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A Study on the Relationship between Iranian EFL Learners' Beliefs and Their Writing Ability

A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language

 پایان نامه برای دریثافت درجه کارشناسی ارشد رشته زبان خارجه انگلیسی گرایش آموزش زبان انگلیسی

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توضیحات

Abstract

The current study aims to explore the relationship between Iranian EFL learners’ beliefs about foreign language learning and their writing ability. An additional aim is to discover whether there is a significant effect of gender differences’ learning beliefs on their writing ability. For making sure the Oxford Placement Test (OPT) was administered. A total of 80 students were homogeneously selected based on the OPT score among upper-intermediate participants in some English language institutes in Amol, Babol, and Babolsar, Mazandaran, Iran. The participants were asked to complete Horwitz’s BALLI questionnaire (1987) to sort them out in control group (negative beliefs) and experimental group (positive beliefs). A post writing ability test (a free composition) was administered at the end of the semester. The given statements and scores were analyzed by Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) to assess the results. Furthermore Distribution of t was conducted for gender differences. The findings show a significant relationship between Iranian EFL learners’ beliefs about foreign language learning and their writing ability. Participants who have more positive and realistic beliefs about foreign language learning made excellent to very good scores in their writing ability test and the students, who have negative and unrealistic beliefs about foreign language learning mostly made fair to poor in their writing ability test. The findings also reveal that there is no significant effect of gender differences’ learning beliefs on their writing ability. There is no need for the teachers and students to be treated about the aims of the investigation.

Key words:

Learners’ beliefs, Writing ability, Oxford placement test, The BALLI questionnaire

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENT………………………………………………………………….III

ABSTRACT………………………………………………………………………………...1

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION

1.0 Introduction……………………………………………………………………………..2

1.1 Theoretical framework……………………………………………………………….....4

1.1.1 Learning beliefs…………………………………………………….……….....4

1.1.2 Writing ability....................................................................................................5

1.2 Statement of the problem……………………………………………………………….6          

1.3 Purpose of the study.........................................................................................................8

1.4 Research questions of the study………………………………………………………...9

1.5 Research hypothesis………………………………………………………………….....9

1.6 Significance of the study………………………………………………………………10

1.7 Definition of key terms………………………………………………………………..10

1.7.1 Learners’ beliefs………………….…………………………………………..11

1.7.2 Writing ability..................................................................................................11

1.7.3 Oxford Placement Test……………………………….………………………12

1.7.4 The BALLI questionnaire…………….……………………………………...12

1.8 Summary………………………………………………………………………………12

CHAPTER 2 LITRATURE REVIEW

2.0 Introduction……………………………………………………………………………15

2.1 Learner beliefs about foreign language learning………………………………………15

2.2 Learning theories……………………………………………………………………....17

2.2.1 Behaviorism………………………….………………………………………18

2.2.2 Classical conditioning…………….………………………………………….18

2.2.3 Operant conditioning…………….…………………………………………...19

2.2.4 Cognitivism………………………………….……………………………….20

2.2.5 Constructivism……….………………………………………………………20

2.2.5.1 Jean Piaget………………….………………………………………21

2.2.5.2 Vygotsky’s social development theory…………………..…………24

2.3 The nature of beliefs…………………………………………………………………...25

2.4 Four approaches to investigating learners’ beliefs…………………………….………26

2.4.1 The normative approach………………….…………………………………..26

2.4.2 The meta-cognitive approach……………………………………….………..27

2.4.3 The contextual approach……………….…………………………………….29

2.4.4 The indirect approach…………………………….…………………………..30

2.5 Beliefs about language learning……………………………………………………….32

2.5.1 Definition of beliefs about language learning………….…………………….32

2.5.2 Individual differences………………………....……………………….…….33

2.5.3 Influence of learning beliefs on language learning……………….…….……33

2.6 Studies on beliefs about language learning……………………………………………34

2.6.1 Studies on beliefs in an ESL context………………………………………...34

2.6.2 Studies on beliefs in an EFL context………………………………………...36

2.6.3 Horwitz and beliefs about language learning inventory (BALLI)…. ……….39

2.6.4 Researches in Iran into beliefs about language learning……….…….………41  

2.7 Second language writing ability……………………………………………………….46

2.7 1 Main characteristic of upper-intermediate level of writing ability…...……...47

2.7.2 Appropriate scales for scoring……….....……………………………………48

2.7.3 Analytic scoring profile (model of Jacob et al. (1981))…… ………..………48

2.7.4 Five criteria of writing in Jacobs et al.’ (1981) scoring profile...……………49

2.7.5 Holistic scoring…………………………………….………………………...51                    

2.8 Relationship between second language writing ability and learners’ beliefs……...….51

2.9 A brief overview of gender differences……………………………………….………52

2.10 Summary……………………………………………………………………………..54

CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY

3.0 Introduction……………………………………………………………………………56

3.1 pilot study……………………………………………………………………………...56

3.1.1 Reliability of the BALLI…………………………….……………………….57

3.1.2 Validity of the BALLI……………………….……………………………….57

3.2 The design of the study………………………………………………………………..58

3.3 Participants…………………………………………………………………………….59

3.4 Materials (Instrument)…………………………………………………………………59

3.4.1 Oxford Placement Test (OPT)……....… ……………………………………60

3.4.2 Beliefs about language learning inventory (BALLI)……… ….…………….61

3.4.2.1 The difficulty of language learning……………..…………….…….62

3.4.2.2 Foreign language aptitude……………………….………….………62

3.4.2.3 Nature of language learning…………………………….….……….62

3.4.2.4 Learning and communication strategies…….……………….……..63

3.4.2.5 Motivations and expectations…………………….……….………..63

3.5 Procedures……………………………………………………………………………..63

3.6 Data analysis procedures………………………………………………………………64

3.7 Summary………………………………………………………………………………65

CHAPTER 4 RESULTS

4.0 Introduction……………………………………………………………………………68

4.1 Data analysis and finding……………………………………………………………...71

4.1.1 Data analysis and finding on the motivations and expectations………..……71

4.1.2 Data analysis and finding on the nature of language learning……….………72

4.1.3 Data analysis and finding on learning and communicationstrategies…….....74

4.1.4 Data analysis and finding on foreign language aptitude……………….…….75

4.1.5 Data analysis and finding on difficulty of learning a foreign language…..….76

4.1.6 Data analysis and finding on the relationship between males’ learning beliefs

and their writing ability…………………………………………………………………....78

4.1.7 Data analysis and finding on the relationship between females’ learning beliefs and their writing ability…………………………………………………………....78

4.1.8 Data analysis and finding on the relationship between both males’ and females’ learning beliefs and their writing ability………………………………………...79

4.1.9 T-test for gender differences…………………….…………………………...80

4.2 Hypothesis analysis……………………………………………………………………81

4.3 Summary………………………………………………………………………………82

CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION

5.0 Introduction……………………………………………………………………………84

5.1 General discussion…………………………………………………………………….85

5.1.1 Beliefs about language learning…………….………………………………..87

5.1.2 Relationship between learners’ beliefs and writing ability………….……….91

5.1.3 Gender differences………………………….………………………………..93

5.2 Pedagogical implications……………………………………………………………...93

5.3 Limitations of the study……………………………………………………………….94

5.4 Suggestion for further research………………………………………………………..94

REFERENCES…………………………………………………………………………….96

 

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