Second language learners' beliefs about language learning and their use of learning strategies : a study of college students of English in Taiwan




Yang, Nae-Dong, 1962-

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This study investigated the beliefs about language learning and use of language learning strategies by college EFL students in Taiwan. The relationship between learners' beliefs and strategy use was also studied. A total of 505 students enrolled in undergraduate English classes in Taiwan participated in the study. An English Learning Questionnaire, which was composed of two self-report measures Horwitz's (1987) Beliefs About Language Learning Inventory and Oxford's (1989) Strategy Inventory for Language Learning and an Individual Background Questionnaire, were translated into Chinese and administered to the students during their regular English classes. Factor analyses were computed to determine the underlying composite belief variables and composite strategy variables. The results showed that many students had positive self-efficacy about learning English. They endorsed ideas about foreign language aptitude and the importance of practice and formal structural studies. These students also reported using a variety of learning strategies, with formal oral-practice strategies and compensation strategies used more frequently and cognitive-memory strategies, least frequently. Two significant canonical correlations between the composite belief and strategy variables were obtained. The first significant linkage related language learners' feelings of self-efficacy about learning English to their use of all types of learning strategies, especially functional practice strategies. The second significant linkage related learners' beliefs about the value and nature of learning spoken English to the use of formal oral-practice strategies. The results of this study suggested that the relationships between beliefs and strategy use might not be unidirectional. As learners' beliefs likely affect their learning strategy use, the use of learning strategies may also influence learners' self-efficacy and other beliefs about language learning. In addition, female students were found to use social strategies more often than male students, and foreign language majors had a greater tendency to believe in foreign language aptitude than did other majors. In brief, the results of this study provided empirical support for a connection between language learners' beliefs and their learning strategy use. A better understanding of the beliefs and learning strategy use of the EFL students in Taiwan, as well as practical suggestions for EFL instruction in Taiwan, has been achieved