Beliefs about Language Learning: A Comparison between Novice and Interm ediate Level Students Learning Russian at a Malaysian University

April 2007. Volume 2 Issue 1

Title
Beliefs about Language Learning:
A Comparison between Novice and Intermediate Level Students Learning Russian at a Malaysian University

Author
Larisa Nikitina and Fumitaka Furuoka
Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Malaysia

Bio Data:
Larisa Nikitina (B.A., M.A.) is a lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Sabah where she teaches the Russian language. Her current research interest focuses on the affective aspects of language learning and the study of language learning motivation.

Fumitaka Furuoka (Ph.D.) teaches Economics at Universiti Malaysia Sabah. He is the author of numerous publications that employ quantitative analysis in various social sciences fields. His most recent major publication is the book entitled New Challenges for Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) Policy: Human Rights, Democracy and Aid Sanctions (Universiti Malaysia Sabah Press, 2006). Fumitaka Furuoka’s research interests include the quantitative analysis and measurement of psychometric qualities of tools employed in the field of second language acquisition to assess learners’ characteristics.

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Abstract
Elaine Horwitz’s influential research on the nature of students’ and teachers’ beliefs about language learning in the 1980s initiated a multitude of inquiries into the subject. Malaysia as a multi-cultural and multi-lingual country provides an interesting socio-linguistic setting to explore the nature of beliefs about language learning. However, research on this topic in the Malaysian context is lacking. This study aimed to address this gap and examined beliefs about learning a foreign language held by 107 Russian language students at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). The present inquiry juxtaposed beliefs held by the beginners and intermediate learners in order to assess which areas of beliefs were commonly shared by the two groups of learners and which areas contained considerable differences in beliefs. This study employed a self-reported questionnaire based on Horwitz’s (1988) Beliefs About Language Learning Inventory (BALLI) as a research instrument, with some modifications done to suit the Malaysian context. Statistical analysis detected five items where opinions of two groups of students were significantly different. Although participants in this study were the Russian language students, there are no obstacles to viewing the findings of this research in a broader perspective of foreign language learning and teaching.

Key words: foreign language learning, foreign language teaching, language learning beliefs, Malaysia, the Russian language

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Category: 2007