Factors affecting language proficiency of English language learners at language institutes in the United States
Chin-Ting, Emily Chou
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the perspectives of English language learners (ELLs) about the importance of the five factors, learning environment, learning strategies, motivation, beliefs, and linguistic distance related to learning English and to determine the relationship between these factors with ELLs' language learning and their language proficiency. Two questions guided this study: (l) What do ELLs perceive to be the important factors contributing to their language learning? (2) What are the relationships between these factors and ELLs' language proficiency? A total of 606 ELLs who studied at English language institutes in the United States constituted the final sample. The 43 item survey was used to explore ELLs' perspectives about English language learning. Employing a series of statistical techniques, descriptive analyses, confirmatory factor analyses, and multiple regression, this study investigated the important factor contributing to language learning from ELLs' perspectives. Findings revealed that ELLs' perceive that their beliefs about language learning were the important factor contributing to their language learning, followed by the learning environment, learning strategies, motivation, and linguistic distance. The linguistic distance subscale had the less importance ratings. In addition, the relationship between five factors and ELLs' language proficiency, the results showed that two of the five factors (learning strategies and linguistic distance) contributed significantly to the prediction of ELLs' language proficiency, and motivation is marginally significantly to the prediction of ELLs' language proficiency. That is, learning strategies was the most important effect on ELLs' language proficiency, followed by linguistic distance, and motivation. Learning a language is a complex process. In order to broaden students' desire to learn in school, teachers may need to consider the activities carefully to increase ELLs' interest to learn more and provide the opportunities for them to express their opinion in the classroom. This learning process involves teachers, the learning environment in the classroom and outside the classroom as well as the learners' cooperation. This research has implications for further study of relationship among factors that ELLs perceive to be important to language learning and to instruction in language institutes.