Analysis of Turkish learners' attitudes towards English language and English speaking societies

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2007
Üzüm, Babürhan
This study aimed at investigating learners’ attitudes towards English language and English speaking societies. The study also explored the historical and sociopolitical factors that might have influenced learners’ attitudes. In order to collect data, a language attitude questionnaire was designed adapting several questionnaires which were prepared with the goal of collecting information about learners’ attitudinal predispositions towards language and language learning in various countries around the world. The study sampled 219 students studying at the preparatory schools of two state and three private universities in Ankara. In addition to the quantitative data obtained from the questionnaire, qualitative data were obtained from the open ended items in the questionnaire and the interview sessions. Interview sessions were conducted at the sampled universities, and 10 students (5 male 5 female) were asked their opinions about their reasons to learn English, their opinions regarding the current status of English in Turkey and their feelings towards English and towards their native language. After the data collection procedure, inferences were made according to the data obtained from the questionnaire and interviews so as to make quantitative and qualitative analysis. While the quantitative findings of the data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics via SPSS 11.0 (Statistical Package of Social Sciences), qualitative data were analyzed through the content analysis. According to the factor analysis of the responses in the pilot and the actual study, the parallel statements were categorized into a factor. Consequently, five factors which ultimately formed five ‘themes’ were obtained. The research findings were interpreted with reference to these five themes-native language loyalty, instrumental orientation, cultural interest, appreciation of intercultural contact and attitudes towards British and American people respectively. According to the research findings, Turkish learners of English at sampled universities have favorable attitudes towards the English language due to their interest in the cultural products of the English speaking societies and the instrumental value of English as a global language. On the other hand, they have developed ambivalent attitudes towards the target societies due to the intercultural contact with these societies throughout Turkish history, current sociopolitical concerns regarding the British and American state policies and finally their perceptions regarding their native language and culture. Alternative solutions at individual and institutional levels have been proposed in order to change negative attitudes into favorable ones, and prevent the generalization of stereotypes and attitudes into individual levels. In order to achieve the acquisition of favorable attitudes at individual level, intercultural contact should be promoted so that learners will have personal experiences and personal contacts rather than relying on indirect sources such as press and cultural products which might generate biased assumptions.

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Citation Formats
B. Üzüm, “Analysis of Turkish learners’ attitudes towards English language and English speaking societies,” M.A. - Master of Arts, Middle East Technical University, 2007.