Exploring English learning motivation among Chinese older adults

Rining Wei, Rong Wang, Jing Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With increasing attention paid to the effects of learning a foreign language (FL) on older adults in the currently ageing world, psychological individual difference (ID) variables (e.g. learning motivation) remain much under-investigated, compared with cognitive IDs. This exploratory study examined older adults’ English learning motivation in the Chinese context of English as a foreign language (EFL) by conducting a web-based survey (n = 510) and semi-structured interviews (n = 21). Results showed that (1) the selected sociobiographical variables influenced older adults’ English learning motivation to different degrees, among which education, use frequency of English and socioeconomic status (SES) emerged as very important predictors; and (2) four motivators for English learning by older adults emerged as traveling or visiting relatives abroad, keeping the brain in shape, supporting inter-generational communication, and having general interest in the target FL. As one of the first systematic attempts to explore English learning motivation among Chinese older adults, the present study (1) contributes to a further understanding of English learning motivation among older adults in the Chinese EFL context, and (2) provides pedagogical and policy implications for English language teaching targeting older adults.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage Teaching Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • effect size
  • English learning motivation
  • learning motivation
  • older adults
  • sociobiographical variables
  • the Chinese EFL context


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