Learner Beliefs and Language Learning

| December 28, 2008
Learner Beliefs and Language Learning

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Rod Ellis
Chang Jiang Scholar of Shanghai
International Studies University
and University of Auckland

Bio Data
Professor Ellis, a renowned linguist, received his Doctorate from the University of London and his Master of Education from the University of Bristol. A former professor at Temple University both in Japan and the US, Prof. Ellis has taught in numerous positions in England, Japan, the US, Zambia and New Zealand. Dr. Ellis, who is known as the “Father of Second Language Acquisition”, has served as the Director of the Institute of Language Teaching and Learning at the University of Auckland. Author of numerous student and teacher training textbooks for Prentice Hall and Oxford University Press, Prof. Ellis’s textbooks on Second Language Acquisition and Grammar are core textbooks in TESOL and Linguistics programs around the world. Professor Ellis is a Distinguished Advisor to the Asian EFL Journal.

This article explores the nature of learner beliefs, how these beliefs can change over time and how their beliefs relate to learners developing proficiency. It reports three studies of learner beliefs. Ellis (2002) used metaphor analysis to explore the beliefs of six beginner classroom learners of L2 German. Tanaka (2004) conducted a longitudinal study of Japanese students on a 12-week study abroad programme in New Zealand, using both quantitative and qualitative methods to show how these beliefs changed over time and the relationship between these changes and their developing proficiency. Zhong (2008) conducted a case study of a Chinese migrant learner of English in New Zealand, documenting how her beliefs changed over 10-week period and how these changes were reflected in changes in her English proficiency. These studies suggest that researchers wishing to investigate learner beliefs would do better to rely on qualitative methods such as interviews and diary studies rather than questionnaires. They also point to the situated and dynamic nature of learner belief systems and the indirect relationship between beliefs and learning.

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Category: 2008 Quarterly, Main Editions, Volume 10 Issue 4