Trinity College Dublin and Osaka University Joint International Symposium

Japanese Studies in a global context: The art of friendship

<< Programme

Learning Japanese in Ireland: Ideal L2 selves?

Lorna Carson, Trinity College Dublin

The study of motivation in language learning has been scrutinised from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives. Essentially, researchers grapple with understanding why some learners commit time and energy to developing foreign language proficiency. Realistically, in situations where there is significant typological distance, few non-specialist learners manage to achieve spoken and written competency sufficient for even everyday tasks in contexts where the target language is spoken. In Ireland, whilst the number of Japanese learners per capita is quite encouraging, most students will not progress beyond beginner or intermediate proficiency level. Nevertheless, a small group of students do become successful and lifelong Japanese language learners, and take a variety of measures to immerse themselves in Japanese. These students show commitment to learning not just the Japanese language, but also to enjoying aspects of Japanese popular culture in their original form. This paper explores the role of self-identity and motivation through a construct described as the ‘Ideal L2 self’ in the context of learning Japanese as a foreign language. It draws on recent survey data collected among adult learners of Japanese in Ireland, and explores their motivational orientations, agency and investment of time and effort in the Japanese language classroom.

Short Biography

Lorna Carson is Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics and Director of Postgraduate Teaching and Learning in the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences. She is the founding Director of the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies, a multidisciplinary teaching and research centre which brings together the university's expertise in Japanese, Korean and Chinese Studies. She holds a B.A. (Mod.), M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Trinity College Dublin, and an M.A. from the College of Europe, Bruges. In 2015 she was elected a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin. Dr Carson's research on language learning addresses issues located at the interface between individual and societal multilingualism, with particular attention to second language learning, language policy, pedagogy and assessment.