Dialects, motivation, and English proficiency: Empirical evidence from China

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Within the context of China, this study seeks to examine the relationship between English language proficiency, the native dialect of the learner, and the learner’s reason, or motivation for learning English. English language proficiency can be an important vehicle for accessing high quality higher education, for interacting with non-Chinese, and for enhancing employment and career opportunities Data was gathered through an online survey with 985 usable responses recorded. Respondents included a distribution of speakers from five of the major distinct dialects of China. The analysis provides empirical evidence of a diversity of propensities and motivations for English language acquisition among learners from different regions and native dialects. Access to international higher education as a type of motivation is found to have a moderating effect on English proficiency. Other findings suggest that learners in regions with more historic exposure to foreign interaction are more likely to be motivated for social reasons, those from regions with export focused commerce will be motivated for business related reasons. The results of this study may be of interest to policy makers, linguists, educators, and those with an interest in socioeconomic sustainability through language acquisition and education as a method of socioeconomic mobility.

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Frontiers in Psychology



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