Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Beliefs about English Language Learning Held by EFL Pre-Service and In-Service Teachers in Lao People's Democratic Republic

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Beliefs about English Language Learning Held by EFL Pre-Service and In-Service Teachers in Lao People's Democratic Republic

Article excerpt

Abstract

The present investigation aims to explore the existence of similarities and differences of beliefs about English Language learning held by EFL pre-service and in-service teachers in Lao P.D.R. A total of 962 pre-service teachers and 129 in-service teachers from 3 universities and 8 Teachers' Training Colleges were involved in this study. Two questionnaires were used to collect the data. Chi-square (χ^sup 2^) tests were used to analyze the quantitative data from both pre-service teachers' and in-service teachers' questionnaires. The results of the chi-square (χ^sup 2^) tests revealed that 13 out of 39 items of beliefs varied significantly between pre-service and in-service teachers.

Keywords: English language learning, learners' beliefs, teachers' beliefs, pre-service and in-service teachers, EFL

1. Introduction

Pre-service and In-service teachers come to any teacher education program with prior experiences, knowledge and beliefs about learning and teaching English. Pre-service and In-service teachers' prior knowledge and beliefs have an effective role in developing them as prospective teachers and teachers.

Since the 1980s, language learners' beliefs, with the influence of research in cognitive psychology, have received remarkable attention by researchers (Horwitz, 1987a; Wenden, 1986a, 1986b, 1999). Horwitz (1987b) developed an instrument, Beliefs about Language Learning Inventory (BALLI), to assess learners' beliefs about language learning in five major areas: (1) The difficulty of language learning; (2) Foreign language aptitude; (3) The nature of language learning; (4) Learning and communication strategies; and (5) motivation and expectations. Since then, BALLI questionnaires have been widely used or modified for use by some researchers in investigating learners' beliefs in second or foreign language settings.

Learners' beliefs about language learning not only have the potential to influence learners' experience and actions as language learners but also have direct or indirect effects on learners' behavior (Wen & Johnson, 1997), and they may directly influence or even determine a learner's attitudes toward language and language learning or his/her motivation (Riley, 1996). Moreover, the preconceived beliefs about language learning would be likely to affect the way the learners use their learning strategies to learn a second or foreign language (Horwitz, 1987a, 1988; Wenden, 1986a, 1987a). Kagan (1992, p. 85) also affirms that the study of beliefs is critical to educational practice since beliefs may be "the clearest measure of a teacher's professional growth".

A number of studies have been conducted in the past two decades to examine beliefs about language learning of various groups of second /foreign language learners including native English speakers studying foreign languages (Horwitz, 1988; Kern, 1995; Mori, 1999), ESL learners (Cotterall, 1995; Horwitz, 1987; Wenden, 1986, 1987), EFL learners (Peacock, 1999; Sakui & Gaies, 1999; Truitt, 1995; Wen & Johnson, 1997; Yang, 1999), and non-native English speakers such as Thai and Vietnamese university science-oriented students (Intaraprasert, 2004), Chinese university students and teachers in the People's Republic of China (Wang, 2008), and Turkish pre-service teachers' language learning beliefs and effects of these beliefs on their practice teaching (Incecay, 2011), and relationships among beliefs in learning English of Thai graduate students in a public university (Suwanarak, 2013). Furthermore, in some studies, the relationships between learners' beliefs about language learning and factors that can affect language learning success such as motivation, readiness and self-competency, language learning strategies, and anxiety were investigated (Yang & Peacock, 1999). Besides, some beliefs about language learning have been found to correlate with English proficiency. As cited in Vibulphol (2004), these findings suggest that second language teachers, with an understanding of learners' beliefs about language learning, can help enhance learners' success in language learning two ways: by promoting their students' beliefs that are facilitative to language learning e. …

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