Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Adviser

Sperandio, Jill

Other advisers/committee members

Garrigan, Scott; Gisolo, Gisela; Wu, Yiqiang


This study surveyed 217 high school students' motivational factors in learning Chinese and the factors that sustain their learning of this language. In addition, the perceptions of Chinese teachers and student focus groups were used to verify, explain and expand the survey findings.The findings suggested that the future career prospect connected to China's economy was one of the most important factors that motivated students to learn Chinese and sustained their motivation. This finding supports the language globalization hypothesis proposed by Dörnyei and Csizer (2002) as such that Chinese is in the process of being changed into a world language due to the growth of China's economy. In addition, the unique aspect of Chinese language and culture contributes to the challenge of learning Chinese and serves as another important factor to motivate students and sustain their learning. This finding supports self-determination theory (SDT) as learning a challenging subject satisfies learners' needs for competence. It was found non-Chinese students continued significantly longer in Chinese programs. Heritage is ethnic Chinese students' most important motivator to learn Chinese and one of the important factors to sustain their learning. The desire to maintain one's heritage through learning a second language (L2) reflects heritage learners' need for relatedness to their culture, which is one of human beings' innate psychological needs according to SDT. In addition, similarities were found between the present study and a study conducted by Husseinali (2006) using a similar instrument. It is recommended that future studies include student dropout groups in L2 motivation research to examine factors that sustain L2 learning. Future studies also need to examine effective ways to help students feel successful in L2 learning. More studies on high school students' motivation for learning Chinese and other less commonly taught languages are needed. School leaders need to be sensitive to learners' language status perception and consider adding Asian languages to develop a diverse world language program. This will satisfy students' needs for competence. This research is intended to provide data for schools in the United States and overseas that are contemplating implementation of a Chinese language program.