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Success in an English Language Learning Class

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The aim of this paper is to analyse the beliefs, emotions and experiences of English language learners in order to grasp the aspects that they regard as positive in an English language classroom. The participants are first-year university students enrolled in an English for Specific Purposes (ESP) course that were inquired about (1) their life-long trajectories studying English, and (2) their experiences in the ESP course, which adopted a communicative approach. The data were obtained through (1) one pre- and post- open-ended question from a questionnaire (passed at the beginning and at the end of the course); (2) eight semi-structured and individual interviews; and (3) four focus groups with five to seven students. Firstly, the answers from the pre- and post- questionnaire were analysed by means of Domain and Taxonomic Coding, and afterwards the interviews and focus groups were content-analysed to deepen the understanding of the domains and taxonomies. The analysis reveals that the tasks (especially oral tasks) is the aspect which students value most positively. The findings show that in a communicative approach, students enjoy oral tasks but they also tend to attach negative emotions to them due to lack of practice and a strong focus on grammar. However, extensive speaking practice along the course results in an increase of students’ self-confidence and positive emotions by the end. This change appears to be connected to the other aspects of the course that students highlight: the supportive role of the teacher, the positive classroom atmosphere and the effective classroom management.

Irati Diert-Boté, Universitat de Lleida, Spain

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