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Being involved in an educational contexts both teachers and students are always faced with a broad range of difficulties or challenges depending on a variety of factors such as context, educational reality, levels of competency, the students themselves and last but not least the primary source who are the teachers. When dealing with the learning of a foreign language, learners meet difficulties on their path that may and in many cases limits them from progressing in their learning and process of becoming efficient users of the target language. Since getting stuck in the learning process generally limits the learners' ability to continue progressing, this leads to demotivation and loss of interest towards the development of this process. In such cases it is essential that the teacher in charge of the teaching of a foreign language knows and has the right tools to provide the students in any situation for an optimal learning experience and autonomous progressive learning. What is more important is the ability to know how to use these tools provided by the teacher and that the teacher himself/herself seek ways of helping his/her students become more active, effective and self-directed autonomous learners. In this report these issues are to be treated in depth providing the right ways and tools for teachers to be successful in helping out their students with any language difficulty in the process of becoming successful L2 practitioners. Firstly, that the teachers knows his/her students and their needs and secondly after knowing this being able to provide them with the right tools according to the needs by means of the applications of strategies for dealing with language and helping and giving students practical ideas for self-help in becoming effective EFL learners.
1.1 The average learner's responsibility and autonomy within a classroom context
Within a classroom context we as teachers expect as a minimum requirement what is essential to all teachers which is responsibility from our students regarding what is dealt with in the classes and the learning process and of course with their own learning. What is more and which goes hand in hand with responsibility is autonomy in learning. We want our students to develop responsible and autonomous attitudes toward the learning of a foreign language in order to underpin and fortify what is already being taught by the teacher in class so as to make the learning richer, efficient and more effective. In order to become efficient learners there is one essential point that has to be present as a starting point which is that learning can only take place when learner are willing to contribute to the process so as to be successful. What is more important is that the learners involved in the process need to realize and accept the fact that in order to succeed the learning depends as much on the students as on the teacher and that the responsibility and effort put to it is shared between them as well. In other words it can be said that learning relies on positive attitudes toward learning which should be combined with some degree of autonomy in the process of learning. For an enriching learning students need to be aware of the fact that they need to learn certain things on their own by practice and investigation of topics that raise questions in the process.
2.1 Getting to know your students- The importance behind knowing who you are working with
2.1.1 Collecting information through questionnaires
3.1 Language learning strategies
A property that all appropriate language learning strategies have in common is that they are all oriented toward the broad goal of communicative competence. The development of our communicative competence demand realistic interaction among learners by means of using meaningful and contextualized language. For this reason, learning strategies help learners become active participant in such authentic communication.
Moreover, these strategies work in both general and specific ways to meet the goal of encouraging the development of communicative competence.
3.1.1 Direct Strategies for Dealing with language
Before getting into depth on this topic there are some inquiries that need to be answered like e.g. what are direct strategies? In what ways are they different from indirect strategies? These are some of the questions that are about to be answered when trying to understand this language concept.
When differing between direct and indirect strategies for dealing with language the former specifically refers to "language learning strategies that directly involve the use of the target language" (Oxford, 1990). There are three different groups of direct strategies which are memory strategies, cognitive strategies and compensation strategies. First, memory strategies are usually used for grouping or using imagery. The specific function of these strategies is to help students store and also retrieve new information. Consequently, cognitive strategies help students summarize and to reason deductively which enable them to not only understand but produce new language by many different means likewise. Finally, compensation strategies which involve guessing or using synonyms permits that the learners use the language despite their sometimes large gaps in knowledge. Following I will present one specific strategy for each of the categories.
Memory- Creating mental linkages
The following memory strategy is divided into three groups. Grouping, associating, and putting new words into a context.
The purpose of this strategy is to classify language material into meaningful units. This can be done either mentally or in writing in order to make the material easier to remember. The secret lies in reducing the number of discrete elements. The groups can be based on type of word like e.g. nouns or verbs, topic like e.g. words about weather, practical functions like e.g. terms for parts that make a computer work, linguistic function like e.g. a request or an apalogy, similarity like e.g. hot and warm, opposition kind and unkind, the way you feel regarding something like e.g. like and dislike etc. This strategy can be empowered by labeling the different groups, use different colors to represent different groups or use acronyms to remember each group.
This strategy goes out on relating new language information to old concepts which are already in our memory or relating one piece of information to another in order to create associations in memory. The most important factor in this strategy is that in order to apply this strategy is that the associations must be meaningful to the learner no matter the complexity. The associations can be made between 2 things such as e.g. hot water and tea, or there can be a multipart division such as hot water-coffee- sugar- milk and so on.
Putting new words into a context
This strategy involves placing a word (or phrase) in a meaningful sentence or story so as to remember it. It is linked to the previous part as it involves a way of associating or elaborating where the new information is linked with a predetermined context of your choice.
Cognitive strategies- Practicing
Cognitive strategies are typically the most popular strategies with language learners. These types of strategies are necessary for receiving and sending messages, and these tools are essential in learning a new language. Such strategies are varied, ranging from repeating to analyzing expression to summarizing readings. These are unified by a common function which is the manipulation or transformation of the target language by the language learner.
This practice is a well-known one and commonly used by learners everywhere which goes out on saying or doing something over and over. More specifically, this involves rehearsing, listening to something several times or imitating a native speaker.
Practicing with Sounds and Writing Systems
In this strategy the learner needs to practice sounds (pronunciation, register, intonation, etc.) in a variety of different ways, but not initially in a naturalistic communicative situation; or by practicing the language system of the target language.
Recognizing and using Formulas and Patterns
This strategy puts its focus on being aware of and using different routine formulas such as "Hello, how are you?" which are identified as single, unanalyzed units; and on the counterpart unanalyzed patterns which has as a minimum one slot to be filled like e.g. "It's time to _________ ."
Recombining involves linking one phrase with another in an entire sentence by means of combining previously known elements in new ways to produce a considerable longer sequence.
This strategy basically involves practicing the target language in natural and realistic settings as e.g. participating in a conversation with peers, reading a book or an article, listening to a lecture or writing a letter in the target language.
Compensation strategies- Guessing intelligently in Reading and Listening
The two strategies to guessing intelligently are based on two different kinds of clues which are linguistic and non-linguistic.
Making Use of Linguistic Clues
In the absence of enough or complete knowledge of grammar, vocabulary or other target language elements it is useful to seek and use language-based clues so as to guess the complete meaning of what is heard or read in that language. These language- based clues may come from aspects of the language that the learner already knows like for instance his/her own language or any other language. If we take for example the expression association sans but lucratif which means "nonprofit association" in French, the learner can make use of previous knowledge of specific words in English like e.g. association or lucrative to give the learner clues to the real meaning of the unknown word and of the expression as a whole.
Making Use of Other Clues
This strategy has some similarities with the previous in that it this one also is based on seeking and using clues, but in this case with focus on clues that are not language-based to guess the actual meaning of what is being heard or read in the target language when there is absence of the sufficient knowledge of grammar, vocabulary or other elements of the target language. In this case, the clues may come from a variety of sources such as knowledge of context, text structure, situation, personal relationships, topic or "general global knowledge". The learner may not know for example the meaning of the French word vends or à vendre in a newspaper from the same country. The understanding of this can then be facilitated by noticing that these two words are used in the context of classified ads, and that they are followed by a list of items and respective prices. Noticing these types of details provides the learner with clues which point at that these terms most likely refer to selling.
3.1.2 Indirect strategies for general management of learning
In opposition to direct strategies the indirect strategies are called "indirect" because they manage and support language learning without in most cases directly involving the target language. These strategies are divided into three categories; metacognitive, affective and social. On the one hand, metacognitive strategies allow learners to control their own cognition. This means that they allow the learners to coordinate the learning process by using functions like centering, planning, arranging and evaluating. On the other hand, affective strategies help the learner to regulate emotions, attitudes and planning. Finally, social strategies help the scholar learn through interaction with others. These strategies work in coherence with the direct strategies mentioned before and are applicable to the four existent language skills: reading, listening speaking and writing.
Metacognitive strategies- Evaluating your learning
The term "metacognitive" means beyond, beside, or with the cognitive. This is the reason why metacognitive strategies are actions which go beyond purely cognitive devises and that also provide the learners with a way to coordinate their own learning process. In the following set there are two related strategies. They both intend to help learners check their own language performance. The first one aims at noticing and learning from errors, and the second one at evaluating overall progress.
This strategy compromise the learners in identifying errors in understanding or producing the new language by determining which ones are important or that can cause e.g. serious offense or confusion. Following this, the learners need to track the predominant source of important errors, hence try to eliminate such errors.
For the learners to evaluate their personal progress in the target language they can, for instance, check to see if he/she is reading faster and understanding more than 1 month or 5 months before, or whether he/she is understanding an extended percentage of each conversation.
Affective strategies- Lowering your anxiety
"Affective" refers to emotions, motivations, attitudes and values. Language learners can increase control over these factors via affective strategies. This side of the learner is most likely one of the biggest influences on language learner success or failure. That is probably the main reason why good language learners are those who know how to control their attitudes and emotions about learning. Each of the following strategies has a physical and a mental component.
Making use of progressive Relaxation, Deep Breathing, or Meditation
This strategy mainly goes out on using the technique of tensing and relaxing all of the major muscle groups in the body alternately, and the muscles in the face and neck as well in order to relax both mind and body. To complement this, learners can also use the technique of breathing deeply from the diaphragm or meditating by means of focusing on a mental image or sound.
Making Use of Music
Listening to soothing music is an excellent option for relaxation. Music such as a classical concert or tai chi relaxation music are good options.
Making use of Laughter
This strategy can be put to work by reading a funny book, watching a funny movie, reading or listening to jokes, and so forth.
Social Strategies- Asking questions
Learning a language involves other people and is a form of social behavior, which consequently is communication. Learning a new language involves other persons, which is the reason why appropriate social strategies are very important in this process. The following strategies mainly involve asking someone like e.g. a teacher or a native speaker or even a more advanced fellow learner, for clarification, correction, or verification.
Asking for Clarification or Verification
This strategy aims at facilitating the learners' comprehension by asking the speaker to repeat, explain, paraphrase, give example, slow down, asking if a rule fits a particular case or asking if a specific utterance is correct so as to get feedback.
Asking for correction
This classic strategy can be very constructive if the learner learns to differentiate between what is considered constructivism and what is considered criticism. Asking someone for correction whenever making a mistake in a conversation is an excellent social strategy in the process of "polishing" our language knowledge. In most cases this strategy occurs in conversation situations, but can also be applied to writing.