There is general agreement that language learning and culture are closely linked and cannot be easily separated. Much research has been carried out on the effects of cultural attitudes on language learning in general. Learner autonomy has also been one of the dominant research topics in recent years. However, the interaction between these two variables, cultural factors and levels of learner autonomy, remains an underdeveloped area of research. Using the four-dimensional model of cultural differences in societies developed by Hofstede (1980), this study examines the relationship between cultural values and learner autonomy in Omani EFL classrooms with native English speaking instructors. In particular, it looked at how cultural variations in attitudes towards learning may affect levels of learner autonomy in an Omani EFL context. An adaptation of Hofstede’s cultural value survey to suit a language learning context was used to measure the cultural values of the students and their instructors. A comparison of the outcome of the students and instructors’ responses reveals significant differences in all four of Hofstede's value dimensions (Power Distance, Individualist/Collectivist, Uncertainty Avoidance, and Masculinity/Femininity). The students’ responses show a tendency to favour a larger power distance than their instructors, are more collectivist and masculine and have a stronger tendency to avoid uncertainty, all of which may contribute to the students’ attitude towards learner autonomy. These results suggest that cultural differences between the instructors and the students may be the reason for the difficulty in increasing levels of learner autonomy in Omani EFL classrooms.
Zubaida Shebani, United Arab Emirates University, United Arab Emirates
Stream: Autonomy and self-regulation
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