Language Learning Strategies

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Deepak K. SAMIDA

This article gives a general view of language learning strategies. Each group of strategies is briefly explained. Their application is also added as an example to show how a learner can use them.

The language learning strategies are not newly created strategies, but have been in use by ancient storytellers thousands of years ago. It is said that in the Celtic period it took twelve years for storytellers to fully train. In the first two years they memorized 250 stories. They used mnemonic tools to help remember the narrative. These days the language students use these and other strategies to develop communicative competence.

According to the research of O' Malley, Chamot, and Kupper effective listeners used three specific strategies: self-monitoring, elaboration, and inferences while ineffective listeners were concerned with the meaning of individual words. This study demonstrated that the use of certain learning strategies improved learning among students. Learning strategies are defined by Oxford as "operations employed by the learner to aid the acquisition , storage, retrieval, and use of information". This definition is further expanded to include "specific actions taken by the learner to make learning easier, faster, more enjoyable, more self-directed, more effective, and more transferrable to new situations" (Oxford, 1990, p. 8). These definitions show that the weight in foreign language teaching and learning is changing from teacher centered to learner centered instruction. This change has brought language learning strategies to the center of attention for some educators.

There are 62 strategies mentioned by Oxford and they are divided into direct and indirect strategies. The strategies used directly in dealing with a new language are called direct strategies. The

three groups that belong to the direct strategies are memory, cognitive, and compensation. The indirect strategies are used for general management of learning. The three groups belonging to this category are metacognitive, affective, and social strategies. Here a brief introduction of each group will help explain them.

The direct strategies are beneficial to the students because they help store and recover information. These strategies help learners to produce language even when there is gap in knowledge. They also help to understand and use the new language.

Memory strategies are based on simple principles like laying things out in order, making association, and reviewing. These principles are employed when a learner faces challenge of vocabulary learning. The words and phrases can be associated with visual images that can be stored and retrieved for communication. Many learners make use of visual images, but some find it easy to connect words and phrases with sound, motion or touch.

The use of memory strategies are most frequently applied in the beginning process of language learning. As the learners advance to higher level of proficiency memory strategies are mentioned very little. It is not that the use ceases, but the awareness of its use becomes less.

Here is an example to apply memory strategy by making association. If a learner wants to remember the name Solange of a French person, it could be associated by saying Solange s face is so long.

These are perhaps the most popular strategies with language learners. The target language is manipulated or transformed by repeating, analyzing or summarizing. The four sets in this group are: Practicing, Receiving and Sending Messages, Analyzing and Reasoning, and Creating Structure for Input and Output.

Practicing is the most important in this group which can be achieved by repeating, working

with sounds and writing, and using patterns. The tools of receiving and sending messages are used when learners try to find the main idea through skimming and scanning. It is not necessary to check every word. The adult learners commonly...
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