Students' Developing Conceptions of Themselves as Language Learners



This article describes a small-scale study into learners’ attributions for success and failure in learning French. The study investigated the way in which learners conceptualise the notion of doing well, together with their perceived reasons for their successes and failures. Interviews were conducted with students from 10 to 15 years of age who were learning French in the Southwest of England. The results indicated that most of these learners tended to judge their success by external factors such as teacher approval, marks, or grades, and that the range of attributions increased with age. Many of the attributions mentioned, however, were superficial in nature. It appears that the teacher plays a significant role in the development of students’ attributions. Implications are drawn with regard to language teaching and to the nature of the learning environment.