This article reports on an investigation into the language learning beliefs of students of French in England, aged 16 to 18. It focuses on qualitative data from two groups of learners (10 in total). While both groups had broadly similar levels of achievement in French in terns of examination success, they dffered greatly in the self-image they had of themselves as language learners, with one group displaying low levels of self-eficacy beliefs regarding the possibility of future success. The implica tions of such beliefs for students' levels of motivation and persistence are discussed, together with their possible causes. The article concludes by suggesting changes in classroom practice that might help students develop a more positive image of them selves as language learners.