The Influence of Goal Orientation, Past Language Studies, Overseas Experiences, and Gender Differences on Japanese EFL Learners’ Beliefs, Anxiety, and Behaviors

Akira Nakayama, Hiroyuki Matsumoto, Neil Heffernan, Tomohito Hiromori

strategy, overseas experience, efl, goal theory


The purpose of this study was to examine how Japanese students’ past language studies, in formal classroom settings during their elementary school years and their overseas experiences before entering university, affected their affective and strategic aspects of English learning in university level English classes within the framework of Goal Theory (Dweck 1986). The participants consisted of 556 EFL learners at two national universities, who were asked to report their age, gender and experience – or lack thereof – with English learning during elementary school, the period of overseas experiences, goal orientations, learning strategy preferences, beliefs, anxiety, and how much time they spent learning English outside the classroom per week. The results of a categorical regression analysis indicate that, as Goal Theory presumes, students’ goal orientation types determine their beliefs, anxiety, and behaviors. The results also suggest that the English learning experience in formal classrooms during elementary schools in Japan had little impact on the learners’ current English learning at the university level. Conversely, overseas experiences not only had an effect on minimizing the fear of using English, but also act to predict the average time devoted to learning English outside the classroom. In summary, this study found that the real experience of using the target language overseas was a more significant factor than the age at which the participants actually started learning English.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies