Language Learning Strategy Use: Perceptions of Female Arab English Majors

Article excerpt

Abstract:

This study investigated the patterns of language learning strategy use among 120 female Arabic-speaking students majoring in English at a university in Qatar. Perceptions of strategy use were measured by the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL, ESL/EFL Student Version). The study found that (1) this group of EFL learners featured medium bordering on high strategy users with an overall mean of 3.46 out of 5; (2) strategy categories were used in the order of metacognitive, cognitive, compensation, social, memory, and affective; (3) freshmen students reported the highest rate of strategy use with a mean of 3.64; and (4) except for compensation strategies, results did not show any significant difference among four educational levels regarding the use of strategy categories.

Key words: English as a foreign language, language learning strategies, perceptions of using strategies, Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL)

Language: Arabic

Introduction

Over the last few decades, the field of applied linguistics and second language education has witnessed a shift from instructor-centered to more learner-centered approaches to language teaching and learning. Accordingly, more emphasis has been put on learners and learning which, in turn, has affected views of instructors' roles and their teaching. One line of research in this regard has been how different language learners manage their learning using different types of language learning strategies. Successful language learners have been identified as those who make use of a wide range of effective language learning strategies in a systematic and organized way. The pedagogical implication of this development has been that less successful language learners can be helped to enhance their language learning through strategy training. The other implication of research findings in this area is related to curriculum development, particularly in materials and textbook preparation, as well as teaching dynamics. Authors of recent textbooks have attempted to include learning strategies in their books, and instructors try to set aside class time to familiarize students with language learning strategies.

Studies on language learning strategies have proliferated, investigating a variety of learner groups in both English as a second language (ESL) and English as a foreign language (EFL) contexts. Results of these studies have successfully contributed to our understanding of the nature, categories, and patterns of strategy use in general, as well as their use in different language skills.

Despite the existence of plenty of research on language learning strategies over the last few decades, as Oxford (1994) observed, this research should be replicated and extended so more consistent information becomes available and is verified within and across groups of learners. Of particular importance is information on how students from different cultural backgrounds use language learning strategies. To this end, this study investigated the patterns of language learning strategy use among an underresearched cultural group, namely Arab female EFL learners. The findings of the study hopefully will contribute to the knowledge base of language learning strategy research.

The purpose of this research was to study the pattern of language learning strategy use as perceived and reported by a specific group of Arabic-speaking female EFL learners. In particular, the study intended to answer the following research questions:

1. What is the general pattern of language learning strategy use among Arabic-speaking female EFL learners in terms of their overall strategy use and the six categories of the strategies as presented in the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL)?

2. Are there any significant differences among students of different educational levels in terms of their general strategy use and the six strategy categories? …