First Advisor

Caitlin Cole

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Arts and Letters and University Honors


Arts & Letters


English language -- Study and teaching (Elementary) -- Japan -- 21st century, Second language acquisition, Motivation in education -- Japan, Motivation (Psychology)




In their formal education systems, East Asian nations began to actively incorporate English lessons around the turn of the 21 st century. For Japan, perhaps the most controversial reform was introducing compulsory English as a foreign language (EFL) instruction at the primary school level in 2011. A central policy goal specifies guidelines for encouraging positive affect and long-term motivation toward the language. In this literature review, I discuss empirical studies from within the past five years which explore Japanese elementary EFL students’ motivation and engagement in class. Researchers framed their inquiry within the self-determination theory (SDT) framework, a dominant theory of motivation in language motivation research. Thus, a foundation has been set for future research by successfully establishing the validity of SDT and the concept of engagement in this context.


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