A1 Journal article (refereed)
Towards multilingual competence : examining beliefs and agency in first year university students’ language learner biographies (2022)

Pirhonen, H. (2022). Towards multilingual competence : examining beliefs and agency in first year university students’ language learner biographies. Language Learning Journal, 50(5), 613-626. https://doi.org/10.1080/09571736.2020.1858146

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Pirhonen, Hillamaria

Journal or series: Language Learning Journal

ISSN: 0957-1736

eISSN: 1753-2167

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 06/01/2021

Volume: 50

Issue number: 5

Pages range: 613-626

Publisher: Routledge

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09571736.2020.1858146

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/73692


As working life across the world is increasingly multilingual, multicultural and multidisciplinary, higher education language teaching is faced with a challenge of how to prepare students for it. Many universities have recently developed multilingual pedagogies but central to their success is learners’ perceptions of these practices. To fill this gap, this article explores first year university students’ language learner biographies to gain insight into how learners construct their linguistic realities. The biographies were studied with discourse analytical methods to examine the participants’ beliefs about language learning and their sense of agency in it. The results reveal that participants tend not to portray themselves as agentive learners but rather position agency as an outside factor affecting their language learning. In addition, the participants’ discourses differed in terms of languages, which adds to previous studies noting the complexity of learner beliefs. Understanding these dynamics can help teachers address students’ beliefs in the classroom and accordingly support learners to create meaning in their language learning. The findings further suggest that beliefs should be studied from multilingual perspectives also in the future.

Keywords: higher education (teaching); language teaching; language learning; learning experiences; multilingualism; conceptions; human agency; discourse analysis

Free keywords: beliefs; agency; higher education; language learning; discursive

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2023-10-01 at 14:08