Comparative Language Learning Beliefs: Why Aptitude Matters

Laura V. Fielden Burns, Mercedes Rico García


Language Learning Beliefs (LLB) are an important area for foreign and second language learning research that has grown considerably over the last decade, and which spans multi-disciplinary fields across education, linguistics and psychology (Martínez Agudo, 2014). These beliefs have become more important as they affect motivation and perhaps even language learning strategies (Zare-ee, 2010), though more research must be done in the latter area (Martínez Agudo, 2014). One understudied branch of LLB is that of language aptitude. Beliefs concerning language aptitude are not new, given that they appeared as a staple area of Horwitz’s seminal research for the BALLI questionnaire (Beliefs About Language Learning Inventory) (1987). However, beliefs on language aptitude need to be revisited given the multiple studies in social psychology on how beliefs affect learning when considering a given quality as innate or learned (Dweck, 2014). These studies show how believing intelligence to be fixed or incremental has a variety of consequences for learners that are fundamental for their long-term success in the classroom. Our aim in this paper is to merge these pertinent concepts to the foreign language classroom, in particular because the belief that intelligence is fixed or incremental mirrors the long-standing debate over language aptitude as innate or learned.

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