Motivation for Learning English as a Foreign Language in Japanese Elementary Schools

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Junko Matsuzaki Carreira, Tsuda College


This study investigated how 345 Japanese elementary school pupils’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for learning English changed with age (174 third– and 171 sixth–graders). Factor analysis identified five underlying factors: interest in foreign countries, intrinsic motivation, caregivers’ encouragement, instrumental motivation, and anxiety. The results of an ANOVA showed significant differences in intrinsic motivation, interest in foreign counties, and instrumental motivation between the third and sixth graders. The third graders' mean scores were higher than those of the sixth graders. This study revealed a rather steady developmental decline in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for learning English, which might be attributed to general development trends in contemporary Japanese elementary school pupils. Within a consensus that there is considerable room for improvement in primary–school English education in Japan, results of the present study suggest that the area of motivation can shed light on how the teaching methods for elementary school students in the higher grades can be improved.