Student Motivation, Parental Attitudes, and Involvement in the Learning of Asian Languages in Elementary and Secondary Schools



This study examined the motivation held by 140 elementary- and 451 secondary-level students toward the learning of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean in formal classroom settings in public schools. Information was also gathered from 847 parents concerning their attitudes toward foreign language (FL) learning and involvement in their child's language study. The findings revealed that elementary students were more motivated overall toward Asian language study than were older students. Younger students also perceived their parents as more involved in their language study than did high school students. A factor labeled “Ethnic Heritage-Related Motivation” emerged as a major contributory influence in students' learning an Asian language. This was especially true at the elementary school level and also in the Korean and Chinese programs. The findings further revealed that female students, regardless of grade level or language program type, reported significantly higher motivation to learn an Asian language. Finally, elementary school parents had more positive attitudes toward FL learning and were more involved in the child's language study than were parents of high school students. However, there was no parental gender difference in attitudes or involvement.