THE USE OF LEARNING STRATEGIES FOR ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE
University of Szeged (HUNGARY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:Language learning strategies have been defined in various ways. While some of these definitions outline the role of behaviours that help learners process information (O’Malley & Chamot 1990), others point out conscious or semi-conscious nature of these thoughts and behaviours. Learning strategies have been classified in different ways. One of the early taxonomies distinguished between direct and indirect strategies (Rubin 1975). O’Malley et al. (1985) and O’Malley & Chamot (1990), however, identified three main types of strategies, namely metacognitive, cognitive and socioaffective ones. Oxford (1990, 2001), based on her empirical research, developed a taxonomy with six groups, including memory strategies, cognitive strategies, compensation strategies, meta-cognitive strategies, affective strategies, and social strategies. The first three belong to the direct strategy group, while the second three form the indirect group. Following this categorization she developed a questionnaire which is a valid and reliable tool to be used with elementary, secondary and tertiary level students.
In our research we also employed Oxford's Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL). The participants included elementary-school students in grades 5 and 6 (n=311) who filled out the questionnaire online using the eDIA system developed by the researchers of the Szeged Center for Research on Learning and Instruction. We aimed at finding out which strategies students use the most often and also what is difficult for them in English language learning and which classroom activities they enjoy the most. Results show that students indicated the use of metacognitive strategies the most often and compensation strategies the least often.
Significant correlations were found between the various fields of the questionnaire. Overall the means range between 3.1 and 3.6 on the 5-point Likert scale. This means medium strategy use which does not allow for further differentiation in our sample. As for the questions related to the difficulties with English, 25% of the students indicated writing and 13% listening as their first choice. Among their first three choices 62% of the participants indicated writing, 44% listening and 35% spelling. It is also of valuable information for teachers to know what tasks students enjoy and what can motivate them. Watching films, listening to music, singing and playing games are among the most favoured activities. Results indicate that 55% of our participants like playing games during English classes or like to study English in a playful way, 47% enjoy studying English if it is done through films, and 41% highlighted music and singing. Students were also asked about meeting and using English outside of school as it is important for them to see the usefulness of language learning. Of the activities listed they could indicate five and listening to music was selected by 56%, using the computer and the Internet by 28% and reading and watching films by 16% of the participants. Our results strengthen the assumption that language teaching today should make use of information technology; computers and the Internet cannot be left out of the language classrooms.
Moreover, films and music are great tools and sources that can be used to motivate students in their language learning.
Keywords: Language learning strategies, Strategy Inventory for Language Learning.