Internal and External Variables in EFL Learning: An Exploratory Study

Soheil Mahmoudi, Asgar Mahmoudi


This study investigated the impact of variables affecting foreign language learning from Iranian EFL learners’ perspectives and explored the patterns that arise from their responses to questions addressing these variables. At first it was taken for granted that variables affecting foreign language learning are classifiable into internal and external. Therefore, the focus of the study was not on extracting these components but on the role that the variables play in relation to them. The study was carried out by distributing copies of a 30-item Lickert-scale questionnaire among close to 140 postgraduate students of English Language Teaching (ELT) in three universities in Iran. The collected data were then subjected to Principle Component Analysis (PCA). The findings revealed that although internal and external components are identifiable, many of the variables do not heavily load on the principle component to which they theoretically belong. After separating the non-correlating variables it became clear that most of these variables are very important variables. The conclusion was that the nature of variables cannot be the basis of judgment for their importance and that excessive attention paid to internal variables should be balanced against the social and cultural issues that are reflected in external variables.

Keywords: Principle component analysis, Internal variables, External variables

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ISSN 2422-8435

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