A Q Methodology Study Into Vision of Italian L2 University Students: An Australian Perspective

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Abstract

This study explores language learners’ motivation from the perspective of vision, a concept that has specifically been identified as one of the next challenges for motivation research. Having conceptualized vision as a powerful motivational component of the language learning process, and focusing on the learner’s individual perspective, we employed Q methodology to identify the visions, as imagined here and now, of students’ second language (L2) selves. While Q methodology is becoming increasingly popular in applied linguistics, thanks to its ability to offer a scientific and holistic investigation of subjectivity, no study has previously employed it to gain in-depth understanding of how learners of Italian in an Anglophone context envision themselves as future bilingual or multilingual speakers. Students from an Australian university ranked statements related to imagined scenarios of L2 selves, and factor analysis of these ranks exposed 3 motivational profiles: ‘the multilingual fan with an edge,’ ‘the mobile
and linguistically competent,’ and ‘the lover of the Italian culture.’ By engaging in new and fresh ways to understand language students and their self-visions, this study contributes to the understanding of motivation and provides a useful tool for comparison for other languages, as well as other institutional and geographical contexts.

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