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Volume 20 Number 3, Autumn 2023, Pages 507-753   

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Awakening Youngsters to Foreign Languages and their Motivational Disposition

    Mohamed Ridha Ben Maad

To the prominence of motivation theory in language learning literature, attendant research has remained constrained to its cross-sectional implications for learning achievement. This study, however, examined whether exposure to foreign languages at an early age may determine children's future motivation for learning such languages in an instructed context. A two-scale questionnaire was specifically designed to study (i) the quality and amount of such exposure in the formative years of 321 primary school pupils and (ii) its bearing on their motivational disposition. Results suggested that systematic exposure to foreign languages had a significant positive bearing on their motivational orientations. Much of this significance appeared with the educational background of the family, yet factors such as the area of residence and the quality of preschool education were equally important. In view of these results, stakeholders may invest in the exposure concept within a child-pedagogically-friendly framework (e.g., the awakening-to-languages approach) to develop motivation from the ground up.

Keywords: early childhood, foreign languages, motivation, exposure, awakening to languages