The impact of L2 self-efficacy beliefs on a Chinese international student’s learning approaches



Research that has explored changes in Chinese international students’ approaches to learning in Anglophone countries has tended to highlight the role of either conceptions of learning or new learning environments in shaping these changes. In contrast, little research has been done on how such changes occur within individual students. In this qualitative case study, we address this imbalance. Using data from classroom observations and semi-structured interviews, we explore in-depth how a Chinese law student, negotiating academic and linguistic challenges, moved from a surface to a deep learning approach. This student’s self-efficacy beliefs and mindset played a pivotal role in shaping his learning approaches in a second language environment. Pedagogical implications concerning the set-up of EAP programmes to support international students are highlighted.

Author Biographies

Hua Yu, School of Languages & Applied Linguistics, The University of Portsmouth, UK

Dr Hua Yu is a language teacher who has taught English in China and the UK. Her research interests include EFL and EAP teaching, students’ self-beliefs, mindsets, and approaches to learning. She is a Fellow of the HEA. 


Mark Wyatt, Department of English, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Dr Mark Wyatt is associate professor of English at Khalifa University in the UAE. He previously worked for the universities of Leeds and Portsmouth. His research interests include language teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs, teacher cognition, teacher motivation and practitioner research, and he has published widely in these areas.




How to Cite

Yu, H., & Wyatt, M. (2022). The impact of L2 self-efficacy beliefs on a Chinese international student’s learning approaches. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 16(1), 17–34. Retrieved from



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