'It's very cool when you learn something new': Students' perceived enjoyment of German and English classes in the German-speaking world

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This paper deepens our understanding of affective variables in the (foreign) language class by presenting the findings of a web-based survey study on perceived enjoyment of English (foreign language) and German (first language) classes. Data from 754 secondary- and tertiary-level students in the German-speaking world offers insights into contextual differences.

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Positive Psychology has become increasingly popular in SLA (Second Language Acquisition) for its widespread acknowledgement of the broadening power of positive emotions in learning (MacIntyre, Gregersen, & Mercer, 2016). While an increasing number of studies have cast light on the nature of foreign language enjoyment (FLE) (Author b &, 2016), no work to date has compared learners' enjoyment of L1 (first language) and LX (foreign language) classes. The present paper aims to fill this research gap by focusing on learners' self-reported enjoyment in English language (LX) classes and German (L1) classes in the German-speaking world. In addition to investigating possible differences in enjoyment, links between enjoyment, linguistic variables and trait emotional intelligence (TEI) were analysed. Data from 754 secondary- and tertiary-level students revealed that enjoyment ratings were higher for English than for German classes. This was reflected in 10 of the scale's 12 items. These differences might possibly be linked to different "interacting components of challenge and perceived ability" (Author b &, 2016: 216) or completely different didactic approaches. For English classes, students who know more languages reported higher enjoyment values. Additionally, self-perceived language proficiency, the reported frequency of use of English with intimate interlocutors and TEI were positively linked to learners' enjoyment ratings, explaining a variance of 15% in students' FLE ratings. Interestingly, the overall frequency of using the LX was unrelated to enjoyment. For German classes, a different picture emerged: only TEI was related to students' L1 enjoyment ratings, explaining a variance of 7.7%. The findings of this study demonstrate the uniqueness of FLE and the potential of affective socialisation to boost enjoyment for LX, which highlights the crucial role of the social dimension when learning an LX. Author b, &, (2016). MacIntyre, P., Gregersen, T., & Mercer, S. (Eds.). (2016). Positive psychology in SLA. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

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University College of Teacher Education Vienna/Krems & University of Vienna
Birkbeck, University of London

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Dr. Yo-An Lee
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