Taiwanese students' beliefs about learning English and their relations to the students' self-reported language learning behaviors

Date
2011
Authors
Chen, Wan-Ching
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Abstract

This study investigated Taiwanese students' beliefs about learning English as a foreign language (EFL) and their relations to the students' self-reported language learning behaviors in a technological university.

Literature has suggested that learners' beliefs contribute to their learning behaviors and learning outcomes. However, in the field of second language acquisition (SLA), there have been relatively few studies on learner beliefs. The issue of whether learner beliefs constitute an individual difference variable remains unresolved. Taking a socio-cognitive perspective, the researcher postulates that, rather than an individual difference variable, learner beliefs are socio-cognitive phenomena which are derived from the learners' social experiences. Language learners' beliefs greatly influence their language learning behaviors.

Using a survey research method with the instruments of a modified Beliefs about Language Learning Inventory (BALLI, Horwitz, 1987, 1988) and Functional Beliefs Scales (FBS), this study explored the relationship between Taiwanese students' beliefs about learning English and their self-reported language learning behaviors. Furthermore, this study examined how the students' beliefs and other factors might have an impact on their perceived learning outcomes.

The results showed that the students' self-efficacy beliefs about learning English influenced their motivational behaviors in terms of their English language use, time and effort devoted to learning English, and persistence on English learning tasks. The perceived collective functional beliefs in the global context also contributed to their time and effort devoted to learning English. Moreover, the students' prior learning experiences, beliefs, and motivational behaviors all had an impact on their perceived learning outcomes.

Although the results indicated that English language use as well as time and effort devoted to learning English contributed to the students' perceived English proficiency, many of them did not appear to actively adopt these motivational behaviors. These findings suggest that the key to understanding the students' practices rests on their beliefs. Therefore, instead of viewing the students as being motivated or unmotivated, they should be considered social agents who make strategic choices and decide how much they want to invest in learning English according to their beliefs about their self-efficacy, their relationship to the language, and their subjective position in their social world.

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Keywords
beliefs, EFL, individual difference, investment, motivation, socio-cognitive
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Department
Bicultural-Bilingual Studies