Taiwanese university students’ beliefs about language learning and strategy use in an EFL exit test environment
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To understand learners’ beliefs about language learning and strategy use in an EFL exit test environment, this study investigated Taiwanese university students’ language learning beliefs; EFL exit test beliefs; language learning, test-preparation, and test-taking strategies; the relationships among their beliefs and strategy use; and the differences in students’ beliefs and strategy use according to their major, gender, grade level, entrance exam English score, and EFL exit test experience. A total of 518 Taiwanese university students participated in the questionnaire study. Two major instruments were developed and used to measure students’ beliefs and strategy use in the Taiwanese EFL exit test context: (1) the Belief about Language Learning in an EFL Exit test Context (BALLIEETC), and (2) the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning in an EFL Exit test Context (SILLEETC). Analysis of the questionnaire data involved descriptive statistics, factor analysis, canonical correlation analysis, and multivariate analysis of variance. The questionnaire results suggested the following: (1) students believed in the importance of speaking English well, repeating and practicing, learning vocabulary words, acquiring excellent pronunciation, and correcting errors; (2) students primarily used memory, cognitive, compensation, metacognitive, test-preparation, and test-taking strategies to learn English, prepare for the EFL exit test, and take the test; (3) students’ beliefs were associated with their strategy use; (4) English majors had stronger beliefs and higher levels of strategy use than non-English majors; (5) students with higher entrance exam English scores had stronger beliefs and higher levels of strategy use than those of lower scores; (6) college seniors believed more in foreign language aptitude and use test-taking strategies more often than freshmen; (7) students who had taken and passed an EFL exit test had stronger beliefs and higher levels of strategy use than those who had not taken a test. The results of this study support an association between learners’ beliefs and strategy use. Understanding students’ beliefs about language learning and the EFL exit test, as well as their use of language-learning, test-preparation, and test-taking strategies, may enable EFL teachers to help students develop effective language learning, test-preparation, and test-taking strategies and improve their English abilities and EFL exit test performance. The field of second language acquisition may also benefit from insights into students’ beliefs and their use of strategies in an EFL exit test environment. The EFL exit test may affect students’ beliefs about language learning and strategy use, such as their having stronger beliefs about the importance of vocabulary and higher levels of memory strategy use.