Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume.7 Number.2 June, 2016                                           Pp.77-103

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The Relationship between Learners’ Affective Variables and Second Language Achievement


Fakieh Alrabai
Faculty of Arts,
King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia

Christo Moskovsky
School of Humanities & Social Science,
The University of Newcastle, Australia


This study examines five affective variables: motivationattitudesanxietyself-esteem and autonomy, with the aim of establishing their effect, together and individually, on learners’ L2 achievement.  Data were collected from Saudi university students learning English as a second/foreign language as part of their degree. Data collection was conducted, via a questionnaire and a language test, in two waves – approximately three months apart (N=274 at Time 1, and N=252 at Time 2). Descriptive and inferential analyses of the data confirmed the importance of affect in relation to L2 acquisition: the five affective variables together accounted for between 85% and 91% of the L2 performance variance in our sample. Individually, each of the five variables was found to make a unique contribution to L2 performance, but among them motivation emerged as by far the strongest predictor of L2 achievement; by comparison the effects of the other four on achievement can be described as marginal. This outcome constitutes compelling evidence of the critical role that motivation plays with respect to L2 acquisition generally and achievement more specifically. The study’s findings hold a range of potentially important implications for L2 learning and teaching practices. In light of these findings, EFL teachers are in a strong position to influence the operation of the affective factors by consolidating learners’ autonomy and self-esteem, reducing anxiety, promoting positive attitudes and enhancing learners’ motivation.
Key termsaffect, motivation, attitudes, anxiety, self-esteem, autonomy, EFL teaching/learning

Cite as: Alrabai,F.,& Moskovsky, C.  (2016). The Relationship between Learners’ Affective Variables and Second Language Achievement. Arab World English Journal,7 (2).


Dr. Fakieh Alrabai is an Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at King Khalid University,
Saudi Arabia. He holds a PhD degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Newcastle,
NSW, Australia. He has authored and co-authored a number of publications in this field of study,
including in Applied Linguistics and Language Learning.