Engineering students’ beliefs about foreign language learning and school career

Akihiro Saito, Junko Maeda

Abstract


This mixed-methods inquiry begins with the supposition that students’ choice of tertiary subject area and their former school experience might attract those with similar individual traits, including beliefs about second language (L2) learning. This study aims to explore the latent factorial structure of language learning beliefs of 253 engineering students in Japan, using Sakui and Gaies’ “Beliefs about Language Learning Questionnaire” (Sakui & Gaies, 1999). The students’ beliefs were organized into a five-factor structure and differed according to their school career. The results were different from earlier studies that involved non-engineering undergraduates in Japan and suggest that the organization of these engineering majors’ L2 learning beliefs differs significantly from that of non-engineering majors. However, a qualitative interview revealed that two individuals from within the same university discipline can have contrasting learning beliefs. The findings suggest that it is necessary to raise foreign language teachers’ awareness of the ways in which L2 learning beliefs can influence students’ learning behaviours and preferred learning styles.

Keywords


beliefs; preferred learning styles; Japanese English language learners; engineering majors; university English

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