On the Relationship between Iranian L2 Teachers' Pedagogical Beliefs and L2 Learners' Attitudes

By Sharajabian, Maryam; Hashemian, Mahmood | English Language Teaching, November 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

On the Relationship between Iranian L2 Teachers' Pedagogical Beliefs and L2 Learners' Attitudes


Sharajabian, Maryam, Hashemian, Mahmood, English Language Teaching


1. Introduction

Over the past 30 years, research has suggested that teachers' beliefs heavily influence their pedagogical practice (e.g., Borg, 2003; Mangubhai et al., 2004; Ng & Farrell, 2003), their instructional decisions in the classroom (Tillema, 2000), and acceptance and uptake of new approaches, techniques and activities (Donaghue, 2003).

Teachers' beliefs are important concepts in understanding their thought processes, instructional practices, and change and learning to teach. As the research on teaching shifts its focus from products to processes, the research on teachers' cognition, since the late 1970s has progressed through three distinct stages, each characterized by an emphasis on a particular domain of teachers' cognitive life: teachers' planning, teachers' interactive thoughts and decisions, and teachers' beliefs and implicit theories (Clark & Peterson, 1986).

Kara (2009) stated that attitudes towards learning-besides opinions and beliefs-have an obvious influence on students' behaviors and, consequently, on their performance. It is argued that those students who possess positive beliefs about language learning have a tendency to increase more positive attitudes towards language learning. Conversely, negative beliefs may lead to class anxiety, low cognitive achievement, and negative attitudes (Victori & Lockhart, 1995).

Reid (2003) says that "attitudes are important to teachers because they cannot be neatly separated from study" (p. 33). Attitude is considered as an essential factor influencing language performance (Visser, 2008). Achievement in an L2 relies not only on intellectual capacity, but also on/in the learner's attitudes towards language learning. This means that learning a language should be approached primarily as a social and psychological phenomenon rather than as a purely academic one.

Wenden (1991) proposes a broader definition of attitudes and classifies attitude into three components: cognitive, affective, and behavioral. The cognitive component is made up of the beliefs and thoughts about the object of the attitude. The affective component involves the person's emotions towards an object, likes or dislikes, with or against. Finally, the behavioral component refers to one's consisting actions or tendency to adopt special learning behaviors (Zainol Abidin, Pour-Mohammadi, & Alzwari, 2012).

Despite the existence of a large body of research literature on teachers' beliefs and learners' attitudes, there have been only a limited number of studies on the relationship between teachers' beliefs and learners' attitudes. English is learnt by more nonnative speakers as an L2, than the native speakers (Canagarajah, 2005). As learning a language, especially English, is an important issue in today's globalized world, this study aimed to find out if there is a positive relationship between EFL teachers' beliefs on how their students learn English and how these beliefs are related to the students' attitudes. The attitude concept is considered as an essential component in language learning. Students' attitude toward learning English can characterize their teachers' beliefs, and it is related to teachers' attitude who try to attract their students' motivation to learn English in the best way. Other studies that propose that teachers are an important influence on learners' motivation include Dörnyei's (1994) study.

Attitude is considered as one of the most important components of language learning. Regarding L2 learners' attitude towards English language learning, it is obvious that most of L2 learners in EFL contexts learn English as a compulsory subject. It is recommended that teachers in EFL classrooms motivate their learners towards the English language learning by highlighting its importance. Teachers should be responsive to their learners' attitudes and value their attitudes and preconceptions, as they can affect their success in L2 learning. Briefly, EFL teachers should involve learners in activities that build up positive attitudes towards learning English. …

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