31 SES 10 A, Beliefs and Practices in Teaching and Learning Languages
Nowadays, we are witnessing a process of internationalisation of education in which the knowledge of a second language is an essential requirement for the development of an individual as a whole (INEE, 2012). The knowledge of foreign languages is associated with the progress of individuals and countries on an international stage led by the global exchange of tangible and intangible goods (Council of Europe, 2001). European countries, distinguished by its multilingual and multicultural character, have addressed the foreign language issue in positive terms as a way to achieve greater social, political and cultural cohesion (Butler, 2009).
With this concern for teaching and learning a foreign language, the European Survey on Language Competences (ESLC) of 2012 was created, aiming to developing a linguistic competence indicator of progress for improving foreign language learning across European schools. The results of this study led to concerns in countries like Spain, where the results were far away from those initially expected (Morales, 2009). Actually, Spain’s results seemed to indicate that despite the strong presence of English in the school curriculum, the creation and promotion of bilingual schools and the presence of English teaching assistants at school, among others, the efforts have not been sufficient (European Commission, 2006; Bonnet, 2003).
The overall research aims at investigating how contextual factors and the learners’ self-efficacy affect the way Europeans teach and learn English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in two European countries (Spain and Greece), as the ESLC 2012 reflected the low results of Spanish students in comparison with the Greek students. It highlights the need to analyse those variables besides the formal classroom context which influence decisively the acquisition of English, including the role played by contextual factors and the students’ concept of self-efficacy.
In the case of this paper, the attention focuses on the role that students’ concept of self-efficacy plays on the learning of EFL. Bandura (1977a, 1997) defined self-efficacy as personal judgments of one’s capabilities to organise and execute actions to attain designated goals. His theory of behaviour change suggests how to approach the concept of self-efficacy depending on the different levels (difficulty of a particular task), its generality (transferability of self-efficacy beliefs across activities) and strength (one’s certainty about performing a given task) across activities and contexts (ibid). In the educational field, academic self-efficacy refers to individuals’ convictions that they can successfully perform in the tasks given at designated levels (Schunk, 1991). According to authors like Riding and Rayner (2001), when the student recognises their particular achievements and potential for learning, they are more likely to reach their capability level and perform better. Inevitably, the causal order of one’s capabilities to achieve a goal and academic performance is highly significant and the motivational characteristics involved, could lead to improvements in academic performance (Byrne, 1996; Riding and Rayner, 2001).
Hence, the main goal of the overall research is to examine what personal, educational and socio-economic factors have an impact on the way of teaching and learning English as a Foreign Language in some Secondary schools of two European countries. More specifically, this paper focuses on the following objectives: 1) To develop and validate an instrument to collect information on the influence of the students’ self-efficacy when learning EFL; 2) To describe the main features of the learners’ concept of self-efficacy and attitudes towards English; 3) To find out, depending on the school context, possible differences in the students’ attitude towards languages (English), their classroom behaviour and their ability to learn English; 4) and to determine to what extent the self-efficacy allow us to predict the ability perceived by students to learn English.
- Bandura, A. (1977a). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavior change. Psychological Review, 84, pp. 191–215. - Bandura, A. (1997). Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. Freeman: New York. - Bonnet, G. (2003). The assessment of pupils’ skills in English in eight European countries. In Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, Instituto Nacional de Evaluación Educativa- INEE (2012), European Survey on Language Competences EECL Vol. II (pp. 1-105). - Buttler, A. (2009). Languages for social cohesion: the 2004-2007 programme of the ECML. In D. Newby y H. Penz (Eds.), Languages for social cohesion: language education in a multilingual and multicultural Europe (pp. 11-16). Strasbourg: Council of Europe. - Byrne, B. M. (1996). Academic self-concept: Its structure, measurement, and relation to academic achievement. In B. A. Bracken (Ed.), Handbook of self-concept (pp. 287 –316). New York: Wiley. - Council of Europe (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. - European Commission (2006). Special Eurobarometer 243. Europeans and their Languages. Brussles: European Commission. - Instituto Nacional de Evaluación Educativa - INEE (2012). European Survey on Language Competences (ESLC). Madrid: Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte. - Morales, C. (2009). La enseñanza de lenguas extranjeras en la Unión Europea. Educación y futuro, 20, 17-30. - Riding, R.J., Rayner, S. (2001) International perspectives on individual differences: Vol. 2 Self Perception. USA: Ablex Publishing. - Roncel Vega, V. (2000). El rendimiento en una lengua extranjera en enseñanza secundaria. Un modelo causal. Tesis doctoral inédita. Universidad de Sevilla. - Schunk, D. H. (1991). Self-efficacy and academic motivation. Educational Psychologist, 26, pp. 207-231.
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