Ambivalence and commitment, liberation and challenge: Investigating the attitudes of young Japanese people towards the learning of English

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29 Citations (Scopus)


This article has emerged from a large-scale, nationwide attitudinal study (n = 2397) into the motivation of learners of English in Japan, which initially found that enjoyment of the learning experience seemed to be the major factor in the motivation of English learners. However, subsequent examination of the data revealed several incongruities in this initial analysis, which prompted further investigation of these issues using qualitative data. The qualitative investigation suggests that for many Japanese learners 'liking English' is essentially nothing more than an intentionally vague, socially conditioned response but in other cases it represents a genuine commitment to learning. The article concludes that this sense of commitment derives not so much from the values associated with English and an English-speaking community or a desire to interact with that community, but rather from factors in the learner's immediate social environment or personal experience that mediate these surface attractions of the language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-420
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Dec 1



  • Cultural identity
  • Japan
  • Language attitudes
  • Language learning
  • Motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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