Analysing affective factors in relation to students’ achievement and behaviour in EFL in Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Digital Library
This study investigates the relationships between attitude, motivation and anxiety in relation to students’ effort and achievement in learning English as a foreign language (EFL). It examines the influence of affect on the foreign language learning of Saudi secondary students (years 10– 12, aged 16–18 years) to elucidate the obstacles that hinder successful English language learning in Saudi Arabia. The study uses a mixed-methods approach, which combines data from questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. One hundred and thirty-three students completed a questionnaire that was created with input from Gardner (2004) and Dörnyei (2001) to measure attitude, Noels (2003) and Aljasir (2016) to measure motivation, and Horwitz et al. (1986) to measure anxiety. Descriptive statistics and partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) were employed to analyse data collected from the questionnaire. In addition, 18 interviewees participated in this study and the data collected were analysed qualitatively. The analysis produced interesting results, which highlight the significant role of affective factors in language learning. All affective factors, albeit to varying degrees, predict students’ effort and achievement. Examining students’ effort in addition to their achievement helps to gain better insights into the relationships between the study variables. Moreover, the year of study and the education situation influence the relationship between affective factors and learning outcomes, resulting in increasing controlled motivation with age and increased anxiety for year 11 students. In addition, language attitude is more effective when it is related to the importance of learning the language for pragmatic values independent of the classroom experience. When attitude is related to learning English only as a school requirement, they will have less effect on the learning process. The findings highlight the significant role of teachers to enhance students’ autonomous motivation for more effective learning. Based on these results, the study has much to offer stakeholders in the Saudi context as regards developing language teaching and learning practices in Saudi Arabia.
affective factors, attitude, autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, anxiety, effort, achievement, EFL, PLS-SEM