Modern foreign language learning: exploring the impact of parental orientations on student motivation
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AbstractThe decline in modern foreign language (MFL) learning in UK secondary schools is well-researched, particularly from the point of view of language attitudes and motivation (Bartram, 2006b; Coleman, Galaczi & Astruc, 2007; Lanvers, Hultgren & Gayton, 2016; Martin, 2019; Lanvers & Martin, 2020), although the role of parents in the MFL learning process is seldom explored. The rationale for the research comes from an extensive appraisal of the literature on foreign language learning education and parental engagement in learning, coupled with teaching experience. Six motivational constructs were explored: general motivation, sense of achievement, internal attribution of success/failure, external attribution of success/failure, intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. A mixed-methods research design, employing questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, was adopted to explore the impact of parental orientations towards MFL on child motivation from different perspectives. Quantitative analysis shows that there is a strong, positive correlation between parent and child data for five of the six motivation constructs. Inferential statistics show that parental independent variables such as level of general education, level of language education and ethnicity have statistically significant impacts on four student motivation constructs. Results from the interviews indicate that parents had mixed experiences of language learning and that curriculum policies which restrict the option choices for some students could be detrimental to engaging them with learning a language that they choose to learn rather than one that is imposed. Students and parents also presented positive views on the importance of languages for career progression and travel. Improving the dialogue between schools and parents on the importance of language learning through sharing important curriculum information, engaging in careers events and supporting parents for whom languages pose a particular challenge could make a small contribution to changing the current MFL learning climate.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Education.
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