Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Do Language Proficiency Levels Correspond to Language Learning Strategy Adoption?

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Do Language Proficiency Levels Correspond to Language Learning Strategy Adoption?

Article excerpt


The primary focus of research on employment of language learning strategies has been on identification of adoption of different learning strategies. However, the relationship between language learning strategies and proficiency levels was ignored in previous research. The present study was undertaken to find out whether there are any relationship between the employment of different strategies and learners' levels of language proficiency. To this end, initially, a simulated TOEFL test (Bailey, R. F., Seetharaman, S., Gavin, C. A., Shukla, N., Penfield, J., and Subramanian, R., 1993) was administered to classify the learners into three classes of proficiency levels: beginning, intermediate, and advanced. Then, Oxford's Strategy Inventory, SILL, (Oxford, 1990b) was used to determine the frequency of the language learning strategies applied by learners. The results indicated that there is a direct relationship between employment of different strategies and proficiency levels. Therefore, the findings, in general, seem convincing enough to enable one to claim that there is a correspondence between the employment of different strategies and proficiency levels. The results of the present study are by no means complete. More research is needed to substantiate the outcome of the current study. One pedagogical implication of the study is that language instructors and syllabus designers should be advised to inform language learners about language learning strategies. Other implications have been discussed.

Keywords: language learning strategies, proficiency levels, strategy adoption

1. Introduction

Investigation of the role of second language learning strategies in learning a language continues to be revealing for the better understanding of the nature of language learning. The study of language strategy and their interaction with the diverse factors (such as age, nationality, levels of proficiency) calls for different research projects to shed light on this vast and complicated area of language learning. There has been a worldwide agreement on the necessity of language learning strategy (Rubin, 1975; Seliger1984; Burt, Dulay & Finocchiaro1997; Su2005).

A considerable number of research have been conducted on language strategies (Ellis, 1987; Johnson & Johnson, 1999; Nunan, 1999; Brown, 2000; Sue, 2005). In so In some of the most comprehensive research of language learning strategies, O'Malley, Stewner-Manzares, Kupper, and Russo (1985) and O'Malley, Chamot and Ellis (1985) studied the application of strategies by EFL learners in the United States.

Language learning strategies have been of importance to a number of methodologists to find out what set of strategies English language learners (ELLs) apply to promote their language potential and enhance the capability of their linguistic competence (McIntyre, 1994; Jain" 1969; Levin and Hause, 1987; Brown, 2000). The recognition of what strategies work for the language learners enables them to eliminate the problems they encounter in the course of language learning. Moreover, researchers have tried to establish a relationship between language learning strategies and successful language learning and their linkage to language proficiency.

Several applied linguists and methodologists have been attracted towards language proficiency studies and have worked on it (Higgs and Clifford, 1982; Omaggio, 1986 and Chastain, 1988). Vossoughi and Javaherian (2000) attribute the initial impetus of language proficiency to President Carter's Commission of Foreign Language and the report published by international studies entitled strength through wisdom. One of the recommendations of that commission was developing a standard way of rating language proficiency. The result of that recommendation was the publication in 1982 by the American Council on Teaching Foreign Language (ACTFL) of the Proficiency Guidelines. Since the advent of these guidelines, the emphasis on proficiency has continually increased. …

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