What learning contracts reveal about university students' attitude towards english language learning

Mable Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


A number of affective factors have been introduced in the literature, and the influence they bear on second language learning outcome has also been examined, generating lists of traits for successful second language learners. Some of the most frequently examined factors include Brown's (1984) personality factors (i.e. self-esteem, risk-taking, inhibition, anxiety, empathy, extroversion), learning styles (Oslund, Kolb & Rubin 2001) and learning strategies (Rubin 1975, 1981; Oxford 1990). There seems to be consensus that attitudes to learning and language learning beliefs which determine them, have "a profound influence........on learning behaviour" (Cotterall 1995: 195) and consequently on learning outcomes. This study investigates what L2 learners do when given the chance of learning English in a self-directed way in a learning contract. The subjects are undergraduate students in the Department of English studying in the programme of BAESP (BA (Hons) in Language Studies in the Profession) at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Findings concerning what students do in the learning contract in improving speaking, listening, reading and writing show that students are somewhat traditional in adopting ways taught by their primary or secondary school teachers. Supplementary information from students' email messages to the teacher also reveals what students find the most important in the learning of English, focusing on vocabulary, idioms and native accent imitation. Implications about how such kind of attitude and beliefs shape the learning outcome, and if university students are ready for autonomous learning are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-32
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Learning
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009


  • Autonomous learning
  • Language learning beliefs
  • Learning attitude
  • Learning contract

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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