Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Understanding EAP learners' beliefs, motivation and strategies from a socio-cultural perspective : a longitudinal study at an English-medium university in mainland China
Author: Li, Chili
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2013
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Research on second language learners’ beliefs, motivation, and strategies has been growing in recent decades. However, few studies have been undertaken on Chinese tertiary learners of English for academic purposes (EAP) within a broader English as a foreign language (EFL) context. The current call for a socio-cultural theory in second language acquisition (SLA) has also highlighted the necessity of a socio-cultural approach to research on learners’ beliefs, motivation, and strategies. This study thus aims to fill these gaps by following a socio-cultural approach to examining changes in beliefs, motivation, and strategies of a cohort of Chinese tertiary EAP learners in Mainland China. The study is longitudinal and situated in a Sino-foreign university where English is used as the Medium of Instruction (EMI). Data of the study were collected through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews at two stages. The design of the questionnaires and interviews was informed by current discussion on learners’ beliefs, motivation, and strategies in the literature of second language teaching and research. At the first stage, the questionnaire was administered to 1026 students upon their arrival at the EMI University and 16 students were selected for semi-structured interviews. At the second stage, after having studied EAP for one academic year at the EMI University, the questionnaire was distributed again to the same cohort of the students and semi-structured interviews were conducted with the same group of participants in order to identify potential changes in their beliefs, motivation, and strategies and to obtain an in-depth understanding of the nature of changes. The questionnaire surveys identified significant changes in the participants’ beliefs, motivation, and strategies after they had studied EAP for an academic year at the EMI University. The participants showed stronger beliefs about the difficulty and nature of language learning and autonomous language learning, a significant increase in motivation, and a higher level of use of learning strategies. Changes in the three learner variables were also found in the interviews. These changes indicate possible influence of learning context upon learners’ beliefs, motivation, and strategies. The analysis of the in-depth interviews further revealed that these changes were attributable to the mediation of various socio-cultural factors in the EMI setting, including the learning environment at the EMI University, studying content subjects in English, learning tasks, extracurricular activities, formative assessments, and other important factors such as teachers and peers. The interviews also illustrated that the dynamic changes in the participants’ beliefs, motivation, and strategies might be accounted for by the participants’ internalisation of the mediation of the socio-cultural factors through exercising their agency. Based on the findings, this research argues that the development of language learners’ beliefs, motivation, and strategies is the result of the interplay between agency and context. The present study deepens our understanding of the nature of learner development in that it contributes to the socio-cultural exploration of contextual influence on second language learning in SLA research. The study also has pedagogical significance for its practical recommendations for English language teaching in EMI settings in Mainland China and other similar EFL contexts.
Supervisor: Ruan, Zhoulin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PE English