The aim of the present study is to explore the motivational factors of Hong Kong vocational students in learning English. A qualitative case study approach was employed with a combination of surveys with self-completion questionnaire, semi-structured interviews and diary notes.\ud The research, which was carried out in two phases from September to June 2005-6 in one academic year, had the objective of examining whether there was any change of motivation for learning English. Ten students from a vocational institute were selected for the interviews, each were interviewed twice. They were also invited to write diaries, and to record their daily English activities. The data collected were used to triangulate with the interview findings when analyzing the results.\ud The study was initiated by students’ differences in learning attitudes and the variations in their standard of English. Research on motivation for, and attitudes towards learning\ud English reveal that instrumental and intrinsic motivations often apply to secondary school and tertiary-level learners, but prior to this study the research did not extend to vocational students in Hong Kong.\ud The findings show that vocational students not only have strong instrumental motivation for learning English but also have intrinsic motivation. It was apparent that in the process of their learning English, participants regarded English as a functional language which was tied up with their career. This finding is the same as that of previous research on attitudes towards learning English of Hong Kong students. In addition, vocational students’ motivation for learning English was found to be influenced and encouraged by many factors, particularly significant others, such as parents. The present study will enable English teachers to have a greater understanding of vocational students’ motives for learning English. This could help to improve teaching strategies, teaching materials and language policies; and, thus, enhance more effective learning of English in the vocational setting of Hong Kong
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