Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Knowledge, Education, and Attitudes of International Students to IELTS: A Case of Australia

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Knowledge, Education, and Attitudes of International Students to IELTS: A Case of Australia

Article excerpt

Abstract

The main objective of this study is to determine the knowledge, education and attitudes of Chinese, Indian and Arab speaking students in Australia towards the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. A questionnaire was administered to 200 students at six university language centers to investigate their overall response towards the four components of the IELTS test i.e. listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It was hypothesized that having positive or negative attitudes toward a certain language can exert considerable effect on the learners' performance on a language test. The effect of variables such as testing environment, test rubric, and broader demographic factors on attitudes of the three national groups were investigated. Significant differences were found on students' misconceptions of language learning, motivation and the degree to which it may have hindered their progress in attaining language skills.

Keywords: International students; IELTS test; Language and education; language attitudes

Although it is widely debated that students' attitudes towards a certain language proficiency test may affect their performance on that test, research on attitudes of these groups towards International English Language Testing System (IELTS ) is still absent. And crucially, how such attitudes might affect their overall band score in a standardized test such as IELTS is lacking. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between Chinese, Indian and Arab IELTS candidates' knowledge, education and attitudes and their performance on IELTS and address significant gaps in this area of research study.

Much has been written about the IELTS methods of operations, validity of assessing the candidate readiness to move to higher education, and its contribution to the learning process in university environments (Coleman, Starfield, & Hagaen, 2003). The current study extends the research further to focus on the benefits and drawbacks as perceived by three national groups: Chinese, Indian and Arab (Gulf region) candidates. Chinese and Gulf Arab learners are now the fastest growing group of international students in Australia (Marginson, 2011). Population increases, rapid economic growth, and strong aspirations of studying have all contributed to such an upsurge in studying IELTS in preparation for enrollments at accredited universities in both countries. Other reasons such as flexibility, affordability, reputation and accessibility to courses clearly play additional roles in attracting them to Australia (Marginson, 2011; Lo Bianco, 2005).

Holmes (1992) states that if people feel positive toward those who use the language, they would be more successful and also more highly motivated toward learning it. Van Lier (1996) claims that working with interesting and meaningful manifestations of language enhances motivation and positive attitudes to language and language learning

Consequently, one could assume that if second language learners initiate their language learning while they have negative attitudes towards the target language and the people using that language, they are not expected to make considerable progress in their process of language learning. This assumption was held as far back as 1995 when Truitt (1995) hypothesized that students' beliefs and attitudes about language learning may vary based on cultural background and previous experiences. Thus, it can be argued that positive or negative attitudes do not develop accidentally but have some reason for their emergence. Malallaha (2000) investigated the attitudes of Arab learners towards English and discovered that they have positive attitudes toward the English language and their proficiency in tests was positively related to their positive attitude to English. Hence, it can be argued that having positive or negative attitudes towards a certain language can exert considerable effect on the learners' performance on a language test. …

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