Understanding Saudi Students’ Self-Efficacy Beliefs in Learning English as a Foreign Language
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With the increasing importance of English as a required language in educational settings, many scholars have attempted to find ways to support and facilitate learners’ language-learning pursuits. These attempts include researching learning strategies and teaching methods. However, before initiating any of these, attention needs to be paid to learners and the beliefs which they hold, and self-efficacy lies at the heart of these beliefs. Some previous studies have linked it to overall achievement globally, others have found that it was linked to desirable attributes which facilitate learning and lead to success, such as increased strategy use and reduced anxiety. This current study is an attempt to further advance the research on EFL self-efficacy beliefs by understanding these beliefs in the specific context where they develop. The need for understanding these beliefs is triggered by an acknowledgement of the nature of these beliefs being context-sensitive and the fact that the common means of research investigating self-efficacy, which is questionnaire, fails to capture it. The study reported in this thesis was undertaken in a rarely studied context, Saudi Arabia. A qualitative mode of inquiry was adopted and a variety of interviews along with an EFL self-efficacy scale were used. The interviews were cognitive, narrative and semi-structured and were designed to create a deeper understanding of EFL efficacy beliefs; the participants were also varied, as maximum variation sampling was deployed, and the participants included a range of successful and less successful learners. In total, sixteen participants who had completed at least six years of studying English and who had started studying English in the foundation year were interviewed. Analysis of the acquired data showed that of the sources of efficacy, students’ interpretations of their English attainments, accessible support, and the expectations of significant others were important to the students’ sense of efficacy. It also showed the critical role which family, teachers and learning experiences play. The findings of the study set the ground for further research, offer practical implications and have implications for educators, researchers and policy makers. This study and its utilization of qualitative research methods illuminate our understanding of EFL learners’ self-efficacy beliefs as it sheds light on contextual and cultural influences on learners’ self-efficacy beliefs.
EFL, Learners, Self-efficacy