Emerged challenges for English education in Japan: The emotional baggage of language learners

Sakae Suzuki

Emotional baggage, Learner beliefs, English education


Although Japanese students study English for 6 years as one of mandatory subjects in secondary school, they often demonstrate little success with it when they enter higher education. Many students come to university with emotional baggage, or negative thoughts on learning English. These negative functions may be associated with the beliefs that students develop before they come to university. These learner beliefs serve to determine the future behavior of students and hinder or enhance the learning process, thus, it may be effective to investigate the beliefs that limit student motivation and the characteristics of those negative beliefs. While many researchers still depend on the Beliefs about Language Learning Inventory (BALLI) (Horwitz, 1987) questionnaire to determine explicit beliefs, alternative approaches, particularly those designed to reveal implicit beliefs and emotions, can be helpful for understanding when and how it is appropriate for teachers to intervene in the promotion of learning. A new trend in belief studies uses visual outcomes such as drawings and photographs. Such visual accounts have rarely been used as research tolls in the study of language learning and teaching in Japan. In this note, the method of eliciting learners’ unconscious beliefs via drawings and interpretation of the drawings is discussed.

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