents and analyses the findings of the two questionnaires which form the main data collection method. The computer program SPSS is used in analysis. Chapter 6 presents and analyses the findings of the two group interviews and two individual interviews by categorising and descriptive explanation. Chapter 7, the final chapter, reviews the research process and answers the subsidiary and main research questions. Key themes are that Japanese students are highly motivated to learn English for communication, and that the English classes currently offered at universities do not meet the demands of Japanese students. These answers and themes are used as the basis for some recommendations for English-language education in Japan.