11th Grade Students' English Reading Motivation, Language Problems and Reading Achievement in Taiwan

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Motivation has been viewed as a very influential factor to successful reading for English as foreign language learners. Learners can be motivated to read English by extrinsic or intrinsic motivation, and the motivational orientations could also influence their reading achievement. However, language problems that EFL learners encounter while reading can affect their willingness to read as well as their reading achievement. The purpose of this study was to investigate Taiwanese EFL students? English reading motivation and its relationship with perceived language problems and reading achievement.
302 11th grade students from an urban district in southern Taiwan participated in the study. Measures included an English reading comprehension test, an English reading motivation questionnaire, and a questionnaire regarding language problems in reading English. A factor analysis was used to determine the motivational orientations. Multiple regression and correlation analysis were performed to examine the relationship among reading motivation, language problems, and reading achievement. The results showed that: 1) Taiwanese senior high school students were largely motivated to read English by extrinsic motivation, specifically the importance and instrumental utility of reading English and the drive for recognition and competition, although they could also be motivated by intrinsic motivation to read English for knowledge and social purposes. Moreover, extrinsic motivation to read for compliance was significantly associated with their English reading scores. 2) While reading English, unknown idiomatic expressions and vocabulary were frequently reported language problems that influenced students? willingness to read. Nevertheless, lack of grammar knowledge was generally not considered a big language problem to most of the students while reading. 3) Language problems in reading English and reading motivation were correlated, and motivation to read for compliance, grammar knowledge, and overall reading comprehension were significant predictors of students? English reading scores. This study highlights the influential role of extrinsic motivation to EFL students in English reading and the importance of knowledge of vocabulary and idiomatic expressions in order to help understand the meaning of English texts. It provides implications for English teachers in designing appropriate curriculum that suits students? needs and interests, and also suggestions for choosing proper reading materials.