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How Do I Satisfy the General Education Language Requirement? University Students' Attitudes Toward Language Study



Abstract: This study aims to identify the two principal reasons why college students choose a certain language to satisfy a general education second language requirement by polling 172 students enrolled in first-year language courses in 13 languages at a large Northeastern research university. Students answered a questionnaire and chose the two main reasons from 10 choices articulated in sentimental, value, instrumental, and communicative dimensions. Cross-tabulations by SPSS showed significant statistical relationships between the attitudinal factors and the language studied. Spanish students strongly favored an instrumental orientation for both first and second choices. Danish, Dutch, French, Arabic, Russian, and German students also indicated instrumental preferences, but their second choices fell into other domains. Portuguese, Italian, Hebrew, Japanese, and Korean students favored communication factors, while Chinese students selected sentimental and communication reasons for their first and second choices, respectively.