UNIVERSITI KEBANGSAAN MALAYSIA FAKULTI PENDIDIKAN
COURSE: GE 6533
LANGUAGE LEARNING STRATEGIES INSTRUCTION
Assignment I SUCCESSFUL ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING INVENTORY (SELL-In)
NAME: SITI YUMNI YUSOFF MATRIC NO.: P51149 PROGRAM: TESL LECTURER: PROF. DR. MOHAMED AMIN EMBI
SESSION : DATE: 11TH MARCH 2011
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION: Nowadays, Malaysia is opened for more developed business and education opportunities to seek for the global needs. In business and education sectors, being multilingual in English and Malay languages are important and beneficial. The various changes in the language policy in education influence the students and teachers from a wider scope and done from top-down system by the government (Zuraidah Zaaba et al 2011). It affects the motivation and learning styles of the students in learning English as the second language. The demand to be excellent in English is not only felt and spread in the urban schools. The students from the rural schools are also demanding and joining in to be excellent and successful in English language, nevertheless it is to fit in examination-oriented education or communication. Every student has different approaches in learning English as the second language. The different contexts in which they are in also influence the ways they learn English. For example, if they are studying English in early time of the year when examination is still a long way to deal with, they might not use a very effective language learning strategy, but when the examination is just around the corner, the strategy used might be most effective and helpful for them to pass the examination. Learning English language for different purposes such as for communication and social affection also might be the reasons for using various language learning strategies. The motivation, styles and strategies applied and used by the rural students in learning English language are very individualistic in nature. Sometimes, they do not even realize that they are using certain language learning strategies in order to be the successful users of the target language, in which in this research is English as the second language. However, if their strategies are known and shared by other students, it will benefit the school organization, teachers and students. Before the discussion of language learning strategy used by the rural school students is explained further, it is better to define what language learning strategy (LLS) is and some other terms in this research. PROBLEM STATEMENT: There are comments and feedbacks from the teachers describing on how the studentsâ€™ performance can be so various although their teaching techniques are same and equal to all of their students within a class. The teachers must realize and adapt to their students that have varieties of personalities, attitudes, motivations, perceptions and strategies when learning English as the second 2
language although English has been in Malaysian education since the colonial period up to now. However, according to Sara Kashefian-Naeeini and Nooreiny Maarof (2010), â€œteachers are not completely aware of the strategies used by studentsâ€?. Thus, it makes the language teaching and learning processes ineffective and unsuccessful because it might be different from the strategies that the students prefer. The students meanwhile have different approaches in tackling and confronting English language as the medium of instruction in education. Definitely from the wider scope, they have to confront the language policy imposed by the institutions and government, such as English as the medium of instruction in science and mathematics in school as well as in science and technology courses in universities. In the meantime from the exclusive scope, they have tried and used their own individual strategies in learning English more effectively. It is the responsibility of the researcher such as the teachers, linguists and sociolinguists to examine and identify the possible constructive strategies that they have used and planned to learn English lucratively. Later on, the researchers can introduce and teach these English learning strategies to the low achievers. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY: This research was done to find out the main features of the successful English language learners in a rural school in Johor through analyzing their strategies, deliberate actions or habits and techniques in which they have used when they learned and revised English language as a subject and as a second important language in Malaysia. This study examined the strategies used by students in order to improve their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills as well as the vocabulary acquisition and these strategies will be the main features of the flourishing English language learners. RESEARCH QUESTION: This study is carried out in order to find out; 1) What is the significant strategy used by the respondents to improve reading skills? 2) What is the main strategy used by the successful students to develop writing skills? 3) What is the speaking strategy favoured and commonly used by successful students? 4) Which listening strategy is deliberately planned by successful students in order to listen to English materials effectively? 5) What is the strategy used to enhance the vocabulary skills? 6) What are the main features of the successful English language learners from the rural school? 3
DEFINITIONS OF TERMS: Successful English Language Learners In this study, the author defines successful English language learners as the learners that have passed PMR examination with flying colours. In the class chosen, out of thirty-eight (38) students of Form Four A (Form 4A), only twelve (12) students got As in the English language subject in PMR. These students are categorized as the active students in the class by their English teacher. Although they have different levels of efficiency in the target language, they still try to contribute ideas in the class when they have class discussions. According to their English teacher, these students are not shy to ask for question in the class and are active as compared to other students. Nonetheless, a few of these 12 students are not very active in class discussion, but they seem to express more ideas when they are in the group discussions. Language Learning Strategy (LLS) The scholars of LLS such as Rubin (1975), Stern (1975), Bialystok (1978), Chamot (1987), Oxford (1990) and Mohamed Amin Embi (1996) have defined LLS as the techniques, devices, deliberate approaches, conscious enterprise, mental operations, routines, steps, behaviours, plans or actions in which a language learner will do and always improvise in order to acquire, govern, improve, accomplish, develop, facilitate, regulate, aid, and enhance the learning process of the target language, English and its linguistic and sociolinguistic competence. In this study, the author defines LLS as the specific actions and steps taken by the students in order to learn English language more effectively in the aspect of four skills, reading, writing, speaking and listening, as well as the acquisition of vocabulary. The English Language Skills There are four significant skills that need to be completed when learning English. The learners must be proficient in reading skills, writing skills, speaking skills and listening skills. The English language syllabus in the school is based on these four skills. These skills are compulsory for teachers to teach their students in order to be good in English language. The students are taught to write essays in English, to read English texts such as short stories, poems and novels, to speak in English in the class and to listen to English audio items. Another two skills added are vocabulary and grammar acquisition skills. The students are also taught the ways to learn vocabularies and grammar in order to
use English correctly. These skills are tested in the major examinations such as PMR, SPM and MUET. In this study, the author has examined five out of the six skills, except the grammar skills. RESEARCH LIMITATIONS: The first shortcoming of this study is the author did not distribute the inventory and monitor the process by herself. With the help of her companion who was the English teacher of the twelve respondents, the author gathered the finished data and analyzed it. Thus, the explanation of the inventory was done by the teacher. It might be different from what the author really wanted. The second weakness of this exploration of English Language Learning Strategy (ELLS) is it was done only to twelve students. It caused difficulty for the researcher to find the patterns of ELLS or to analyze this data with the statistical tools. The author analyzed the data using percentage and frequency. CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW: Language Learning Strategy in History The research on LLS in Malaysia is flourishing, especially in Malaysian education whereby the students need to learn English and Arabic alongside with Malay and other ethnic languages. In order to learn these languages, they will apply various LLS efficiently. The successful language learners would employ a variety of strategies in their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in addition to vocabulary acquisition. Researches such as Oxford (1990), Ellis and Sinclair (1989) and Rubin (1989) have discussed that LLS can be trained and taught to the students. The students needed to be taught the LLS for use in classrooms, individual revision and for doing any language learning tasks. Meanwhile, Brown (1989) has noted that when the students learned new second or foreign language, they would use strategies for instance, setting up their learning goals, developing their selfconfidence and able taking risk in the process of learning individually and cooperatively and they would resist the direct translation from L1 to L2. In Malaysian education for contrast, the students preferred their teachers to translate excessively in class when they did not understand the learning. This was a really negative strategy to be used by Malaysian students.
Moreover, Rausch (1998) has cited Oxford (1990) on the division of LLS into two categories. The first category was the Direct Strategy. It involved memory strategy such as creating mental images and reviewing well as well as the cognitive strategies and compensation strategies. Another category was Indirect Strategy. It involved metacognitive, affective and social strategies. Although this study has not examined the strategies according to its categories, the inventories or questions asked were very much related to these categories as the guideline or basis to what are the strategies planned and used by these respondents. CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY: This study is a quantitative study. The research method is using survey to collect the data from the respondents. However, the researcher does not fully follow the survey rules because the respondent is less than thirty. This is a simple survey conducted on twelve students in a rural school in Batu Pahat, Johor. Instrumentation This survey was conducted by distributing questionnaire to the students. Their English teacher was asked to distribute this questionnaire and to give further explanation of the items if the students did not understand about the items. The questionnaire used was the Language Strategy Use Survey by Cohen, Oxford and Chi (2002). The inventory is used to cover the four skills, reading, writing, speaking, and listening and vocabulary acquisition. The items in the questionnaire are 83 items. There are 11 items for strategy used to enhance reading, like ‘finding reading material that is at or near my level’, ‘skim an academic text’ and ‘read a story or dialogue several times until I understand it’. The items for strategy used to improve writing are 10 items, such as ‘practice writing the alphabet and/or new words in the target language’ and ‘revise my writing’. In trying to find out the speaking strategy used by the students, the items suggested by Cohen, Oxford and Chi are 18 items. The students were asked to answer the strategies related to practice speaking, engage in conversation and when they experience pause or lost of word or expression during speaking. Moreover, there are 26 items for examining the listening strategy used by the respondents, which are divided under 5 situations, for instance, strategy used to increase the respondents’ exposure to English language and strategy to become more familiar with the sounds in English. The strategy to acquire the English vocabulary is analyzed by using 18 items. For example, they were asked on 6
whether they have used and liked the strategy of listing the new English words to enhance their English vocabulary. Respondents The respondents were twelve students from a rural school in Batu Pahat, Johor. These students were selected based on their achievement in PMR examination. They were the group that got A in English language subject in that school. The genders of these students were not identified because this study did not examine gender as one of variables or factors of choosing certain ELLS. CHAPTER FOUR: THE FINDINGS There were 83 items in the inventory. The blue colour represents the strategy that was used but not fit to the respondents (was not fit). The red colour shows the strategy that was tried and would used again or useful for the respondents (tried and used again / useful). The green colour shows that the percentage of respondents which have used and liked the strategy (used and liked). The Listening Strategy Use
There were 26 items related to listening strategy used. There were 4 strategies used to increase the studentsâ€™ exposure to the target language. From the data, 100% or all students were found to opine that attending out-of class events where the new language is spoken for increasing their exposure to the target language was not fit to them. Only 25% found that they have tried and would use again the strategy of listening to talk shows on the radio or watching television shows or seeing movies in the target language. The others thought that strategy was not fit (58.3%) or they have tried and would use that strategy again (16.7%). The third strategy used is the strategy of listening to the language in a restaurant or store where the staffs speak the target language. 75% of them found that strategy was not fit and 25% found it useful for them. The last strategy on ways to be exposed to the target language was listening in on people who are having conversation in the target language to try to get the gist of 7
what they are saying. 83.3% found it was not fit to them, 8.3 % found it useful, and 8.3% have used and liked this strategy.
As for strategies to become more familiar with the sounds in the target language there were 4 strategies examined. They were; 1) the strategy to practice the sound in the target language that are very different from sounds in their own language to become comfortable with them (75% tried and was not fit, 16.7% tried and used again and 8.3% used and liked. 2) the strategy to look for association between the sound of a word or phrase in the new language with the sound of a familiar word (66.7% tried and was not fit, 25% tried and used again and 8.3% used and liked). 3) The strategy to imitate the way native speakers talk (41.7% tried and was not fit, 50% tried and used again and 83% used and liked it). 4) The strategy to ask a native speaker about unfamiliar sounds that they hear (66.7% tried and was not fit, 25% tried and used again and 8.3% used and liked). The respondents also were asked on strategies to prepare to listen to conversation in the target language. Only 8.3% found that the strategy to pay special attention to specific aspects of the target language, for example, the way the speaker pronounces certain sounds was useful and favourable by them. Meanwhile 25% found that they tried and would use again the strategy of predicting what the other person is going to say based on what has been said so far, and 8.3% have tried and used again the strategy of preparing for talks and performances that they will hear in the target language by reading some background materials beforehand. The others found those strategies did not fit for them to be used to prepare them for listening to conversation in the target language.
In the meantime, there were 8 strategies for listening to conversation in the target language. 83.3% found that listening for key words that carry meaning was not fit for them and 16.7% tried and used again. The technique of listening for word and sentence stress was found not fit to 75% respondents and only 25% tried and would use it again. 41.7% respondents found that the strategy of paying attention to when and how long people tend to pause was not fit for them and 58.3% found it useful. The 15th strategy asked was on paying attention to the rise and fall of speech by native speakers (58.3% was not fit and 41.7% useful). The other strategies are practising ‘skim listening’ by paying attention to some parts and ignoring others (66.7% was not fit and 333% useful), trying to understand what they hear without translating it word-by-word (the 17th strategy that shows 66.7% students was not fit and 33.3% useful), focusing on the context of what people are saying (83.3% was not fit and 16.7% useful) and listening for specific details to see whether they can understand them (83.3% was not fit and 16.7% useful). The respondents also were questioned on 7 strategies for when they do not understand some or most of what someone says in the target language. The strategies were asking for repetition (6 people found it was not fit and the others found it useful), asking for slowing down when talking (58.3% was not fit and 41.7% useful), same percentage as the strategy of asking for clarification if they did not understand it the first time, using the speaker’s tone of voice as a clue to the meaning of what they said (75% was not fit and 25% useful), making educated guess about the topic (91.7% was not fit and 8.3% useful), drawing on their general background knowledge and the last one, watching speakers’ gestures and general body language to figure out meaning (both shared the same percentage of 83.3% was not fit and 16.7% useful). 9
The Vocabulary Strategy Use
As for the strategy to enhance the English vocabulary, the students have used and liked; 1] paying attention to the structure of the new word (strategy 27= 16.7%), 2] grouping words according to parts of speech (strategy 29= 16.7%), 3] associating the sound of the new words with the sound of a word that is familiar (strategy 30= 16.7%), 4] listing new words with other words that are related to it (strategy 33= 16.7%), 5] writing out new words in meaningful sentences (strategy 34= 8.3%), 6] using flash cards in a systematic way to learn new words (strategy 36= 8.3%), and 7] making an effort to remember the situation where they first heard or saw the word or remember the page or sign where 10
they saw it written (strategy 40= 8.3%). On the other hand, most respondents have shown the negative sign of that the other strategies were not fit to them and some of them have tried and would use the strategies again in the future. The other strategies can be referred to Appendix A. The Speaking Strategy Use
Regardless of the information from their teachers noting that the respondents were active in the class during the English learning process, most of them have shown that all strategies related to enhancing speaking either not fit for them and only some of them have tried and would use them again. None of them have shown that they favoured the strategies related to practicing speaking (strategy 45-47), techniques when engaging in conversation (strategy 48-56) and deliberate skills in the time of forgetting or lost in expressing certain word when speaking (strategy 57-62). The strategies asked such as whether they have practiced saying new expressions to themselves (strategy 45), initiated conversations in English (strategy 49), directed conversations to familiar topics (strategy 50), encouraged others to correct errors in their speaking (strategy 55), looked for a different way to express ideas, like using synonym (strategy 58) and used gestures in trying getting the meaning across (strategy 61). The other strategies can be referred to Appendix A. The Reading Strategy Use
The results on reading strategy used by the respondents have also noted the same findings as the speaking strategy. The respondents found those strategies either were not fit to them or have tried and would used them again, but they did not like them. For example, 75% have opined that reading as much as possible in English was not fit for them and only 25% thought it was useful. In addition, 91.7% of respondents thought that trying to find things to read for pleasure in the target language were not fit to them and the rests thought this strategy is useful. They also did not find planning out in advance how they were going to read the text, monitoring themselves and checking their understanding were essential or useful strategies for them to use (strategy 66= 83.3% was not fit). In contrast, they have tried and would use again the strategies such as skimming the academic text first to get the main idea and then going back and reading it more carefully (strategy 67= 41.7% useful), and 13
guessing the approximate meaning by using clues from the context of the reading materials (strategy 72= 41.7% useful). The other techniques can be referred to Appendix A. The Writing Strategy Use
In improving their writing skills, the strategies used were; practicing writing the alphabet or new words in English (75% was not fit and 25% useful), planning out in advance how to write academic papers including monitoring the writing in process and checking how well their writings (83.3% was not fit and 16.7% useful), trying writing different kinds of texts in English such as messages or letters (50% was not fit and 50% useful), taking class notes in English (91.7% was not fit and 8.3% useful), finding a different way to express idea when not knowing correct expression (75% was not fit and 25% useful), reviewing what have already written (75% was not fit and 25% useful), using reference materials such as dictionaries (58.3% was not fit and 41.7% useful), editing the writing 14
(75% was not fit and 25% useful), revising the writing once or twice (100% was not fit) and trying to get feedback from others (91.7% was not fit and 8.3 useful). DISCUSSIONS OF THE FINDINGS: The Main Features of Successful English Language Learners From the collective data of this study, there were several features that were deliberately done by the English language learners in order to improve and enhance their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills as well as the vocabulary acquisition. In terms of improving the reading skills, these learners were not afraid to always try on reading materials that were near or at their level. They were also having tried and would use again skimming strategy when reading the texts, reading materials for several times to grab the meaning, making ongoing summaries and predictions when reading the texts. Furthermore, they would positively use again the strategy such as guessing meanings and referring to the dictionaries for convalescing their understanding on words and grammatical structures while reading. When they were writing, they would prefer to try and use strategies such as writing different kinds of texts in English. Perhaps, they have used English when writing personally such as diaries and letters and messages to their friends. The students might use English when they were chatting with the strangers online. These were the means for them to always practice English writing. Furthermore, these learners were also optimistic in trying to practice writing a new word in sentences and expressing their ideas in writing such as using synonyms and antonyms. Thus, trying and being optimistic on what they were doing in writing were always the features of good English language learners. They were not hesitating to try the various strategies applied when they want to write and express ideas in English. The successful English language learners have also paid very much attention to improve their speaking skills. Although in this study, most of the respondents have given negative feedbacks regarding the strategies on speaking, some of them were confident when asked about seeking opportunities to talk with the native speakers. They were not afraid to speak to the native speakers of English if they were given the chance. They always seek the opportunities whether in face-to-face conversation, through online or through media when they were watching English movies. Moreover, the thriving English speaker will be smart in planning the conversation and if they did not know certain words, they would use gestures, guesses and code-switching to get their messages across to other people in the conversation.
Regarding the listening skills, the dominant English language learners would prefer listening to other material outside of the classrooms such as listening to English channels on the radio and watching English movies and television shows. They have initiative to listen to these materials rather than depending on the class activities and teaching. Besides, they have also used and liked the strategies such as listening to English conversation and get the meaning, practicing sounds in English, looking for associations between the sounds, imitating the way English speakers talk and paying special attention to specific aspects of the language such as the phonetics. The successful English language learners would also pay attention to vocabulary acquisition because they needed to widen the usage of English and able to express more ideas when they have enough range of vocabularies. From the findings, it was obvious that these students have preferred various strategies to learn new words like paying attention to the structure of the new word, grouping the words according to parts of speech for easier access to them, associating the new words with the familiar ones, listing them with other words that were related such as the synonyms of the word, writing the new words in meaningful sentences for better understanding and using flashcards in a systematic way to learn new words and making. They were also making an effort in remembering the situation or context where they first heard or saw the word or remembering the page or sign where they saw it was written. THE CONCLUSION In conclusion, the successful English language learners would use all types of LLS in order to learn the English language skills. They would use the cognitive, metacognitive, social and affective strategies to learn reading, writing, speaking, listening and vocabularies of English. They were smart in choosing LLS that they preferred and enjoyable to them. These strategies later on would become as their learning habits and styles.
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