Chinese Learners of Portuguese and Spanish Majors in Macau: A Comparative Case-Study of Motivation Aspects

  •  Oksana Kharlay    
  •  Martin Bagheri    
  •  Jeremy D. Philips    


This study investigated multiple learning motivation aspects of Chinese university students in Macau majoring in Spanish and Portuguese. A mixed methods research was employed by using questionnaires and interviews. 181 learners (96 Portuguese and 85 Spanish majors) were surveyed about ten language-learning motivation dimensions by using a questionnaire. A subset of participants from questionnaires were later given follow-up interviews. Quantitative and qualitative data indicated that the students in these majors had strong intrinsic motivation but limited integrative motivation towards the target language community. Other motivational pull-factors were the heritage connection between the language and the place of study and interest in the pop-culture associated related to the target language. Students reported a decline in motivation during the middle years of study, however, Spanish students’ interest resurged by the end of year three. There was also a gender imbalance, suggesting that career-related aspects of motivations were stronger among males. The results also revealed that language learners had an ideal-self that was multilingual and cosmopolitan but did not aspire to integrate into a specific target-language community.

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