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Beliefs about language learning and their relationship to proficiency

by Matthew Peacock
International Journal of Applied Linguistics ()

Abstract

This paper reports on a study that investigated the beliefs about language learning of 202 EFL students and 45 EFL teachers in the Department of English at the City University of Hong Kong. The primary aim of the study was to determine if the differences between student and teacher beliefs about language learning affect proficiency. Secondary aims were to develop hypotheses about the origins of Chinese learner beliefs about language learning, and to check the correlation between learner self-rated proficiency and tested proficiency. Data were collected using a 34-item self-report questionnaire (Horwitz's BALLI 2013 Beliefs About Language Learning Inventory), a comprehensive proficiency test, an interview, and a self-rated proficiency sheet. Results indicated that four of the mismatched learner beliefs negatively affected EFL proficiency: additionally, learner answers on seven other BALLI items were considered to have implications for the learning and teaching of EFL. It was concluded that a number of different learner beliefs were detrimental to language learning, and also that they resulted in many dissatisfied and frustrated students who could not understand the rationale behind the tasks they carried out in class.

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