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Cambridge Language Sciences

Interdisciplinary Research Centre

Two talks as part of the Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies (MEITS) Multilingualism seminar series.


Motivational profiles of simultaneous language learners: A latent profile analysis of English major students in China

Meng Liu, PhD student, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

While previous research has focused on second language motivation of learners in Asian contexts such as China, the motivations of multilingual learners have received less attention. This study examined different types of motivations of simultaneous language learners from the perspective of self-determination theory (SDT) using latent profile analysis. Specifically, it aimed to examine learners’ motivational profiles in L2 and L3 and the connections between the profiles. Five hundred and twenty-three English major students from ordinary universities in China participated in the research. Three types of motivation, namely intrinsic motivation, external regulation and amotivation, were measured with respect to L2 (English) and L3 (French or German). Latent profile analysis revealed two L2 motivational profiles and three L3 motivational profiles. Three outcome measures, namely self-perceived competence, language use and emotional experience, were compared across the profiles to illuminate the differences among learners with different profiles. Lastly, latent profile transition analysis was conducted to further explore the associations between L2 and L3 profiles. Specific findings and implications will be discussed in the presentation.


Opening the Pandora Box of the “E” in EMI: A quest for standardization, ELF, or something more?

Sin-Yi Chang, PhD student, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

English medium instruction (EMI) has been a widely adopted response to the growing forces of globalization that shape part of the higher education reality in the 21st century. However, while EMI has received much enthusiasm on the policy level, defining what the English language means remains a highly contested process. To explore how the “E” in EMI is unpacked, in this presentation I draw attention to the tensions between two conceptualizations of English in EMI settings: English as an idealized, homogenous entity, and English as a lingua franca (ELF). Drawing on classroom observation and focus group data collected from a larger study, I show how lecturers at a Taiwanese university construct and communicate knowledge through a diverse set of languages, semiotic resources, and modalities. Specifically, English is collectively shared by all participants in the classrooms, creatively and strategically employed for meaning-making. Nonetheless, the majority of the students aspired for “standards” that resembled North American English, even though being fully aware of the controversies surrounding native-speaker discourse. The uncomfortable reality unveils some affordances and constraints of ELF: while ELF is a pragmatic solution to facilitate communication between speakers of different languages, it is still ultimately about English, which may implicitly, albeit unintentionally, strengthen the hegemony of the language and further the depth of English penetration. This presentation concludes by borrowing inspirations from current decolonization movements in higher education, highlighting how thinking in “decolonial” ways may be useful in challenging the “business as usual” model commonly adopted in policy-making, teaching, and research.


Thursday, 27 February, 2020 - 13:00 to 14:30
Event location: 
Room 326, Raised Faculty Building, MMLL, Sidgwick Site, CB3 9DA

What we do

Cambridge Language Sciences is an Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. Our virtual network connects researchers from five schools across the university as well as other world-leading research institutions. Our aim is to strengthen research collaborations and knowledge transfer across disciplines in order to address large-scale multi-disciplinary research challenges relating to language research.