This mixed-methods study explores english and japanese learning motivations in a group of japanese summer course participants at a university in hong kong. Sixty-one cantonese-speaking students completed two questionnaire surveys on co-existing motivations for learning l2 english and l3 japanese. Depending on the questionnaire results, eight participants were selected to take part in the two subsequent interviews. The findings revealed that the participants perceived l2 english learning as a school subject and a practical tool for academics and career. It was instrumentality, rather than integrativeness, that motivated the students to learn english. Contrary results were found for l3 japanese language learning, as the learners had more cultural interest, positive learning experience, self-confidence, and positive attitudes. This study, therefore, argues that l2 and l3 motivations merit distinct status. There appears to exist a dual-motivation system amongst these multilingual learners. The study also provides insights into how geographical and psychological distances could impact language learning under the phenomena of globalisation. John benjamins publishing company.