The background factors that influence learners' English proficiency
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This study was conducted to explore the relationship between language achievement and starting age of learning English as a foreign language, type of high school, languages known by the learners and spoken in their home environment and learners’ attitudes towards language learning, and also to clarify other possible factors affecting language achievement. The participants of the study were the students of Medicine, Engineering and Law Faculties at Dicle University. To explore the effects of the mentioned factors on language achievement, a questionnaire was completed by 105 participants and the data to clarify the other possible factors affecting language achievement were obtained through interviews with twelve of the participants. The data derived from the questionnaires were analyzed with SPSS and the data obtained from the interviews were analyzed in a qualitative way. The findings obtained from the quantitative analysis present the following results. The results showed that starting to learn English as a foreign language at an early age does not have many advantages on learning. Type of high school is very important for English proficiency, because the students of Anatolian/Science High School have much higher proficiency in English. Knowing more than one language and being in a family environment where more than one language is spoken do not have a significant effect on English proficiency. There is not a correlation between attitudes towards language learning and language proficiency. As the results of qualitative analysis, it was seen that practicing what is learnt in the classroom and having a connection with the foreign language out of the classroom (listening to English songs, watching English movies) are very important to gain a high proficiency in language. On the other hand, grammar-based instruction, experiencing the same teaching styles during the whole learning process, lack of environment to practice foreign language and a high anxiety level cause problems in the learning process.