Language Learning strategy

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1 Definitions and related concepts

  • Apart from what are defined in Learning strategy, the term Language learning strategy has been defined by key figures in the field of L2/FL education. A change from the focus on the product of LSS (linguistic or sociolinguistic competence)to a greater emphasis on the processes and the characteristics of LLS can be noted.
  1. Tarone (1983) defined a LS as "an attempt to develop linguistic and sociolinguistic competence in the target language -- to incoporate these into one's interlanguage competence" (p. 67).
  2. Wenden and Rubin (1987:19) define learning strategies as "... any sets of operations, steps, plans, routines used by the learner to facilitate the obtaining, storage, retrieval, and use of information."
  3. Rubin (1987) later wrote that LS "are strategies which contribute to the development of the language system which the learner constructs and affect learning directly" (p. 22).
  4. O'Malley and Chamot (1990) defined LS as "the special thoughts or behaviours that individuals use to help them comprehend, learn, or retain new information" (p. 1).
  5. Oxford (1992/1993) provides specific examples of LLS (i.e., "In learning ESL, Trang watches U.S. TV soap operas, guessing the meaning of new expressions and predicting what will come next") and this helpful definition:

...language learning strageties -- specific actions, behaviours, steps, or techniques that students (often intentionally) use to improve their progress in developing L2 skills. These strageties can facilitate the internalization, storage, retrieval, or use of the new language. Strategies are tools for the self-directed involvement necessary for developing communicative ability. (Oxford, 1992/1993, p. 18)

LLS are distinct from learning styles, which refer more broadly to a learner's "natural, habitual, and preferred way(s) of absorbing, processing, and retaining new information and skills" (Reid, 1995, p. viii), though there appears to be an obvious relationship between one's language learning style and his or her usual or preferred language learning strategies.

see also Learning styles vs. learning strategies in Learning strategy

2 Classification of LLS

Language Learning Strategies have been classified by many scholars (Wenden and Rubin 1987; O'Malley et al. 1985; Oxford 1990; Stern 1992; Ellis 1994, etc. ). However, most of these attempts to classify language learning strategies reflect more or less the same categorizations of language learning strategies without any radical changes.

  • O'Malley's (1985) Classification of Language Learning Strategies - three main subcategories:
  1. Metacognitive Strategies
  2. Cognitive Strategies
  3. Socioaffective Str
  • Rubin's (1987) Classification of Language Learning Strategies: three types of strategies used by learners that contribute directly or indirectly to language learning.
  1. Learning Strategies
    1. Cognitive Learning Strategies
      1. Clarification / Verification
      2. Guessing / Inductive Inferencing
      3. Deductive Reasoning
      4. Practice
      5. Memorization
      6. Monitoring
    2. Metacognitive Learning Strategies
      1. planning
      2. prioritising
      3. setting goals
      4. self-management
  2. Communication Strategies
  3. Social Strategies
  • Oxford's (1990) Classification of Language Learning Strategies : It sees the aim of language learning strategies as being oriented towards the development of communicative competence.Two main classes, direct and indirect, which are further subdivided into 6 groups:
  1. Direct strategies
    1. Memory
      1. Creating mental linkages
      2. Applying images and sounds
      3. Reviewing well
      4. Employing action
    2. Cognitive
      1. Practising
      2. Receiving and sending messages strategies
      3. Analysing and reasoning
      4. Creating structure for input and output
    3. Compensation strategies
      1. Guessing intelligently
      2. Overcoming limitations in speaking and writing
  2. Indirect strategies
    1. Metacognitive Strategies
      1. Centering your learning
      2. Arranging and planning your learning
      3. Evaluating your learning
    2. Affective Strategies
      1. Lowering your anxiety
      2. Encouraging yourself
      3. Taking your emotional temperature
    3. Social Strategies
      1. Asking questions
      2. Cooperating with others
      3. Emphathising with others
  • Stern's (1992) Classification of Language Learning Strategies: five main language learning strategies
  1. Management and Planning Strategies
    1. decide what commitment to make to language learning
    2. set himself reasonable goals
    3. decide on an appropriate methodology, select appropriate resources, and monitor progress,
    4. evaluate his achievement in the light of previously determined goals and expectation
  2. Cognitive Strategies
    1. Clarification / Verification
    2. Guessing / Inductive Inferencing
    3. Deductive Reasoning
    4. Practice
    5. Memorization
    6. Monitoring
  3. Communicative - Experiential Strategies
  4. Interpersonal Strategies
  5. Affective Strategies

3 LLS research

  • Identification procedures of learning strategies
  • Terminology and classification of strategies
  • The effects of learner characteristics on strategy use
  • The effects of culture and context on strategy use

4 LLS instructions

  • Explicit and integrated strategy instruction
  • Language of instruction
  • Transfer of strategies to new tasks
  • Models for language learning strategy instruction

5 LLS in practice

  • Listening strategies

Listening is more than merely hearing words. Listening is an active process by which students receive, construct meaning from, and respond to spoken and or nonverbal messages (Emmert, 1994). As such, it forms an integral part of the communication process and should not be separated from the other language arts.

  1. Listening
  • Speaking strategies

Oral language is a powerful learning tool. It shapes, modifies, extends, and organizes thought. Oral language is a foundation of all language development and, therefore, the foundation of all learning. It is the base for the other language strands. Through speaking and listening, students learn concepts, develop vocabulary, and perceive the structure of the English language--essential components of learning. Students who have a strong oral language base have an academic advantage. School achievement depends on students' ability to display knowledge in a clear and acceptable form in speaking as well as writing.

  1. speaking
  • Reading strategies

The English curriculum requires teachers to give students explicit instruction in reading strategies that will teach them to be more skillful and strategic readers. Students become better readers when they know why they are reading. Teach them to recognize when they are reading to be informed, reading for literary experience, or reading to perform a task, and help them to name, select, and apply strategies appropriate for each intent. The following strategies apply to reading in ALL content areas.see Reading Strategies

  1. Reading
  2. Reading Strategies with Lesson Plans
  3. Reading Strategies for academic reading


  • Writing strategies

Student need daily opportunities to work through their ideas in writing. They must understand that writing is a process, and that it is developmental. Guide students to work for precision, purposefulness, originality, and elegance in their writing. Focus instruction on the structure of the students' writing, the strategies students use in creating their written products, and the elements of style they employ.

  1. Writing
  2. Structural Components of Writing
  3. Strategies to Support the Writing Process
  4. Strategies For Developing Personal Style

6 Useful Links

  • ESL(English Study and Learning materials) eslgold.com provides over a thousand pages of free information and resources for both teachers and students. All materials are organized by skill and level for quick and easy access.
  • some small tips for better learning
  1. Nine Quick Learning Strategies for Success
  2. general strategies

7 References

  1. Anna Uhl Chamot. Issues in Language Learning Strategy Research and Teaching. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching 2004, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 14-26 © Centre for Language Studies,National University of Singapore pdf
  2. Jianmin Tang. An Empirical Study on Listening Strategies. Sep. 2006, Volume 4, No.9 (Serial No.36).US-China Foreign Language, ISSN1539-8080, USA pdf
  3. Yew-Jin Fang.Designing Online Listening Comprehension Tasks for Learners of Mandarin Chinese as a Second/Foreign Language. School of Modern Language Studies, University of New South Wales pdf
  4. Rebecca Oxford & Martha Nyikos. Variables Affecting Choise of Language Learning Strategies by University Students.The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 73, No. 3. (Autumn, 1989), pp. 291-300.pdf