An Attempt to Help Learners of Japanese Construct Their Ideal L2 Self
thesisposted on 06.04.2021, 13:37 by Masaki Minobe
Student attrition in foreign language programs is a common phenomenon (Horwitz, 1988), and motivation is considered one factor that determines whether students continue their foreign language study (Saito-Abbott and Samimy, 1997, Wesely, 2010, Oshima and Harvey, 2017a). According to the L2 Motivational Self System (Dörnyei, 2005, 2009), learners are motivated to close the gap between their actual self and ideal self. In other words, the construction of learners’ ideal L2 self leads to generation of L2 motivation. In this thesis, by combining this system with the identity approach in Second Language Acquisition, L2 learners are viewed as people who 1) visualize themselves using their second language in their imagined community, 2) are trying to close the gap between their actual self and their future ideal self, and 3) are struggling with power imbalance and social inequalities which prevent them from obtaining access to and membership in their imagined community as their imagined identities are constituted and reconstituted in the process.
This thesis hypothesizes that when learners get to know successful L2 users and engage in video making assignments modeled after them, they will become role models for L2 learners and help L2 learners construct their ideal L2 selves. The primary purpose of this thesis is to design an intermediate Japanese language course that incorporates activities that are thought to promote the construction of learners’ ideal L2 selves, such as video making and self-assessment, and to examine whether the course had an impact on the course participants’ ideal L2 selves.
The data were taken from students’ information sheet in which students were asked to answer questions regarding, for example, their purpose of studying Japanese and how they would like to use Japanese in the future. The data were also retrieved from two essays and one presentation on the same theme, “This is the kind of person I want to be” to discern their ideal self and examine the relationship between their purpose of learning Japanese and their ideal self. The main findings are as follows. Some students have a clear future image related to Japanese while others do not. Only two students out of 31 have role models that speak Japanese as an additional language. The relationship between learners’ purpose of learning Japanese and their ideal self can be classified into three cases: congruent, partially congruent, and unrelated. It is conceivable that the intervention may have been effective for students in the congruent and partially congruent cases although successful L2 learners of Japanese who were showcased in class did not appear in anyone’s essays or presentations. In particular, the possibility cannot be denied that there was an effect of the course on two students who mentioned L2 users of Japanese as people they respect and want to be like. Strong statements cannot be made regarding the effectiveness of the course based on the collected data alone. It may be possible to clarify the effects of the intervention by conducting interviews with students in future studies.