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Language Learning Strategy Research:
Current trends and issues in the field
Heath Rose Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics School of Linguistic, Speech & Communication Sciences, Trinity College, The University of Dublin
PhD & Masters in Education/Applied linguistics at the University of Sydney
BA & PG Teaching Cert., University of Queensland
5 years in schools in Australia (teaching Japanese) and Japan (teaching English)
10 years in universities in Australia and Japan
Second language learning
Cognitive learning strategies
Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics
Trinity College Dublin
Most of my research
context is in Japan
I have a vested
interest in language
education, not just
Where have we come
Where are we now?
Abandon LLS Incorporate
LLS & SR
Where do we go from
Self-regulation vs learning strategies
General vs specific models
What does this mean for me?
Researchers Instructors Learners
WHERE HAVE WE COME FROM? Part One
What are LLS?
Language learning strategies are thoughts and actions, consciously chosen and operationalized by language learners, to assist them in carrying out a multiplicity of tasks from the very onset of learning to the most advanced levels of target-language performance Cohen (2012, p. 136)
There is contention among academics over definitions. LLSs have been defined as special thoughts, behaviors,
techniques and devices.
They have been perceived as cognitive, metacognitive, psychological, affective, and social.
O'Malley, Chamot, Stewner-
Menzanares, Kupper & Russo
OMALLEY & CHAMOT
1. Metacognitive 2. Cognitive 3. Social/affective
OXFORD 1. Cognitive 2. Mnemonic 3. Metacognitive 4. Compensatory 5. Affective 6. Social
LLS Research Explosion
Bailystok (1979) Hosenfeld (1976) Naiman, Frolich & Stern (1975) Selinger (1977)
Rubins taxonomy was a list of what might be
termed academic or study skills (Grenfell & Macaro,
2007, p. 11)
Strategy Inventory of Language Learning (SILL)
50+ item questionnaire of general strategies for language learning: If I do not understand something in
English, I ask the other person to slow down or say it again.
I encourage myself to speak English even when I am afraid of making a mistake
I notice my English mistakes and use that information to help me do better
I make up new words if I do not know the right ones in English.
l. Never or almost never true of me
2. Usually not true of me
3. Somewhat true of me
4. Usually true of me
5. Always or almost always
true of me
Tseng et al. (2006)
Gao (2006) Cohen & Macaro
LSS (2003) MARSI (1998-2000)
SORS (2001) MALQ (2006)
STATE OF FLUX: Continue LLS
research? Abandon LLS
for SR? Incorporate SR
Likert scale of SILL is inappropriate Lack of reliability in using
questionnaires to measure learning strategies
a more situated approach utilizing in-depth qualitative methods (p. 90)
Computation of mean scores is not justifiable
Previous taxonomies are too fuzzy
WHERE ARE WE NOW? Part Two
Overview recent history
LLS research has been on the decline since the late 1990s, and early 2000s.
The field of LLS has been complicated by the calls to shelve LLS research in favor of self-regulation.
This has caused a field that once garnered much attention in the 1990s to one that new scholars are hesitant to answer.
Current trend 1: Incorporate SR & LLS
Self-regulation in language learning refers to the processes the learner uses to exercise control over learning.
This definition also causes issues and some researchers use the term synonymously with autonomy and self-management (Cohen, 2007).
Self-regulation and LLS can be complimentary models (Gao, 2006)
this is direction I took in 2007
Self-regulation (Dornyei 2005: 113)
Commitment control strategies for helping preserve or increase learners goal commitment.
Metacognitive control strategies for monitoring and controlling concentration and for curtailing unnecessary procrastination.
Satiation control strategies for eliminating boredom and adding extra attraction or interest to the task.
Emotion control strategies for managing disruptive emotional states or moods and for generating emotions that are conducive to implementing ones intentions.
Environmental control strategies for the elimination of negative environmental influences by making an environment an ally in the pursuit of a difficult goal.
Rose (2012) (from 2007)
Not one instance of environmental control was reported in the study where it was not being used to regulate another form of motivation control. Such results indicate environmental control may not be a separate category of control in itself, but a self-regulatory mechanism or strategy to control other forms of motivation. Participants, for example, reported regulating their study environment in order to alleviate boredom (by changing the study environment regularly) or stress (by working out while studying), or factors that may lead to procrastination (by creating an environment free of distractions). (Rose, 2012, p. 12)
Self-regulation in kanji learning
Cognitive learning strategies
Motivational control strategies
Memory strategies Self-regulation Co
Applied linguistics (SLA)
Current trend 2: Explore self-regulation further
Self-regulation has a deeper history
Ranalli (2012) argues critics (including myself) assume Dornyei and colleagues version of self-regulation to be the only valid formulation
They miss opportunities to widen the theoretical lens and explore what else this construct may have to offer our field. (Ranalli, 2012, p. 361)
Ranalli (2012) introduces the application of Winne and Hadwins COPES model of self-regulation to second language learning tasks.
Current trend 3: Learning strategy research continues
Business as usual for many of the sub-fields of strategy research
These escaped the criticisms of LLS because:
They were task-specific (VLS, Reading Strategies)
They had long moved on from the SILL and its inaccuracies
They had already developed their own taxonomies of strategies
Criticisms do not mean the end of LLS
Dornyei may be setting up a straw man in order to knock him down (Grenfell & Macaro, 2007, p. 26).
LLS and self-regulation are looking at two different parts of the learning process (Gao, 2007)
The definition quibble is going beyond the advancement of knowledge in delineating conceptual boundaries. (Gu, 2012, p. 330)
Looking at skill or function (Cohen, 2012)
New directions by Peter Gu (2012)
Conceptual fuzziness should not be a problem serious enough to overthrow forty years of research on language learning strategies ..In fact, the proposed alternative term self- regulation or even a more general and key term learning fall into the same fuzziness trap ..This indicates to me that the find-another-term solution is not viable. (p. 331)
Gu (2012) strips learning strategies back to its prototypical core, providing one of the most interesting theory-driven papers in the field I have read in recent years.
The process of a strategic move (Gu, 2012, p. 337)
Dimensions of variation (Gu, 2012, p. 341)
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Part Three
Where do we go from here?
New ways to look at strategies could be explored, incorporating the volume of research outside of L2
New methods to look at self-regulation in L2 learning could be explored
Both models have their strengths: Strategy research has strength in context-specific tasks, or
processes (e.g. cognitive strategies for learning kanji)
Self-regulation has strength in the psychological processes of the learner (e.g. control over learning process)
There is a need in applied linguistic research for both
There is a need for movements away from self-
Continue to explore LLS as a multidisciplinary construct:
incorporate LLS and self-regulation into complimentary
models of strategic learning
Separate the disciplines of LLS, and conducting research under
the strength of previous research in that discipline
(affect regulation, cognitive strategies, social strategies)
LLS were always a multi-disciplinary construct
Gao (2006) Rose (2012)
Oxford (2009) Weinstein (2009)
Independent fields need not be
affected by the ongoing debate
BUT the focus has to be context or task-specific, e.g. kanji learning, VLS
Or similar fields can be explored (cognitive-
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME? Part Four
Implications for the researcher
Oxfords LLS model
Self-report questionnaires SILL
Frequency based statements
Dornyeis motivation control paradigm
Self-regulation & LLS all-encompassing models (e.g. Oxfords S2R model)
Skill-based models of LLS
Function-based models of LLS
Additions to self-report questionnaires Stimulated recall
Implications for the instructor
Be careful with the teaching of strategies in the language classroom Effectiveness of strategy instruction is varied
Research consistently shows individual differences in use of strategies by successful learners
Best to take an approach of awareness-raising Exposing/discussing a range of known useful
strategies with students for them to try-out
Dont force strategies on your students (e.g. kanji learning)
Implications for the learner
Strategies are not magic.
Strategies aid learning they do not work miracles
Choose strategies that make sense to you
There is a danger of adopting strategies at face value
E.g. Learners of Japanese kanji and magic solutions
Rose, H. (2012). Reconceptualizing strategic learning in the face of self-regulation: throwing language learning strategies out with the bathwater. Applied Linguistics, 33(1), 92-98. Rose, H. (2012). Language learning strategy research: Where do we go from here? Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 3(2), 137-148. Rose, H. (2012). Learner Strategies, Self-Regulation, and Self-Access Learning (Editorial). Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 3(4). Rose, H., & Harbon, L. (2013). Self-regulation of the kanji-learning task. Foreign Language Annals. 46(1). MLJ article on mnemonic strategies in review
References Cohen, A. D. (2007). Coming to terms with language learner strategies: surveying the experts. In D. C. Cohen & E. M. Macaro. (Eds.), Language learner strategies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. (pp. 29-45).
Drnyei, Z. (2005). The psychology of the language learner: Individual differences in second language acquisition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Grenfell, M. & Macaro, E. (2007). Claims and critiques. In D. C. Cohen & E. M. Macaro. (Eds.), Language learner strategies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. (pp. 9-28).
Gao, X. 2006. Has language learning strategy research come to an end? A response to Tseng, Dornyei and Schmitt Applied Linguistics 28(4), 615-620.
Gu, Y. (2012). Learning Strategies: Prototypical Core and Dimensions of Variation. SiSAL Journal , 3(4),
Oxford R. L. (2011). Teaching and researching language learning strategies. Pearson Education.
Ranalli, J. (2007). Alternative Models of Self-regulation and Implications for L2 Strategy Research.
SiSAL Journal , 3(4), 330-356
Takeuchi, O., Griffiths, C. & Coyle, D. (2007). Applying strategies: the role of individual, situational, and group differences. In D. C. Cohen & E. M. Macaro.(Eds.), Language learner strategies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. (pp. 69-92).
Tseng, W. T., Drnyei, Z., & Schmitt, N. (2012). A new approach to assessing strategic learning: The case of self-regulation in vocabulary acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 27(1), 78-102.
Weinstein, C. E. (2009). Strategic and self-regulated learning for the 21st Century: The merging of skill, will and self-regulation. Paper given at the Independent Learning Association Conference, June 4. Hong Kong.
Woodrow, L. (2005). The challenge of measuring language learning strategies. Foreign Language Annals, 38(1), 90100.
Heath Rose Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics School of Linguistic, Speech & Communication Sciences, Trinity College, The University of Dublin Contact: [email protected]