“There’s more to it”: A qualitative study into the motivation of Australian university students to learn German
13 September, 2013
3.00 - 5.00pm
Dr Gabriele Schmidt, Lecturer & Discipline Convener
German Studies, Australian National University
This paper presents the results of a qualitative study into the motivation of Australian undergraduates to learn German. The study is a follow-up study of a large-scale questionnaire survey that investigated the motivation of 520 Australian university students to learn German. While the first study (Schmidt 2011) followed a quantitative approach, the new study takes a qualitative approach using interviews for its data collection. All sixteen interviews were conducted in March 2013 at UQ. The aims of the new study were to update, explain, complement and expand the findings of the questionnaire survey.
The paper will first briefly discuss the theoretical framework in which the new study is situated before outlining the research design. While the motivational factors that were found in the quantitative study are still existent in the interview data, the new data shows that often “there’s more to it” than having a general interest in German-speaking people and their culture, enjoying the learning process, wanting to travel to Germany, or seeing career advantages. The data analysis suggests that personal growth (Dörnyei’s Ideal L2 Self) is a strong element in students’ language learning motivation. The paper concludes by considering some implications of the study’s outcomes.