The relationship between ideal L2 self, achievement attributions and L2 achievement



Language motivation; attribution theory; causal attributions, L2 motivational self- system; ideal L2 self, future achievement


This study examines whether learners’ (high vs. low) ‘ideal L2 self’ exerts an effect on causal attributions and which of these causal attributions could predict future L2 achievement. To this end, 1006 EFL students were invited from a state university in Ankara, Turkey. The data were collected with an attribution scale composed of 29 questions and with a questionnaire containing 10 items measuring learners’ ideal L2 self. The researchers also collected the students’ achievement scores to measure the predictive power of causal attributions. The impact of high and low ideal L2 self on causal attributions was analyzed through MANOVA and the prediction power of these attributions for achievement was measured through regression analysis using SPSS 23. It was found that learners’ ideal L2 self (high vs. low) influenced causal attributions, including ability, school system, teacher, family and classroom environment. It was also found that the attribution to effort, luck and ability are the best predictors of future exam scores of learners. These predictors could provide insightful implications for EFL teachers with regard to the actions they can take in order to diagnose motivationally at-risk students and to boost their motivation through effective designs of interventions embedded into the curriculum.


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Author Biographies

Sibel Çağatay, Middle East Technical University

Sibel Çağatay earned her undergraduate degree in ELT at Boğaziçi University, Turkey as an “Honor Student” and did her master’s in the department of Teaching English as a Foreign Language at Bilkent University and completed the level as a “High Honored Student”.  She also completed Cambridge University ICELT (In-Service Certificate of English Language Teaching) course in 2009. Since 2007, she has been working as an English instructor at tertiary level for English for Academic Purposes (EAP):  She worked as a lecturer at Bilkent University from 2007 to 2009 and since 2009, she has been working as a lecturer (Ph.D.) at Middle East Technical University (METU), in Turkey. She has been teaching Language Acquisition Courses and Academic English courses in the ELT departments of METU and Hacettepe University. She is currently working as a researcher for the Research and Development (R & D) unit of School of Foreign Languages of ODTU, Turkey. Her professional interests lie in achievement attributions, alternative assessment, curriculum evaluation and testing, English Medium Instruction (EMI) learner motivation and anxiety.

İsmail Hakkı Erten, Hacettepe University

İsmail Hakkı ERTEN was a professor of applied linguistics and English language teaching at Hacettepe University, Turkey between 2013-2019. His research studies focused on reading processes and vocabulary acquisition, affective aspects of learning English as an additional language, and teacher education. His latest research focused on academic self-concept and achievement attributions in language learning. His work appeared in scholarly journals such as System, European Journal of Teacher Education, Hacettepe University Journal of Education, and Reading in a Foreign Language. Unfortunately, he passed away in December, 2019.



How to Cite

Çağatay, S., & ERTEN, İsmail H. . (2020). The relationship between ideal L2 self, achievement attributions and L2 achievement. Eurasian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 6(3), 337-359. Retrieved from



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