This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Examination of Language Learning Beliefs and Language Learning Strategy Use in Adult ESL Learners in a Higher Educational Setting




Lee, Seungheui

Type of Degree



Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


The purpose of this study was to examine adult international students’ English learning beliefs and their use of different learning strategies at a four-year institution. This study was conducted to analyze English learning strategy use and beliefs about English language learning, and the relationship between beliefs and use reported by 84 international university students. This study also examined the influence of background variables such as, gender, self-rated English proficiency, academic program, age, TOEFL scores, study hour, and race/ethnicity on learners’ beliefs and strategy use. Data were collected using four questionnaires, the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) developed by Oxford (1990), the Beliefs about Language Learning Inventory (BALLI) developed by Horwitz (1987), the Individual Background Questionnaire (IBQ), and the Follow-up Interview Questionnaire. Eighty four international students participated in the online survey, and six international students participated in the follow-up interview. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive analyses, factor analyses, Pearson r correlation analyses, T-test analysis, one-way ANOVA analysis, and the Scheffé post-hoc test. Sixty one point three percent of international students reported employing many strategies to enhance their English learning. Among six strategies, international students reported using social the most, followed by metacognitive, compensate, cognitive, memory, and affective. Findings of this study revealed that English studying hour and the TOEFL score affected international students’ strategy use. Sixty point seven percent of international students reported having strong iii beliefs about English learning. Among four English learning beliefs, beliefs about motivation were the most important factors, followed by learning preference, self-efficacy, and formal learning. Based on the findings, academic program and race/ethnicity affected international students’ beliefs about English learning. Also, there was a strong correlation between the language learning strategies and learners’ English learning beliefs. Qualitative data were analyzed using a phenomenological approach. In the interview, categories such as, beliefs about English learning situation (learning situation in their country and in the United States), external factors (language exposure, class activities, time/practice, standardized tests, knowing another language, culture, error correction, survival), internal factors (motivation/desire, personality), and difficulty of English learning (accent/pronunciation and vocabulary) emerged as factors that impacted learners’ beliefs about learning English and their strategy uses. Understanding what kinds of learning strategies international students employ and their assumptions of English learning is crucial for not just the students but also educators, administrators, and policy makers to promote and assist them to monitor their own learning to become successful language learners.