Attribution Theories in Language Learning Motivation: Success in Vocational English for Hospitality Students

  •  Laura V. Fielden    
  •  Mercedes Rico    


One of the overlooked motivational areas for VET hospitality students learning English is attribution theories, students’ beliefs about why they fail or succeed. Weiner identified four basic attributions that people tend to have in achievement situations (2010; 1984): ability, effort, task difficulty, and luck, which contribute to students’ motivation to study. With the aim of researching motivation in order to prevent program abandonment, which is high in Spain, this 2-phased study examined attribution theories for a group of 51 adult, English for hospitality students studying in vocational courses offered by the public employment agency in Extremadura, Spain. It found that in general students’ attribution theories were mostly negative, though they strongly indicated that they could improve through effort. These results may be associated with students’ perception of the instructor and course and the social, dynamic nature of students’ beliefs in general as they are formulated in situ. Suggestions are made for incorporating this possible influence into future vocational course visions for English for hospitality students.

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