Date of Award

5-1-2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

First Advisor

Charkova, Krassimira

Abstract

This study examined the beliefs and opinions of U.S university students towards learning foreign languages. Four major areas were explored, including attitudes and motivations towards learning foreign languages, perceptions of foreign languages in the U.S., and favorability of Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Korean, and Spanish. One additional area that investigated participants' opinions in support or against a foreign language requirement in the United States was also examined. The instrument included a survey of 22 items, consisting of 13 quantitative attitude/opinion questions, two qualitative open-ended questions, and seven questions for demographics. The data was analyzed through descriptive, inferential, and content analyses, including Cronbach's Alpha, independent and dependent samples t-tests and one-way ANOVAs. The results of the study showed that participants generally had positive attitudes and high motivations towards learning foreign languages. Their perceptions were slightly critical of Americans' perspectives of foreign languages but indicated the belief that the U.S. education system does provide reasonable opportunities to learn foreign languages. Participants showed high favorability towards learning Spanish, with French also slightly favorable. Participants did not demonstrate positive favorability towards learning Arabic, Chinese, German, or Korean. However, participants commonly referred to Chinese as being particularly useful for business opportunities and consistently indicated low interest or usefulness in Arabic. Few significant differences were observed between genders or foreign language education background. Overall, female participants had slightly more positive views about learning foreign languages, whereas the same was true for participants with higher-level foreign language ability.

Share

COinS
 

Access

This thesis is only available for download to the SIUC community. Others should
contact the interlibrary loan department of your local library.