Positive emotions in English language learning in the Vietnamese tertiary contexts : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Linguistics at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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This thesis explores the emotions students experienced during their English language learning trajectories in the Vietnamese tertiary context. It specifically focuses on the students’ positive emotions and on the role of hope as a mediating factor in triggering shifts in students’ emotions from negative to positive. Drawing on a sociocultural approach, this study explores the contribution of positive emotions in their English language learning. This qualitative study aims to contribute to our understanding of the complexity, diversity, and dynamics of emotions in English language learning as well as the role of Vietnamese culture in the emotions students experienced. The study is based on written narratives and interviews with students taking English language courses within three affiliated universities in Vietnam. The data were obtained from a total of 185 written narrative responses and 10 student interviews. Narrative analysis (Barkhuizen et al., 2013) was used to analyse small stories in the written narratives and thematic analysis (Talmy, 2010) was used for analysing the interview data. The findings indicate that both positive and negative emotions co-existed in the students’ English language learning experiences. The range of activity-related, success-linked, and failure-linked emotions highlighted by the findings illustrate that activity-related emotions such as enjoyment and excitement positively triggered students’ engagement, while negative emotions such as boredom negatively impacted it. Success-linked emotions originated from students’ self-assessed successes in meeting personal study or learning goals, their parents’ or teachers’ expectations, or the standards imposed by the community or society as a whole, with positive achievement emotions strongly associated with positive outcomes. In contrast, failure-linked emotions were associated with the students’ failure in achieving personal targets and in meeting the expectations others had of them, their recognition of their own shortcomings in relation to accepted social standards, or from negative evaluations from other people. Importantly, the findings showed that emotions are socially and culturally constructed, and in particular associated with the features of the local Confucian cultural heritage. Overall, the thesis illustrates the role of people living around students or in interactions with them in the emergence and development of emotions associated with English language learning. Finally, hope, as an emotion, emerged as playing a significant role in the transition between negative and positive emotions. The insights of the study contribute to the theory of emotions in language learning by delineating in detail the close and reciprocal relationship between emotions, self-efficacy and motivation, and by providing evidence of the role of hope in motivating students. It also contributes to our understanding of the role cultural factors play in shaping students’ emotions. The findings have implications for policymakers, educational trainers, school managers, teachers, parents, and language learners.
English language, Study and teaching (Higher), Vietnamese speakers, Second language acquisition, Psychological aspects, College students, Vietnam, Psychology, Emotions