Motivational orientations in Chinese learning---Heritage and non-heritage college students in the United States
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This is a study of educational motivation for Chinese language acquisition in the higher learning context. To study the effect of motivation on language learning and learning outcomes of a Mandarin Chinese language learner, I measured integrative motivation, instrumental motivation, and a learner's attitudinal motivation, i.e. the orientation of attitude toward the language learning situations and examined how each influences Chinese language learning and a learner's learning outcomes. Given the heterogeneous nature of the Chinese language learners in the United States college classrooms, I divided the learners into two major classes: Chinese heritage language learners (HLLs), and Non-heritage learners (NHLLs). However, given the significant differences among NHLLs, in my analyses I further divided the NHLLs into two sub-groups: Eastern Asian non-heritage language learners, and Other non-heritage language learners. Students studied in this dissertation were registered in Chinese classes at the State University of New York at Buffalo. They were asked to complete a questionnaire that assesses (a) their integrative and instrumental orientations for learning Chinese, and (b) their attitudes toward the learning situations such as instructor/course specifics, group/peer specifics, and environment specifics--such as their attitudes toward a mixed classroom setting of heritage language learners (HLLs) and non-heritage language learners (NHLLs). Enrollments in Chinese language classes have been increasing across the United States. In most college Chinese language classes HLLs and NHLL are mixed. This study contributes to the literature on teaching and learning Chinese, and to the literature regarding internationalizing American higher education. It will help to improve Chinese language curriculums and programs at the higher education level in the United States, especially in the following aspects: (1) establishing connections between various motivations and academic learning outcomes for heritage language learners (HLLs) in comparison with non-heritage language learners (NHLLs), and (2) finding out the effects of learners' attitudes toward a mixed classroom learning environment in relation to their language learning and language learning outcomes for various heritage groups. In addition, the results gained from this comparative study should help to persuade higher education administrators and government policy makers that HLLs and NHLLs require separate classrooms, subsidiary materials, support organizations and specially trained language professionals that are capable of meeting their specific educational demands.
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