The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 55–64 | Cite as

A Qualitative Inquiry on EFL Learning Demotivation and Resilience: A Study of Primary and Secondary EFL Students in South Korea

  • Tae-Young KimEmail author
  • Youngmi Kim
  • Ji-Young Kim
Regular Article


This paper presents the components influencing English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learning demotivation and resilience. Semi-structured interview data from 23 EFL students and nine teachers were thematically analyzed guided by the Grounded Theory approach after systematic reiterative comparative reviewing. The major demotivators were teachers’ lack of clear delivery for elementary school students, excessive afterschool learning programs at private institutes for junior high school students, and impractical EFL lessons focusing on grammar rather than spoken English for high school students. In order to curb these demotivators and maintain high EFL learning motivation levels, four distinctive components influencing their resilience were identified: social support, emotional regulation, a clear learning goal, and tenacity in EFL learning. This study illustrates that emotional regulation, not negative emotions such as anxiety, is crucial, and students’ clearly stated short-term learning goal is a crucial component in maintaining high academic resilience. Participants cultivated specific components influencing resilience as they advanced academically. Additionally, high-proficiency EFL students exhibited greater tenacity and utilized various coping strategies. We argue for the necessity to refine the sub-constructs of EFL learning demotivation and resilience and recommend the need for a follow-up confirmatory study to prove the conceptual validity of these constructs.


Resilience Demotivation English as a foreign language Interview methods 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© De La Salle University 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English Education, College of EducationChung-Ang UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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