Students’ abilities to use English as an International Language (EIL) have become one of the most important graduate knowledge and skills in Asia-Pacific universities facing the challenge of globalisation. However, many Asian students lack the motivation to learn this important language and disengage readily from the learning process. Using a person-in-context perspective, this project investigates the issues of engagement and disengagement in learning EIL. Based on interview and observational, this project will develop situated models explaining students’ engagement and disengagement in learning EIL in Japan and Hong Kong.


The project is funded by various university grants for international collaboration, research fellowships and support for visiting scholars.


2012-2014 (phase 1), 2015-2016 (phase 2)

Industry partners

  • Distance Learning Center, Graduate School of Education, Waseda University, Japan
  • Centre for Enhancing English Learning and Teaching, Faculty of Education, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Research problem

Why and under what situations do Asian university students engage in, and disengage from, learning EIL?


This project has completed its data collection phase in Japan’s Waseda University.  Some initial results have been presented in an invited symposium at the 2013 Asian Conference on Education at Osaka. Clarence Ng and Michiko Nakano have contracted with Springer to report the results of this project in a book, entitled “Enhancing learning engagement in English as an international lingua franca in Asia: A pedagogical innovation”.

A new phase for this project (2015/16) will include a Chinese sample of university students from Hong Kong. Barley Mak, Director, Centre for Enhancing English Learning and Teaching, Chinese University of Hong Kong will join this project and examine the effects of learners’ language and learning identities on learning engagement and learning outcomes in EIL.


November 17, 2016

Chief Investigator/s

Professor Clarence Ng

Research Status


Research Partners

Professor Michiko Nakano, Waseda University, Japan

Professor Barley Mak, Chinese University of Hong Kong



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