The Impact of Study-Abroad Program on the Changes of Motivation: Case Study of Japanese University Students Learning English in Australia

Masanori Matsumoto

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Case study was conducted on five Japanese university students who participated in a 12-week study-abroad program in a language institute in Australia. The study aimed to detect the changes in their motivation to learn English as a second language (L2) and reasons for the changes by collecting quantitative and qualitative data using weekly learning-logs and three semi-structured interviews conducted during the program. The target of the study was the changes in the learning environment based on one of the main issues regarding the current research of motivation, relational approach to identify the ‘idiosyncrasies’ of L2 motivation. As has been agreed by numerous researchers and practitioners, motivation could play an important role to determine the extent to which L2 learners can succeed in a target language (TL) learning. However, the motivation seems to have a constant influence from various internal and external factors during a long process in which learners are engaged when learning the TL. Among the factors that may influence motivation, learning environment where TL learning takes place can be a significant focus to explore to find what affects learners in what ways and the reasons for them. The quantitative data collected by Likert-scale exhibited that the levels of participants’ motivational intensity had a weak u-shape change through the twelve-week-program. However, qualitative data indicated that the differences of their motivational level seemed to depend on each participant’s intuitive judgement, and how they perceived each factor could determine the strength of motivation at each stage of learning. Also, the environmental factors, including the context where English is the primary means of communication and the actual use of English for authentic communication, were likely to be influencing the changes of motivation most. In other words, learning English in the L2 environment in Australia provided the participants with a positive influence on the development of motivation. However, the positive impact from the learning environment may depend on how learners perceive each contextual factor such as teachers, peer learners, learning tasks, and learners’ motivation fluctuates in various ways according to whether they view the elements positively or negatively. Also, the learners’ prior learning experiences and their cultural and educational backgrounds can influence how they perceive environmental factors. The study suggests that the change of learning context by participating in a study-abroad program and learner’s perception of such environmental factors can be an essential factor for the discussion of the changes of L2 learning motivation and how motivation affects L2 learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2020
EventICAL 2020: 14. International Conference on Applied Linguistics - Online, Venice, Italy
Duration: 12 Nov 202013 Nov 2020
Conference number: 20IT11ICAL (Program)


ConferenceICAL 2020: 14. International Conference on Applied Linguistics
Abbreviated titleICAL 2020
OtherICAL 2020: 14. International Conference on Applied Linguistics aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Applied Linguistics. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Applied Linguistics
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