The concept of Language Learning Strategies

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This section reviews literature associated with this study. This section will look at reviews on the concept of Language Learning Strategies which encompass the Introduction to Language Learning Strategies, Definition of Language Learning Strategies, the Types of Language Learning Strategies, Concept of Self Efficacy: the Introduction to Self Efficacy, Definition of Self Efficacy, the Types of Self Efficacy, Relationship between Language Learning Strategies and Academic Achievement; and Relationship between Self Efficacy and Academic Achievement.

2.1 Concept of Language Learning Strategies

2.1.1 Introduction of Language Learning Strategies

Language learning strategies (LLS) had been widely used as is not a newly coined word. It has been mentioned in over the years as mnemonics were mentioned by Oxford (1990) as one of the famous examples in language learning. The research on Language Learning Strategies has also been done in the past three decades and has been around in history for almost thirty years as it first started out in the 1980s. The emphasis on Language Learning Strategies took a turn in the early 1990s as it was the 'main beginning point of various studies' regarding to it (Chamot, 2005 as cited in Fazeli, n.d.). Studies that were once focused on SLA areas with an outlook on methodologies and an examination on language shifted towards learners' characteristics. This change arrived with the publication of research by Stern and Rubin; both in 1975 that the interest of SLA studies began to change (Fewell, 2010). The introduction on learner autonomy also brought great interest to further understand the concept of Language Learning Strategies and how learners will be able to utilize these strategies in their own process of acquiring the target language.

There are several factors that lead to the utilization of Language Learning Strategies. Fewell (2010) listed several of those factors which include cultural background, educational experiences, language learning goals, motivation, attitude, age, and gender (Cohen 1998; O'Malley et al. 1985a, 1985b; Oxford 1990; Politzer and McGroarty 1985), level of learning, the involved task requirement, and individual learning styles (Oxford 1990; Reid 1987, 1995). Other factors that influence the choice of Language Learning Strategies include factors relating to personality, sensory preferences and individual language learner beliefs (as cited in Fewell, 2010).

2.2 Classification of Language Learning Strategies

Several classifications of learning strategies have been proposed by language educationist. Liu (2010) listed several classifications of Language Learning Strategies which describes and identify the types of strategies that are available to learners.

2.2.1 Wenden's Classification System

Wenden's 1983 classification of learning strategies is based on a look of learning strategies used by adult foreign language learners. Wenden's classification is also identified as meta-cognitive strategies by Chalot and O'Malley (1990). Wenden claims of three general categories of self-directing strategies which are (1) understanding about the language and what it involves, (2) planning of own learning related to the 'what' and 'how' of language learning and (3) self-evaluation of learners in language learning.

2.2.2 Rubin's Classification System

Rubin proposes a number of learning strategies that falls under two primary group and subgroups. Rubin explains that there are four types of learning strategies; mainly cognitive strategies, meta-cognitive strategies, communication and social. Rubin (1975) describes the characteristics of a good L2 learner which are; (1) learners who are willing and are accurate in guessing, (2) have strong motivation to communicate, (3) are not reserved and even if they are, they motivate themselves and try to communicate with others in public, (4) are willing to make mistakes, (5) focuses on forms by looking at patterns and analysis, (6) grabs all opportunity for practice, (7) monitor their own speech and of others and (8) pay attention to meaning (as cited in Abisamra, 2009).

2.2.3 O'Malley's Classification System

O'Malley and Chamot's classification of learning strategies resulted from interviews with both experts and novices with an addition of theoretical analysis on learners' reading comprehension and problem solving. O'Malley and Chamot (1990) proposed three types' of learning strategies as well which are cognitive, meta-cognitive and social/affective strategies. O'Malley and Chamot's Metacognitive strategies involve learners' planning and thinking about their own learning, and evaluating the degree of success of a particular learning strategy, Cognitive strategies focuses on learners operate information received for example by taking notes, and Social strategies where learners interact with the society for example by asking for a teacher's help or cooperating with other learners on a particular tasks (Ghani, 2003).

2.3 Oxford's Classification System

Oxford's learning strategies was developed from Dansereau's classification of learning strategies. Dansereau (1985 as in Liu, 2010) identified the differences of primary strategies and support strategies. Primary strategy deals directly with the process of language learning whereas support strategies aids in how to cope with distractions, fatigue and frustrations in language learning. Oxford's classification of learning strategies is parallel to Dansereau's learning strategies with a view on two broad categories of learning strategies.

Unlike previous classification where three or four types of learning strategies were proposed, Oxford's classification system of learning strategies introduces learners to six learning strategies in L2 acquisition. Oxford categorizes these six learning strategies into two different groups; direct and indirect strategies. Those include cognitive strategies, memory strategies, compensation strategies for direct strategies and metacognitive strategies, affective strategies and finally social strategies under indirect strategies (Oxford, 1990 cited in Richards & Lockhart, 1994).

Direct Strategies

Cognitive strategies enables learners to manipulate language materials, for example through reasoning, analysis, note-taking, summarizing, synthesizing, outlining, reorganizing information to develop stronger knowledge structures, practicing in naturalistic settings, and practicing structures. Memory strategies are strategies that help students to store and retrieve information. Examples of these strategies would include creating mental linkages, applying images and sounds and employing physical action.

Compensatory strategies are guessing from the context. This can be done through listening and reading, using synonyms and "talking around" the missing word to aid speaking and writing and using gestures or pause words. This strategy helps the learner make up for missing knowledge or information. Compensatory strategies are also strategies that are used for speaking and writing (often known as a form of communication strategies) which are intended only for language use and must not be considered to be language learning strategies (Cohen 1998, cited in Oxford, 2003). A diagram of Oxford's Language Learning Strategies classification is presented below:




Creating mental linkages



Placing new words into a context

Applying images and sounds

Using imagery

Semantic mapping

Using keywords

Representing sounds in


Reviewing well

1. Structured Viewing

Employing action

1. Using physical response or


2. Using mechanical



Cognitive strategies



Formally practicing with

sounds and writing systems

Recognizing and using

formulas and patterns


Practicing naturalistically

Receiving and sending messages

1. Getting the idea quickly

2. Using resources for

receiving and sending


Analyzing and reasoning

Reasoning deductively

2. Analyzing expressions

3. Analyzing contrastively

(across languages)

4. Translating


Creating structure for input and output

Taking notes



III. Compensation strategies

Guessing intelligently

Using linguistic clues

Using other clues

Overcoming limitations in speaking and writing

Switching to mother


Getting help

Using mime or gesture

Avoiding communication

Selecting the topic

Adjusting or

approximating the


Coining words

Using a circumlotion or



Figure 2.1:DFigure 2FigFigure 2.1: Diagram of Oxford's 1990 Classification of Language

Learning Strategies - Direct Strategies (Brown, 2000,


Indirect Strategies

Metacognitive strategies are the ability to identify one's own learning style preferences and needs. Examples of this type of strategy include planning for an L2 task, and gathering and organizing materials. Affective strategies, for example are identifying one's mood and anxiety level, talking about feelings, rewarding oneself for good performance, and using deep breathing or positive self talk.

Social strategies, for example are asking questions in order to verify, asking for clarification, asking for help in doing a language task, communicating with a native-speaker, and exploring cultural and social norms. Social strategies help learners work with others and understand the target culture as well as the language.




Centering your learning

Overview and linking with

already known material

Paying attention

Delaying speech

production to focus on


Arranging and planning your learning

Finding out about language learning


Setting goals and


Identifying purpose of

language task

Planning for language task

Seeking practice


Evaluating your learning






Lowering your anxiety

Using progressive

relaxation, deep

breathing or meditation

Using music

Using laughter

Encouraging yourself

Making positive


Taking risks wisely

Rewarding yourself

Taking your emotional temperature

Listening to your body

Using a checklist

Writing a language

learning diary

Discussing your


with someone else




Asking questions

Asking for

clarifications or


Asking for correction

Cooperating with others

Cooperating with


Cooperating with

proficient users of the

new language

Empathizing with others

Developing cultural


Becoming aware of

others' thoughts and


Figure 2.2: Diagram of Oxford's 1990 Classification of Language

Learning Strategies - Indirect Strategies (Brown, 2000,


2.4 Measurement of Language Learning Strategies

Various instruments have been used widely in assessing students' language learning strategies. These instruments not only allow both students and teachers to discover students' learning strategies but also allow teachers and educators to match both students' learning strategies with their learning style and teachers' teaching styles. There are several well known instruments that have been used thus this review looks at the instruments as follow:

2.4.1 Strategy Inventory Language Learning (SILL)

This SILL instrument is one of the most popular instruments available in the field of language learning which was constructed by Dr. Rebecca Oxford in 1990. This instrument was constructed to examine the types of language learning strategies used by second language learners. This tool consists of 50 items and is answered on a likert-scale basis with 1 being 'never or almost never true of me' and 5 is most positive which is 'always or almost always true of me' and focuses on 6 different constructs which are Memory strategies, Cognitive strategies, Compensation strategies, Metacognitive strategies, Affective strategies and Social strategies. Oxford's instrument has gain high popularity among language educators and has been translated to various languages.

2.4.2 Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)

The Michigan English Language Assessment Battery of also known as MELAB was developed by the English Language Institute at University of Michigan. The instrument is designed to measure the advance level of English competency of adult nonnative speakers of English who will use the target language for academic study at American universities (Gao, n.d.). According to Gao, the instrument is used particularly for admission of higher education and its results have been accepted widely as proof of students' English competence by higher education institutions in countries where English is used as a medium of instruction. The MELAB is divided into 3 sections with an addition of optional speaking test which test various English language skills. Part 1 looks at composition, part 2 focuses on listening test with 50 multiple-choice items and part 3 is a test which comprises of grammar/vocabulary/reading/cloze test which contains 100 multiple choice items.

2.5 Concept of Self - Efficacy

2.5.1 Introduction to Self Efficacy

Self-efficacy is based on Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory. It is defined as an individual's belief on one's capabilities to learn or perform a task at a certain level (Bandura, 1997 as cited in Rahil, Habibah, Cheong, Muhd, Nooreen, & Maria, 2006). It is the belief of "I can" or "I cannot do" belief. Self efficacy stated that human achievement depends on internal and external factors and the interaction it has between the learners' behaviour, personal factors and environmental conditions (Rahil, Habibah, Cheong, Muhd, Nooreen, & Maria, 2006). Below is a diagram of Bandura's concept of reciprocity behaviour as illustrated by Rahil, Habibah, Cheong, Muhd, Nooreen, & Maria (2006):

Human Development

Personal Factors


(affective, cognitive) Factors

Figure 2.1

Bandura's concept of reciprocity behaviour

Self efficacy is reflected on how confident a learner may be able to perform a task. It affects learners' behaviour of in terms of how the learner feels, thinks, motivates themselves and acts. It also determines the types of activities these learners would select and their persistency in facing the challenges (Chowdhury & Shahabuddin, 2007). Learners with high self efficacy views difficult tasks as something that needs to be mastered rather than threats to be avoided. They sustain their efforts when dealing with failure. They are able to quickly recover their sense of efficacy after facing setbacks. They approach threatening situations with assurance that they are able to control them. This then produces personal accomplishments, reduces stress level and lowers their vulnerability to depression (Bandura, 1994). In contrast, learners with low self efficacy would view that difficult task as a threat thus it should be avoided. Having themselves to perform on the tasks would result in the feelings of depression, stress and the disability to view and solve tasks by looking or thinking outside of the box (Rahil, Habibah, Cheong, Muhd, Nooreen, & Maria, 2006).

2.5.2 Taxonomy of Self-Efficacy

In understanding self-efficacy, Bandura (1994) explains several factors that affect self efficacy which are:


Mastery experience is one of the most effective ways in creating strong sense of efficacy. Learners who experience quick successes would expect quick results in tasks performed and would easily be discourage by failure. Here, learners need to learn in terms of facing challenges and to learn on what it takes to bounce back from failure; which is effort. Through sustained effort, learners will understand themselves and what it takes for them to succeed which makes them stronger when encounter hardships.


Modelling is the second way of creating and to strengthen self efficacy. One looks at a social model which share similarities with the learner. Learners referring to models similar to themselves contribute to their self efficacy. It makes learners believe that they have similar capabilities in mastering a task and achieve similar success in life. Modeling impacts perceived self efficacy and is strongly influenced by the similarities the learner shares with the model. The greater assumption of similarities shared, the more persuasive would the model's success and failure becomes. Learners who view models in contrast from themselves will not much be influenced by their behaviour, their success and failures.

Social Persuasion

Social persuasion is the third way in strengthening self efficacy. Unlike learners who are told that they lack capabilities which lead to avoidance and giving up, learners who are persuaded verbally on their capabilities in mastering tasks are likely to succeed and sustain effort compared to those who doubt themselves when facing challenges.

Physiological Factors

Physiological factor looks at emotional states as one judge their own capabilities. They relate stress, tension, fatigue, aches and pains to poor performance and physical weaknesses. Even mood contributes to self efficacy. Positive mood enhances it while negative mood diminish it. Modifying self beliefs of efficacy will reduce the level of stress and alter their negative emotions and interpretations of a learner's physical condition. Learners with high sense of efficacy perceive their state as a "facilitator of performance" whiles those with low self efficacy views them as a debilitator.

2.6 Measurements of Self Efficacy

The arising interest on the study of self efficacy in the education field has seen various instruments that measure various domains of self efficacy beliefs. Various types of instrument that measures self efficacy have been adapted worldwide and have been translated in different languages. This review thus will look at several instruments designed by pioneers in the field and has been used widely in the research of self efficacy.

2.6.1 The General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE)

The original version of this instrument was designed in German by Ralf Schwarzer and Matthias Jerusalem in 1979. The scale was then revised and adapted to 26 other languages. Up to date, the instrument can be found in 33 languages and the English version of the instrument was revised and adapted in 1995. The instrument measures respondents' perceived self efficacy in dealing with stressful life events. The construct of the instrument is on optimistic self beliefs and consists of 10 items. This study has been used successfully at international level for two decades and has shown high validity in correlation with positive coefficients found between emotions and work satisfaction (Schwarzer, n.d.).

College Self Efficacy Inventory (CSEI)

The College Self Efficacy Inventory was designed in 1993 by Solberg and Colleagues (Barry & Finney, 2007). The instrument was initially designed in order to examine the relationship between self efficacy and college adjustment for Hispanic students and understand the role of self efficacy on college adjustment (Solberg, O'Brian, Villareal, Kennel & Davis, 1993 as cited in Barry & Finney, 2007). The instrument consist of 20 items and 3 constructs, namely Course Self Efficacy which measures students' self efficacy towards course performance, Roommate Self Efficacy which measures students' social skills and Social Self Efficacy which measures students' self efficacy in interacting with the people they live with.

2.6.3 Self-Efficacy for Learning Form (SELF)

This instrument was constructed by Zimmerman, Kitsantas, and Campillo. The instrument intends to examine respondents' self efficacy belief regarding specific self-regulation processes used by the respondents in their academic functioning. The instrument consists of 57 items which evaluates 5 different items which are reading items, study items, test preparation items, note-taking items and writing items.

2.7 Language Learning Strategies (LLS) and Academic Achievement

Compared to the attention given on learning styles, few research has been done on the relationship between language learning strategies with academic achievement at tertiary level for either traditional or non-traditional students. Most researches have focused on the relationship of language learning strategies with academic achievement on junior high and high school and its relations with English proficiency or language performance but not on academic achievement as a whole. Nevertheless, there are still several studies available that would give an insight towards the area in research.

Saricoban and Saricaoglu (2008) conducted a study on the effect of the relationship between learning and teaching strategies on academic achievement. The study which focuses on the students of Foreign Language, Erciyes University revealed significant findings as certain strategies shows correlation with students' academic success. The results of the findings indicate that compensation and affective strategies are significant towards students' academic achievement.

In another study done in Japan, Olah (2006) found that there is a strong relationship between students' learning strategies and their academic achievement at high school level. However, not much was obtained from university students. The result shown from the study reported a weak correlation between language learning strategies and academic achievement. On the other hand, moderate correlation was only found to indicate relationship between Social Strategies with students' language proficiency.

In another independent study in Spain reported of significant findings between learning strategies and academic achievement. The study which was conducted among high school students' revealed that students' utilizing memorization strategies the most had worse results compared to their peers (Marchesi & Martinez, 2006 as cited in Martin, Martinez-Arias, Marchesi, & Perez 2008). A study in Turkey reported positive correlation between English language proficiency and achievement in English writing and reading subjects (Maliki & Zangani, 2007). The finding thus concludes that as students' English proficiency increases, so does their performances in English related subjects.

2.8 Self Efficacy and Academic Achievement

Similarly, few researches have been done on the relationship between levels of self efficacy and academic achievement (Witt-Rose, 2003). This is supported by Barry & Finney (2007) stating that most research on self efficacy, especially on academic self efficacy are associated with academic sub-domains for example mathematics, science or writing thus explaining few measures of general academic self efficacy. Of researches that have been conducted are on a study done by Lent, Brown & Larkin (1984). Lent, Brown & Larkin claims that high self efficacy had an influence on students' academic persistence which is needed to maintain high academic achievement in Science (as cited in Rahil, Habibah, Cheong, Muhd, Nooreen, & Maria, 2006).

In addition, other studies conducted in research area reports of positive relationships between self efficacy and academic achievement. Bouffard-Bouchard, Parent, & Larivee (1991); Brown, Lent, & Larking, (1989); Locke, Frederick, Lee, & Bobko, (1984); Shunk, (1985) and Wood & Locke, (1987) revealed findings which are significant towards persistence and performance (as cited in DeWitz, 2004). DeWitz purported that individuals with stronger self efficacy beliefs persisted longer and performed better of necessary behaviours needed for academic success.

Other researchers had also stated that self efficacy has positive effects on students' motivation and their academic achievement (Pintrich & De Groot, 1990; Zimmerman, Bandura & Martinez-Pons, 1992; Pajares & Miller, 1994 as cited in Ergul, 2004).

2.9 Conclusion

As a conclusion, learning preferences can assist language learners in achieving effective and meaningful lesson in learning or acquiring a second or even a foreign language. This is where both learning style and learning strategies come in that leads to the success of language learning. Both learning styles and strategies have been related to how it can contribute to an effective and meaningful learning. Learning styles are known to be innate behavior and is fixed within the learner's personality. However, learning strategies can be taught and trained in order to further assist a learner in achieving the learning goals which will enhance students' level of self efficacy.

There has not been much study on the relationship between language learning strategies with academic achievement at higher education level though there have been several studies which indicate strong correlation between the two variables at school level. Similarly for self efficacy and academic achievement, few studies had focus on the relationship between the two variables. There is a variety of information regarding the area of study on elementary school students and teenagers, however few regarding on college or university students.