Age of onset for second language acquisition and young EFL learners' attitudes and identities: the case for Iranian EFL beginners

Mansooreh Amiri

Abstract


The present study aimed at investigating the initial and final attitudes of Iranian young EFL learners in two different age groups (8 and 11 year olds) during one year of inquiry and seek to witness whether the language learners’ age of  starting foreign language learning can influence their attitudes or not. The participants’ attitudes were measured via questionnaires and interviews. The modified AMTB (Attitude Motivation Testing Battery) used in this study was designed in such a way as to measure the learners’ attitude in eight different domains (Learners’ interests in foreign language, Attitudes toward English speaking people, Attitudes toward learning English, National identity, Integrative orientation, Instrumental orientation, English class anxiety and parental encouragement). Our focus in the present study was on the participants’ performance on the first four attitudinal domains so the participants’ answers to these relevant items on the questionnaire were subject to statistical analysis. Results of the study showed that our participants in both age groups hold positive attitudes towards foreign language learning at the beginning of inspection but this positive attitude fades a little during the experimental course of exploration although the decline was not statistically significant. When it comes to their attitudes towards Learning English, English culture and its speakers and also their national identities, different patterns are displayed by participants in different age groups; so it seems that young learners' age of language acquisition exerts some sort of influence especially when the learners' attitudes to culture and speakers and national identities is taken into considerations.


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