Investigating Predictors of High School Students’ Negative Attitudes Towards Learning English by Developing, Validating, and Running a Questionnaire

Document Type: Research Article


1 Department of English Language, Qeshm Branch, Islamic Azad University, Qeshm, Iran

2 English Department, Zand Institute of Higher Education, Shiraz, Iran

3 Amirkabir University of Technology



The purpose of this study was to explore the predictors of negative attitudes towards learning English from L2 learners’ points of view. A mixed methods research approach was adopted with a sequential exploratory design, followed by an endorsement phase. Eighteen high school students in Fars province (Iran) were interviewed on the sources of negative attitudes towards learning English. Based on the interviews, a questionnaire was developed and pilot-tested. Results of exploratory factor analysis (EFA) showed 6 latent variables: materials, difficulty of learning English, affective factors, teaching methodology, school policy, and learning environment. Questionnaire was administered to 980 high school students. Through a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and simple linear regression, we found that the variable materials was the best predictor of negative attitudes. Then, came the variable affective factors that predicted negative attitudes better than the variables teaching methodology and learning environment, and the least predicting variable was difficulty of learning English.


Ahmed, S. (2015). Attitudes towards English language learning among EFL learners at Umskal. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(18), 6-16.  

Aliakbari, M., & Monfared, M. (2014). Iranian students’ beliefs and motivations towards English. Procedia  ̶   Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98(6), 200-206.

Allport, G.W. (1935). Attitudes. In A handbook of social psychology (pp. 798-844). Worcester, MA: Clark University Press.

Aragão, R. (2011). Beliefs and emotions in foreign language learning. System, 39(3), 302-313.

Ary, D., Jacobs, L.C., & Sorensen, C. (2010). Introduction to research in education (8th ed.). Belmont, California and United Kingdom: Wadsworth.

Ata, A. W. (2015). Knowledge, education, and attitudes of international students to IELTS: A case of Australia. Journal of International Students, 5(4), 488-500.

Bagheri, M., & Andi, T. (2015). The relationship between medical students’ attitude towards English language learning and their English language proficiency. ICT & Innovations in EducationInternational Electronic Journal, 3(1), 7-19.

Baker C. (1985). The Jordanian secondary stage students’ achievement in reading comprehension according to their views towards learning English as a foreign language. Journal of Human Sciences, 42, 1-36. 

Baker, C. (1988). Key issues in bilingualism and bilingual education. Clevedon, Avon: Multilingual Matters.

Bonyadi, A., & Zeinalpur, S. (2014). Perceptions of students towards self-selected and teacher assigned topics in EFL writing. Procedia  ̶   Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98(2014), 385-391.

Bogardus, E. S. (1931). Fundamentals of social psychology (2nd ed.). London, England: Century/Random House UK.

Bowey, J. A. (2004). Contextual facilitation in children’s oral reading in relation to grade and decoding skill. Elsevier Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 40(1), 23-48.

Breer, P. A., & Locke, E. A. (1965). Task experience as a source of attitudes. Homewood, Illinois: The Dorsey Press.

Burden, P. (2004). An examination of attitude change towards the use of Japanese in a university English conversation class. RELC, 35(1), 21-36.

Burstall, C. (1975). Primary French in the balance. Educational Research, 17(3), 193-198.

Chalak, A., & Kassaian, Z. (2010). Motivation and attitudes of Iranian undergraduate EFL students towards learning English. GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies, 10(2), 29-55.

Chang, Y. (2010). Students’ perceptions of teaching styles and use of learning strategies. Retrieved June 10, 2018, from the World Wide Web:

Chen, L., Chen, T. L., & Chen, N. S. (2015). Students’ perspectives of using cooperative learning in a flipped statistics classroom. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 31(6), 621-640.

Cook, V. (1996). Second language learning and language teaching. London: Arnold.

Dörnyei, Z., & Schmidt, R. (2001). Motivation and second language acquisition. University of Hawaii, Manoa: Second Language Teaching & Curriculum Center.

ET 2020 Working Group Schools 2016-18. Teachers and school leaders in schools as learning organizations: Guiding Principles for policy development in school education. Retrieved June 10, 2018, from the World Wide Web:

Fakeye, D. (2010). Students’ personal variables as correlates of academic achievement in English as a second language in Nigeria. Journal of Social Sciences, 22(3), 205-211.

FaramarzZadeh, R. (2016). EFL learners’ attitudes and perceptions about an effective English language teacher. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 3(2), 148-156.

Gardner, R. C. (1985). Social psychology and second language learning: The role of attitudes and motivation. London: Edward Arnold.

Gardner, R. C., Clément, R., Smythe, P. C., & Smythe, C. L. (1979). The attitude/motivation test battery-revised manual (Research Bulletin No. 15). London, Ontario: University of Western Ontario, Language Research Group.

Gardner, R. C., & Lambert, W. E. (1972). Attitudes and motivation in second-language learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House Publishers.

Gardner, R. C., & MacIntyre, P. D. (1993). On the measurement of affective variables in second language learning. Language Learning, 43(2), 157-194.

Genc, S. Z., & Aydin, F. (2017). An analysis of learners’ motivation and attitudes toward learning English language at tertiary level in Turkish EFL context. English Language Teaching, 10(4), 35-44.

Gorjian, B., & Aghvami, F. (2017). The comparative study of EFL teachers and learners’ perceptions on the importance of teaching culture. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Learning, 3(3), 71-78.

Henter, R. (2014). Affective factors involved in learning a foreign language. Procedia  ̶  Social and Behavioral Sciences, 27, 373-378.

Hermann, G. (1980). Attitudes and success in children’s learning of English as a second language: The motivational vs. the resultative hypothesis. English Language Teaching Journal, 34(4), 247-254.

Huber, A. J. (2011). Effective strategy implementation: Conceptualizing firms’ strategy implementation capabilities and assessing their impact on firm performance. Wiesbaden: Gabbler.

Jain, P. M., & Shandliya, V. K. (2013). A survey paper on comparative study between principal component analysis (PCA) and exploratory factor analysis (EFA). International Journal of Computer Science and Applications, 6(2). Retrieved June 10, 2018, from the World Wide Web:

Jannati, M., & Marzban, A. (2015). Iranian EFL learners’ perception of learning environment in English language institutes and its relationship with learners’ English proficiency. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 2(3), 23-38. 

Kashef, S. H., Khorasani, R., & Zahabic, A. (2014). Investigating the effect of a learning-centered instruction on non-English major students’ attitudes toward English course. Procedia  ̶ Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98, 859-863.   

Katz, D. (1960). The functional approach to the study of attitudes. Public Opinion Quarterly, 24(2), 163-204.

Kendeou, P., van den Broek, P., White, M. J., & Lynch, J. S. (2009). Predicting reading comprehension in early elementary school: The independent contributions of oral language and decoding skills. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(4), 765-778.

Khosroshahi, M.S. (2013). Iranian EFL learners’ perceptions with respect to tasks in comparison with the actual content of the textbooks. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(1),163-174.

Kitao, K., & Kitao, S. K. (1997). Selecting and developing teaching/learning materials. The Internet TESL Journal, 4(4),20-45.

Kline, R. B. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modelling (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

Krug, K., Shafer, T., Dardick, W., Magalis, C., & Parente, R. (2002). A test of foreign language acquisition: Paired-association learning. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 16(2), 211-221.

Lennartsson, F. (2008). Students’ motivation and attitudes towards learning a second language: British and Swedish students’ points of view. Retrieved June 10, 2018, from the World Wide Web: be74 4691e17f4c2abbdfa49b34955676.pdf

Lightbown, P., & Spada, S. (1993). How languages are learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mehrpour, S., & Vojdani, M. (2012). Globalization and EFL learning motivation: A new perspective on integrative vs. instrumental motivation among Iranian learners of English. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 2, 43-50.

Minichiello, V., Aroni, R., Timewell, E., & Alexander, L. (1990).  In-depth interviewing: Researching people. Hong Kong: Longman Cheshire Pty Limited

Moss, S. (2016). Fit indices for structural equation modeling. Retrieved June 10, 2018, from the World Wide Web: p?id=277

Nahavandi, N., & Mukundan, J. (2013). Iranian EFL engineering students’ motivational orientations towards English language learning along gender and further education in language institutes. International Journal of Linguistics, 5(1), 72-93.

Pallant, J. (2007). SPSS survival manual: A step-by-step guide to data analysis using SPSS for windows (3rd ed.). Maidenhead: McGraw Hill Open University Press.

Pekrun, R. (2000). A social-cognitive, control-value theory of achievement emotions. Amsterdam, NL: Elsevier Science B.V.

Perfetti, C., & Hogaboam, T. (1975). The relationship between single-word decoding and reading comprehension skill. Journal of Educational Psychology, 67(4), 461-469.

Petrides, J. R. (2006). Attitudes and motivation and their impact on the performance of young English as a foreign language learner. Language Learning Journal, 5(1), 1-20.

Rahimi, M., & Hassani, M. (2012). Attitude towards EFL textbooks as a predictor of attitude towards learning English as a foreign language. Procedia  ̶ Social and Behavioral Sciences, 31, 66-72.

Rashidi, N., Rahimi, M., & Alimorad, Z. (2014). Iranian university English learners’ discursive demotivation construction. Iranian Journal of Language Teaching Research, 2(2), 35-49.

Richards, J. C., Platt, J., & Platt, H. (1992). Longman dictionary of language teaching and applied linguistics (2nd ed.).  Essex, UK:  Longman Publishers.

Richards, J. C., & Schmidt, R. W. (2002). Longman dictionary of language teaching and applied linguistics (3rd ed.). London: Longman Group.

Ripple, R. E. (1965). Affective factors in the classroom. Educational Leadership, 22(7), 476-480

Sadeghi, K., & Richards, J.C. (2016). The idea of English in Iran: An example from Urmia. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 37(4), 419-434.

Sakuragi, T. (2006). The relationship between attitudes toward language study and cross-cultural attitudes. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 30(1), 19-31.

Schumacker, R. E., & Lomax, R.G. (2016). A beginner’s guide to structural equation modeling (4th ed.). New York: Routledge Taylors & Francis.

Schwarz, R., & Terrill, L. (2000). Adult English language learners and learning disabilities. Retrieved June 10, 2018, from the World Wide Web:

Smith, A. N. (1971). The importance of attitude in foreign language learning. The Modern Language Journal, 55(2), 82-88.

Stern, H. H. (1983). Fundamental concepts of language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tahaineh, Y., & Daana, H. (2013). Jordanian undergraduates’ motivations and attitudes towards learning English in EFL context. International Review of Social Sciences and Humanities, 4(2), 159-180.

Tavassoli, A., & Kasraeean, A. (2014). The relationship between students’ beliefs about language learning and their attitudes towards their teachers. Journal of Studies in Learning and Teaching English, 2(6), 25-47.

Torshizi, M. D., & Torshizi, M. D. (2016). Learners’ perception of differences between language learning in high school and private language institute. International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, 5(1). Retrieved June 15, 2018, from the World Wide Web:

Tsuda, S. (2003). Attitudes toward English language in higher education in Japan (2): Raising awareness of the notion of global English. Intercultural Communication Studies, XII(3), 61-75

Vaezi, Z. (2008). Language learning motivation among Iranian undergraduate students. World Applied Sciences Journal, 5(1), 54-61. 

Watson, D., & Clark, L. A. (1984). Negative affectivity: The disposition to experience negative aversive emotional states. Psychological Bulletin, 96, 465-490.

Wilhelm, K. H. (1999). Collaborative dos and don’ts. TESOL Journal, 8, 14-19.

Wold, J. B. (2006). Difficulties in learning English as a second or foreign language. Retrieved June 19, 2018, from the World Wide Web: https://epublications.regis. edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?Article=1333&context= theses

Yamini, M., & Rahimi, M. (2007). A guide to statistics and SPSS for research in TEFL, linguistics, and related disciplines. Shiraz: Kooshamehr.

Zarrabi, F., & Brown, J. R. (2015). English language teaching and learning analysis in Iran. International Scholarly and Scientific Research & Innovation, 9(10), 3485-3493.

Zarei, A. A., & Elakaei, A. (2012). Motivation and attitude as predictors of learner autonomy. Prime Research on Education, 2(9), 353-364.