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The Learning Conference 2003

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An Investigation of English Language Learning Strategies of Grade 5-6 students in Taipei, Taiwan

Min-hsun Su.


The importance of English is highlighted by the role it plays, as a shared international language for communication, particularly in economic growth; steps toward globalization; and the frequent interaction of culture, business and traveling. Thus, for people in the global village today, the importance of English proficiency cannot be overstated. Many countries in Asia are taking action to make sure that children have the required level of English proficiency. Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Mainland China and Japan have included English in their elementary education curriculum. Taiwanese people urgently seek English proficiency as well. Parents send their children to private language institutes at a very young age, hoping to give them the chance to build a solid foundation, an early start and a high level of interest in language learning. Public expectation then resulted in the Taiwanese government adding English to the elementary school curriculum.
According to research, a second language proficiency/achievement is related to language learning strategies (Bremner, 1999; Chamot & Kupper, 1989; Oxford, 1989; Phillips, 1991). It appears that successful language learners have the ability to orchestrate and combine particular types of language learning strategies in effective ways, according to their own learning needs (Chamot & Kupper, 1989; Cohen, 1990; O’Malley & Chamot, 1990; Oxford, 1993). All language learners use certain types of language learning strategies to a certain level, but there are differences in the frequency and choice of use among different learners (Chamot & Kupper, 1989). Studies have shown that many factors could influence the choice and use of language learning strategies. Examples are motivation, sex, age, self-perception of proficiency, duration of learning the language, attitude, language learning goals, personality, national origin, teaching methods and strategy training (Chamot, 1993; Oxford, 1989; Oxford & Crookall, 1989; Oxford & Ehrman, 1995; Park, 1997).
Over the past few decades, a considerable number of studies have been done on language learning strategies, several of which are the focus of English education in Taiwan. However, the topic of the English language learning strategies of Taiwanese elementary school students has never been examined. Thus, in this study, the researcher intends to explore the English language learning strategies of Taiwanese elementary school students and the factors that influence their choice or use of these strategies. By understanding this topic, the researcher hopes to provide information for Taiwanese elementary students, researchers, teachers and parents, in order to achieve effective language learning results and rewarding language learning experiences.
This study investigated the English language learning variables affecting the use of language learning strategies in selected schools in Taipei, Taiwan. A total of 932 grade 5 and grade 6 students in elementary schools in Taipei, Taiwan participated in this study. Two sets of questionnaires were used, the background information questionnaire and the Language Learning Strategy Inventory (LLSI). The self-reported questionnaire (LLSI) was modified by the researcher from the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (Oxford, 1990). The findings of this study were as follows: (1) students reported using six dimensions of language-learning strategies, all in medium-use levels: cognitive strategies, social strategies, association strategies, compensation strategies, assistance strategies, and constructive learning strategies; (2) gender difference was found in the use of language-learning strategies, except in compensation strategies and constructive learning strategies. Females reported use language learning strategies more frequently than males did; (3) no significant differences were found between grade 5 and grade 6 students in the use of language learning strategies, except in assistance strategies; (4) English learning experience was found mostly significantly related to the use of language-learning strategies, according to the following variables: years of studying English, years of studying English outside of school, years of living in English-speaking countries, experience of studying English in English-speaking countries, experience of traveling abroad, level of parental support, and general level of enjoyment in learning English; (5) significant differences were found between students’ self-rating English proficiency level and the use of language-learning strategies; (6) students’ self-perception of the EFL teacher’s teaching method and curriculum was found to be significantly related to the use of language-learning strategies. A better understanding of the use of language learning strategies and the background factors affecting the use of language learning strategies of the grade 5-6 students in Taipei, Taiwan, as well as practical pedagogical implications and recommendations for EFL instruction in elementary schools in Taiwan, has been achieved.

Presenters

Min-hsun Su  (Taiwan)
associate professor
Department of Applied Foreign Languages
Kwan-Wu Institute of Technology


Keywords
  • Language learning strategy
  • ESL education
  • Elementary school
  • Taiwan



(30 min Conference Paper, English)