chapter  4
19 Pages

Beliefs and Strategies

Enlarging the vision and fueling the action
ByYoke Sim Fong

The focal participants held firm, although not fixed, beliefs about learning at the beginning of their Bridging Course. The beliefs that were most frequently mentioned were those related to effort, vocabulary, grammar, and the nature of language learning and communication. The data indicated that the belief in effort had stayed firm throughout their Undergraduate Degree Programme, while the other abovementioned beliefs had undergone some transitions. As the learners advanced towards their graduation, there was a broadening of perspective so that they focused less on the individual aspects of vocabulary and grammar and increasingly on communication and discourse purposes. One would expect that the development in their belief system would impact the choice of their learning strategies, just as vision would fuel action. Indeed, the study witnessed an expansion of the repertoire of strategies among the learners through experimenting, adding, discarding and retaining. Even for those who retained the traditional Chinese culture of learning cornerstones of memorisation, review and reciting, they personalised and adapted the strategies to their own purposes. Their eventual choice of strategies demonstrated a broad concern with learning and communication instead of a narrow focus on the discrete elements of the language.