Investigating Chinese High School Students' Motivation, Learning Engagement, and Language Achievement in the English Classroom

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Hao, Yaqi
Motivation , Learning Engagement , Language Achievement , Self-Determination Theory , English as a Foreign Language
This study investigated Chinese high school students’ motivational orientations as measured by Self-Determination Theory (SDT), and the extent to which motivational orientations contribute to learning engagement and language achievement in the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classroom. 390 high school students from Grade 11 at one secondary school in northern China completed a paper-based questionnaire that measures SDT motivational orientations, learning engagement, and self-perceived English proficiency. Their most recent English course test score was also collected as a language achievement indicator. The data was quantitatively analyzed to address the research questions. The results identified four dimensions of SDT motivational orientations and two factors of learning engagement among these Chinese high school English learners, and revealed extensive associations among motivational orientations, learning engagement, and their language achievement. Intrinsic motivation was confirmed to predict positive learning engagement and a high level of language achievement. Introjected regulation was noted to be a minor contributor to English test score. Compared to learning engagement, SDT motivational orientations remained to be strong determinants in contribution to various language achievement across all effective indicators, such as self-perceived language proficiency and test score. This study is important in addressing the foreign language motivation research gap of individual difference with a younger age group of high school students and within a unique English as a Foreign Language learning context in China.
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