Understanding the dynamics of motivation for learning Japanese among Chinese learners: an elicited metaphor analysis

Wenhong Huang, Dezheng (William) Feng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the motivations of Chinese learners of Japanese across three different grades through Elicited Metaphor Analysis and semi-structured interview. Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3 Japanese majors (55 in total) in a Chinese university were asked to produce metaphors that reflected their motivations to learn Japanese. The metaphor data were analysed by two coders in three steps: Labelling, Sorting and Categorisation. It is found that Year 1 learners were enthusiastic about learning Japanese, using mostly leisure and eating metaphors; Year 2 learners often used journey metaphors to indicate the difficulty they were facing; and Year 3 learners were more concerned about the benefits and practical outcomes of learning, using mainly learning other skills metaphors. The metaphor and interview data together confirm the dynamic and situated nature of language learning motivation. The data also reveal that Japanese learning in mainland China was associated with an interest in the culture of Japan and subject to negative interference from English. The study concludes with implications for enhancing the teaching of Japanese in similar contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-617
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2019


  • Chinese learners of Japanese
  • elicited metaphor analysis
  • language other than English (LOTE) learning
  • Motivation
  • second language learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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