Malaysian university students’ mental images of Portuguese-speaking countries and their motivations to learn Portuguese

Larisa Nikitina, Raan Hann Tan, Jamian Mohamad


This study investigated the mental images of Portuguese-speaking countries held by 91 students learning Portuguese in two large public universities in Malaysia. It also explored the factors that motivated them to learn Portuguese. This is the first such study to present findings on the mental images associated with Portuguese-speaking countries apart from Portugal and Brazil. The data analysis revealed that the students held a wide array of images of Portugal. The country was strongly associated in their minds with football, food, and the shared history of Malaysia and Portugal. The images of Portuguese-speaking countries, with the exception of Brazil, were less diverse and were at times erroneous. The students’ main motivation for learning Portuguese was to broaden knowledge about Portuguese-speaking countries. The students were also interested in learning more foreign languages. The findings suggest that the images of the target language countries had some influence on the language learners’ choice to learn Portuguese. The pedagogical implications of these findings are also discussed.



Portuguese as a foreign language; Malaysian language learners; mental images of Portuguese-speaking countries; language learning motivation

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Moderna språk - Romanska och klassiska institutionen - Stockholms universitet - SE-106 91 STOCKHOLM
ISSN: 2000-3560