From second language to third language learning exploring a dual-motivation system among multilinguals

Gavin Bui, Laura Man, Mark Feng Teng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This mixed-methods study explores English and Japanese learning motivations in a group of Japanese summer course participants at a university in Hong Kong. Sixty-one Cantonese-speaking students completed two questionnaire surveys on co-existing motivations for learning L2 English and L3 Japanese. Depending on the questionnaire results, eight participants were selected to take part in the two subsequent interviews. The findings revealed that the participants perceived L2 English learning as a school subject and a practical tool for academics and career. It was instrumentality, rather than integrativeness, that motivated the students to learn English. Contrary results were found for L3 Japanese language learning, as the learners had more cultural interest, positive learning experience, self-confidence, and positive attitudes. This study, therefore, argues that L2 and L3 motivations merit distinct status. There appears to exist a dual-motivation system amongst these multilingual learners. The study also provides insights into how geographical and psychological distances could impact language learning under the phenomena of globalisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-90
Number of pages30
JournalAustralian Review of Applied Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Dual-motivation system
  • Instrumentality
  • Integrativeness
  • L2 motivation
  • L3 motivation


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