Giving up on Modern Foreign Languages? Students' Perceptions of Learning French



This article reports on the findings of an investigation into the attitudes of English students aged 16 to 19 years towards French and how they view the reasons behind their level of achievement. Those students who attributed success to effort, high ability, and effective learning strategies had higher levels of achievement, and students intending to continue French after age 16 were more likely than noncontinuers to attribute success to these factors. Low ability and task difficulty were the main reasons cited for lack of achievement in French, whereas the possible role of learning strategies tended to be overlooked by students. It is argued that learners' self-concept and motivation might be enhanced through approaches that encourage learners to explore the causal links between the strategies they employ and their academic performance, thereby changing the attributions they make for success or failure.