Ethnolinguistic vitality, motivation, language anxiety and the learning of English for Hong Kong students in Sydney

Year: 2001

Author: Kam, Michael Chi-keung

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The present paper tries to identify the social and psychological factors that motivate students to have better performance in English as a second language, and to postulate a theoretical model subsuming these socio-psychological variables to explain and predict the performance in English as a second language for Hong Kong students in Australia. Gardner (1959) hypothesized that students would have higher performance in the second language performance if they exhibit the desire to learn the second language in order to integrate themselves with the target culture than when they exhibit the desire to learn the language for pragmatic reasons. The perceived status of language affects the use of and attitude toward a language. Giles, Bourhis and Taylor (1977) defined Ethnolinguistic vitality as structural characteristics such as socio-economic status, demographic representation and institutional support pertinent to a language. Smolicz, Hudson and Secombe (1998) described multicultural policies of Australia as a solution to the dilemma of reconciling the immigrants' love of their homeland and its culture and their desire to adapt to the overarching Australian framework. 247 students of ethnic Chinese in Sydney metropolitan area who were studying in weekend Chinese schools (age 8 to 16 with mean age of 10.1) and 628 Hong Kong students who were studying in primary and secondary schools (age 8 to 16 with mean age 10.5) were sampled. Path analysis was used to determine the relationship between the performance of Chinese and English with ethnolinguistic vitality, motivation, attitudes and use and class anxiety in the learning of English.