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Factors affecting the motivation of EFL instructors living in South Korea to learn Korean

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posted on 28.03.2022, 17:31 by Nigel Gearing
Globalization has seen unprecedented numbers of native English speakers move to host nations to work ‘on location’ this century. Surprisingly, however, little L2 motivation research appears to have focused on those who have done so in North-East Asia, with none having examined the language-learning motivation of native English speakers living and working in South Korea. To help redress this significant gap in the literature, the research reported this thesis draws on data from 14 in-depth semi-structured interviews with EFL instructors employed in South Korean university language education centres. The interview data is supplemented by optional diaries kept by some of the participants and a one-year longitudinal case study of one participant. The thesis comprises five parts, each focusing on the experiences and perceptions of the participants through a different theoretical lens: (1) identity and investment (Norton, 2013); (2) the process model of motivation (Dörnyei & Ottό, 1998) by way of a one-year longitudinal case study; (3) the L2 motivational self-system (Dörnyei, 2005) and the role of ‘rescued’ integrativeness (Dörnyei & Ryan, 2015) for learners of languages other than English; (4) demotivation; and (5) globalization (Ushioda & Dörnyei, 2017). Overall, these studies found that participants were largely unmotivated to learn Korean due to the temporary nature of their employment contracts and working visas, the greater desire of Koreans to learn and use English and their perception that Korean proficiency was neither needed, nor expected of them. In some cases, their lack of motivation was expressed by way of a disdain for aspects of Korean culture and/or the language. Only two of the 14 participants demonstrated intrinsic motivation to learn Korean. One of these individuals pursued integration with her host nation through self-study and immersion in Korean-speaking communities of practice, while the other had sought to master Korean as the realization of a personal goal. Taken together, these studies highlight that while globalization may have offered participants significant language learning opportunities, they tended not to pursue these opportunities in South Korea, or elsewhere. Largely in South Korea by default as temporary ‘aliens’ in the ascribed role of EFL instructor, many of them tended to continue a life of default by remaining on the periphery and attributing much of their demotivation to South Korean society. However, in so doing, it is argued that participants place themselves at great risk given the dynamics of globalization and its potential negative impact on the future status of native-English speaking EFL instructors.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2“I’m never going to be part of it” : identity, investment and learning Korean -- Chapter 3. Ebbs and flows : a longitudinal study of an English language instructor’s motivation to learn Korean-- Chapter 4. Where’s the vision? Rescuing integrativeness to understand the L2 self-concepts of English-speaking EFL instructors living in South Korea -- Chapter 5. This isn’t working : Korean language learning demotivation among EFL instructors in South Korea -- Chapter 6. The ‘confounding nature’ of Korean – native-speaking English EFL instructors’ relationship with the national language of their host nation -- Chapter 7. Conclusion -- Appendices.


Includes bibliographical references Thesis by publication.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Peter Roger


Copyright Nigel Gearing 2017. Copyright disclaimer: http://mq.edu.au/library/copyright




Korea (South)


1 online resource (xv, 243 pages) diagrams, tables

Former Identifiers

mq:70534 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/1265210