An investigation into the changes in student perceptions of and attitudes towards learning English as a second language in a Malaysian college
This study aims to examinet he changesin students'p erceptionso f and attitudes
towards learning English in a Malaysian college. Firstly, it aims to investigate how the
attitudes of students towards learning English changes during the critical transition period
from secondary school, where the medium of instruction is in Malay, to college, where
the medium of instruction is English. Then, it examines students' perceptions of their
English language classroom environment and teaching methodologies used, the
relationship of students with their teachers in both secondary school and college. It also
investigates their perceptions of the influence of home background on learning English.
Finally, it considers the influence of teacher attitudes on students' attitudes towards
The study focuses on 100 students enrolled in a first level English course during
their first semester in Petra College (a pseudonym), and the lecturers teaching these
students. Data for this study were collected by student's weekly journals and interviews
with students and lecturers. Analysis of the data was done qualitatively using an
interpretive approach. The aim of using this approach was to provide a view of the
second language learning process that is focused on perceptions of the learners.
The findings revealed that there was a difference in students' perceptions of and
attitudes towards learning English in secondary school and in college. Students' attitudes
towards learning English seemed more positive in college. The students perceived that
the environment in college was more conducive for learning English, and they noticed
difference between the strategies used by their secondary school teachers and college
lecturers. The findings suggest that secondary school teachers used a more structured
audio-lingual approach and were not empathetic towards their students' language needs.
On the other hand, the lecturers in college used more cooperative and interactive
approaches and were perceived to be more empathetic towards students' language needs.
The home background of students seemed to considerably influence their perceptions and
attitudes towards learning English as well. The implications from the study suggest that
teaching methodologies, the classroom environment, the school social environment, and
the family background could influence students' perceptions of and attitudes towards