Scholarly article on topic 'Investigating the Language Learning Strategies Used by Iranian Monolingual (Persian) and Bilingual (Persian_Turkish)Speakers as EFL Learners'

Investigating the Language Learning Strategies Used by Iranian Monolingual (Persian) and Bilingual (Persian_Turkish)Speakers as EFL Learners Academic research paper on "Clinical medicine"

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Abstract of research paper on Clinical medicine, author of scientific article — Ali Qasimnejad, Fatemeh Hemmati

Abstract This study investigated the difference between monolingual (Persian) and bilingual (Turkish and Persian) speakers as EFL learners in terms of use of language learning strategies. A total number of 160 EFL students at Urmia Payam Noor University as Bilinguals and Tehran Payam Noor University as Monolinguals took part in the study. They were asked to fill out Oxford's Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) questionnaire. The results of the independent t-test revealed that there was a significant difference between the two groups in their strategy use. The results of Chi-square test also indicated that there was a significant difference in the strategy use for some individual items between the two groups. The use of separate t-tests for the six categories of the SILL indicated that the strategy use was again statistically significant in favour of bilinguals. The results of this study indicated the evidence of significant difference between monolingual and bilingual EFL learners in terms of using learning strategies, which might have implications for EFL teachers as well as learners.

Academic research paper on topic "Investigating the Language Learning Strategies Used by Iranian Monolingual (Persian) and Bilingual (Persian_Turkish)Speakers as EFL Learners"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 136 (2014) 26 - 30

LINELT 2013

Investigating the Language Learning Strategies used by Iranian

Monolingual (Persian) and Bilingual (Persian_Turkish )Speakers as

EFL learners. Ali Qasimnejad a*, Fatemeh Hemmati b,

aMA student at Department of Linguistics and foreign Languages ,Payame Noor University, Tehran and PO Box 19395-3697, Iran bAssistant Professor at Department of Linguistics and Foreign Languages, Payame Noor University, Tehran and PO Box 19395-3697, Iran

Abstract

This study investigated the difference between monolingual (Persian) and bilingual (Turkish and Persian) speakers as EFL learners in terms of use of language learning strategies. A total number of 160 EFL students at Urmia Payam Noor University as Bilinguals and Tehran Payam Noor University as Monolinguals took part in the study. They were asked to fill out Oxford 's Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) questionnaire. The results of the independent t-test revealed that there was a significant difference between the two groups in their strategy use. The results of Chi-square test also indicated that there was a significant difference in the strategy use for some individual items between the two groups. The use of separate t-tests for the six categories of the SILL indicated that the strategy use was again statistically significant in favour of bilinguals. The results of this study indicated the evidence of significant difference between monolingual and bilingual EFL learners in terms of using learning strategies, which might have implications for EFL teachers as well as learners.

© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.Thisis anopenaccessarticle under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of LINELT 2013.

Keywords: Language Learning Strategies, Monolingual, Bilingual, Foreign language;

The idea that monolinguals and bilinguals learn a subsequent language in different ways has received considerable attention in the studies of second/foreign language learning. Researchers have investigated various characteristics of learners and learning strategies have received notable attention. Learning many researchers have defined strategies and they all point out that the successful learners use various strategies and techniques effectively in order to solve the problems they face while learning or acquiring a language. It has also been stated by researchers that these strategies

Corresponding Author: Ali Qasimnejad. / Tel.: +98-938-319-3186 E-mail address: qasimnejad@gmail.com

1877-0428 © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of LINELT 2013. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.05.281

enable students to gain more responsibility for their own learning and progress. Skehan [13] considered language-learning strategies as one of the most important factors accounting for individual differences in language learning. McLaughlin [8] included language learning strategies as one of three processes, along with production and communication strategies, in their models of SLA.

This study aimed to investigate the possible differences between monolingual and bilingual learners in terms of use of language learning strategies while learning English language. The following research questions and hypotheses were posed:

1) Is there any significant difference between monolingual and bilingual English language learners in terms of Language Learning Strategies? H01: there is no significant difference between monolingual and bilingual EFL learners in terms of using LLSs.

2) Is there any significant difference between the two groups in terms of using individual items of the LLS questionnaire? H02: there is no significant difference between the two groups with regard to individual items of the questionnaire.

3) Is there any significant difference between the two groups of learners in terms of using different categories of Language Learning Strategies (Memory, Cognitive, Compensatory, Metacognitive, Affective and Social categories)? H03: there is no significant difference between the two groups in terms of using different categories of LLSs.

2. Literature review

It has been generally assumed that there are some cognitive and social variables that contribute to and affect language learning. One of the most distinguished variables is that of language learning strategy use. "Learning strategies can be defined as behaviours and thoughts in which a learner engages and which are intended to influence the learner's encoding process" (Mayer and Weinstein [7]). On the other hand, many researchers have investigated the importance and effect of the learning strategies on language learning. Skehan [13] focused on language learning strategies as one of the most important individual difference factors in L2 acquisition. Oxford [11] indicated, "LLSs, are steps taken by the learners in order to improve language training and develop language competence and divided the strategies into direct and indirect involving information, memory behaviours, vocabulary knowledge, grammar rules, thought and mental processes." Cohen also defines language learning strategies as "the conscious thoughts and behaviours used by learners with explicit goal of improving their knowledge of a target language" (p. 68). Finally, Griffiths [5] defines language-learning strategies as activities consciously chosen by learners for the purpose of regulating their own language learning. The investigations about the use of language learning strategies have generally been conducted in countries where English is the official language like USA. However, not many studies have been conducted about the use of learning strategies in other countries where bi- or multilingual speakers are available. Wharton [14] stated that "When researchers have examined strategy use outside the United States, they have generally used English as a foreign language (EFL) and ESL students (generally monolingual) as their participants" (p. 205). It has been stated by researchers that knowledge of more than one language facilitates the acquisition of additional languages. Supporting this claim, Hakuta [6] stated "Bilingualism can lead to superior performance on a variety of intellectual skills" (p. 7). Wharton [14] examined language learning strategy use of bilingual foreign language learners in Singapore. In this study, subjects who were all bilingual reported a greater use of social strategies, but less frequent use of affective strategies on the SILL. The point, which is common among all of the studies directly related to LLS, is that they have been conducted mostly in the area of monolinguals. Due to the fact that a great proportion of the world's population consists of bilinguals, there is a need to conduct studies, which aim at exploring the relationship between language learning strategies and bilingualism. Considering this fact that a remarkable percentage of Iranian population is made up of bilinguals, the current study is an attempt to investigate the relationship between bilingualism and strategy use in approaching English as a foreign language. A peculiar characteristic of this investigation, which distinguishes it from the previous ones, is its comparative nature in comparing the strategy use of Turkish- Persian bilinguals and Persian monolinguals.

3. Method

The participants of the study were monolingual and bilingual ELT students, making a total number of 160 students studying TEFL at Tehran and Urmia Payam Noor Universities.

In order to measure strategy use, the SILL scale prepared by Oxford consisting of 50 Likert-type statements was used in this study. In order to save time and eliminate possible ambiguities, a Persian translation of SILL by Borzabadi [2]

was used. Data analyses were done using SPSS (version 18), and Independent t-tests, Chi-square tests, and Separate It-tests were used to answer the research questions.

4. Results and discussions

Because the two groups involved in the study were independent from each other, an independent t-test was used to see if the possible difference between the means of the two groups was statistically significant or not.

Table 1. Independent t-tests in order to compare the groups in their overall strategy use

t Df Sig. Mean difference

7.22 158 0.001 0.44

As table 1 indicates, the obtained value for t with 158 degrees of freedom at 0.001 level of significance is 7.22. Because this value is higher than the critical value for t (7.22> 2.00), the null hypothesis is rejected and it can be concluded that in general, there is a significant difference between the strategy use of monolinguals and bilinguals. The chi-square test was utilized in order to compare the use of individual items across the two groups of monolingual and bilingual Iranian EFL learners. The differences between the two groups for most of the items were significant, that is, the strategy use was different for the two groups (Metacognitive and Affective strategies) in 38 items of the LLS questionnaire; however, the differences were not significant for 12 items.

Finally, separate t-tests were used for each part of the questionnaire to see if there is any significant difference between Monolinguals and Bilinguals with regard to the strategy use in each section. The use of separate t-tests for the six categories of the SILL indicated that the strategy use was again statistically significant in favour of bilinguals.

Table2. Separate t-tests for the six categories of the SILL used by Monolinguals and bilinguals

Category t Df Sig. Mean difference

P1) Memory Strategies 6.03 158 0.001 0.51

P2) Cognitive Strategies 5.71 158 0.001 0.50

P3) Compensation Strategies 3.04 158 0.003 0.31

P4) Metacognitive Strategies 8.01 158 0.001 0.84

P5) Affective Strategies 4.89 158 0.001 0.45

P6) Social Strategies 0.095 158 0.92 0.10

As shown in the table 2, in all parts of the questionnaire, i.e. Memory, Cognitive, Compensatory, Metacognitive, Affective strategies except for Social strategies, the obtained value for t with 158 degrees of freedom at 0. 001 level of significance is meaningful. Therefore, it can be concluded that there is a meaningful and significant difference between the five categories of the SILL used by monolinguals and bilinguals.

According to the results the answer to the first research question is positive, meaning that there is a significant difference between the two groups in the amount of strategy use. Therefore, the first null hypothesis is rejected. The answer to the third research question was partially positive; meaning that out of the 50 items, in 38 cases there appeared to be a significant difference between the two groups, although in 12 cases the results were not significant. As for the third research question, there was a significant difference between five out of six categories of the SILL used by Monolinguals and bilinguals, i.e., Memory, Cognitive, Compensatory, Metacognitive, Affective strategies. The only exception was Social strategies.

The results revealed that both Monolingual Persian and bilingual Turkish-Persian university students employed a wide variety of language learning strategies, with bilingual learners employing more than their monolingual peers. This reporting of greater strategy use provides some support for the argument that bilinguals exhibit advanced abilities when learning a new language as previous studies have indicated (McLaughlin [8]; Nayak et al. [9]). The higher-order executive skills, claimed to be used by bilinguals, that involve planning, organizing, monitoring, and valuating (O'Malley & Chamot[10]) are a characteristic of strategic learners and are often the most important difference between

novice and expert learners. The Turkish-Persian students reported using metacognitive strategies to control learning by for example, thinking about their progress in learning English, seeking out ways to improve their learning, setting clear goals in learning English, and planning their schedule to study English. More importantly, they reported greater tendencies than monolinguals to notice their mistakes and be able to learn from them. Denckla [3] describes this metacognitive self-assessment and self-management as part of an expert learners "executive functioning." Of the two elements of executive functioning, Rivers [12] regards self-assessment as the more crucial skill in language learning, especially in terms of a language learners' ability to learn autonomously. Over three-quarters of the Turkish-Persian students reported planning their schedules to accommodate their study of English, while only about half the monolingual group reported this effort to plan. Compensation strategies were the second most used strategies by bilingual students. This may have some relationship to vary years of formal language learning. Many bilingual students found compensation strategies useful in overcoming their missing knowledge of English through the use of synonyms, guessing, and reading English without looking up every new word. Cognitive strategies ranked as the third amongst preferred strategies in both groups, although use was higher for the bilingual group. Oxford [11] emphasized that cognitive strategies are typically found to be the most popular strategies with language learners and essential in learning a new language because these strategies require and allow for direct and immediate manipulation or use of input. Bilinguals were more likely to use higher-level cognitive strategies like analysing and synthesizing, again possibly due to their advanced expertise. They also selected strategies suggesting more active engagement in their language learning. These bilinguals have had the experience of acquiring two languages since a very early age and have also had formal experience in language learning. These opportunities have offered them enhanced opportunities to practice, analyse, and reason about new language input and thus, they may be using these strategies with less effort than monolingual participants. Ben Zeev [1] found this to be true, citing the greater flexibility in language learning strategy use for bilinguals over monolinguals. Affective strategies were the next most used by bilinguals. Here it is important to look at the specific choices they made of affective strategies. As mentioned, both groups were equally aware of their anxiety and tension, however, the bilingual group reported using more strategies geared toward coping with the feelings they had. They were more likely to engage in self-talk about the importance of trying to speak English in the face of embarrassment or mistakes and more likely to reward themselves when they did well. They were more likely to express or vent their feelings either privately or advanced expertise. They also selected strategies suggesting more active engagement in their language learning. For example, they were more likely to seek out an English in the face of embarrassment or mistakes and more likely to reward themselves when they did well. Additionally, Turkish-Persian students learned their second language as children in the context of day-to-day activities; they would likely not have experienced the same degree of concern about others' opinions as adults might have experienced. Their overall comfort level with mistakes, combined with the hindsight of knowing that mistakes are a natural part of language learning, may allow bilingual learners to have less anxiety and more control. Social strategies were reported as the least-used strategies either by bilinguals and monolinguals. Still, over half the both group reported always or almost always trying to practice English with other students and native speakers. They were much more likely to ask the other person to slow down or say the sentences again if they do not understand something or they asked for help or ask English speakers to correct them when they were speaking. These bilingual students were much more likely to have experienced successful language acquisition through conversation with others to improve their skills. Memory strategies were least favoured of the six categories of strategies by bilinguals. One reason these were at the bottom of the list overall in terms of preferred strategies might have been that for the age of participants in this study, some of the memory strategies on the SILL instrument may not have been considered appropriate by adult learners. For example learning new English words by acting or making up rhymes may be strategies preferred by learners at lower grade levels. In sum, one assumption underlying this study was that bilinguals have higher levels of strategy in learning a new language because of their dual language status. As stated in the previous section, bilingual Turkish-Persian students showed higher use of language learning strategies than monolingual students. Higher strategy use may lead bilinguals to be more successful in learning languages than monolinguals. However, the rate of success of these learners remains to be studied.

5. Conclusions and Implications

The current study has presented evidence for differences between monolinguals and bilinguals in terms of learning strategy use. Monolingual Persian and bilingual Turkish-Persian EFL students employed a variety of language learning strategies when learning English and reported similarities and differences in strategy use. Pedagogically, the findings of the current study suggest that teachers' awareness of monolingual and bilingual language learners' strategy use

might assist students to be better language learners. The finding of the study can also be beneficial to publishers of materials for learning English in both groups and multi-language communities of Iran for producing effective and appropriate materials, especially for the Turkish-Persian students whose bilingual abilities can be of great advantage when it comes to learning English. Finally, the results of this study have to be considered cautiously because of the limited scope of the study as well as limitations in data collection method. Further studies are recommended using different methods of data collection in order to cross check the results.

References

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