Attitude and confidence: a study on tertiary learners of English

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Samenvatting

Researchers in SLA have increasingly argued that, apart from studying cognitively how second language learners acquire practical language skills, we need to draw attention to and understand better the nature of the learning processes at the site of language use from sociocultural perspectives. In order to gain insights into the complex processes involving various social and contextual factors, one useful approach is to adopt an 'emic' perspective, that is, the perspective of learners themselves, and study the conceptual, affective and social contributions of learners in interaction with features of second language context.
This paper is based on an exploratory study that examines the affective thoughts, beliefs and attitudes of L2 learners of English at Flemish tertiary level. It also explores the extent to which the learners feel confident about using English. In addition, due to the growing and explicit attention paid to English concerning its role as an international language and particularly a lingua franca in Europe, the study makes an attempt to look at the level of awareness among the learners with regard to the alleged diversities of English. The research questions are as follows:
1.How do learners at tertiary level feel about learning English as a foreign language?
2.How confident are they when it comes to using English (in both academic and non-academic contexts)? What contributes to their sense of confidence?
3.To what extent are they aware of and sensitive to the changing status of English (e.g. from English to Englishes; English as a foreign language to English as a lingua franca and an international language)
As the purpose of the study is to explore and understand the potential attitudinal, emotional and cultural repertoires the learners have constructed in their English language learning, a qualitative method was chosen for collecting data. In particular, an in-depth interview technique was used, based on a set of open-ended questions. The interviews were conducted with master degree students of English in two separate stages, namely, as a focus group and as individuals.
It is expected that the exploration will help to increase our knowledge about the nature of the processes in which the learners engage to build up a relationship with English, and the effect of that relationship on their future learning and self-positioning. The study will also shed an important light on issues such as how agency, ownership of English, and identity are linked together and manifested in the second language learners studying/learning English in Flanders.
Originele taal-2English
TitelBAAHE Annual Congress, University of Namur, November 22: Namur, Belgium.
StatusPublished - 2008

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