Background: Most previous research on beliefs on language learning (BALLs) has been focusing on tertiary level learners. Information of learners of other backgrounds is extremely lacking.
Aim: To identify the BALL patterns of Chinese ESL learners undertaking vocational education in the Hong Kong context and to explore the possible influences on their BALLs.
Sample: Questionnaires were administered to 243 Chinese ESL learners undertaking vocational education in Hong Kong.
Method: Surveys on the Beliefs About Language Learning Inventory (BALLI) were conducted and descriptive analyses were performed.
Results: Results indicate that respondents endorsed the existence of a specialized ability on language learning. They believed in the existence of foreign language aptitude, but did not agree that they had a special ability of learning foreign language. Respondents regarded English a language of medium difficulty. One hour a day for one to two years was regarded as necessary for speaking the target language well. The learning of vocabulary and grammar were regarded as important, and respondents viewed foreign language learning as different from learning other academic subjects. Respondents were overwhelming in their view that it is best to learn English in an English-speaking country. In addition, they endorsed the importance of excellent pronunciation, repetition, practicing, guessing word meanings, and were tolerant of making mistakes in speaking. Finally, there existed a high level of motivation among the respondents, with instrumental motivation being more prevalent than integrative motivation.
Conclusion: Certain learner characteristics and features of the socio-linguistic context of the Hong Kong society are suggested to contribute to the unique BALL patterns of this group of learners. Several implications for teaching in light of the findings are suggested.