Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Effects of English Language Proficiency on the Choice of Language Learning Strategies by Saudi English-Major Undergraduates

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Effects of English Language Proficiency on the Choice of Language Learning Strategies by Saudi English-Major Undergraduates

Article excerpt


It is reported that language learning is a creative and dynamic process and the learners are active partners in this process. This trend in language teaching motivated the researchers to investigate the learners' individual differences and the identification of language learning strategies (LLS) has become a major area of interest in this regard because it is suggested that language learners consciously or unconsciously employ different LLS. This research study investigated LLS used by Saudi English-major undergraduates by using SILL version7. Paired Samples t-test was applied to see if significant differences exist as a result of their GPA differences. The informants of this study were 240 English-major undergraduates (low GPA, 106 & high GPA, 134) enrolled at foreign languages department Taif university. Results reported that the participants with high English language proficiency use language learning strategies more frequently. The participants ranked the metacognitive strategies the highest as compared to other LLS followed by social and cognitive LLS respectively. Among the remaining three categories of LLS, compensation and affective strategies showed mixed preferences but memory strategies were assigned the least mean values by both sample groups. Considering the fact that frequency of LLS usage and English language proficiency are positively linked to each other, it is concluded that it seems necessary to teach language learning strategies explicitly so that even the weaker students should be able to enhance English language proficiency by exploiting a wide range of suitable strategies that are appropriate to different classroom activities and learners' L2 experience.

Keywords: language learning strategies, English language proficiency, effect

1. Introduction

Though it is common to hear ESL/EFL teachers' complaints regarding the unsatisfactory performance of their students, yet the situation is rather alarming and a lot of research has reported that despite huge government spending, English language teaching in the Arab world in general and Saudi Arabia in particular have not achieved the desire goal of effective ELT (Zughoul, 1986; Sahu, 1999; Rababah, 2003; Al-Jarf, 2008). AlFadly (2003) stated that Arab students remain unable to achieve the desired proficiency in English even after studying the target language for many years. Several studies have been conducted to identifying the causes of Arab students' low proficiency level in the target level (Tushyeh, 1992; Rababah, 2003; Reymond, 2008; Javid, Farooq & Ajmal, 2012) but there seems a paucity of research to identify the reasons of this low English language proficiency caused by the learner-related factors. A host of studies suggested that efficient language learners, who study English as a second or foreign language, employ a variety of strategies to facilitate their learning (O, Malley, 1987; Cohen, 1998; McDonough, 1995). Oxford & Nyikos (1989) reported that appropriate language learning strategies (LLS) used by the learners help them achieve higher proficiency in the target language as well as assist them to become self-sufficient learners who possess the abilities such as learner autonomy, self-sufficiency and self-direction: necessary qualities of life-long learners (Nunan, 1988; Corder, 1981). Use of language learning strategies by language learners has been extensively investigated in ESL context but there seems a paucity of LLS research in the EFL context of the Arab world (Radwan, 2010). This scarcity of research is reported in the Arab world in general (El-Dib, 2004; Khalil, 2005; Shmais, 2003; Radwan, 2010) and Saudi Arabia in specific (e.g., Otaibi, 2004). This study is an effort to fill this gap by investigating English-major university undergraduates in a public university of Saudi Arabia.

2. Literature Review

It has been reported that the trend of investigating LLS in learning English as a second/foreign language proliferated during the last three decades when Rubin (1975) enunciated his theory of successful language learners (Jurkovic, 2010). …

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