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Cross-cultural Study of Grit among Iranian, Turkish, and Iraqi EFL Learners

Kaveh Jalilzadeh1 ,Azizeh Chalak1 , and Alireza Sabzehparvar

School of Foreign Languages, Istanbul University-Cerrahpaşa, Istanbul, Turkey

English Department, Khorasgan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran

Corresponding author: Kaveh Jalilzadeh, School of Foreign Languages, Istanbul University-Cerrahpaşa, Istanbul, Turkey. Email: Kaveh.j@iuc.edu.tr


Introduction: Positive psychology has been a buzzword in language learning and teaching practices recently. Among different concepts, grit, a tendency to maintain stamina to tackle long-term challenges, has received significant but inadequate consideration. Therefore, the current study aimed to investigate the role of grit in learning English as a foreign language (EFL) by Iranian, Turkish, and Iraqi learners. Methodology: Using a non-experimental and descriptive design, the present study explored three cohorts from Iranian, Turkish, and Iraqi learning contexts to compare EFL learners’ grit to examine whether language played a role in their perseverance of effort combined with passion. A total of 684 EFL learners participated in the study from three different cultures. The data for the study were collected via Google form employing the domain-specific L2 grit scale designed by Teimouri et al. (2020). Results: The findings revealed that Persian learners’ grit in language learning was higher than the other two groups in terms of proficiency level. Moreover, regardless of the EFL learners’ first language, learners at advanced levels had the highest mean, followed by the intermediate and elementary groups. However, there was no significant interaction between the first language and proficiency. Conclusion: In conclusion, grit can act as a strong predictor of EFL learners’ achievement as their level of English proficiency increases. The findings could benefit material developers and teachers and help them consider grit as a predictor of achievement for EFL learners.


Over the last decade, second language acquisition (SLA) research has shifted from individual difference (I.D.) characteristics, including motivation, anxiety, and aptitude, to personality traits and ESL/EFL learning (Dörnyei & Ryan, 2015). Interested in positive psychology (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), applied linguists study how students’ personality traits affect their L2 performance (Dewaele, 2014; Dewaele & MacIntyre, 2016; MacIntyre et al., 2016; Oxford, 2015). Grit is one of the many positive emotions that warrants in-depth research because of its critical function in goaloriented settings. Defined as toughness of character and tenacity, grit is one of the often mentioned non-cognitive I.D. factors that received significant but inadequate consideration (Duckworth et al., 2007). Positive psychology focuses on maintaining interest and drives to work toward long-term objectives; therefore, psychological grit is a crucial component. Teamwork, imaginative creativity, involvement in learning, and the capacity to overcome challenging situations are just a few of the critical abilities that grit may improve in both academic and professional contexts (Heckman & Mosso, 2014). Consciousness and grit are closely connected as one of the big five personality traits. However, grit emphasizes long-term objectives, or as Duckworth puts it, “long-term stamina,” while conscientiousness does not (Duckworth et al., 2007, p. 1089). As purported by Credé et al. (2017), grit has characteristics with other psychological traits like assiduity but also has the extra feature of continuity of interest. According to Duckworth and Quinn (2009), grit is a higher-order construct with two facets, including the constancy of interest and the tenacity of effort. The former refers to a propensity to put up much effort and keep going when things become challenging. The latter, however, entails continuing to be interested over time despite obstacles and failures (Duckworth et al., 2007).

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