An Overview of Language Learner Strategies

Genesis of Language Learner Strategies :

Needless to say, learning is much more important than a hypen between S and R plus feedback as it was once widely accepted as a seemingly hard fact by proponents of behaviouristic psychology. Behaviouristic, with the premise that learning is the result of environmental factors, viewed language learning as conditioning and habit formation which can be achieved through stimulus - response and reinforcement

To bring social context of language teaching and learning much more into view, it was Dell hymes (1972) who coined what is called communicative competence to run counter deliberately to Chomsky's linguistic competence. In a pedagogically influential attempt, swain (1980)postulated communicative competence as a four dimensional category of knowledge including grammatical, sociolinguistic, discourse and strategic competence. It is in this context that the term "strategy" has gained vibrancy and brought into play in applied linguistics. As a whole this strategic competence is critical for achieving the purpose of communication by L2 learners, whether it is orally or pertaining to production or comprehension of written text. Likewise, it's compensatory function when communication breakdowns occur for some reasons is also highly valued.

This overview is an attempt to give learners' strategic behaviour the rightful position they deserve in L2 acquisition from its very inception in the 1970s to the present day.

Surprisingly enough, despite the above-mentioned paradigmatic changes and developments in language teaching and learning approaches, however, the initial impetus for LLS emanated from a very different direction. If there is just one researcher who can be best regarded as the birth parent of language learner strategy research, then she is the eminent American sociolinguistic, Joan Rubin (1975) with her seminal and pivotal article entitled ‘What the “Good Language Learner” Can Teach Us’ (Stern, 1983; Grenfell &Macaro, 2007). She established a rather conceptual and speculative list of seven learning strategies employed by successful language learners among which were ‘monitoring, guessing or inductive reasoning, and creating opportunities for practice’. This attempt became more or less the cornerstone of many other studies in this area of investigation.

In a similar vein and at the very time, Stern (1975) in a conscious attempt in order to come to grips with LLS, listed the top-ten strategies of the good language learner (GLL) such as ‘willingness to both practice and use language in real communication, self-monitoring and critical sensitivity to language use, and technical expertise about how to tackle a language’. In another inquiry which was conducted by Naiman et al. (1978) aiming at establishing the learning strategies of thirty adult language learners through intensive retrospective interviews, they reached the conclusion that good language learners seize every possibly helpful learning opportunities available to them, and if necessary create them. In addition, good language learners tailor some strategies and techniques to suit their individual requirements.

The driving force behind LLS research has originally predicated upon an underlying assumption that the transferability and passing on the strategies of good language learners to less good or even poor language learners is in actuality within the bounds of possibility which offers sure ways of equipping learners with the appropriate skills and strategies to become autonomous and self-directed language learners (Ellis, 1997) Hsiao and Oxford (2002) put emphasis on learning strategies as a fundamental factor in building learner autonomy which give learners a high degree of control over their learning process. Learner autonomy refers to as the ability to manage and take charge of one’s own learning (Holec, 1981). Nonetheless, after achieving autonomy, learner becomes more emancipated and less dependent on the help of teacher.


More by :  Prof. Annapoorni Balan

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