Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

A Synthesis of Selected Language Learning Strategy Studies in Iran

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

A Synthesis of Selected Language Learning Strategy Studies in Iran

Article excerpt

Abstract

O'Malley and Chamot (1990) define learning strategies as "the special thoughts or behaviors that individuals use to help them comprehend, learn or retain new information" (p. 1). In recent decades, many Iranian scholars have concentrated on learning strategies as an effective way for acquiring knowledge. This paper aims to have a profound, comparative look at the start, development and the current position of EFL learning strategy field of study in Iran.

Key words: Learning strategies; EFL; Iranian EFL learners

THE FOCUS OF RESEARCH IN THE FIELD OF EFL LEARNING STRATEGIES IN IRAN

The analysis of studies conducted in Iran indicates that they are mostly descriptive in nature focusing on the impact of metacognitive awareness on written skills and mostly ignore speaking skill, while a few studies have focused on metacognitive listening strategies awareness (Rahimi & Katal, 2012).

All the studies conducted in the field of language learning strategies in Iran, according to their focus, can be classified into six categories:

a. Identifying the strategies used by successful or unsuccessful language learners (Gerami & Baighlou, 2011),

b. Investigating the relationship between students' use of language learning strategies and their learning achievement (Akbari, 2003; Salehi & Farzad, 2003; Zare & Sarmadi, 2004),

c. Looking at students' strategic performance in different language skill areas (Meshkat & Nasirifirouz, 2009; Shirani Bidabadi & Yamat, 2010; Sutudenama & Taghipur, 2010; Mehrak Rahimi & Katal, 2010; ShiraniBidabadi & Yamat, 2011; Khatib, Hassanzadeh & Rezaei, 2011),

d. The factors that affect the learners' use of different learning strategies (Tajedin, 2001; Mohammad Rahimi, Riazi, & Saif, 2008),

e. Strategy instruction outcomes (Maleki, 2005; Motallebzadeh & Mamdoohi, 2011) and finally,

f. Subjects' preferences in the use of language learning strategies (Lachini, 1997; Pishghadam, 2009; Nikoopour, Farsani & Neishabouri, 2011).

In the following section, examples supporting the aforementioned classification of studies in the field of language learning strategies are presented and reviewed.

a. Successful or Unsuccessful Language Learners' Strategies

Gerami and Baighlou (2011), referring to language as a socially mediated phenomenon proved the logic of their study which was a replication of a foreign study with the aim of extracting Iranian EFL learners' learning strategies to make a comparison between the students of different proficiencies. In their study, using Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL), they examined the application of language learning strategies by successful and unsuccessful Iranian EFL students. They found that successful EFL students use a wider range of learning strategies (often metacognitive) and different from those often preferred by their unsuccessful peers (surface level cognitive strategies).

b. Language Learning Strategy Use and Language Learning Achievement

Akbari (2003) used SILL to investigate the relationship between the use of language learning strategies by 128 Iranian EFL university students and their EFL proficiency. The results demonstrated that, on the whole, metacognitive strategies are more popular among Iranian EFL learners, while advanced students use cognitive, metacognitive and compensation strategies more than other strategies. Also, he found that compensation strategies can predict the proficiency level of students to a greater degree compared with other learning strategies. Moreover, he examined the relationship between learners' IQ scores and strategy use and found no significant relationship between them.

Salehi and Farzad (2003) studied the relationship between metacognitive knowledge, learning conception and EFL proficiency among more than 300 Iranian students. In order to carry out the research, they utilized state metacognition inventory which is developed and validated by O'Neil and Abedi (1996), learning conception interview based on Saljo's (1979) study, and a researcher-made EFL proficiency test. …

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