Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Gender and Language Learning Strategy Use-In the Case of Chinese High School Students

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Gender and Language Learning Strategy Use-In the Case of Chinese High School Students

Article excerpt


The present study investigated the relationship between gender and learning strategy preferences of Chinese senior high school students. Analyses indicated that high school students under investigation used a variety of learning strategies to study English at a medium to low frequency. Female students used more learning strategies and at a greater frequency than male students. The findings of the study will cast some light on Chinese EFL teaching, learning and future studies.

Key words: Gender; English learning strategy; High school students


The importance of language learning strategies as key factors in the acquisition of English as a second or foreign language is a topic that commanded the attention of researchers worldwide (Green & Oxford, 1995). Ever since the mid-1970s, numerous studies have been conducted in this area. The findings suggest that learning strategies play an important role in the process of language learning, and the appropriate use of learning strategies is an indispensable factor determining autonomous study effect.

Recently, some studies indicate that use of strategy vary significantly with factors such as socio-economic group, sex, and ethnicity (Ellis, 1994). For example, some studies found gender differences in the choice and adaptation of learning strategies (Ehrman & Oxford, 1989; Bacon, 1992). In general, females, more often than not, tended to use greater numbers of strategies than males for language learning (Politzer, 1983; Ehram & Oxford, 1989; Green, 1991; Green & Oxford, 1995). Oxford and Nyikos (1989), for example, found that female learners use more strategies. In Puerto Rico their study in Puerto Rico (Green & Oxford, 1995), findings indicated more use of strategies by female students. According to Goh and Kwah's (1997), "175 Chinese students who learned English as a second language in Singapore also reported that strategy use was significantly related to gender".

Language learning strategy research emerged in China in the early 1980s. Sy (1994, cited from Green & Oxford, 1995) found that Chinese EFL learners showed significant gender differences and females reported using more cognitive, compensation, metacognitive, and social strategies than males. Li (2002) investigated the relationship between gender and learning strategies adoptation among 120 Chinese students in Nanjing, but no significant difference was found in all six strategy categories. She commented that this result was on account of high motivation the subjects had. Compared with the considerable research in learning strategies worldwide, relatively fewer studies have been conducted in the China context. Motivated by such research gaps, the current study tried to investigate and analyze the relationship between learning strategy preferences and gender of Chinese high school students learning English. It is the hope of the researcher that it may provide teachers with a better understanding of learning strategies use among high school students.


1.1 Research Questions

The current study is intended to answer the following questions: What are the learning strategies commonly used by high school students under investigation? Is there any relationship between gender and strategy use? Is there any difference in gender and individual strategy use?

1.2 Participants

A total of 357 third-year high school students were randomly selected to participant in this study. They came from two schools in Dezhou, Shandong province. 221 from Qihe High School and 136 from Yucai Middle School - a key high school and an ordinary high school respectively. Among the 346 subjects, 209 were males and 137 were females, covering students for sciences and humanities. They aged from 16 to 20 with the average being 18.4.

1.3 Instruments

The Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) version 7.0 - developed by Rebecca Oxford - was used as a paper - and - pencil instrument to investigate language learning preferences. …

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