The nature of language learners’ beliefs: A half-told story


  • Qunyan (Maggie) Zhong Department of Language Studies Unitec, Institute of Technology New Zealand
Keywords: Learners’ beliefs, Chinese language learners, case study, changes in learners’ beliefs


Substantial amount of research regarding L2 learners’ beliefs has been conducted in recent years. However, not enough attention has been paid to investigating the nature of learners’ beliefs; hence our understanding of the construct is contradictory in the sense that early research studies report stability in beliefs, while more recent studies provide evidence of change in learners’ beliefs. This paper reports on a case study aiming at contributing to a deeper understanding of the nature of language learners’ beliefs. Data were gathered longitudinally over an 18-week period using a number of tools. The findings reveal the complexity of learners’ beliefs. The beliefs that the learners held were not always in harmony and some of them can be self contradictory. Furthermore, while some beliefs may evolve and change over time and across situation, others may remain relatively stable, suggesting the complex and dual nature of learners’ beliefs. Drawing on these findings, the paper concludes that learner beliefs can best be perceived as an inter-related construct that has dual features and sometimes can be paradoxical.


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Author Biography

Qunyan (Maggie) Zhong, Department of Language Studies Unitec, Institute of Technology New Zealand

Dr. Qunyan Zhong is a senior lecture at Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand, teaching English as an additional language to adult immigrant learners. She holds a PhD in language teaching and learning, a MA in Applied Linguistics and also a MA in Linguistics. She had13 years of TEFL teaching experience and has been teaching ESL for over 13 years. She has published several refereed articles in the field of second language acquisition and presented a number of papers at conferences. She is currently serving as an internal and external peer reviewer for several scholastic journal in the field of language teaching and learning. Her research interests include learner beliefs, learning strategies, classroom research and individual differences in SLA.

How to Cite
Zhong, Q. (Maggie). (2015). The nature of language learners’ beliefs: A half-told story. International Journal of English Studies, 15(2), 41-60.