Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

The Entwined Effects of Attitude, Motivation and Gender on EFL Learning: A Correlation Study

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

The Entwined Effects of Attitude, Motivation and Gender on EFL Learning: A Correlation Study

Article excerpt


Foreign language learners vary on a number of dimensions to do with personality, motivation, gender, aptitude, and age. The aim of this paper is to illustrate and summarize the relationship between personality and foreign language learning. Using a correlation study, findings indicated that females are better language learners being more motivated than men are, and having more positive attitudes towards language learning than male students.

Key words: Personality factors; Affect; Gender; Motivation; Attitude; EFL


The human personality is made up of three components: the psychomotor domain, the cognitive domain and the affective domain. Learning is mediated through these three domains interactively; people learn using their bodies, their thinking skills and their emotions. In the literature, Ajzen & Fishben (1980), Ajzen (1988), Corbin, et al. (1991), Locke (1996), Chiachiere (1997, Ehrman & Dörnye (1998) and Sung & Padilla (1998) claimed that the affective domain plays a crucial role in learning. Affective factors prominently include attitude and motivation.

Gardner and Lambert (1972) and Byram (2000) made clear that the nexus connecting attitudes and language learning has been observed in empirical research; leading educational thinkers produced two viewpoints: The resultative hypothesis assumes that a successful experience of language learning can potentially induce attitudes of the language learners not only towards the target language but also towards the country and its people where the language is natively spoken. The motivational hypothesis switches the directionality of influence to subtle, yet stable motive-like constructs, such as integrative versus instrumental motivation or intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.

Dörnyei (1998), Rahimpour (1990) and Dörnyei & Csizér (2002) argued that a positive attitude can possibly ease or support learning process whereas a negative attitude deactivates our learning potentials; negative attitudes function as psychological barriers to learning, especially, in language learning; i.e., an attitude-related factor is motivation. Attitude influences our motivation for learning, simply, given that an attitude has to do with what one likes or dislikes.

Dörnyei (1998) mentioned that attitude to foreign language learning has been investigated within the framework of the broader notion of motivation. Among an array of entwined factors, motivation is probably one of the fundamental determinants of individual's action.

Williams & Burden (1997) saw motivation as a process through which the learner is involved in some action or other. The word action suggests that the individual is a doer that performs out of determination a conscious decision, which can explain why terms like goal-oriented, reasoned action are dominantly employed in characterizing this process. Thus, have Motivation may be construed as a state of cognitive and emotional arousal which leads to conscious decision to act and gives rise to a period of sustained intellectual and/or physical effort in order to get a previously set goal.


Attitude and motivation research both in EFL and ESL situations fall in either of the two categories of psychological and social approaches. The former is typically a paradigm representing a trend of research which seeks to look for theoretical frameworks to explain motivation; while, the other category is more descriptive in nature such as examining the learners' motivational patterns in a given socio-cultural or educational environment. Relevant to the former, Gardner (1985) students' attitudes towards a specific language group are bond to influence on how successful they will be in incorporating new aspects of that language. Thus, motivation is the extent to which an individual works to learn a language because of a desire to do so and the satisfaction experienced in this activity. …

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