French as a foreign language (FFL) is the second most popular international language in Ghana after English, but very few Ghanaians speak French, even though it is a core subject in elementary school and an elective subject in high schools. While the general aim of most language learners remains the development of communication competence, we find that many appear to lack the self-regulation required. This paper seeks to examine learner autonomy and self-regulatory strategies of university-level FFL students, as well as the practical steps they take to improve their communicative competences in French. 29 students from a language class in a private university in Ghana are interrogated via questionnaires and focus group discussions, on their motivations and challenges in carrying out self-regulated learning. Though 28 out of 29 respondents, representing 96%, appeared to be intrinsically motivated, less than 30% actually appeared to put in the effort that could help improve their linguistic skills. Respondents tend not to go beyond class concepts, revise lessons or even refer to additional materials as often as expected. Some of the hindrances to self-regulated learning that was stated included the workload from other courses, not having access to favorable conditions for continuous practice, among others. Findings suggest that intrinsically motivated learners appear to need some extrinsic motivation regardless.
Mensimah Thompson Kwaffo, Ashesi University, Ghana