The present study contributes to the growing body of research in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) literature on foreign language learners' beliefs about language learning. It aims at exploring students’ beliefs about language learning in an English-medium university in Cairo, Egypt and examining the gender dynamics that shape and sustain those beliefs. The study adopted a mixed-methods data collection approach, data was collected using a questionnaire and interviews. Sixty-five first year students took a modified version of Horwitz’s (1987) Beliefs about Language Learning Inventory (BALLI). Nine participants were interviewed for an in-depth exploration of their language learning beliefs. The results showed that the lucrative future careers foreign language learning in Egypt promises is the primary reason students are interested in investing in learning English. The findings also revealed a linguistic tension between Arabic and English in Egypt with English being seen by some participants as more useful for their academic studies and their projected future careers. Others, however, expressed concern about maintaining the status of Arabic as a national language, given the ever-increasing demand for English in academic institutions and in the job market. In terms of gender dynamics, the findings revealed that gender differences as a variable is not to be assumed. In the specific population which participated in the study, there was little evidence in their intention to follow traditional societal norms proscribing women joining the workforce. Consequently, other linguistic and social variables ought to be taken into account for more significant research findings. The data, however, did reveal intriguing findings regarding gendered associations towards specific foreign languages like French and German which reflect a promising area for future research.


Applied Linguistics Department

Degree Name

MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2015

First Advisor

Plumlee, Marilyn

Committee Member 1

Gebril, Atta, Fredricks, Lori


99 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Education, Higher -- Egypt.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Language and languages -- Study and teaching -- Egypt.


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item