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Year 6 Australian students’ intentions to continue learning Mandarin in year 7

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posted on 2023-01-19, 09:30 authored by Chong Liang
Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the School of Education, College of Arts, Social, Sciences and Commerce, La Trobe University, Melbourne.

Approximately one third of students of Mandarin in Australia discontinued learning it between Grade 6 and Year 7 (Liu and Lo Bianco, 2007). Most studies have explored this issue retrospectively. This innovative study offers insights into what influences Grade 6 students’ intentions to continue learning Mandarin in Year 7. Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), the study describes how students’ social and psychological backgrounds influence their intentions to continue learning Mandarin in Year 7. The study is the first to extend TPB into additional language learning and to work with primary school students. For younger learners’ in this institutional context, Mandarin is a fundamentally shared resource. In contrast to adults’ health behaviours, the individual child is not solely responsible for the decision making. Their decision making is associated with others, families and institutions. In order to address this issue, this study needed to extend the TPB and investigate whether such an extension would work. The first part of the research surveyed 218 Grade 6 students. Three major positive influences on students’ intentions to continue learning Mandarin in Year 7 were: 1) students who perceived that they had greater capacities to learn Mandarin perceived more opportunities to continue learning; 2) students who perceived greater usefulness in learning Mandarin had more positive attitudes towards learning; 3) students who had more positive attitudes from their family members perceived more social pressure to continue learning. These influences were successfully modelled using TPB. The study also showed that intentions were not everything. In the second part of the study, nine of the surveyed, Grade 6 students were interviewed in Year 7. The qualitative study explored how the predictors influenced intentions as well as providing perspectives to understand certain discontinuities between Grade 6 students’ intentions and their choices in Year 7. Keywords: TPB (Theory of Planned Behaviour), intentions, beliefs, attitudes.


Center or Department

College of Arts, Social, Sciences and Commerce. School of Education.

Thesis type

  • Ph. D.

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


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