4.2 The Main Factors for EFL Learning Among Taiwanese Pupils

4.2.2 The Results of Open-ended Question 1

4.2.2 The Results of Open-ended Question 1

In this section, the potential stimuli or the true reasons why students learned English were further analyzed according to students’ responses to this open-ended question. The answers provided by participants of all age groups were actually quite similar and they were divided into three main categories: intrinsic motivation, interest in foreign countries, and extrinsic motivation as those in the MALESC. The analytic results of students’ answers showed a similarity with those of the MALESC. There was a motivation emphasis shift from ‘the interest in foreign countries’ in 3rd grade to

‘extrinsic motivation’ in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades.

There were 19 out of 53 answers from 3rd graders showing a great interest in foreign countries. The most regularly mentioned reasons for learning English in the

‘interest in foreign countries’ subscale were “I want to travel aboard’, ‘I want to travel to the USA’, and “I want to visit the UK”.

Totally 24, 27, and 34 responses from 4th, 5th and6th graders fell on the ‘extrinsic motivation’ category respectively. Among the answers related to this extrinsic category, though 31 participants agreed that they were learning English for getting a good job in their adult life, even more of them showed a passive or reluctant attitude toward learning English by answering that they learned English only because they were asked to by their parents (20) or the school (23).

“I want to have a good job when I grow up” was repeated by 38 pupils, yet among which only 7 pupils were thinking about “working overseas”. Responses related to parental influence, such as “I learn English because my mom asks me to”,


“I learn English because my mom says English is important” were mentioned by 20 students. There were 23 responses from 5th and 6th graders noting that “I learn English because it is a compulsory subject in school (See Table 4.3).

Table 4.3 The Qualitative Analysis of Participants’ Reasons for Learning English

Subscale Item 2. I want to communicate with people from around

the world.

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4.2.3 The results of Open-ended Questions 4, 5, 6, 2 and 3

The answers to these 3 questions offered by the participants indicated their favorite or least favorite parts in their English classes, their expectations for the lessons, and their suggestions for their teachers. Therefore, the results may offer not only clues to the results of the research questions but also ideas and directions for teachers to create a better learning environment for students. The Result of Question 4

The things that participants enjoyed doing the most in their English classes were rather similar throughout all age groups, yet their emphases shifted as their age increased. Students from 3rd and 4th grades seemed to prefer fun and interesting learning games or activities, whereas those from 5th and 6th grades liked popular songs better. For there were 33 3rd and 4th graders mentioning that “I like to play games in English classes” or “Games are fun and interesting”. “I like to listen to English songs and watch the MVs” was mentioned by 73 out of 108 5th and 6th graders.

Participants throughout all age groups all showed an interest in “using” the language, such as having oral practices, accomplishing tasks, reading, singing or watching movies. There were also more negative responses (9) offered by the older students (5th and 6th graders), such as ‘There isn’t anything that I enjoy doing in English classes’. It was encouraging, however, that 196 out of 214 participants had no difficulty finding something that they enjoyed in their English classes (See Table 4.4).


Table 4.4 Things That Participants Enjoy Doing in Their English Classes



Total 3rd 4th 5th 6th

Graders Graders Graders Graders 1. Having funny English learning games and

activities The Results of Questions 5 & 6

When asked what they disliked in their English classes, most of the young participants failed to point that out. Yet, the older the students were, the more critical they became. It was not surprising that the things which disappointed them in the classes usually turned out to be what they would like to do differently if they were the teachers.

Generally speaking, the younger students (3rd and 4th graders) seemed to be more satisfied with the course and the teachers. The older students were more critical and confident to express their opinions. In the whole, quizzes and tests were the least favorite things to the participants. “I don’t like quizzes” and “There are too many tests”

were mentioned by 14 students. There were 22 students from 4th grade who noted that

“I don’t like to read and write all the time during the classes”. A total of 25 students from 5th and 6th grades showed their wishes for extra challenging materials, seemingly telling their dissatisfaction toward the contents in textbooks that bored them and the example answers were like “I would provide students with extra materials because things in the textbooks are too easy for me”. There were also responses indicating their expectation for nice, gentle, and kind attitudes from the teachers. The examples were like “I don’t like the teacher when he/she scolds at my classmates”, “I would be nice to my students if I were the teacher.” (See Table 4.5 & 4.6).

Table 4.5 Things That Participants Dislike in Their English Classes


Table 4.6 Things That Students Would Do Differently If They Were the Teacher Types The Results of Open-ended Questions 2 & 3

Question 2 aimed to find out the position of English among all school subjects.

Question 3 was designed to see the changes of learning interests. The qualitative results of question 2 revealed that English was the most regularly mentioned subject in students’ favorite list across the four grade groups (31 from 3rd, 26 from 4th, 30 from 5th, and 29 from 6th graders). The analysis of question 3 showed that more and more subjects were named in students’ disfavor list as their age grew and the number of students who were interested in all school subjects rapidly dropped from 33 in 3rd grade to 10 in 6th grade, implying a decline of learning interests (See Table 4.7).

Table 4.7 The Place of English among All the Subjects & Students Overall Learning Interests

Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6

English as one of top three favorite subjects

31 26 30 29

English as one of the disfavored subjects

3 5 2 6

The number of students who liked all school subjects

33 26 14 10

4.3 The Result of Pearson Correlation between the MALESC and the SIEM In order to gather the necessary data to answer the research question, the data collected by the SIEM had to be analyzed first. Therefore, two main sections were contained in this part: the result of the SIEM and the investigation into the relationship between EFL learning motivation and overall intrinsic learning motivation.

4.3.1 The Result of the SIEM

The statistic result of the SIEM showed a decrease of intrinsic motivation from 3rd to 6th grade although the mean scores of the four subscales, including ‘curiosity’,

‘mastery’, ‘attribution’, and ‘enjoyment’ all came to their summit in 4th grade and the mean score of the subscale ‘challenge’ reached its peak in 5th grade. ‘Curiosity’ and

‘enjoyment’ won the first and second places respectively across all grade groups.


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Compared with the mean scores of the other five subscales, the mean score of the subscale, ‘challenge’, seemed to be rather low, indicating learners’ preference for easy tasks. ‘Causality’ was the only subscale that showed a systematic decline all the way from 3rd to 6th grade with mean scores from .87, .86, .71 to .70, implying a deterioration of spontaneous learning (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 The Development of Overall Intrinsic Learning Motivation

The ANOVA result indicated that age had no significant effect on the decline of overall intrinsic learning motivation for none of the p values of < .05 were found (See Table 4.8).

Table 4.8 Result of the Overall Intrinsic Learning Motivation and ANOVA of the Effect of Age on This Motivation

Subscales Grade Number MS SD F P

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4.3.2 The Relationship between EFL Learning Motivation and Overall Intrinsic Motivation

Pearson Correlation Coefficient was applied to assess if there was a relation between the two kinds of learning motivation. The results indicated that the two types of motivation were hardly correlated because none of the p values of < .05 were found (See Table 4.9).

The results of the MALESC and the SIEM were basically contrary to each other.

For pupils’ EFL learning motivation increased in the course of time although there was a moderate drop in 4th grade. In contrast, participants’ overall intrinsic learning motivation decreased in the course of time although there was a soar in 4th grade.

Table 4.9 Pearson for EFL Learning Motivation & Overall Intrinsic Learning Motivation

Overall Intrinsic Learning Motivation

EFL Learning Motivation r p.

3rd Grade 0.690 0.620

4th Grade 0.006 0.967

5th Grade 0.222 0.107

6th Grade 0.217 0.115

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The results and some major findings of this study are further discussed in this chapter so as to explore the answers to the three research questions in the present study. In this chapter, there are three sections elaborating the age effect on the EFL learning motivation among the pupils, seeking the main EFL learning motivating factors among Taiwanese pupils, and investigating the relationship between the EFL learning motivation and overall intrinsic learning motivation.

5.1 Motivation Changes for EFL Learning among Taiwanese Elementary School Students

The results of the MALESC revealed a quite encouraging phenomenon: although the mean scores of all four subscales moderately declined in 4th grade, the results generally showed an increase of EFL learning motivation from 3rd to 6th grades, especially the extrinsic one. Though this outcome is against the major findings of some studies mentioned in the early chapters, the possible reasons actually may echo with some empirical findings in many other studies.

First, some researchers have argued that a great portion of EFL or ESL students are learning English for practical or utilitarian goals mainly connected with travel, job, high salary, advanced studies, good grades, and so forth (Gardner, 1985a; Dörnyei 2006; Nikolov, 1999; Noels, 2003; Ghenghesh, 2010, to name but a few). It is not surprising indeed because English has become a world language. One has to be able

to use it if they want to be internationalized and competitive enough to make a prosperous living. In fact, it is true that people who possess good English abilities earn higher salary than those who do not in Taiwan. That’s why many governments and people from non-English-speaking countries are making every effort to improve their national or personal English abilities, and Taiwan is no exception.

Therefore, this may explain why students’ focused learning factors shifted from interests to practicality and why a durable and forceful increase of extrinsic motivation merged in the course of time. The study conducted by Muñoz and Tragant (2001) also reflected such a practicality-related growth of foreign language learning drive in the course of pupils’ maturation. Arbona (2000) and Barak (1981) also argued that there is a strong connection between career and academic development because students tend to be stimulated to learn if they assume that their learning can lead to something they desire for.

Aside from the reasons discussed above, the following findings may also cast some light on this swelling of pupils’ EFL learning motivation. Older students’

learning motivation may be promoted because of their increased perceptions of the school context. As 5th and 6th graders are the seniors in school, they have been used to the context of school and English courses, making them learn with more confidence and less anxiety. And the less the anxiety, the better the language learning (Brown, 2007).

The results of the open-ended questions 4 and 5 may also support this finding.

There were 196 out of 214 students who pointed out at least one thing that they were pleased with in their English classes. Also, there were 137 out of 214 participants who


answered that they actually had nothing that they disliked in their English classes.

These all indicated most of the participants are positive toward EFL learning. The results of open-ended questions 2 and 3 also gave a clue on this. English was measured as the top one in the rank of their favorite subject list with the greatest amount of approval and the least amount of disapproval. Students were attracted to the fun learning games and activities, pop songs, and even challenging tasks provided by their teachers. All these may reveal that they quite enjoy learning English, which could also be considered one of the main reasons to keep them moving forward.

As mentioned above, classroom activities are a catalyst in learning. Therefore, the pivot to make the class full of meaningful activities, the teachers, should also be taken into consideration. Teachers’ influence on promoting students’ motivation can never be overlooked. Some previous studies have suggested that teachers could enhance students’ willingness to learn if they could be interesting, encouraging, and capable of making the lessons interesting and fun (Ghenghesh, 2010). A study of Cheng and Dörnyei (2007) on Taiwanese teachers also revealed similar findings by reporting that teachers play an important role in elevating students’ learning drive.

Chambers (1999) also indicated that the teacher factor earned the top place in the rank in his study among all the factors that might contribute to students’ learning motivation. What’s more, according to Bowen and Madsen (1978), teaching style may be a primary factor for students’ learning motivation. This could probably explicate why there was a sudden overall EFL learning motivation drop in the 4th grade. The results of the open-ended question 6 showed that 22 out of 52 participants from 4th grade noted that there was too much reading and writing in their English classes and it

was something that they disliked. Also, up to 17 out of 52 4th graders showed a great desire to have more fun learning games and activities. That 17 was a number plausibly exceeded the responses of 5 out of 54 from 3rd, 6 out of 56 from 5th, and 9 out of 62 from 6th grade, indicating students’ expectation for different ways of teaching. Nikolov’s (1999) study on Hungarian pupils also reported that younger students, 3rd and 4th graders, tended to appreciate fun learning games and activities which are also crucial class-related factors that boost students’ motivation.

The researcher, therefore, argues that although studies have revealed that pupils tend to lose their motivation in EFL learning in the course of time, this situation could be turned over with clear practical learning purposes, low anxiety environment, and interesting and children-friendly course designs.

5.2 The Underlying EFL Learning Factors for Taiwanese Pupils

The results of both the MALESC and the first open-ended question all showed participants’ strong tendency in extrinsic motivation in EFL learning though they were somewhat extrinsic in different ways. Without being given the limited choices, the participants reflected their true EFL learning reasons in mind when they answered the first open-ended question. Some of their remarks were unsurprisingly in accordance with those of the MALESC, yet some were not. Since the result of the MALESC has been discussed in the previous section, the focus in this section will be the results of open-ended question 1.

The results of open-ended question 1 showed a high consistency with those of the MALESC. First, a manifest development of extrinsic values could be declared.


Second, there was also a shift of emphasis from interests in foreign countries in 3rd grade to practical learning purposes in the other three grades.

In addition, the older the children became, the less interesting they thought English lessons were. There were 16 out of 17 intrinsic-related answers from 3rd graders showing that their English lessons were very interesting, yet this number shrank rapidly to only 4 in those from the six graders. The results are actually similar to Nikolov’s study on Hungarian pupils (1999), in which some elder students were not so much fond of “fun” games and some of them even declared their disfavor toward such classroom activities, which may have something to do with puberty. The factors that keep them studying English may mainly be more of utilitarian goals, such as travel, job, and good grades.

However, few unpredicted negative and somewhat disappointing issues were conveyed from students’ responses in the extrinsic motivation category. Although the reflections about jobs, importance for adult life, advanced studies, school performances were still regular when it comes to extrinsic drive, there were more passive answers brought up.

According to the qualitative analysis, the most intensively mentioned extrinsic statement by 3rd graders was related to parental influences. Then, the needs for hunting a good job and winning outstanding grades in school came to the second place side by side. This parental influence slid gradually as age grew. The focal point then swapped to job- and future-related extrinsic concerns from 4th to 5th grade. This trend was holding backward in the 6th grade. Although the job needs were still the main concern among 5th graders, many of them (33.3%) showed a rather passive

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attitude toward EFL learning by reflecting that they learned English because it is a compulsory subject in school, showing their indifference or reluctance in learning English. This reason also dethroned job-related concerns and became the prime reason for learning among this age group.

Stevenson and Baker (1987) proposed that the younger the children were, the more involved the parents would be in school activities and the greater their influences over children’s academic achievement were. The results of 3rd graders’

extrinsic focus seemed to mirror this finding. It’s not irrational to infer that when children are asked to learn English by their parents, they must have been planted with the idea that English is important for their promising future by their parents, too. This notion would grow stronger as their cognition developed and their understanding about the world expanded. Although students’ learning attitudes become passive and negative in the course of maturation as reported in many studies and the outcomes in the present study, the belief or the faith on the benefit of English remains and keeps them learning. This may also explain why a steady growth of extrinsic value was found in the MALESC result in spite of their passive feelings toward EFL learning that were shown in the results of this open-ended question.

Thus, like Nikolov’s study on Hungarian pupils, the researcher argues that the main underlying factors for EFL learning among Taiwanese students would also be utilitarian-purpose oriented with great concerns with travel, job, and the well-being in their adult lives.


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5.3 The Relationship between the Motivation for EFL Learning and the Intrinsic Motivation for Overall Academic Learning

There are two main sections contained in this part: the discussion of the SIEM result and the relationship between the two motivations.

5.3.1 The Age-related Development of Overall Intrinsic Learning Motivation

The age-related changes of intrinsic drive were examined by the either-or questionnaire, the SIEM. Although the results of the SIEM indicated a slight decline of intrinsic learning drive, except for those of 4th grade, the mean scores of each

The age-related changes of intrinsic drive were examined by the either-or questionnaire, the SIEM. Although the results of the SIEM indicated a slight decline of intrinsic learning drive, except for those of 4th grade, the mean scores of each

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