Understanding gender stereotypes in the context of foreign language learning through the lens of social cognitive theory

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Using Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory as a theoretical framework, this study explores the relationships between gender stereotypes and language learning experiences, particularly in the context of learning English as a foreign language (EFL). It aims to provide a better understanding of the role of gender stereotypes in the language learning process focusing on how they both influence and are influenced by various behavioral, personal, and environmental processes. To achieve this, a qualitative study based on in-depth semi-structured interviews was conducted with a total of 32 participants, including 17 teachers and 15 learners from six different universities in Turkey. Results revealed that both EFL teacher and learner participants were aware of certain gender stereotypes in language learning. These stereotypes were found to create diverse and distinct learning experiences for female and male learners, influenced by behavioral (i.e., perseverance, sense of responsibility), personal (i.e., attributions, emotions), and environmental (i.e., significant others’ expectations) processes. The study further highlighted the deep-rooted and differential influence of societal norms and cultural expectations on female and male learners’ experiences. These findings emphasize the importance of understanding and addressing gender stereotypes in language education to promote an inclusive and equitable learning environment and support learners’ engagement and success, regardless of their gender.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTESOL Quarterly
Early online date7 Nov 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 7 Nov 2023

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