Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.763764
Title: Constructing L3 selves : a study of undergraduate learners' motivation to learn a third language in China
Author: Wang, Tianyi
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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Abstract:
This study conceptualises Chinese language-major undergraduates' motivation to learn a third language (L3) from a self perspective. Two overarching aims were adopted to guide the research: how learners' L3 motivation was formulated and reformulated over the course of one year of learning an L3 and whether classroom intervention could help learners to construct their L3 motivation. This research adopted a longitudinal case study design and was situated in a state university in China. Students who had chosen to learn an L3 as their major and English majors who were required to learn an L3 participated in the research. To achieve the two principal research aims, the data collection process was divided into two phases. The goal of the first phase was to explore the development of my participants' L3 motivation without any intervention. Qualitative research methods were employed during this phase and data were gathered from open questionnaires, interviews, class observation and written journals. In the second phase, an intervention was carried out to explore how to construct my participants' ideal L3 selves. A quasi-experimental design was employed and mixed methods were adopted. Analysis was primarily guided by the L2 Motivational Self System and was carried out at both at class level and individual level. At a class level, findings suggest that both L3 majors' and English majors' L3 motivation was mainly constituted on the basis of their ideal L3 selves, ought-to L3 selves and L3 learning experiences, which were constantly constructed and reconstructed over the course of learning. Notably, learners' motivational trajectories did not display a homogenous pattern at the group level. In total, six different motivational patterns were identified, three from English majors and three from L3 majors. It was also interesting to identify that a few learners developed a type of multilingually oriented motivation during their L3 learning. Data collected at the second phase of fieldwork revealed that the intervention was effective in helping English majors to construct their ideal L3 selves but less useful in the case of L3 majors. At the individual level, six cases were analysed in depth to investigate how the trajectories identified at the group level developed temporally and contextually. The analysis shows that the construction of these learners' L3 motivation involved a complex interplay between their future L3 selves and current L3 learning experience. It was through this process that learners explored the relationship between the L3 and their self-identification, and attempted to develop their personal meaning of learning an L3. On the basis of the empirical evidence, this thesis argues that the construction of learners' L3 motivation hinges on exploration of the position of the L3 in their self-identification, and that class intervention might help learners to realise the importance of learning an L3 by helping them to develop their ideal L3 selves, at least in the case of non-L3-major students. Moreover, this study suggests that it is crucial for L3 learners in China to recognise the value of being multilingual, which plays an essential role in constructing their L3 selves and sustaining their L3 motivation.
Supervisor: Fisher, Linda Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.763764  DOI:
Keywords: L3 learning motivation ; the L2 Motivational Self System ; Multilingualism ; Longitudinal case study ; ideal multilingual self
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