Identity, Motivation and English Learning in a Japanese Context

Nooshin Goharimehr


Founded upon motivation, identity and self theories, this qualitative case study explored the motivational self system
and identities of Japanese EFL learners and their influence on motivation and English language learning. Data was
collected through online surveys among 22 graduate and undergraduate university students. The survey results
indicated high motivation, international orientation and positive attitudes toward English language learning. The
thematic analysis of students’ detailed responses to the open-ended questions showed a stronger instrumental
motivation and lack of desire to join and identify with the English communities and culture. International orientation
appeared to be a better measure of motivation as opposed to integrative motivation. Moreover, the learners had
inhibitory factors operating against English learning motivation and speaking practices such as anxiety and low
linguistic self-confidence. Resistance to new cultural identities or identity conflicts resulted from different cultural
contexts show to be an influencing factor in L2 learning. In sum, combining Gardner’s views on motivation,
Norton’s conceptions of identity and Dörnyei's L2 Motivational Self System together with qualitative approaches
might render a deeper understanding of motivational barriers of Japanese EFL learners.

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World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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