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Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

Edited by Zoe Gavriilidou and Konstadinos Petrogiannis


Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

Edited by Gavriilidou Zoe and Petrogiannis Konstadinos


Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstantinos Petrogiannis (Editors), Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project ISBN: 978-618-5147-51-8 March 2016 Proof reading:

Lydia Mitits and Anna Sarafianou

Cover, page layout:

Iraklis Lampadariou www.lampadariou.eu

Language’s parallels: Theory and teaching practice Series Editor: Zoe Gavriilidou, Professor at Democritus University of Thrace

Saita publications 42 Athanasiou Diakou str, 652 01, Kavala, Greece Τ.: 0030 2510 831856 M.: 0030 6977 070729 E-mail: info@saitapublications.gr Website: www.saitapublications.gr

Creative Commons license Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivs 3.0 Unported With the agreement of the author and publisher, you are free to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work under the following conditions: attribution, non commercial use, no derivative works. Detailed information about this license cc, you can read at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/


Contents About the Editors ...................................................................................................

8

About the Authors .................................................................................................

9

Editor's Note ...........................................................................................................

12

The Project Scope ..................................................................................................

15

Language learning strategy profiling of Greek elementary/secondary school learners of English as a FL ....................................................................................

26

Variables affecting choice of language learning strategies by Greek learners of English attending elementary school ................................................................

42

Factors affecting language learning strategy use by learners of English at Greek secondary schools: proficiency and motivation ..............................................

58

Gender and age impact on language learning strategy use: A study of Greek EFL learners ....................................................................................................................

76

SILL questionnaire: an oral application using the bar for frequency and evaluation of strategy use among mixed student population in Thrace ........................

101


About the Editors Zoe Gavriilidou (BA, D.E.A., PhD) is a Professor of Linguistics and Head of the Department of Greek at the Democritus University of Thrace. She has participated in research projects and was the supervising coordinator of the THALES 379335 Project on Language Learning Strategies, co-funded by national resources and the EU. She is the author of several monographs and papers as well as textbooks and member of the experts’ committees for the revision of curricula in Greece and Cyprus in primary and secondary education. Her main areas of research interests are applied linguistics, language teaching, linguistic testing, and pedagogical lexicography. Konstadinos Petrogiannis (BA, MSc, PhD) is a Professor of Developmental Psychology at the Hellenic Open University, Greece. He graduated from the Department of Philosophy, Education & Psychology of the University of Ioannina, Greece. He received his master’s degree from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow and his Ph.D. from the University of Wales-Cardiff. He has worked as a researcher on a number of projects. His main areas of research interest lie in psychological measurement and research methodology, early child care and education impact upon children's development, parents-child relationship, parental involvement, children’s resilience, computer use effects on preschool children’s socio-emotional development, and language development.


About the Authors Eleni Agathopoulou is a tenured Assistant Professor at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She holds an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Reading, U.K. and a PhD in Linguistics from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She is interested in various aspects of applied linguistics, particularly in second language acquisition and teaching. She has published and presented papers on second language morphology, focus-on-form instruction and learning strategies. Penelope Kambakis-Vougiouklis is a Professor of Linguistics, Department of Greek, Democritus University. She holds a BA in English, Aristotle University (1976) and an MA and PhD from the University of Wales (1988 and 1992). Her scientific interests include mathematical models in language teaching, communication strategies with emphasis on guessing as a processing and/or a learning as well as confidence as a factor of success in communication, and, finally Modern Greek dialectology. Vassilia Kazamia (MA, PhD Leeds University, UK) is a Senior Teaching Fellow in English for Specific/Academic Purposes at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Her PhD thesis was “Language learning strategies of Greek adult EFL learners”. Her research interests include learners’ individual differences, ESP course design, CEF professional profiles and communication for professional purposes. She has co-authored ESP materials (currently used by academic institutions in Greece). She reviews at Research Papers in Language Teaching and Learning. Persephone Mamoukari (MA) is a PhD researcher in the field of Applied Linguistics at Democritus University of Thrace. She holds a degree in English Language and Literature from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and an MA in Black Sea studies from Democritus University of Thrace. She has attended a number of congresses and has written papers in refereed proceedings. She speaks English fluently and is a proficient speaker of French. Her interests focus on language teaching, communication strategies, learning strategies, school psychology, and psycholinguistics. Lydia Mitits has been a practicing EFL teacher since 1989. She has taught English as a FL in primary, secondary and tertiary education. She holds a MA in TEFL and a PhD in Applied Linguistics. She has presented in national and international conferences and published peer reviewed research papers on multilingualism, language learning strategies, instrument adaptation, etc. in books and conference proceedings. Her main research interests lie in the fields of multilingualism, language teaching methodology and language assessment. Angeliki Psaltou-Joycey (BA, DipTEFL, MA, PhD) is a Professor Emerita of the School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Her research interests and publications focus on SLA, Language Learning Strategies and Styles, Greek as an S/FL, and Multilingualism. She has authored Language Learning Strategies in the FL Classroom (2010), co-authored The


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Foreign Language Learning Strategy Instruction: A Teacher’s Guide

Temporal System of MG: Studies from the perspective of Greek as a foreign language (2011), and is the Editor of the Journal of Applied Linguistics. Areti-Maria Sougari is an Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Some of her work appears in TESOL Quarterly, Language and Education, the Journal of Applied Linguistics and other journals as well as in edited book volumes. Her research interests include teaching English to young learners, teacher education and development and teaching English as an International Language.


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

EDITOR’S NOTE The papers selected for this volume explore Language Learning Strategy (LLS) use by upper elementary and junior secondary students attending public schools in Greece. More specifically, they provide evidence of the exploratory phase of a largescale project entitled “Adaptation of the SILL in Greek and Turkish and strategic profiling of primary and secondary school learners and teachers-S.I.L.L.G.T.", under the Thales grant scheme and within the National Strategic Reference Frame 20072013. The exploratory study of the project aimed at providing an adapted in Greek and Turkish version of the SILL that would be appropriate for school-aged students (upper elementary and junior secondary schools). The variety of Turkish chosen was the one spoken by the Turkish-speaking minority population living in Thrace, Greece, which is slightly different from the variety spoken in Turkey. It also aimed at collecting exploratory data concerning the factors that influence LLS use. The volume includes the elaborated version of a number of separate studies of this exploratory analyses stage presented during the symposium “Language learning strategies in the Greek setting” that took place in AILA 2014 Conference, held in Brisbane (Australia) in August 2014. One additional paper, not presented in the symposium, was also included since it was embedded firmly in the line of the research held within the Thales project. This volume should not be viewed merely as the proceedings of the workshop. The authors revised considerably their initial papers in the light of discussions and analyses of their work among the scientific team of Thales. These revised versions were then sent to reviewers whose comments along with replies and reactions from the authors contributed to the final versions included herewith. Gavriilidou and Petrogiannis offer a general overview of the project, its scope, design and information about the objectives and the methodology adopted. Mitits, Psaltou-Joycey and Sougari discuss the differences of strategic profiles of both sub-samples (upper elementary and junior secondary school EFL learners) and also explore the role of place of residence in the frequency and type of strategies employed by the sample. Penelope Kambakis Vougiouklis focuses on the upper elementary school EFL student-learners and investigates the effect of age, gender and perceived proficiency on language learning strategy use. Eleni Agathopoulou reports on results from the junior secondary school sub-sample of students and discusses how proficiency and motivation correlate with language learning strategy use. Focusing on the same sub-sample, Vasilia Kazamia explores the interactions among gender, age and use of LLS by student-learners of English as FL. Finally, Penelope Kambakis Vougiouklis and Persephone Mamoukari report on data collected from an oral application of the SILL to L1-Turkish speakers and L1-Greek


Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

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speakers attending schools in Thrace, Greece. Their participants were required to specify not only their frequency of LLS use but also their confidence as for the effectiveness of each strategy. Komotini, March 2016 Zoe Gavriilidou and Konstadinos Petrogiannis


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)


The Project Scope Zoe Gavriilidou Democritus University of Thrace (zgabriil@helit.duth.gr) Konstadinos Petrogiannis Hellenic Open University (kpetrogiannis@eap.gr)

The present volume reports the evidence extracted from the relevant analyses of the exploratory phase of the large-scale Thales project entitled “Adaptation of SILL in Greek and Turkish and strategic profiling of primary and secondary school learners and teachers-S.I.L.L.G.T.". The project was implemented from April 2012 to September 2015 under the National Strategic Reference Frame 2007-2015, and was co-funded by resources of the European Union's "European Social Fund" and national resources. The principal aims were to: a) translate, shorten, simplify and prepare a culturally appropriate adapted version of the SILL in the Greek and Turkish language so that it could be further administered to school-aged students (upper elementary and junior secondary schools), b) extract a valid and reliable profile of the LLS use of the student population attending Greek mainstream (i.e. non-minority) and minority elementary and secondary schools in Greece when learning English as a second language, c) determine the factors that are related to the selection of LLS, d) construct and validate an instrument which would be based on the SILL for profiling teachers’ LLS use in classroom, e) offer teachers' strategic profile, and finally, f) provide language teachers and education policy makers with a manual containing activities that forward strategic teaching.


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

Management structure and procedures The project was coordinated by Prof. Zoe Gavriilidou and various work packages were implemented by four research teams each having a discrete field of study. A number of team members, university faculty staff, junior/postdoc researchers, and external partners composed every team. The first research team, representing Democritus University of Thrace as the leading university in the project, investigated the strategic profile of Muslim students learning English as foreign language in primary education as well as the strategic profile of English language teachers in minority education. The second research team, from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, was responsible for determining the strategic profile of students in primary education learning English as a foreign language as well as the strategic profile of teachers in primary education. The third research team from the University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki studied the strategic profile of students in secondary education learning English as a foreign language and the strategic profile of teachers in secondary education. Finally, the fourth research team, representing the Hellenic Open University, was responsible for the adaptation methodology and research procedures concerning the adaptation of the SILL in the Greek and Turkish language and the construction and validation of a questionnaire aimed at investigating English language teachers’ strategic profiles. Professor Zoe Gavriilidou, as the coordinator of the project, defined the frame of activities of each research team leader, ensured communication and uninterrupted cooperation among the four teams, kept track of the research progress according to the initially approved plan, description of work, and timeframe and, in the final stage, coordinated the four teams in order to produce the final deliverables through the synthesis of results of each research team. Team leaders coordinated members' activities and tasks of their team as well as their external partners/experts' contribution. They also ensured the research process and progress according to the plan and were responsible for the necessary preparations of their deliverables. There were regular meetings among the team leaders, team members and the external partners/experts regarding the follow-up of the separate tasks and decision-making procedures.


Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

Participants in the project 1st RESEARCH TEAM: Democritus University of Thrace (leading University) Coordinator: Professor Gavriilidou Zoe Team members: Professor Kambakis-Vougiouklis Penelope External partners: Anastasiou Stavroula, PhD candidate Chatzipapa Elina, PhD candidate Diakovasili Katerina, graduate student Koutsogianni Persefoni, graduate student Mamoukari Persephone, PhD candidate Mitits Lydia, PhD Papadopoulou Eleni, PhD Perdiki Elpida, MSc Sarafianou Anna, PhD 2st RESEARCH TEAM: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Coordinator: Emerita Professor Psaltou-Joycey Angeliki Team members: Assistant Professor Agathopoulou Eleni Assistant Professor Sougari Areti-Maria Invited researcher as foreign expert Professor Jim Milton, University of Swansea External partners: Alexiou Thomai, Assistant Professor Kazamia Vaso, PhD

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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

Joycey Ed, PhD candidate Koutsogianni Persefoni, graduate student Vrettou Athina, PhD 3st RESEARCH TEAM: University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki Coordinator: Associate Professor Platsidou Maria Team members: Associate Professor Agaliotis Ioannis Associate professor Sipitanou Athina External partners: Diamantidou Georgia, PhD candidate Foukidou Alexandra, MSc Kantaridou Zoe, PhD Papadopoulou Iris, PhD 4st RESEARCH TEAM: Hellenic Open University Coordinator: Professor Petrogiannis Konstantinos Researcher from abroad: Professor Achilles Bardos External partners: Karousou Alexia, Lecturer Gini Eleni, MSc Kantaridou Zoe, PhD candidate Penteri Efthymia, PhD Vasiliou Eleni,BA-Junior Researcher


Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

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Work packages and deliverables WP1: Adaptation of the SILL in Greek and Turkish. Deliverables: 1) the SILL translation into Greek, 2) the SILL translation into Turkish 3) Data collection methodology 4) Quantitative data 5) Greek version of the SILL 6) Turkish version of the SILL WP2: Description of the language learning strategy profile of Muslim students. Deliverables: 1) Data collection methodology, 2) Quantitative data, 3) Language learning profile of Muslim students of minority schools learning English as a foreign language. WP3: Description of the Language Learning strategy profile of upper elementary students of English as a foreign language. Deliverables: 1) Data collection methodology, 2) Quantitative data, 3) Language learning profile of upper elementary students learning English as a foreign language. WP4: Description of the Language Learning strategy profile of junior secondary students of English as a foreign language. Deliverables: 1) Data collection methodology, 2) Quantitative data, 3) Language learning profile of junior secondary students learning English as a foreign language. WP 5: Description of teaching strategies used in class. Deliverables: 1) Questionnaire tracing the strategies used by teachers in class, 2) Data collection methodology, 3) Quantitative data, 4) Strategic profile of minority school teachers, 5) Strategic profile of upper elementary school teachers, 6) Strategic profile of junior secondary school teachers, 7) Handbook with suggestions concerning the improvement of the provision of education via the incorporation of strategic teaching in class. WP6: Dissemination of results. Deliverables: 1) Peer reviewed scientific publications, 2) Conference presentations WP7: Project coordination: Deliverables: Three annual progress reports and a final project report. WP8: External Evaluation. Deliverable: External evaluation by experts in the field. Project outcomes The Thales project included two phases: (a) Exploratory study The objective of the exploratory study was twofold: on the one hand to provide an adapted version of the SILL in the Greek and Turkish language that would be appropriate for school-aged students (upper elementary and junior secondary


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

schools). The variety of Turkish chosen was the one spoken by the Turkish-speaking minority population living in Thrace, Greece, which is slightly different from the variety spoken in Turkey. On the other hand, it aimed at collecting exploratory data concerning the factors that influence language learning strategy use.

Sample characteristics At the exploratory phase 1308 students from 16 schools representing 5 prefectures (Athens, Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Rodopi, Ioannina) and 4 regions (Attica, Central Macedonia, Eastern Macedonia-Thrace, Epirus) of the country filled a recently adapted version of the SILL v.7 by Gavriilidou and Mitits (in press). The sample of students attended the last three grades of elementary school and the three first grades of secondary school (Gymnasio). More specifically 604 (46.2%) students attended the 4th to 6th grade of elementary school: 4th grade: 180 (13,8%), 5th grade: 224 (17,1%), 6th grade: 200 (15,3%) and 703 (53.8%) attended the 1st to 3rd grade of junior secondary school (Gymnasio): 1st grade: 231 (17,7%), 2nd grade: 241 (18,4%), 3rd grade: 231 (17,7%). The mean age of the sample was 12.4 yrs (sd= 1.77; range: 9-17 years). Valid responses were provided by 1295 students: 617 (47,2%) were boys (Mage= 12.4, sd= 1.76) and 678 (51,8%) were girls (Mage= 12.5, sd= 1.79).

Statistical evidence of the exploratory study The adapted SILL in Greek was tested for its content validity through exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, where a six-factor model based on the six subscales suggested in previous literature was retained and tested. The analyses finalized a common factorial pattern for all the students consisting of 29 items while adopting Oxford’s factorial structure (Petrogiannis & Gavriilidou, 2015). In the final step, the instrument was verified for its psychometric properties providing internal consistency coefficients. In order to examine the internal consistency of the SILL’s two- and six-construct classification system, the reliability of the constructs was examined by calculating Cronbach’s α both for the sample and the two sub-samples, i.e. elementary and secondary school students (see Table 1).


Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

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Table 1. Items per learning strategies factor and internal consistency coefficients Direct LS Whole sample Elementary Secondary

Whole sample Elementary Secondary

Learning Strategies (LS) memory (4) cognitive (6)

compensation (4)

.77

.56

.71

.43

.79 .75 Indirect LS

.70 .72 affective (3)

.50 .45 social (5)

.87

.58 .53 metacognitive (7) .83

.52

.70

.87 .87

.82 .83

.55 .48

.70 .69

The original scale in English was also translated into the local variety of Turkish by an educated bilingual native speaker of the specific variety of Turkish. The translated scale was then back-translated and reviewed. Cross-cultural adaptation included the submission of the reviewed version to a panel of experts to obtain data on comprehensibility and appropriateness. After inclusion of the recommendations made by the experts, the adapted in Turkish version of the SILL was administered to 77 participants. Its internal consistency was calculated using the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient and found to be .89. Test-retest reliability ranged from fair to good for the total scale and its six-subscales (Gavriilidou et al., 2014). Based on these analyses it seems that the modified shortened versions of the SILL (Oxford, 1990) in Greek and Turkish with the 29 items, which were produced for the needs of the current study following a series of exploratory factor analyses as well as theoretical and methodological criteria, could be used with the Greek school-aged Greek-speaking and Turkish-speaking student population. (b) Main study The aim of the main study was to profile the strategy use of students and teachers throughout Greece so as to provide language teachers and education policy makers with a manual containing activities that forward training of the strategies that were found to be less used in the study.


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

Sampling and instrumentation 4932 students, including approximately equal number of males (N= 2344, 47,5%) and females (N=2588, 52,5%) participated in the study. The sample consisted of 3348 (67,88%) students attending mainstream schools and 1584 (32,12%) students attending minority schools. 2714 (55,02%) students attended elementary and while 2218 (44,98%) secondary schools. The main instrument used in this stage of the project was the 29-item SILL translated and culturally adapted in Greek and Turkish, which was adjusted for the school population from the former stage (see appendix). The instrument retained the same response pattern as the original scale. This 5-point response scale instrument asks learners to report the frequency with which they use certain language learning strategies. The items are organized under two broader factors, i.e. direct and indirect learning strategies, depending on the extent to which each strategy item is involved in language learning. In addition, the items are further structured under six factors: i. “Direct strategies” include (a) memory strategies (remembering and retrieving vocabulary), i.e. how learners remember and retain language, (b) cognitive strategies (comprehending and producing text), which indicate how learners think of their learning, and (c) compensation strategies (compensating for the lack of knowledge), reflecting how learners make up for the limited language to achieve successful language use. ii. “Indirect strategies” include (d) metacognitive strategies (manipulating learning processes), i.e., how they manage their own learning, (e) affective strategies (regulating affective state), or how learners adjust their affective status in the learning process, (f) social strategies (learning with others) which refer to how learners learn language through social interaction. Respondents received instructions to fill in the 29-item SILL and the background questionnaire, and every effort was made to ensure comprehensibility of the items. Descriptive statistics such as frequencies, means and standard deviations were calculated to determine overall patterns. Independent samples t-tests were used to compare differences between the linguistic majority (Greek L1 speakers) and


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Muslim minority speakers (Turkish L1). Results were considered statistically significant at the .001 level. The results revealed significant differences in strategy use between the minority and non-minority sample and between elementary and secondary students. A medium level overall strategy use was also found. Results of the up to date Thales project are included in the following list of publications published in journals or congress proceedings: 1. Agathopoulou. E. 2016, Factors affecting language learning strategy use by learners of English at Greek secondary schools: proficiency and motivation, In Z. Gavriilidou & K. Petrogiannis (eds), Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a largescale project. Kavala: Saita Publications ISBN 978-618-5147-51-8, pp. 58-75. 2. Gavriilidou, Z. (2014) The Thales Project SILLGT: Aims and preliminary results, Journal of Applied Linguistics, vol. 29, pp. 50-66. 3. Gavriilidou, Z. & L. Mitits. Adaptation of the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) for students aged 12-15 into Greek: a pilot study. To appear in Selected papers of the 21st International Symposium on Theoretical and Applied linguistics (ISTAL 21). 4. Gavriilidou, Z. & Petrogiannis, K. (eds), 2016, Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a largescale project, Kavala: Saita Publications ISBN 978-618-5147-51-8. 5. Gavriilidou, Z., Petrogiannis, K., Platsidou, M. & Psaltou-Joycey, A. Eds (In press) Language learning Strategies: theoretical issues and applied perspectives, Kavala: Saita Publications ISBN 978-618-5147-52-5. 6. Gavriilidou, Z. & Petrogiannis, K. 2016. Language learning strategy use of English FL learners in Greek schools: The role of type of school and educational level, to appear in International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning, 5 (4): 67-81. 7. Gavriilidou, Z., Petrogiannis K. Bardos, A., Kambakis-Vougiouklis. P., Mitits, L. & N. Molla (2014), Translation and cultural adaptation of the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) into Turkish for measuring strategy use in Muslim students learning Greek as a second language. In Kotzoglou, g. Nikolou, K. Karatzola E., Frantzi A. Galantomos I. Georgalidou M. Kourti-Kazoulis V. Papadopoulou E. Vlachou E. (eds) Selected Papers of the 11th International Conference on Greek Linguistics, pp. 479-487. 8. Kambakis-Vougiouklis P, & P. Mamoukari, (In press) FREQUENCY AND CONFIDENCE IN LANGUAGE LEARNING STRATEGY USE BY GREEK STUDENTS OF ENGLISH, to appear in Gitsaki G. (Ed) Selected papers from Aila, Cambridge Scholar Publishing. 9. Kambakis-Vougiouklis, P. Mamoukari, P., 2016, SILL questionnaire: an oral application using the bar for frequency and evaluation of strategy use among mixed student population in Thrace, in Z. Gavriilidou & K. Petrogiannis (eds),


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10.

11.

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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a largescale project. Kavala: Saita Publications ISBN 978-618-5147-51-8, pp. 101-114. Kambakis-Vougiouklis, P., Mamoukari, P., Agathopoulou, E. & Alexiou, T., (In press) Oral application of the SILL questionnaire using the bar for frequency and evaluation of strategy use by Muslim pupils in Thrace, to appear in Selected papers of the 21st International Symposium on Theoretical and Applied linguistics (ISTAL 21). Kantaridou, Z., Papadopoulou, I., & Platsidou, M. (to appear). An alternative factor solution for SILL: towards a complexity approach In Z. Gavriilidou, K. Petrogiannis, M. Platsidou & A. Psaltou-Joycey (Eds) Language learning Strategies: theoretical issues and applied perspectives, Kavala: Saita Publications, ISBN 978-6185147-52-5. Karousou, K. Petrogiannis, & Z. Gavriilidou. Methodological Issues Concerning Language Learning Strategies to appear in Z. Gavriilidou, K. Petrogiannis, M. Platsidou & A. Psaltou-Joycey (Eds) Language learning Strategies: theoretical issues and applied perspectives, Kavala: Saita Publications, ISBN 978-618-5147-52-5. Kazamia, V. & Joycey, E., ELF across Teachers' Strategies in TEFL (In press). To appear in Proceedings of the 7th International Conference of English as a Lingua Franca, Athens Greece. Kazamia, V. 2016, Gender and age impact on language learning strategy use: A research on Greek EFL learners, In Z. Gavriilidou & K. Petrogiannis (eds), Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a largescale project. Kavala: Saita Publications ISBN 978-618-5147-51-8, pp. 76-100. Mitits, L. (In press), Language learning strategy profile of monolingual and multilingual EFL learners. To appear in Selected papers of the 21st International Symposium on Theoretical and Applied linguistics (ISTAL 21). Mitits, L. & Z. Gavriilidou (2014). Effects of gender, age, proficiency level and motivation differences on monolingual and multilingual students’ language learning strategies. Studies in Greek linguistics, Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Department of Linguistics, School of Philology, Faculty of Philology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, May 16-18, 2013, pp. 285-299. Mitits, L. (2014), Language learning strategy use in Greek as a second language versus English as a foreign language. In Kotzoglou, g. Nikolou, K. Karatzola E., Frantzi A. Galantomos I. Georgalidou M. Kourti-Kazoulis V. Papadopoulou E. Vlachou E. (eds) Selected Papers of the 11th International Conference on Greek Linguistics, pp. 1122-1134. Mitits, L., Psaltou-Joycey, A., Sougari, A., 2016, Language learning strategy profiling of Greek primary/secondary school learners of English as a FL, In Z. Gavriilidou & K. Petrogiannis (eds), Language Learning Strategies in the Greek


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setting: Research outcomes of a largescale project. Kavala: Saita Publications ISBN 978-618-5147-51-8, pp. 26-41. 19. Papadopoulou, I., Kantaridou, Z., Agaliotis, I. & Platsidou, M. (to appear). Foreign Language Teachers’ Strategy Instruction Practices in Greek Secondary Education. to appear in Z. Gavriilidou, K. Petrogiannis, M. Platsidou & A. PsaltouJoycey (Eds) Language learning Strategies: theoretical issues and applied perspectives, Kavala: Saita Publications, ISBN 978-618-5147-52-5. 20. Petrogiannis, K., & Gavriilidou, Z. (2015). Strategy Inventory for Language Learning: findings of a validation study in Greece. In Carmo, M. (Ed.), Education Applications & Developments (ch. 22). Madrid: inScience Press, pp. 223-236. 21. Platsidou, M. & Kantaridou, Z. (2014). The role of attitudes and learning strategy use in predicting perceived competence in school-aged foreign language learners. Journal of Language and Literature, 5(3), 253-260. 22. Platsidou, M. & Sipitanou, A. (2014). Exploring relationships with grade level, gender and language proficiency in the foreign language learning strategy use of children and early adolescents. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning, 4 (1), 1-14 23. Psaltou-Joycey, A., Penteri, E, & Gavriilidou Z. (2016) Development of a questionnaire to investigate FL teachers’ promotion of Language Learning Strategies, The European Journal of Applied Linguistics and TEFL, vol 5(1), pp. 193212. 24. Psaltou-Joycey, A., Sougari, A.-M., Agathopoulou, A. & Alexiou, T. (2014), The role of age, gender and L1 strategies in the L2 strategies of primary school children in Greece. In Kotzoglou, g. Nikolou, K. Karatzola E., Frantzi A. Galantomos I. Georgalidou M. Kourti-Kazoulis V. Papadopoulou E. Vlachou E. (eds) Selected Papers of the 11th International Conference on Greek Linguistics, pp. 1436-1448. 25. Sarafianou, A. Gavriilidou Z, (2015), The Effect of Strategy-Based Instruction on Strategy Use by Upper-Secondary Greek Students of EFL, Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 21–34. 26. Vrettou A., Psaltou-Joycey A, and Z. Gavriilidou, Researching the promotion of strategic learning by EFL teachers1, to appear in the next volume of Research Papers in Language Teaching and Learning http://rpltl.eap.gr/index.php/en/previousissues/58 .


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

Language learning strategy profiling of Greek elementary/secondary school learners of English as a FL2 Lydia Mitits Democritus University of Thrace (lydiamitits@gmail.com Angeliki Psaltou-Joycey Aristotle University of Thessaloniki apsajoy@enl.auth.gr Areti-Maria Sougari Aristotle University of Thessaloniki asougari@enl.auth.gr

Abstract Language learning strategies play a significant role in the development of fluency and competency of schoolchildren making it necessary to identify strategies used in foreign language learning to improve teaching/learning practices. The present paper reports on a pilot quantitative study for Greek upper elementary and junior secondary schools with a total sample of 1308 schoolchildren based on the data collected by using an adapted version of the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) Version 7.0 (Oxford, 1990). The data were statistically analyzed using principally descriptive statistical routines. The strategic profiles of both subsamples (upper elementary and junior secondary school EFL learners) showed that students make use of strategies at a medium level overall; upper elementary and junior secondary school students showed significantly different strategy category preferences, whereas differences in the socio-geographical status in Greece seemed to influence the participants’ strategy use. Key words: language learning strategies, strategic profile, SILL, upper elementary education, junior secondary education

This study is part of the Thales project MIS 379335. It was held in the frame of the National Strategic Reference Frame (Ε.Σ.Π.Α.) and was co-funded by resources of the European Union (European Social Fund) and national resources. 2


Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

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1. Introduction Language learning strategies (LLSs), as part of the more general concept of ‘learner autonomy’, play a significant role in the development of autonomous foreign/second language learning that should offer schoolchildren the opportunity to develop competency and fluency both in the classroom and in real-life contexts (Macaro, 2001). As a result, it is necessary to identify strategies used in foreign language learning in order to improve teaching/learning practices. Although the current Greek national curriculum (Pedagogical Institute, 2003) stresses the need for the development of LLSs by students learning a foreign language (FL) at school, there is surprisingly little systematic research into mapping the strategies learners in Greek public schools employ. 2. Literature review The interest in investigating the benefits of LLSs for the success of learning a second/foreign language has been long-lasting. Some crucial concepts which have contributed significantly to paving the way for defining and classifying LLSs are: the good language learner studies, the concept of autonomy, and the concept of selfregulation. The good language learner (GLL) studies (Griffiths, 2008; Naiman, Fröhlich, Stern & Todesco, 1978; Rubin, 1975; Stern, 1975) sought to establish what it is that successful language learners do that makes them learn languages more efficiently and effectively; by discovering the qualities of the good language learner, the proponents of the GLL studies believed that the strategies successful learners employed could be used to help those who were not so successful. Although the notion of a single ‘prototypical’ good language learner has generally been rejected (Macaro, 2001), as it has been acknowledged that there are various ways in which language learners can be successful, it has been stressed by researchers that successful language learners are strategic in their learning (Gavriilidou & PsaltouJoycey, 2009). In addition, Macaro (2001: 20) admits to a close link between the concept of learner strategies and that of learner autonomy (first used by Holec in 1980) on account of the fact that the demands of the modern world and the constantly changing global situation require autonomous language learners who will be able to independently develop their language skills if or when they find themselves in new learning contexts. However, the concept of learning strategies is more definable, accessible and operational than the concept of learner autonomy. Lastly, the notion of self-regulated learning, as an umbrella term under which language learning strategies deserve attention, has gained significance throughout


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

the world (Alexander & Winne, 2006; Dörnyei, 2005; Flippo & Caverly, 2008; Mizumoto, 2013; Oxford, 2011). In Europe, The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Council of Europe, 2001) promotes ‘learning how to learn’ and the use of learning strategies. Language learning practitioners have been showing a keen interest in helping their students become more strategic, selfregulated, and successful as a result of what characterizes self-regulated language learning strategies. According to Oxford (2011), LLSs are used consciously; they facilitate learning by making it easier, faster, more enjoyable, and more effective; they are context and purpose specific; they involve not only the learner’s cognitive or metacognitive side but the whole person; they are often combined into strategy chains (groups of strategies functioning together); they are transferable; and, finally, some strategies are not confined to language learning only but can be used in general learning. Overall, it is suggested by the present researchers that investigating LLSs can offer a clearer picture of how languages are learned as well as help to create the profile of language learners. Another point of interest of the present study is the investigation of certain factors which may affect the frequency and type of strategies that language learners employ, namely, their education level (reflected in their age group and educational context) and the broader socio-geographic background. The relationship between age, as a factor in learning a foreign/second language, and L2 stage of development has been debated considerably. A number of studies concerned with LLSs used by young learners, adolescents, and adults have investigated how LLSs interact with age. A general conclusion drawn from the literature review is that students of different ages and different stages of L2 learning make use of different strategies and that more sophisticated strategies are often employed by older or more advanced students (Bialystok, 1981; Chamot, O’Malley, Küpper & Impink-Hernandez, 1987; Gavriilidou & Psaltou-Joycey, 2009; O’Malley & Chamot, 1990; Oxford, Lavine & Crookall, 1989; Peacock & Ho, 2003; Politzer, 1983; Tyacke & Mendelsohn, 1986). Psaltou-Joycey (2010) points out that the effect of age on language learning strategies interrelates with other factors in a rather complex manner. For this reason, a number of studies have investigated strategy use and age in relation to other variables, such as the level of proficiency, culture, beliefs and attitudes, etc. She also notes that in order to establish how language learning strategy use changes over time, one has to study learners of different ages cross-sectionally, longitudinally or in case-studies. In the Greek context, in a cross-sectional study, Psaltou-Joycey and Sougari (2010) compared 11 year-olds (6th grade upper elementary school students) and 14 year-olds (3rd grade junior secondary school students) and found statistically significant differences in all strategy categories of the SILL, except for the


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compensation strategies in favor of the younger students. The researchers suggested that possible explanations for the findings is the higher proficiency exhibited by the older group of EFL learners, which makes the strategy use more automated and restricted to the ones that are effective for the particular learners or that other factors, such as personality type or lower motivation, generally found in adolescents, contributed to the limited strategy use. Upper elementary and junior secondary school EFL learners in Vrettou’s studies (2009, 2011) reported favoring metacognitive strategies and not using memory and compensation strategies very often. Mitits (2014) found that secondary school students (aged 12-14) reported using mostly affective and metacognitive strategies, followed by social and cognitive, while compensation and memory were among the least frequently used. In all three studies, metacognitive strategies were reported as being favored by both groups of learners, whereas compensation strategies were among the least used ones. There is a lack of consensus regarding the learning strategies that school-aged children prefer across different countries and contexts. Upper elementary school children in Taiwan reported a more frequent use of the compensation and affective strategy categories (Lan & Oxford, 2003), while ESL school-aged children in the USA reported that their higher preference was for metacognitive strategies, followed by cognitive and social, and their lowest preference was for the affective strategy category (Ardasheva & Tretter, 2013). As for the educational context, Eun-Young and Jiménez (2011) argue that the use of L2 learner strategies is mediated by multiple contextual factors that are embedded in institutional, interactional, and instructional practices. By this, they mean that the institutional education policy and approach to second/foreign language learning, the teaching/learning methodology, and the role assigned to language learning strategic instruction will be of great importance to how far the learners will develop their language learning strategies. In our study, the ‘school level’, i.e. whether the participants attended upper elementary or junior secondary schools, could be linked with the selection and preference of language learning strategies for learning English FL. Finally, with respect to the place of residence as a socio-geographical factor, we will report on studies which focused on the socioeconomic status of the learners in different parts of a geographical area as these studies have shown that different socioeconomic factors affect the academic progress of students. Mattheoudakis and Alexiou (2009) found statistically significant differences in English proficiency between upper elementary school learners living in the western areas of Thessaloniki and those living in the eastern areas. Specifically, students coming from the eastern part of the city “which is traditionally considered more affluent


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

and prestigious than the western part� (Liambas, 2001: 109-110, as cited in Mattheoudakis & Alexiou, 2009: 234) are significantly more proficient in English than their counterparts in the western part in all three school grades that were examined. This finding reflects socio-economic status differences and is lined with the long-lasting debate concerning educational inequalities and their effect on the academic progress of students from different socio-economic strata (e.g. Frangoudaki, 1985; Katsikas & Kavvadias, 2000). 3. Methodology 3.1 Purpose of the study The primary aim of the study was to provide, based on descriptive statistical information, the language learning strategy profile of upper elementary and junior secondary school students attending Greek state schools as well as to identify potential differences in the strategy use between the two groups. A secondary objective was to investigate whether the place of residence plays a role in the frequency and type of strategies employed as the study involved a nationwide sample that the present study employed. More specifically, the following research questions were posed: Research question 1: What language learning strategies do students of English as a FL in upper elementary and junior secondary Greek schools report they use? Research question 2: Are there differences between upper elementary and junior secondary school EFL learners with respect to reported frequency and type of language learning strategies they use? Research question 3: Does the place of residence influence the frequency and type of strategies used? 3.2 Participants A nationally driven sample of 1308 school-age children and early adolescents participated in the study. There were 604 (46,2%) upper elementary school students aged 9 to 12, and 703 (53,8%) junior secondary school students aged 12 to 15, of whom 605 were male (47,3%) and 677 female students (52,7%). They were attending state schools from the following prefectures in Greece: Athens (N=271, 20,7%); Thessaloniki (N=391, 29,9%); Piraeus (N=145, 11,1%); Ioannina (N=250, 19,1%); and Rodopi (N=25, 19,2%), representing both urban and rural areas of the country, as well as the variety of linguistic and cultural profiles of the participants.


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3.3 Instrument The data were collected by using an adapted Greek version (Gavriilidou & Mitits, in press; Petrogiannis & Gavriilidou, 2015) of the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) Version 7.0 (ESL/EFL) for learners of English as a second/ foreign language (Oxford, 1990). 3.4 Procedure During the initial stage, the SILL was translated and adapted into the Greek language, followed by a pilot study with upper elementary and junior secondary school students in the prefectures stated above. The quantitative data collected from this pilot study constituted the database for the analyses presented in the current paper. 4. Data analysis Data were analysed using the SPSS ver. 20 and the significance level was set at a minimum conventional alpha level of significance 5%. The dependent variable were the language learning strategies as measured with regard to the frequency of overall use, the six strategy categories use, and the use of individual strategy items), while the independent variables were the education level (upper elementary and junior secondary school students) and the place of residence (5 prefectures, see 3.2). Descriptive statistics were calculated for the frequencies and percentages of overall strategy use and strategy categories on the SILL, as well as the most and the least frequently used individual strategies. The independent samples t-test was used to compare the means of upper elementary and junior secondary education level subsamples on strategy categories and overall strategy use on the SILL. The One-way ANOVA was run to investigate the main effects of the independent variable (place of residence) upon overall strategy use and the six LLS categories as well as their interactions with the use of Scheffe post hoc test for the determination of the between them significant differences. 5. Results Descriptive statistics were computed to provide evidence regarding the first research question with respect to the FLL strategic profile of the participants. First, the frequency of overall strategy use for the whole sample was calculated and found to be in the medium frequency range of 3.05 (SD=.559) according to Oxford's grouping (1990). The means for the six strategy categories also fell within the same range (see Table 1). Table 1 Strategy categories in descending order of use for the whole sample Strategy category N Min. Max. Mean SD


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

Metacognitive Affective

1303 1304

1.00 1.00

5.00 5.00

3.41 3.36

.829 .805

Social Cognitive Memory

1304 1308 1308

1.00 1.00 1.00

5.00 5.00 5.00

3.13 3.05 2.70

.786 .629 .630

Compensation 1307 1.00 5.00 2.64 .724 In the next step, the mean scores on strategy categories and overall frequency of strategy use were compared with regard to the educational level. It was revealed that the students in upper elementary schools reported using metacognitive strategies most frequently (M=3.60, SD=.793), followed by affective (M=3.46, SD=.808) and social strategies (M=3.27, SD=.782). Cognitive (M=3.14, SD=.651) and memory strategies (M=2.82, SD=.663) were next, while compensation strategies (M=2.53, SD=.734) came last. In the case of students attending junior secondary schools, affective strategies (M=3.29, SD=.776) were most frequent, then metacognitive strategies (M=3.25, SD=.792), followed by social strategies (M=3.01, SD=.754). Fourth came cognitive strategies (M=2.98, SD=.585) and then compensation strategies (M=2.73, SD=.669), while memory strategies (M=2.59, SD=.568) were last. The independent samples t-test criterion employed for the comparison of the mean scores of the frequency of strategy use for the six strategy categories between the two education levels sub-groups showed statistically significant differences in favor of upper elementary school children: memory strategies (t(1194.64)=6.664, p<.001); cognitive strategies (t(1224.491)=4.690, p<.001); metacognitive strategies (t(1275.289)=7.887, p<.001); affective strategies (t(1258.791)=3.785, p<.001); social strategies (t(1260.497)=5.904, p<.001); and overall (t(1233.543)=5.528, p<.001). Only in the case of compensation strategies did junior secondary school students show greater strategy use. After investigating the differences between the upper elementary and junior secondary school students on their overall strategy use and the use of the six strategy categories, it was considered important to further analyze the data in order to find out which were the most and the least preferred strategy items and how the strategic profiles of the two sub-samples differed on the individual items contained in the SILL (see Τables 2 and 3). Table 2 Most frequently used items by upper elementary and junior secondary school students Upper elementary education N Mean SD no. 57 social - When I come across an unknown word in English, 604 4.37 1.072 I ask my teacher what it means no. 31 metacognitive - I notice my English mistakes and use that information to help me do better

604

4.13

1.156


Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

no. 32 metacognitive - I pay attention when someone is speaking English no. 7 memory - I review English lessons often no. 38 metacognitive - I think about my progress in learning English no. 9 cognitive - I say or write new English words several times no. 33 metacognitive - I try to find out how to be a better learner of English no. 11 cognitive - I practice the sounds of English no. 55 affective - I encourage myself so that I will continue to try hard and do my best in learning English no. 37 metacognitive - I have clear goals for improving my English skills Junior secondary education no. 57 social - When I come across an unknown word in English, I ask my teacher what it means no. 29 compensation - If I can't think of an English word, I use a word or phrase that means the same thing no. 32 metacognitive - I pay attention when someone is speaking English no. 40 affective - I encourage myself to speak English even when I am afraid of making a mistake no. 42 affective - I notice if I am tense or nervous when I am studying or using English no. 31 metacognitive - I notice my English mistakes and use that information to help me do better no. 33 metacognitive - I try to find out how to be a better learner of English no. 37 metacognitive - I have clear goals for improving my English skills no. 53 cognitive - When I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t understand something in English, I translate it into my native language no. 38 metacognitive - I think about my progress in learning English

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604

4.12

1.110

604

4.06

1.147

604

4.03

1.159

604

3.86

1.280

604

3.86

1.170

604

3.83

1.186

604

3.81

1.192

604

3.79

1.188

N

Mean

SD

703

4.17

1.118

703

3.87

1.174

703

3.85

1.102

703

3.65

1.248

703

3.64

1.306

703

3.64

1.164

703

3.59

1.198

703

3.59

1.206

703

3.57

1.283

703

3.56

1.272

Table 3 Least frequently used items by upper elementary and junior secondary school students Upper elementary education

N

Mean

SD


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

no. 6 memory - I physically act out new English words no. 5 memory - I use flashcards to remember new English words no. 25 compensation - When I can't think of a word during a conversation in English, I use gestures no. 26 compensation- I make up new words if I do not know the right ones in English no. 4 memory - I use rhymes to remember new English words no. 15 cognitive - I read for pleasure in English

604

1.65

1.085

604

1.67

1.150

604

1.93

1.301

604

2.08

1.345

604 604

2.19 2.41

1.262 1.320

no. 19 cognitive - I try to find patterns in English no. 47 social - I practice English with other students no. 27 compensation - I read English without looking up every new word no. 28 compensation - I try to guess what the other person will say next in English Junior secondary education

604 604

2.45 2.46

1.330 1.324

604

2.48

1.417

604

2.53

1.358

N

Mean

SD

703

1.35

.772

703

1.40

.876

703 703

1.77 2.07

1.046 1.124

703

2.09

1.185

703

2.23

1.351

703

2.28

1.397

703

2.31

1.251

703

2.31

1.199

703

2.38

1.273

no. 5 memory - I use flashcards to remember new English words no. 6 memory - I physically act out new English words no. 4 memory - I use rhymes to remember new English words no. 19 cognitive - I try to find patterns in English no. 44 affective- I talk to someone else about how I feel when I am learning English no. 25 compensation - When I can't think of a word during a conversation in English, I use gestures no. 26 compensation - I make up new words if I do not know the right ones in English no. 47 social - I practice English with other students no. 22 cognitive - I make summaries of information that I hear or read in English no. 50 social - I try to learn about the culture of English speakers

Differences in the most frequently used items between the upper elementary and junior secondary education students revealed that the following 4 items were only found with the upper elementary school learners favoring more no. 7 memory (M=4.06; SD=1.14), no. 9 cognitive (M=3.86; SD=1.28), no. 11 cognitive (M=3.83; SD=1.18), and no. 55 affective (M=3.81; SD=1.19), while the junior secondary education students preferred no. 29 compensation (M=3.87; SD=1.17), no. 40


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affective (M=3.65; SD=1.24), no. 42 affective (M=3.64; SD=1.30), and no. 53 cognitive (M=3.57; SD=1.28). As for the differences in the least frequently used items, only the upper elementary education learners reported to rarely use no. 15 cognitive (M=2.41; SD=1.32), no. 27 compensation (M=2.48; SD=1.41), and no. 28 compensation (M=2.53; SD=1.35), whereas the junior secondary school students used less frequently no. 44 affective (M=2.09; SD=1.18), no. 22 cognitive (M=2.31; SD=1.19), and no. 50 social (M=2.38; SD=1.27). The rest of the most and least used items overlapped for the two groups. Lastly, the one-way ANOVA indicated interactions between the strategy categories and the place of residence of the participants (determined by the prefecture they came from). The results of the Scheffe post hoc test revealed that regarding memory strategies students from Ioannina exhibited statistically significant differences in the frequency of use over students from Piraeus (MD=.15; p<.01) and Rodopi (MD=.10; p<.01); on cognitive strategies Athens over Rodopi (MD=.19; p<.01); on metacognitive strategies Athens over Thessaloniki (MD=.21; p<.05), over Piraeus (MD=.37; p<.001) and over Rodopi (MD=.41; p<001), and Ioannina over Piraeus (MD=.31; p<.01) and over Rodopi (MD=.35; p<.001); on affective strategies Athens over Thessaloniki (MD=.19; p<.05) and Rodopi (MD=.32; p<.001), and Ioannina over Rodopi (MD=.24; p<.05); on social strategies Athens over Rodopi (MD=.21; p<.05), and Ioannina over Piraeus (MD=.26; p<.05) and over Rodopi (MD=.23; p<.05). 6. Discussion The overall strategy use as well as the separate categories use fall within the medium range of use as is the case in a number of studies both in the Greek context and in other cultures and languages (Green & Oxford, 1995; Kazamia, 2003; Lan & Oxford, 2003; Lee & Oxford, 2008; Mochizuki, 1999; Psaltou-Joycey & Kantaridou, 2009; Rao, 2006; Vrettou, 2009, 2011; Wharton, 2000; Yang, 2007). In our study, students report that they use mostly metacognitive and affective strategies, followed by social and cognitive, whereas memory and compensation strategies are not among the most frequently used ones. These results are identical with Mititsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; study (2014) in which the participants reported using affective and metacognitive strategies most, then social and cognitive, while compensation and memory were among the least frequently used. Upper elementary and junior secondary school EFL learners in Vrettouâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s studies (2009, 2011) also reported favoring metacognitive strategies and not using memory and compensation strategies very often. The finding that differentiates her studies is a relatively low use of affective strategies, which could be attributed to the different adaptation of


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the SILL. Other studies conducted in Greece with university students (PsaltouJoycey & Kantaridou, 2009) and adults (Kazamia, 2003) produced varied outcomes, which are probably due to the age difference, coupled with other factors such as personality, motivation, etc. of the participants. Upper elementary school children in Taiwan report they more frequently use compensation and affective strategies (Lan & Oxford, 2003), while ESL school-aged children in the USA reveal that their higher preference is for metacognitive strategies, followed by cognitive and social, and their lowest preference is for affective strategies (Ardasheva & Tretter, 2013). This variation could be interpreted as a general concern about their learning of a foreign language but also lack of knowledge as to how to best approach such learning in order to facilitate their efforts. The upper elementary school students in the present study use a wide range of strategies (memory, cognitive, social, affective, metacognitive), whereas the junior secondary school students only make more use of compensation strategies. Similar findings can be traced in other studies (Psaltou-Joycey & Sougari, 2010). In the upper elementary school context, students are concerned with accuracy. Upper elementary schooling and practices that are encouraged influence their preferred strategy use. These students are preoccupied with correct spelling and pronunciation. They want to be good learners, achieve learning outcomes, and please the teacher and their parents. In Vrettouâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s study (2011) upper elementary school learners also reported using the above enumerated strategies rather frequently. On the other hand, the participants in our study avoid reading English texts for pleasure due to their need for knowing all the words. What is more, guessing is avoided, which may be due to their insecurity and, obviously, their need to be encouraged by their teacher. Vrettouâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (2011) account of the least frequently used strategies by upper elementary school students also revealed low use of memory strategies and that they do not read for pleasure in English. The junior secondary school students in our study seem to be concerned about fluency in English. They make use of synonyms; they are not afraid of making mistakes; they are aware of their anxiety - what they believe proves helpful is translating into their L1. Mitits (2014) found the same preferences among Greek L1 secondary school EFL learners. This evidence reflects the fact that these students adopted other strategies, which is due to becoming more mature students and to understanding the intricacies of communication. They do not like to talk about how they feel during learning a foreign language; they avoid making summaries; they are not interested in learning about the English culture. Due to adolescence, students become more reluctant about sharing their feelings and thoughts. With regard to learning about the English culture, it becomes apparent that the use of


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English as an international means of communication is well understood. English culture is not tied up with the English people. All this implies that they rather learn English either as a school subject or because they want to be able to use it in order to communicate with foreigners in general and not exclusively with English native speakers, the latter being referred to as ‘international posture’ (Yashima, 2009). Again Greek L1 speakers in Mitits’ study (2014) reported a very similar pattern of the least preferred strategies. Coming to the third research question, the study has shown some interesting results. The students from Athens select strategies from the cognitive, metacognitive, affective and social categories more frequently when compared with other areas in the provinces. An interesting finding concerns the area of Ioannina, which is situated in the northwestern part of Greece, and is one of the most underprivileged areas, with a low-income population and a lot of unemployment problems (Balourdos, 2007; Kritikides, 2013). The students coming from this region, however, seem to employ more strategies than other provincial areas, as they select strategies from the memory, metacognitive, affective, and social categories, thus competing with the Athenian students. This finding needs to be further investigated as it may be related to these students’ efforts to seek better prospects in life and English may play a key-role for future work and education opportunities. The area, which seems to be behind all other areas in strategy use is Rodopi, in the northeastern part of Greece. The majority of the participants in the present pilot study from the Rodopi prefecture are L1 Turkish speakers who attend segregated schools for Muslim minority children in Thrace, where both Greek and Turkish are used as the medium of instruction, while English and Arabic are also taught. The students in these particular schools can generally be described as coming from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds and subtractive bilingual contexts (Lambert, 1977) and have the characteristics of dominant bilinguals (i.e. a term used for those who only master their L2 partially but who have native competence in their first language) (Baker, 1996). This is a possible explanation for the lowest use of strategies among those students. Mitits’ (2014) comparative study investigating strategy use of monolingual (Greek L1) and multilingual (other than Greek L1) EFL learners in Rodopi revealed that the multilinguals reported higher frequency of strategy use even in such an underprivileged learning environment. It is likely on account of the fact that the participants in her study attended mainstream state secondary schools and came from varied cultural and linguistic backgrounds, showing that social and situational contexts, together with the teaching/learning practices, can either help or deter the development of language learning strategies.


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7. Conclusion and suggestions for further research The overall strategy use and all the categories fall within the medium range of use and, as a result, both upper elementary and junior secondary school students in Greece should be offered systematic strategy instruction as part of their EFL courses. The focus should be on the strategy categories and individual items in an orchestrated manner to cater for the demands of different language tasks, while bearing in mind the different profiles of upper elementary and junior secondary school learners. Place of residence, which may be considered as partly reflecting the socioeconomic and cultural status of the general learning population, appears to influence the strategic profile of foreign language learners and needs further investigation. Further research could involve the administration of a similar questionnaire to a representative sample of upper elementary and junior secondary school EFL teachers with the aim to detect strategies that teachers promote, while teaching in order to identify matches and/or mismatches of strategy use between teachers and their learners. It should conclude with the publication of a handbook containing plans and proposals for the improvement of the teaching of English as a FL at school. As regards the last two suggestions, suffice is to say that they were among the aims of the THALES programme and (a) relevant research on EFL teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; reported strategy use as well as (b) a teacherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guide for strategy training have meanwhile taken place and been materialized.


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References Alexander, P. A., & Winne, P. H. (2006). Handbook of educational psychology (2nd ed). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Ardasheva, Y., & Tretter, T. R. (2013). Strategy inventory for language learning–ELL student form: Testing for factorial validity. Modern Language Journal, 97(2), 474–489. Baker, C. (1996). Foundations of bilingualism and bilingual education. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Balourdos, D. (2007). Ikonomiki anisotita, ftohia kai aposterisi: Ipiros, Ditiki Ellada, Peloponnisos. [Economic inequality, poverty and deprivation: Epirus, West Greece, Peloponnese]. In Epikera Themata 3/2007. Athens: ΙΝΚPΟ. [in Greek] Bialystok, E. (1981). The role of conscious strategies in second language proficiency. Modern Language Journal, 65, 24-35. Chamot, A. U, O’Malley, J. M., Kupper, L., & Impink-Hernandez, M. V. (1987). A study of learning strategies in foreign language instruction: First year report. Rosslyn, VA: InterAmerica Research Associates. Council of Europe (2001). The common European framework of reference for languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The psychology of the language learner. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Eun-Young, J., & Jiménez, R. T. (2011). A sociocultural perspective on second language learner strategies: Focus on the impact of social context. Theory into Practice, 50(2), 141-148. Flippo, R. F., & Caverly, D. C. (2008). Handbook of college reading and study strategy research. London: Routledge. Frangoudaki, A. (1985). Koinoniologia tis ekpaidefsis [Sociology of education]. Athina: Papazizi Publisher. [In Greek] Gavriilidou, Z., & Mitits, L. (in press). Adaptation of the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) for students aged 12-15 into Greek: a pilot study. Selected papers from the 21st international symposium on theoretical and applied linguistics (ISTAL 21). Gavriilidou, Z., & Psaltou-Joycey, A. (2009). Language learning strategies: An overview. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 25, 11-25. Green, J. M., & Oxford, R. L. (1995). A closer look at learning strategies, L2 proficiency, and gender. TESOL Quarterly, 29(2), 261-297. Griffiths, C. (2008). Teaching/learning method and good language learners. In C. Griffiths, (Ed.), Lessons from good language learners (pp. 255-297). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Holec, H. (1980). Learner training: meeting needs in self-directed learning. In H. B. Altman & C. Vaughan James (Eds), Foreign language learning: Meeting individual needs (pp. 30-45). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Katsikas, C., & Kavvadias, G.K. (2000). H anisotita stin elliniki ekpaidefsi [Inequality in Greek education]. Athens: Gutenberg. [in Greek] Kazamia, V. (2003). Language learning strategies of Greek adult learners of English (Vol. I & II). Unpublished PhD thesis. Department of Linguistics and Phonetics, School of Education. The Language Centre, University of Leeds. Kritikides, G. (2013). Apasxolisi kai anergeia 2008-2012 stis peripheries tis horas [Employment and unemployment 2008-2012 in the regions of the country]. In Enimerosi Vol. 207. Retrieved from http://www.inegsee.gr/ekdosi/enimerosi-teychos-207/ [in Greek] Lambert, W. (1977). The effects of bilingualism on the individual: cognitive and sociocultural consequences. In P. Hornby (Ed.), Bilingualism: Psychological, social and educational implications. (pp. 15–28). New York: Academic Press.


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Lan, R., & Oxford, R. L. (2003). Language learning strategy profiles of elementary school students in Taiwan. IRAL, 41, 339-379. Lee, K. R., & Oxford, R. L. (2008). Understanding ESL learners’ strategy use and strategy awareness. Asian EFL Journal, 10(1), 7-32. Macaro, E. (2001). Learning strategies in second and foreign language classrooms. London: Continuum. Mattheoudakis, M., & Alexiou, T. (2009). Early foreign language instruction in Greece: Socioeconomic factors and their effect on young learners’ language development. In M. Nikolov (Ed.), The age factor and early language learning (Studies on Language Acquisition) (pp. 227-251). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Mitits, L. (2014). Language learning strategy use by early adolescent monolingual EFL and multilingual EFL/ L2 Greek learners in the Greek educational context. Unpublished PhD thesis. Department of Greek Language, Democritus University of Thrace. Mizumoto, A. (2013). Effects of self-regulated vocabulary learning process on self-efficacy. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 7(3), 253-265. Mochizuki, A. (1999). Language learning strategies used by Japanese university students. RELC Journal, 30(2), 101-113. Naiman, N., Fröhlich, M., Stern, H.H., & Todesco, A. (1978). The good language learner. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. O’Malley, J. M., & Chamot, A. U. (1990). Learning strategies in second language acquisition. Cambridge University Press. Oxford, R. L. (1990). Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know. New York: Newbury House / Harper & Row. Boston: Heinle & Heinle. Oxford, R. L. (2011). Teaching and researching language learning strategies. Harlow: Pearson Education. Oxford, R. L., Lavine, R. Z., & Crookall, D. (1989). Language learning strategies, the communicative approach and their classroom implications. Foreign Language Annals, 22(1), 29-39. Peacock, M., & Ho, B. (2003). Student language learning strategies across eight disciplines. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 13(2), 179-200. Pedagogical Institute (2003). Diathematiko enieo plaisio programmaton spoudon gia tin ekpaidevsi (DEPPS) [Α cross thematic curriculum framework for compulsory education]. Government Gazette issue B, no 303/13-03-03. [in Greek] Petrogiannis, K., & Gavriilidou, Z. (2015). Strategy Inventory for Language Learning: findings of a validation study in Greece. In M. Carmo (Ed.), Education applications and developments (pp. 223-236). Lisbon: inScience Press. Politzer, R. (1983). An exploratory study of self-reported language learning behaviors and their relation to achievement. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 6, 54-65. Psaltou-Joycey, A. (2010). Language learning strategies in the foreign language classroom. Thessaloniki: University Studio Press. Psaltou-Joycey, A., & Kantaridou, Z. (2009). Foreign language learning strategy profiles of university students in Greece. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 25, 107-127. Psaltou-Joycey, A., & Sougari, A-M. (2010). Greek young learners’ perceptions about foreign language learning and teaching. In A. Psaltou-Joycey & M. Matthaioudakis (Eds.), Advances in research on language acquisition and teaching: Selected papers (pp. 387-401). Thessaloniki: Greek Applied Linguistics Association. Rao, Z. (2006). Understanding Chinese students’ use of language learning strategies from cultural and education perspectives. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 27(6), 491-508. Rubin, J. (1975). What the “Good Language Learner” can teach us. TESOL Quarterly, 9(1), 41-51.


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Stern, H. H. (1975). What can we learn from the good language learner? Canadian Modern Language Review, 31(4), 304â&#x20AC;&#x201C;318. Tyacke, M., & Mendelsohn, D. (1986). Student needs: Cognitive as well as communicative. TESL Canada Journal Special Issue, 1, 171-83. Vrettou, A. (2009). Language learning strategy employment of EFL Greek-speaking learners in junior high school. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 25, 85-106. Vrettou, A. (2011). Patterns of language learning strategy use by Greek-speaking young learners of English. Unpublished PhD thesis, Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Wharton, G. (2000). Language learning strategy use of bilingual foreign language learners in Singapore. Language Learning, 50(2), 203-244. Yang, M.-N. (2007). Language learning strategies for junior college students in Taiwan: Investigating ethnicity and proficiency. Asian EFL Journal, 9(2), 35-57. Yashima, T. (2009). International posture and the ideal L2 self in the Japanese EFL context. In Z. DĂśrnyei & E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and L2 self (pp. 144-164). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.


[42]

Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

Variables affecting choice of language learning strategies by Greek learners of English attending elementary school Penelope Kambakis-Vougiouklis Democritus University of Thrace pekavou@helit.duth.gr

Abstract This is a pilot study in which 603 children from schoolgrades 4th to 6th in Greece participated in a study aiming to to explore the differentiation of learning strategies use and preferences across grade and age (9 to 13 years), gender, and perceived proficiency in EFL learning. The analysis yielded that, in general, despite the fact that the frequency of use declined as students grow older, their strategy preferences remained the same. Students preferred using mostly metacognitive and affective strategies and compensation and memory strategies the least.The use of the memory strategies were found to decrease as learners get older. Female students reported higher strategy use than males, in all but memory and compensation strategies. Learning strategy frequency of use was found to relate positively to students' perceived language proficiency. It seems to be important that teachers involved should be informed and trained to exploit all potential of strategy use in the classroom environment as familiarising young learners with strategy use might contribute to better language learning. Keywords: learning strategy preferences, EFL, Greek, SILL, perceived, English proficiency 1. Introduction Since mid-seventies a roaring development in foreign language learning methodology has been going on. It is then when a somehow systematic access to the concept of language learning strategies (LLSs) was introduced originally by Rubin (1975) and Stern (1975), closely followed by Naiman, Frohlich, Stern and Todesco (1978). Later, Rubin (1981) classified strategies according to whether they are direct or indirect, and Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Malley, Chamot, Stewner, Kupper and Rocco (1985) divided them into cognitive, metacognitive, or social categories. In 1990, Oxford introduced the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Strategy Inventory for Language Learningâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (SILL), a questionnaire which has been


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used continually ever since. Towards the end of the 1990s, Cohen (1998) published his book on strategies for learning and using a second language. This research has provided useful insights concerning the processes engaged in language learning and has contributed positively to learner-focused language instruction (Psaltou-Joycey & Kantaridou, 2009a). In this line of research, foreign language strategies have been extensively studied in learning of various languages, mostly of English, and in different cultures and contexts. Most of the previous studies, however, have focused on adult learners, while fewer have been applied on school-aged children and early adolescents (e.g., Chen, 2009; Hu, Gu, Zhang, & Bai, 2009; Lan& Oxford,2003; Magogwe & Oliver, 2007; Vrettou, 2011). Given that foreign language learning often starts as soon as the first grades of elementary school, it is essential to investigate the learning strategies that students use at this school grade. This study aims at exploring the learning strategies that school-aged children use in learning English as a foreign language, and how strategy use is related to students’ age, gender and perceived proficiency of English language. 2. Research Background 2.1. Definitions of learning strategies O’Malley and Chamot defined learning strategies as “the special thoughts or behaviors that individuals use to help them comprehend, learn or retain new information” (1990:1) while Oxford (1999:518) as “specific actions, behaviours, steps or techniques that students use to improve their own progress in developing skills in a second or foreign language”. These strategies can facilitate the internalization, storage, retrieval, or use of the new language” (p. 518). On the other hand, Cohen (1998:4) maintained that:“Language learning and language use strategies can be defined as those processes which are consciously selected by learners and which may result in action taken to enhance the learning or use of a second or foreign language, through the storage, retention, recall, and application of information about that language.” More recently, Chamot (2005:112) claimed that “strategies are most often conscious and goal-driven especially in the beginning stages of tackling an unfamiliar language task. Once a learning strategy becomes familiar through repeated use, it may be used with some automaticity.” The development of those definitions reveals researchers’ attitudes towards strategy use instruction and the necessity of its incorporation in the school curriculum. 2.2. Factors affecting choice of language learning strategies


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

Research in English as a foreign language (EFL) revealed that learning strategy use and preferences depend on various learner characteristics such as their cultural background and nationality (Kamalizad & Samuel, 2014). Furthermore, different cultural groups use particular strategies at different levels of frequency or preference (Lee, 2010). However, it must be stressed that most of the conducted research concerned adult samples especially university students. In other words, age seems to be very important. For example, a number of findings concerning university students from various countries agree that metacognitive and compensation are included in the most frequently used categories of strategies, while memory strategies is the least frequently used in Taiwan (Chen, 2007;Chen & Jonas, 2009; Liu, 2013) and in Greece (Psaltou-Joycey &Kantaridou, 2009a). However, cognitive strategies have been found to be the most preferred category in Taiwan (Chen & Jonas, 2009; Sheu, 2009) and the least preferred category in Greece (Psaltou-Joycey &Kantaridou, 2009a). Social strategies were found to be the least preferred among Chinese and Japanese students (Noguchi, 1991). Overall, university students report medium to low frequency use of learning strategies (Liu, 2013; Chen & Jonas, 2009; Psaltou-Joycey &Kantaridou, 2009a). Concerning elementary school children, they tend to report medium or above medium-range use of learning strategies in most relevant studies (e.g., Lan & Oxford, 2003; Vrettou, 2011). Conversely, there is a lack of consensus regarding the learning strategies that school-aged children prefer across different countries and contexts. For example, elementary school children in Taiwan reported they prefer the compensation and affective strategies (Lan & Oxford, 2003), while Greekspeaking children of the 6th grade of upper elementary school reported using more frequently the metacognitive and the social strategies and less frequently the memory and the compensation strategies (Vrettou, 2011). Finally, a study with school-aged children in the USA that learn English as a second language yielded that the metacognitive strategies were the most highly preferred, followed by the cognitive, social, and affective strategies (Ardasheva & Tretter, 2013). Apparently, no solid conclusions can be drawn regarding strategy use of young learners since it highly depends on their cultural context. At the same time, no study has included a wide age range of students in order to determine how strategy use in EFL learning changes with proceeding age. Gender has always been an important factor influencing strategy use in learning EFL (Vrettou, 2011). Most research evidence shows a superiority of females, who seem to use a wider range of strategies than males, statistically significantly, too. This is true among university students (Green & Oxford, 1995; Kaylani, 1996;PsaltouJoycey &Kantaridou, 2009a) and younger learners (Lan& Oxford, 2003; Lee, 2003). In


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her study with 6th grade Greek children, Vrettou (2011) found that females exceeded males in their reported use of cognitive, metacognitive, affective, and social strategies. On the other hand, few studies report no statistically significant differences between male and female adults (Aliakbari & Hayatzadeh, 2008; Gavriilidou & Papanis, 2010; Kojima & Yoshikawa, 2004). Research onEnglish language proficiency has shown that frequent strategy use is associated with more efficient learning in first, second and foreign language (Ardasheva & Tretter, 2013; Lan & Oxford, 2003; Rao, 2012). More specifically, most of the studies examining the role of language proficiency in strategy use in EFL conclude that university students of the high level of language proficiency utilize a larger number of learning strategies, in greater frequency, and in different order of preference than the low level students (Chen, 2007; Lee,2003; Gavriilidou & Papanis, 2010; Psaltou-Joycey & Kantaridou, 2009a; Sheu, 2009; see Vrettou, 2011 for an extended review). Similar results were found when younger learners were examined (Lan& Oxford, 2003); for example, Vrettou (2009) reports that, among 15year old Greek students, beginners in EFL used strategies to a significantly lower degree than intermediate and advanced level students. Something that is really interesting is the fact that not only the actual but also the perceived level of language proficiency has the same association with strategy use, since actual and perceived rating of language proficiency is found to be closely related. Wong and Nunan (2011), for example, found that both high and low proficient learners give accurate self-ratings of their actual language ability. Similarly, findings from the EFL field indicate that perceived language proficiency and strategy use are closely related. Oxford and Nyikos (1989), exploring the relationship between language learnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; proficiency and their use of learning strategies, found that learnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; self-rating levels of language proficiency were closely linked to their use of strategies. Liu (2013), in the same line, reports that university students who perceived themselves as more proficient in English tend to apply learning strategies more frequently during the language acquisition process. Taking all these findings into consideration, Lee and Oxford (2008) conclude that self-rated proficiency is one of the strongest predictors of strategy use in EFL. 3. Purpose and rationale of the present study As it is obvious from the review so far, most of the existing studies of strategy use in learning EFL focused on adult learners, while few comprised school-aged children, for example Lan and Oxford (2003) and Vrettou(2011). Given that school-aged children differ in many aspects of learning and cognitive function compared to adults, we considered it crucial to study (a) their frequency of use and preferred learning strategies and (b) factors that may relate to them, such as grade level,


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

gender and English language learning proficiency. Our aim was to make teachers aware of the role certain individual characteristics of their students may play in the process of learning strategy use and help them optimize their teaching methods, strategies and materials. More specifically, the present study aimed, first, at investigating the frequency of use and preferences of the learning strategies that Greek elementary school students use as they learn EFL. Based on previous research, it is expected that Greek young students would opt for the metacognitive and the social strategies (Vrettou, 2011). Second, the study aimed at testing how perceived use of learning strategies of children change with proceeding age. Given that younger individuals usually overestimate their performance and skills (Vrettou, 2011), it is expected that students of lower school grades (compared to older students) would report more frequent use of all learning strategies. Also, in line with prior research findings, we expect that girlsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; self-reports of strategy use would outperform boysâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Even more so, we investigated the interaction between school-grade and gender, or, in other words, if any gender differences in strategy use identified in the whole sample would remain across grade levels, an issue never studied before. The relations between learning strategy use and perceived level of English language proficiency, is the next issue examined. We also investigated whether the use of each category of learning strategies varies among students of low, intermediate and high perceived level of English language proficiency. Prior research has emphasized the significant role of high language proficiency in learning strategy use; therefore, it was expected that significant differences would emerge among the three language proficiency levels of our sample. 4. Method 4.1 Participants The data of the present pilot study was collected from a total of 603 elementary school students, attending 4th, 5th and 6th grade, of elementary state schools, from regions of Northern Greece. Table 1 presents the sample distribution according to their grade. In the whole sample, there were 294 males (48%) and 307 females (52%); in each grade the two genders were almost equally represented. The age range of the sample was 9 to 12 years. Finally, very few students who did not report either their grade, gender or age were treated as missing values. Table 1 Description of participants in relation to their school grade and gender Grade 4

th

Male

Female 82

Total 96

178


Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

th

111

112

223

6

th

101

99

200

Total

294

307

601

5

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4.2 Research instruments The participants were administered an adapted version of the widely used instrument for the measurement of strategy use, namely the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) (Oxford, 1990). More specifically, the process followed to the adapted version was the following: First, a simplified translation of the SILL was prepared and administered to young learners in Komotini, to ensure that all items would be understood by students of all three grades (Gavriilidou & Mitits, in press). Second, two items (4 and 43) of the original SILL were not included (based on Vrettou, 2011), because the strategies they map could not be used or applied by Greek young learners. Consequently, in the present study, the SILL comprised 48 items grouped into six categories of learning strategies, which (as Cronbach α indicated) presented an adequate or satisfactory internal consistency: memory strategies (8 items, α= .65), cognitive strategies (14 items, α= .77), compensation strategies (6 items, α = .57), metacognitive strategies (9 items, α = .84) affective strategies (5 items, α = .64), and social strategies (6 items, α = .72). Respondents answered the items using a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (never or almost never true of me) to 5(always or almost always true of me). Compound variables were computed for each of the six categories to indicate how frequently participants use each of the learning strategies There were three background questions: school grade (4th – 6th), gender (M/F), perceived level of English language proficiency, that was determined by a question in which students were asked to rate their level of English in comparison to their classmates using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (low) to 5 (very good). 5. Results As far as school grade is concerned, Table 2 presents the means of the six categories of foreign LLSs tested by the SILL, both of the total sample and of specific grade levels. First, regarding total scores, it is evident that all strategies are moderately used by the students, according to their self-reports. As for their language learning strategy preferences, it is noticed that the most preferred category of strategies is the metacognitive closely followed by the affective. Then, in descending order, students marked their preference for the social and cognitive while memory and compensation strategies are the least preferred.


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

Grades Strategies

4th

5th

6th

Total sample

F

df

Partial η2

memory

2.89

2.87

2.69

2.82

5.392

2, 603

0.02

cognitive

3.10

3.18

3.14

3.15

0.881

2, 603

<0.01

compensation

2.52

2.50

2.57

2.53

0.423

2, 603

<0.01

metacognitive

3.64

3.67

3.50

3.61

2.525

2, 603

<0.01

affective

3.40

3.53

3.45

3.46

1.335

2, 603

<0.01

Social

3.26

3.36

3.18

3.27

2.647

2, 603

<0.01

Note. p< 0.05 Table1 Means and statistical indices of the learning strategy use across school grade (N=603) In order to investigate any individual differences in relation to students’ grade, a series of ANOVAs were run in which the dependent variables were the six strategy categories and the independent was the grade levels. As the ANOVA revealed (see Table 1), the 5th graders report the most frequent use of strategies of all three grades. A comparison between 4th and 6th grades revealed that 4th graders report higher frequency in memory and metacognitive strategies while 6th graders more often employ cognitive, affective and social. Yet, the differences are so negligible that could be attributed to statistical error. Concerning gender, ANOVA revealed that, in all learning strategies except for the compensation, female students reported significantly higher strategy use than male students. Table 2 Means and statistical indices of the learning strategy use across gender Gender Strategies

Male

Memory

2.79

2.85

cognitive

3.05

3.24

3.15

compensation

2.58

2.48

2.53

Female

Total 2.82

F

df

Partial η2

1.14

2, 603

< 0.01

2, 603

0.02

2, 603

<0.01

11.72 2.94


Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

metacognitive

3.41

3.79

3.61

37.86

2, 603

0.06

Affective

3.28

3.64

3.46

32.21

2, 603

0.06

social

3.17

3.37

3.27

10.70

2, 603

0.02

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Note. p< 0.05 Clearly, females score significantly higher than males in four strategy categories, namely [memory F(1.14) = 2.603, partial η2= .01, cognitive F(11,72) = 2.603, partial η2= .02, compensation F(2.94) = 2.603, partial η2= .01, social F(10.70) = 2.603, partial η2= .02. In the metacognitive and affective strategies, there is no significant effect of gender – partial η2=.06. The perceived level of English language proficiency is the third background question that was analysed. Table 3 Means and statistical indices of the learning strategy use across perceived language proficiency Proficiency level (perceived) Strategies

Low

Intermediate

High

Total sample

F

df

Partial η2

memory

2.50

2.73

3.04

2.82

22.32

2, 598

0.07

cognitive

2.73

3.08

3.36

3.15

25.55

2, 598

0.08

compensation

2.53

2.45

2.66

3.15

5.78

2, 598

0.02

metacognitive

3.02

3.52

3.90

3.61

33.99

2, 598

0.10

affective

3.04

3.39

3.69

3.47

17.78

2, 598

0.06

social

2.88

3.18

3.49

3.26

17.99

2, 598

0.06

Note. p< 0.05


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

The three groups forming the perceived proficiency level of students were compared in their use of learning strategies implementing an ANOVA. Results showed (see Table 3) that the students of the high proficiency level group reported higher use of all learning strategies compared to the students of the intermediate and the low proficiency level group. In turn, the students of the intermediate proficiency level group reported higher strategy use than the students of the low group. All three groups scored very low, actually the lowest, in compensation strategies. In relation to LLS preferences, it is interesting to note that students followed the same pattern in the order of preference for the high and the intermediate group, with the metacognitive strategies as the most preferred category, followed by affective, social, cognitive and memory; quite similar were the results for the low group, with a negligible swap between metacognitive and affective categories. 6. Discussion Although this is only a pilot study, the number of the participants can guarantee the credibility of certain results. We found that our Greek EFL elementary school participants, aged 9 to 12, reported moderate use of LLSs, a result which is common in most previous studies among young individuals (Lan & Oxford, 2003;Vrettou, 2011). In the following sections, we will discuss in detail our findings on students' strategy preferences as well as on how strategy use varies across school grades, gender, and levels of perceived English language proficiency. 6.1 Learning strategy preferences It seems that Greek students preferred using mostly metacognitive and affective strategies and least compensation and memory strategies. This evidence is partly in agreement with a previous study with Greek children of 6th grade (Vrettou, 2011), but varies in relation to findings from other cultures both of Western and of Asian countries (Ardasheva & Tretter, 2013; Chen, 2009; Lan & Oxford, 2003). Such findings might imply that culture is a very important factor in language learning strategy use. Besides, the current results obtained by school-aged children differentiate from those obtained by college students (Chen, 2007; Chen & Jonas, 2009; Liu, 2013; Psaltou-Joycey & Kantaridou, 2009a). Platsidou and Sipitanou (2015) suggest that language learning preferences vary across cultures and ages and it is impossible to draw reliable conclusions across time, even for the same culture as it seems that strategy preference is highly dependent on factors such as the learning context, the teaching methods and the personal characteristics and resources of the learners. However, they seem to believe that despite the fact that metacognition is largely under development in the elementary school years, metacognitive strategies are included among the most preferred ones across many cultures and ages. It seems


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that metacognition functions as an umbrella-ability that facilitates, or even enables, all other categories of strategies to be acknowledged, operated and consciously applied (Demetriou, Christou, Spanoudis, & Platsidou, 2002). 6.2 Grade levels and age Age differences in learning strategies use have not been widely and comprehensively studied. In general, existing findings showed that elementary school students, as a group, reported more frequent use of learning strategies compared to high school students (Psaltou-Joycey & Sougari, 2010). In the present study, the reported frequency of learning strategy use seems to change inversely with proceeding age in all categories except for the compensation strategies. Interestingly, strategy preferences remained the same in all age groups. The observed decrease of self-reports regarding strategy use from the 4th till the 9th school grade, as students grow older, might probably be due to the fact that cognitive maturity refines their metacognitive abilities and they become more experienced in rating and ranking themselves vis-a-vis their peers (Flavell, 1979). Moreover, the decline of the reported frequencyof strategy use identified in the current study probably continues till early adulthood, as testified by the moderate to low strategy use reported by university students (Liu, 2013; Chen & Jonas, 2009; Psaltou-Joycey & Kantaridou, 2009a). Although studies concerning older adults are scarce, no further decline in the frequency of strategy use seems to occur in the after-college years (Kazamia, 2010; Psaltou-Joycey & Kantaridou, 2009b). Additionally, one could take the risk assigning the younger studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; report of higher frequency of strategy use, possibly to the emphasis teachers might put on language strategies as they instruct their students to apply strategies in EFL learning. This instruction is more intense in the earlier school grades and expands not only to the foreign but also to the first or second language acquisition. As students become more experienced in the mechanisms and techniques that underlie or facilitate language learning, they integrate the use of learning strategies. Concerning compensation strategies, it was revealed that they do not follow the same pattern of change as did the other five categories. They were reported with the lowest frequency of use, compared to the other strategies, especially by the elementary school students. Consistent results were found in other studies of Western countries (Vrettou, 2011), while studies in Asian countries show that EFL high-school students use compensation strategies most frequently (Chen, 2009; Magno, 2010). Compensation strategies are generally reported to increase with age in most studies, nevertheless, Vougiouklis and Kambakis-Vougiouklis (2011) as well as Kambakis-Vougiouklis (2012) found that this strategy use is so inconsistent among university students that the term â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;problematicâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; could describe it quite accurately. In the current study, it seems that guessing is not a preferred or even


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

likable strategy in language learning, perhaps because it might cause some feeling of uncertainty. However, this changes as children are getting older. The correlation of compensation strategy use with age was found significant but positive, demonstrating that frequency of use of compensation strategies increased as students grew older. This indicates that learners become progressively more familiar with encountering and coping with uncertainty and more capable of using compensation strategies to overcome it (Al-Natour, 2012; Psaltou-Joycey & Kantaridou, 2009a; Yilmaz, 2010). 6.3 Gender Our findings are consistent with most of the findings referred to adults (Klamkhien, 2010; Liyanage & Bartlett,2012; Yilmaz, 2010). Female elementary school students reported higher strategy use than males, in all but the compensation strategies. In other words, they outperformed males as in similar studies. However, it still remains to be researched and argued whether this is attributed totheir more developed metacognitive ability or actual abilities, compared to males. Additionally, femalesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; more frequent use of social and affective strategies might reveal the idiosyncratic way that females approach life, relations and learning as Platsidou and Sipitanou (2015) point out. In the case of compensation strategies, however, even the younger female students were reluctant to rate themselves high because, actually, the use of this category of strategies is not frequently instructed or encouraged, especially at the elementary school grades. 6.4 Perceived English language proficiency Regarding perceived English language proficiency, it was found that the higher the language proficiency, the higher the learning strategy use, regardless the age factor. More specifically, all learning strategies correlated significantly with language proficiency, with the highest indices being noted between the metacognitive and the cognitive strategies, respectively, and the perceived language proficiency scores. Such results reinforce existing findings which showed that only the cognitive strategies showed significant correlations with students' language competence (Oxford & Ehrman, 1995), while others suggest that learners who make better use of their metacognitive strategies are those demonstrating higher competence in EFL (Nunan, 1991). In conclusion, it seems that the appropriate use of metacognitive and cognitive strategies relates more significantly with higher perceived language proficiency compared to the other learning strategies. When three groups of students were formed based on their perceived language proficiency score, it was found that they were statistically significantly


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differentiated in their frequency of strategy use, with the students of high perceived language proficiency reporting more frequent use of strategies than the students of medium language proficiency and the latter reporting more frequent use of strategies than those of low proficiency. This finding reinforces previous findings verifying that, similarly to the adult learners, the self-ratings carried out by the school children in our study as far as language proficiency is concerned, are closely linked to their use of strategies (Gavriilidou & Papanis, 2010; Gharbavi & Mousavi, 2012; Khamkhien, 2010; Lee, 2010; Lee & Oxford, 2008; Liu, 2013; Oxford & Nyikos, 1989; Vrettou, 2011). 7. Conclusions- pedagogical implications and further research The school aged students in our study were found to be reluctant in using compensation strategies in learning EFL. These strategies, considered to facilitate learning by enabling students to find alternative means to overcome gaps in linguistic knowledge (Oxford, 1990), seem to grow with age in our pilot study as reported in most previous studies. Also, no differentiation in frequency of the compensation strategies use was noticed between genders, as was found in the other five strategy categories. Regarding the relationship with grade level and gender, females consistently outperformed males in the reported strategy use, in all grade levels and categories except for the social one. Students' most preferred category of strategies was the metacognitive ones and least preferred was the memory. Finally, a significant relationship between strategy use and perceived level of English language proficiency was found, with high-level students using strategies more frequently than intermediate and low-level students. As expected, the more proficient the learners were, the better they performed in the task and chose the most appropriate language learning strategy to meet the test requirements. Despite differences in frequency of use and preference of learning strategies among different language proficiency levels, all learners can profit from learning how to use metacognitive strategies to support their learning efforts (Chamot, 2004). Actually, recent findings suggest that less-skilled learners benefit more from metacognitive instruction to develop listening comprehension (Bozorgian, 2014). Margolis (2001) suggests using compensation strategies in the form of miming games, definition activities (e.g., crossroad puzzles), seeking help, switching to first language, using circumlocutions, coining words, gesturing etc. Moreover, Platsidou and Sipitanou (2015) suggest that teachers may well be actively engaged in identifying potential new strategies to instruct their students explore and utilize, even in the early stages of the L2 learning.


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To conclude, as Chamot (2005) and Platsidou (2005) point out, strategy-based instruction is more effective when it is integrated as a part of the regular classroom curriculum. It is of vital importance, though, that teachers involved should be informed and trained to exploit all potential of strategy use in the classroom environment keeping in mind that by familiarizing young learners with strategy use they might contribute not only to better language learning but also to tackling problems in a strategic way in the long run. Nevertheless, in order to reach more reliable results a more generous sample is necessary. So the main study of our project will be based on a nationally representative sample of 10.000 students from both primary and secondary school.


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Oxford, R. L., &Ehrman, M. E. (1995). Adults’ language learning strategies in an intensive foreign language program in the United States. System, 23(3), 359-386.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0346251X(95)00023-D Oxford, R. L., & Nyikos, M. (1989).Variables affecting choice of language learning strategies by university students. The Modern Language Journal, 73(3), 291-300.http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.15404781.1989.tb06367.x Platsidou, M., & Sipitanou, A. (2015).Exploring relationships with grade level, gender and language proficiency in the foreign language learning strategy use of children and early adolescents. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning. Online ISSN: 2243-7762 Platsidou, M. (2005). Individual differences of adolescents perceived emotional intelligence. Scientific Annals of the Psychological Society of Northern Greece, 3, 249-270 [in Greek]. Psaltou-Joycey, A., &Kantaridou, Z. (2009a). Foreign language learning strategy profiles of university students in Greece. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 25, 107-127. Psaltou-Joycey, A., &Kantaridou, Z. (2009b).Plurilingualism, language learning strategy use and learning style preferences. The International Journal of Multilingualism, 6(4), 460474.http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14790710903254620 Psaltou-Joycey, A., &Sougari, A. (2010).Greek young learners’ perceptions about foreign language learning and teaching. In A. Psaltou-Joycey & M. Mattheoudaki (Eds.), Advances in research on language learning and teaching: Selected Papers (pp. 387-401). Thessaloniki: Greek Applied Linguistics Association. Rao, Z. (2012). Language learning strategies and English proficiency: interpretations from information-processing theory. The Language Learning Journal, 40, 117.http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09571736.2012.733886 Rubin, J. (1975). What the “good language learner” can teach us. TESOL Quarterly, 9(1), 41-45. Rubin, J. (1981). Study of cognitive processes in second language learning. Applied Linguistics, 2, 117131. Sheu, C.-M. (2009). An investigation into English learning strategies of ability-grouped freshman students in a national technological university. Studies in English Language and Literature, 23, 23-39. Stern, H. H. (1975). What can we learn from the good language learner? Canadian Modern Language Review, 34, 304-318. Vrettou, A. (2011). Patterns of language learning strategy use by Greek-speaking young Learners of English. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Thessaloniki: Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Vrettou, A. (2009). Language learning strategy employment of EFL Greek-speaking learners in junior high school. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 25, 85-106 Vougiouklis, T., & Kambakis-Vougiouklis, P.. (2011).On the use of the bar. China –USA Business Review, ISSN 1537-1514, June 2011, Vol 10(6), 484-489. Yilmaz, C. (2010). The relationship between language learning strategies, gender, proficiency and self-efficacy beliefs: A study of ELT learners in Turkey. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2, 682687.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.084 Wong, L. C., & Nunan, D. (2011).The learning styles and strategies of effective language learners. System, 39,144-163.


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

Factors affecting language learning strategy use by learners of English at Greek secondary schools: proficiency and motivation

Eleni Agathopoulou Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Abstract Previous research has shown that proficiency and motivation may importantly affect the use of language learning strategies. However, there are controversial findings across relevant studies, which calls for further research. In the current paper we report on results from a pilot study that involved 703 junior secondary school learners of English in Greece. Based on answers to a questionnaire that was an adaptation of Oxfordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (1990) Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL), we found that frequency of strategy use positively correlates with (a) perceived English language proficiency, (b) importance attributed to perfect use of English and (c) instrumental and integrative motivation. However the correlation of each of the above factors with strategy use was not statistically significant with respect to all types of strategies. This implies that learners may benefit from explicit instruction and repeated practice of certain strategies. Key words: language learning strategies, Greek junior secondary school learners, proficiency, integrative and instrumental motivation, EFL

1. Introduction: Literature review Language learning strategies (LLSs) may be affected by a multitude of factors, among which are proficiency and motivation. We will next briefly and selectively


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review research in this area (for extensive reviews see Griffiths, 2013; PsaltouJoycey, 2010). 1.1 Proficiency and strategies Victori and Tragant (2003) and Tragant and Victory (2012) have shown that more proficient junior secondary chool learners of EFL in Spain generally use strategies more frequently than less proficient ones and these findings have been replicated with secondary school EFL learners in Iran (Salahshour, Sharifi, & Salahshour, 2013) and in Greece (Kambakis-Vougiouklis, Mamoukari, Agathopoulou, & Alexiou, in press; Mitits, 2015; Platsidou & Sipitanou, 2014). Importantly, however, proficiency may often affect strategies selectively: learners of higher proficiency seem to employ more frequently cognitive, compensation, metacognitive and affective strategies (Lan & Oxford, 2003), metacognitive, social, cognitive and compensation strategies (Magogwe & Oliver, 2007), cognitive and metacognitive strategies (Cohen, 1998; Lai, 2009; Nisbet, Tindall, & Arroyo, 2005; Platsidou & Sipitanou, 2014) or only metacognitive strategies (Gavriilidou & Papanis, 2009; Vrettou, 2011). To add to this controversy, Tuncer (2009) found no effect of proficiency on metacognitive and affective strategies employed in EFL by university students in Turkey and some studies with junior school EFL learners revealed that compensation strategies were not affected by level of proficiency (Hong-Nam & Leavell 2006; Mitits, 2015; Platsidou & Sipitanou, 2014). In addition, studies that involved university students in Greece have reported a curvilinear relation between strategies and proficiency, namely, that intermediate EFL learners use strategies more frequently than low or advanced ones (Kazamia, 2003) and similar results were obtained in different contexts, as, for example, in Hong-Nam and Leavellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (2007) study with Korean and Korean-Chinese university students. 1.2 Importance attributed to speaking English perfectly and strategies Although the extent to which one wishes to become a perfect speaker of a language apparently expresses an aspect of motivation, following Wharton (2000) we investigated it as a separate factor. Whartonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (2000) study with university students learning foreign languages in Singapore showed that students who considered it important or very important to become proficient in the target language employed strategies more frequently than those who reported that they did not consider it so important. However, the correlation between the two variables was significant only with respect to affective and compensation strategies. Psaltou-Joycey (2003) investigated the discussed correlation with university students who studied English language and literature in Greece. Her findings showed that the vast majority of these students considered it very important to become highly proficient in English


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

and the rest of them considered it important, and that the former reportedly employed strategies more often than the latter and the positive correlation found in this respect was stronger with respect to cognitive and compensation strategies. More specifically, those who considered it very important to achieve high proficiency in English had a high mean of use of cognitive strategies and a medium one of compensation strategies. 1.3 Motivation and strategies According to Gardner and Lambert’s (1972) seminal distinction, motivation can be of two types: instrumental motivation, which reflects “the practical value and advantages of learning a new language” and integrative motivation, which reflects “a sincere and personal interest in the people and culture represented by the other group (Gardner & Lambert, 1972, p. 132; see also Gardner, 1985). However, while this definition of integrative motivation may be suitable in research involving bicultural and bilingual communities as in Canada, it may be rather unrealistic in different contexts. Thus, there has been a call for a definition that would reflect a weaker concept of integrativeness, given also that “ownership of English does not necessarily rest with a specific community of speakers” (Dornyei & Ushioda, 2009, pp. 2-3).3 The diverse results in language learning motivational research have demonstrated the importance of context. Findings from L1 English learners of French in Canada revealed a high correlation between integrative motivation and L2 proficiency, while another study in Philippines showed a high correlation between instrumental motivation and L2 English proficiency (Gardner & Lambert, 1972). The latter finding was replicated in other studies that concerned foreign language learning (for example, Muñoz & Tragant, 2001). Thus, although integrative motivation was initially suggested to be a stronger predictor for L2 success than instrumental motivation, ultimately it may depend on whether the focus is either on second or on foreign language learning. On the other hand, a study that involved 314 EFL learners in Greece aged 16-18 showed that although results from the motivation questionnaire yielded a higher score for instrumental rather than for integrative motivation, there were positive and significant correlations between both types of motivation and school grades (Nikolaou, 2010).

3

For this reason, in our study, items such as “I want to be able to communicate when travelling”, are

assumed to reflect integrative motivation (see section 2.2, Table 6).


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As motivation generally relates with deciding how to reach a goal (Dörnyei, 2001) and given that LLSs have been defined as “conscious actions” (Griffiths, 2013; Oxford, 2011), finding a correlation between motivation and strategies would be a commonsensical expectation. Indeed, motivation may be the strongest factor positively affecting strategy use, as attested by studies in various contexts: with primary school learners of EFL in Taiwan (Lan & Oxford, 2003) and with university students in North America (Ehrman & Oxford, 1989; Oxford & Nyikos, 1989), and Japan (Wharton, 2000). Similar findings have been reported by research that took place in Greece and involved, secondary school learners (Mitits, 2015; Vrettou, 2014) as well as primary school learners (Vrettou, 2009, 2011). However, the prevalence of the effect of motivation over other factors in strategy use has not been attested in other studies, such as the one by Psaltou-Joycey (2003). Also, in the studies with primary and secondary school learners in Greece mentioned above, statistically significant correlations were found between motivation and all types of strategies except compensation ones. Therefore, the effect of motivation on strategy use may be selective, as revealed in other studies too (Okada, Oxford & Abo, 1996; Oxford & Nyikos, 1989). As evidenced by the literature review, the effect of proficiency and motivation on strategies has been the object of much research over the last several years. Still, several issues remain controversial, which merits further research. 2. The present study The research questions of the present study were the following: 1. What is the relationship between reported frequency of strategy use and perceived level of English proficiency? 2. What is the relationship between reported frequency of strategy use and importance attributed to speaking English perfectly? 3. What is the relationship between reported frequency of strategy use and motivation to learn English? In view of previous research (see Section 1), we expected to find an overall positive correlation between frequency of strategy use and both level of English proficiency and motivation to learn English. However, we also expected to find selective effects, namely that the use of some strategies would correlate more highly with either of these variables. Also, assuming that the extent to which one wishes to speak the target language perfectly is also linked with motivation, we also hypothesized that there would be a positive correlation between strategy use and this variable.


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2. 1 Method Thorough descriptions of the method can be found in other articles of this volume.4 Here we will therefore repeat only some of the methodological facts we consider necessary for the reader’s convenience. The participants in this particular study were 703 junior secondary school learners of EFL in Greek state schools from 5 different prefectures in Greece. All learners were administered a recently adapted SILL questionnaire in Greek. The instrument consisted of 57 items relevant with how frequently the participants estimated that they used the various strategy types (9 items for memory, 17 for cognitive, 7 for compensation, 9 for metacognitive, 7 for affective and 8 social strategies). Of those, 33 belonged to direct and 24 to indirect strategies: memory, cognitive and compensation strategies, are assumed to be directly linked with the process of language learning, while the rest are linked with the management of language learning and are therefore classified as indirect strategies (Oxford, 1990:14-15). The learners were asked to state how often they employed each strategy by ticking one option out of a 5-point Likert scale: (1) I never or almost never do, (2) I rarely do, (3) I sometimes do, (4) I often do, and (5) I always do. The learners’ level of English language proficiency was estimated according to selfratings on a scale from 1 (=low) to 5 (=very good), using a 5-point response scale ranging from. However, given the low frequencies of answers to the first two choices (1 & 2), it was decided to limit the levels of this variable to three only, namely, ‘low’ for the response points 1-3 of the initial scale, ‘medium’ for response point 4 and ‘high’ for response point 5. Importance attributed to speaking English perfectly was estimated according to the students’ response to the question “How important is it for you to speak English perfectly?” with a 3-point scale was used herewith: “not much”, “important”, “very important”. In addition, motivation was measured via 14 questions of which 9 were considered as reflecting integrative motivation and 5 with instrumental motivation. The answers were coded as 0 or 1, depending on whether or not (respectively) the learners ticked the items they thought that applied in their case. 2.2 Results Initially, it should be mentioned that the learners’ mean use of strategies was found to be ‘medium’ level (see Oxford’s 1990 scale), ranging from 2.59 for memory to 3.29 For a full account of the questionnaire, as well as details about its construct validity and reliability see in the current volume the article by Gaviilidou and for more information about the participants see the article by Mitits, Psaltou & Sougari; also see Gavriilidou and Mitits (in press). 4


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for affective strategies (for more details see Mitits, Psaltou & Sougari, this volume). The analysis regarding the learners’ perceived level of English proficiency showed that the most frequent answer represented the ‘medium’ level (40%), while the least frequent one represented the ‘low’ proficiency level (29%). Last, 31% of the learners estimated that they belonged to the ‘high’ proficiency level (see Table 1). Table 1. Perceived level of English language proficiency (N=690*) N

%

Low

199

28,8

Medium

276

40

High

215

31,2

*Missing answers: 13 Results showed a positive correlation between proficiency and all types of strategies. Nevertheless, as Table 2 demonstrates, this interaction was significant only in the case of metacognitive strategies (p<0.001). Table 2. English proficiency and strategy use F

Sign.

Partial η2

Memory

1,976

0.139

.006

Cognitive

2,809

0.061

.006

Compensation

1,551

0.213

.006

Metacognitive

7,974

0.001

.024

Affective

1,510

0.222

.005

Social

0,357

0.681

.001

With regard to the second research question, results in Table 3 demonstrate that the vast majority of learners considered it “very important” or “important” to speak English perfectly. However, this variable seems to have a significant positive correlation with all but compensation strategies (Table 4 and Figure 1). Table 3. Importance attributed to perfect use of English (N=688*) N

%


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

Not so important

50

7

Important

220

32

Very important

418

61

*Missing answers: 15 Table 4. Importance attributed to speaking English perfectly and strategies df

F

Sign.

Partial Ρ2

Memory

2

46.32

0.000

0.119

Cognitive

2

63.87

0.000

0.157

Compensation

2

0.65

0.522

.002

Metacognitive

2

96.66

0.000

0.220

Affective

2

32.35

0.000

0.086

Social

2

55.13

0.000

0.139

Figure 1. Correlation between LLS use and importance attributed to speaking perfect English


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Before presenting the results regarding the relation between motivation and strategy use, which concerns our third research question, the descriptive information about the learners’ motivational profile is presented in Table 5 where the closer the values to 1.0 the stronger the tendency towards the particular motivational profile. (Recall that the learners had been asked to tick the ones that suited them and that each ticked box counted as 1, while the rest were counted as 0.) The mean obtained for integrative motivation is very similar to the mean for instrumental motivation, and a significant correlation was found between the two types of motivation (r=0.354, p<0.001). Table 5. The learners’ overall motivational profile Type of Motivation

N

Mean

SD

Integrative

476

0.53

0.22

Instrumental

494

0.58

0.22

In Table 6 we provide the means yielded for each of the fourteen items that concerned motivation. As it can be observed, the highest mean score (92.2) was found for one item in the category of instrumental motivation “I want to learn English because I’ll need to get a job”, followed by “I want to learn English because I want to be able to communicate when travelling.” (82.2), an item considered to express integrative motivation. These results are rather similar with the data obtained from a survey addressed to learners of various European countries, including Greece (see Euridice, 2012). Other items with comparatively high scores, namely more than 65, can be found in both motivation categories (items 1 and 14 had exactly the same means, as well as items 5 and 13). Table 6. The learners’ motivational profile (I want to learn English because…) Integrative motivation

Score

1.

I like the language.

68.3

2.

I’m interested in the English culture.

19.3

3.

I have English-speaking friends.

32

4.

I have English-speaking relatives.

29.7

5.

I want to live in another country in the future.

69.1

6.

I want to chat or play games online.

57.8


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

7.

I want to be able to sing songs in English.

59.5

8.

I want to be able to read books in English.

49.8

9.

I want to be able to communicate when travelling.

82.2

Instrumental motivation 10.

itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a compulsory school subject.

40.8

11.

Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll need it to get a job.

92.2

12.

to help my parents with their job.

20

13.

to get a certificate.

65.7

14.

to study abroad.

68.3

Positive correlations were found between both types of motivation (instrumental and integrative) and strategy use (Table 7). In other words, the higher the motivation, the more frequent the reported employment of strategies. This table also demonstrates that (a) both types of motivation have a significant effect on all strategy types except compensation ones and (b) all significant correlations between integrative motivation and strategy use are stronger than those between instrumental motivation and strategy use, with the strongest ones being between integrative motivation and metacognitive, cognitive and social strategies. Table 7. Motivation and strategy use Instrumental

Integrative

r

Sig. (2-tailed)

r

Sig. (2-tailed)

Memory

0.190

0.001

0.277

0.001

Cognitive

0.198

0.001

0.308

0.001

Compensation

0.071

0.061

0.031

0,405

Metacognitive

0.160

0.001

0.349

0.001

Affective

0.152

0.001

0.190

0.001

Social

0.112

0.003

0.305

0.001


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Last, a significant correlation was found between perceived language proficiency and both integrative and instrumental motivation (rs(690) = .130, p< .001 and rs(690) = .247, p< .000, respectively) A final point that should be mentioned herewith is that that despite the significant effects, the effect size concerning the impact of English proficiency on metacognitive strategies was small (partial η2=.024, see Table 2) and so were all of the effect sizes concerning the association between the importance attributed to perfect use of English and strategy use, with a partial η2 ranging from 0.086 to 0.220 (see Table 4). Also, as Table 6 reveals, in the attested significant effects of instrumental motivation on strategy use, all correlations were weak with r ranging from 0.112 to 0.198, and so were the correlations between integrative motivation and both affective (r= 0.277) and memory strategies (r= 0.190). On the other hand, the correlations between integrative motivation and cognitive, metacognitive and social strategies were medium (0.308, 0.349 and 0.305, respectively). Given that effect size is considered important concerning how large is the association between the target variables of the study (for example, Larson-Hall, 2010:214), the current results should be treated with caution. 3. Discussion Our first research question aimed to examine the relationship between perceived level of English proficiency and reported frequency of strategy use. Results showed a positive correlation between the two variables but this correlation was statistically significant only regarding metacognitive strategies. This finding is in keeping with evidence from relevant research in Greece (Gavriilidou & Papanis, 2009; Platsidou & Sipitanou, 2014; Vrettou, 2011). Explanations offered for such a finding are based on data demonstrating that more advanced learners are better than less advanced ones at planning and monitoring their learning, at using input features and at self-evaluation, all of which relate with metacognition (see Gavriilidou & Papanis, 2009:227-228 and references therein). In fact, our data support the above explanation. Four out of the ten most favored strategies were metacognitive ones and for all four of these strategies the number of learners of medium and high proficiency that reported using them ‘always’ was in all cases larger than that of the low proficiency learners. We refer to the following strategies: (1) I pay attention when someone is speaking English, (2) I notice my English mistakes and use that information to help me do better, (3) I try to find out how to be a better learner of English, and (4) I have clear goals for improving my English skills (see also Mitits et al. in the present volume).


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However, other studies, such as Magogwe and Oliver’s (2007) with secondary school learners of EFL in Botswana have shown that more proficient learners preferred not only metacognitive but also social, cognitive and compensation strategies more so than their low proficiency peers. Leaving aside other methodological differences across studies, the discrepancy between studies such as the latter mentioned one and those from Greece with children and teenagers may be attributed to the cultural and educational context. Psaltou, Sougari, Agathopoulou, and Alexiou (2014) found that some of the most favored strategies reportedly employed by young teenagers in Greece corresponded with strategies that were explicitly mentioned in their coursebooks. Now since proficiency usually depends on the hours of language lessons one has received5, it is possible that the more the learners are exposed to English classes, the more their strategies are influenced by the strategies promoted in their books and, presumably, by their teachers. Therefore, the orientation of EFL teaching may at least partly explain differences in findings regarding strategy use between, on the one hand, studies concerning children and teenagers in Greece and, on the other hand, studies elsewhere. Of course this is a speculation that needs to be tested empirically. Our second research question inquired into how importance attributed to speaking English perfectly correlates with frequency of strategy use. We found that this correlation was positive and significant with respect to all types of strategies except those reflecting compensation. As already shown in the results section, learners who attributed low, medium and high importance to perfect use of English all reported use of compensation strategies almost to the same degree. This finding contrasts with evidence from previous studies where importance attributed to acquiring high proficiency in English was significantly correlated with compensation strategies (Psaltou-Joycey, 2003; Wharton, 2000). It should be mentioned, however, that ‘high proficiency’ involves all four main skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing), while the wish to speak English perfectly obviously pertains to oral skills only. Thus, a comparison between our study and the previous ones in this area cannot be straightforward. On the other hand, we can assume that to realize how important compensation strategies are in becoming proficient in oral English relates with experience of communication in English. The university students in Wharton’s study and perhaps even more the students of English language and literature in Psaltou-Joycey’s study had had more chances to

In Greece, besides learning English at school, many children and adolescents also attend private language institutes and therefore there are differences regarding the amount of exposure to EFL classes and, consequently, English language proficiency among learners in the same grade at school (eö, Mattheoudakis, & Zigrika, 2010). 5


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communicate in English, hence they appreciated more the role of compensation strategies in the development of high English proficiency. Another possible explanation is that our results are due to a methodological artifact. Specifically, of the 6 questionnaire items concerning compensation strategies one (“When I read in English I do not look up every unknown word”) may be considered irrelevant with speaking. In addition, another item (“When I cannot remember an English word I use another synonymous word or phrase”) may be construed as overlapping either with both speaking and writing activities or only with the latter. However, all of the above are speculations and clearly more research is needed to understand the correlation between the two variables discussed here. In regard with our third research question, results showed that both types of motivation (integrative and instrumental) had a significant positive correlation with the reported frequency of all strategy types, except compensation ones, where only a near-significant correlation was attested. The resemblance of these results with those relevant with our second research question should not be surprising, given that, as already mentioned, the second research question investigated in fact an aspect of motivation on strategy use. The current evidence is in disagreement with findings attested in studies carried out in different contexts but replicate those previously attested in studies involving child and adolescent EFL learners in Greece (see Introduction). For a potential explanation concerning the lack of correlation between motivation and compensation strategies among Greek EFL adolescents, we will venture the following hypothesis. While since 1983 the Greek national curricula concerning EFL6 have supported the communicative approach to language teaching (Chryshochoos & Chourdaki, 2005), according to the present author’s experience as an EFL teacher but also as a mentor of teacher trainees in Greek state schools, EFL in Greece seems to focus more on grammatical accuracy and language usage, instead of language use. Moreover, as found by Dendrinos, Zouganelli, and Karavas (2013:74-75), while Greek EFL teachers consider speaking and listening important skills, they give priority to reading comprehension and, in addition, during English classes the interaction between teachers and learners often occurs in Greek, not in English. Given that compensation strategies are the most relevant ones with communication skills (Dörnyei & Skehan, 2003:608), because of the above reasons, the learners may not have often the chance to employ compensation strategies very often or may not feel that these strategies are very useful (Cummins, 2000). Our point is that more and meaningful communication in the target language in class might foster a stronger 6

For the most recent curriculum, see http://www.pi-schools.gr/programs/depps/


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

relation between motivation to learn English and the use of compensation strategies7. 4. Conclusion Our results regarding the effect of proficiency and motivation on strategy use to a large extent comply with previous relevant studies in Greece but differ from other international studies. Such similarities or differences across studies may be due to many factors, like context, types of questionnaires, and how the learnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; motivation and level of proficiency were estimated. An important issue raised by previous researchers is the causal relation between the investigated factors and strategy use. For example, do certain learners become more proficient because they use strategies more often than others, or does attainment of higher language proficiency lead to more frequent use of strategies? (Griffiths, 2003). The same question may apply to the relation between motivation and strategies: It is generally assumed that students who are more motivated than others may exhibit more frequent use of strategies. It is also possible, however, that the more learners are encouraged to use strategies, the more motivated they may become in language learning, provided of course that they find these strategies useful (Oxford, Park-Oh, Ito, & Sumrall, 1993). Still, these issues remain largely unresolved and cannot be addressed in the present study. Given the beneficial effect of strategy instruction (e.g. Griffiths, 2013; Oxford, 2011), the current results point to the need for pedagogical interventions to foster strategy use at all levels of language proficiency, since even the two strategy types (metacogitive and cognitive) employed significantly more by high-proficient rather than low-proficient learners, were ranged in a medium level. Moreover, it seems that explicit strategy instruction may enhance the learnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; motivation in relation to strategy use (Nunan, 1998:172). According to some researchers, communication strategies, which are relevant with compensation strategies may also benefit from instruction (e.g. DĂśrnyei, 1995). In view of our results, teachers may try to motivate learners into employing compensation strategies more often. For example, after the teacher discusses the importance of being able to compensate for words or phrases we cannot express As previously mentioned, a large number of EFL learners in Greece also attend private language institutes. Although we are not aware of studies regarding EFL teaching approaches in these institutes, given that the courses offered there are mostly, if not exclusively, exam-oriented, we may assume that these courses are not more communicatively oriented than the EFL course offered at the Greek state schools. 7


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through gestures, s/he may introduce activities that include gesture games and charades8,9 Last, a lengthy review of materials as well as suggestions relevant with teaching learners how to use strategies to compensate for gaps between what they need to communicate and their current knowledge in the target language, can be found in Faucette (2001).

8

For steps in strategy instruction, see Cohen and Weaver (2006). 9 A good online source with lists of ‘easy’, ‘medium’ etc. words to act out, can be found at https://www.thegamegal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Charades-Easy.pdf


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References Angouri, J., Mattheoudakis, M., & Zigrika, M. (2010). Then how will they get the 'much-wanted paper'?: A multifaceted study of English as a foreign language in Greece. A multifaceted study of English as a foreign language in Greece. In A. Psaltou-Joycey & M. Mattheoudakis (Eds.), Advances in research on language acquisition and teaching: Selected papers. Proceedings of the 14th International Conference of the Greek Applied Linguistics Association (pp. 179-194). Thessaloniki: GALA. Retrieved from http://www.enl.auth.gr/gala/14th/Papers/English%20papers/Mattheoudakis&Angouri&Zigrika. pdf Chryshochoos, J., & Chourdaki, R. (2005). The Greek educational system: A brief description. Athens: The Greek Ministry Of Education and Religious Affairs. Cohen, A. D. (1998). Strategies in learning and using a second language. London: Longman. Cohen, A. D., & Weaver, S. J. (2006). Styles and strategies-based instruction: A teachers’ guide. Minneapolis, MN: Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, University of Minnesota. Retrieved from http://www.anthonyteacher.com/teachingbooks/styles%20and%20strategies%20based%20instru ction.pdf Dendrinos, B., Karavas, E., & Zouganelli, K. (2013). European survey of language competences: Greek national report. RcEL Publications. University of Athens. Dörnyei, Z. & Ushioda, E. (2009). Motivation, language identity and the L2 self: A theoretical overview. In Z. Dörnyei & E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp. 1-8). Bristol/NY/Ontario: Multilingual Matters. Dörnyei, Z. (1995). On the teachability of communication strategies. TESOL Quarterly, 29, 55-85. Dörnyei, Z. (2001). Motivational strategies in the language classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dörnyei, Z., & Skehan, P. (2003). Individual differences in second language learning. In C. J. Doughty & M. H. Long (Eds.), The handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 589-630). Oxford: Blackwell. Ehrman M., & R. L. Oxford (1989). Effects of sex differences, career choice, and psychological type on adult language learning strategies. The Modern Language Journal 72, 253-265. Eurydice, (2012). Key data on teaching languages at school in Europe. Brussels: Education, audiovisual and culture executive agency. Retrieved from: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/documents/key_data_series/143en.pdf Faucette, P. (2001). A pedagogical perspective on communication strategies: Benefits of training and an analysis of English language teaching materials. Second Language Studies, 19, 1-40. Gardner, R. C. (1985). Social psychology and second language learning: The roles of attitudes and motivation. London: Edward Arnold. Gardner, R. C. & Lambert, W. E. (1972). Attitudes and motivation in second-language learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House Publishers.


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Gavriilidou Z., & Mitits, L. (in press). Translation and cultural adaptation of the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) into Greek. In M. Mattheoudakis & K. Nicolaidis (Eds.), Selected Papers from the 21st International Symposium on Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (ISTAL21). Thessaloniki: Prothiki, Aristotle University. Gavriilidou, Z., & Papanis, A. (2009). The effect of strategy instruction on strategy use by Muslim pupils learning English as a second language. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 25, 47-63. Griffiths, C. (2003). Patterns of language learning strategy use. System, 31, 367-383. Griffiths, C. (2013). The strategy factor in successful language learning. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Hong-Nam, K., & A. G. Leavell (2007). A comparative study of language learning strategy use in an EFL context: Monolingual Korean and bilingual Korean-Chinese university students. Asia Pacific Education Review, 18, 71-88. Kambakis-Vougiouklis, P., Mamoukari, P., Agathopoulou, E., & Alexiou, T. (in press). Oral application of the SILL questionnaire using the bar for frequency and evaluation of strategy use. In M. Mattheoudakis & K. Nicolaidis (Eds.), Selected Papers from the 21st International Symposium on Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (ISTAL21). Thessaloniki: Prothiki, Aristotle University. Kazamia, V. (2003). Language learning strategies of Greek adult learners of English Unpublished PhD dissertation. The University of Leeds, UK. Lai, Y. C. (2009). Language learning strategy use and English proficiency of university freshmen in Taiwan. TESOL Quarterly, 43, 255-280. Lan, R., & Oxford, R. L. (2003). Language learning strategy profiles of elementary school students in Taiwan. IRAL, 41, 339-379. Larson-Hall, J. (2010). A guide to doing statistics in second language research using SPSS. New York: Routledge. Magogwe, J. M., & Oliver, R. (2007). The relationship between language learning atrategies, proficiency, age and self-efficacy beliefs: A study of language learners in Botswana. System, 35, 338-352. Mitits, L. (2015). Language Learning Strategies and Multilingualism. Monolingual EFL and Multilingual EFL/L2 Greek Learners in Greek Secondary Education. Kavala, Greece: Saita publications. Mu単oz, C., & Tragant, E. (2001). Motivation and attitudes towards L2: Some effects of age and instruction. In S. Forster-Cohen & A. Nizegorodcew (Eds.), EUROSLA Yearbook 1 ( pp. 211-224). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. Nikolaou, A. 2010. Attitudes and motivation of Greek secondary pupils toward learning English. In A. Psaltou-Joycey & M. Mattheoudakis (Eds.), Advances in research on language acquisition and teaching: selected papers (pp. 349-361). Thessaloniki: Greek Applied Linguistics Association. Retrieved from http://www.enl.auth.gr/gala/14th/Papers/English%20papers/Nikolaou.pdf Nisbet, D. L., Tindall, E. R., & Arroyo, A. A. (2005). Language learning strategies and English proficiency of Chinese university students. Foreign Language Annals, 38, 100-107. Nunan, D. (1998). Second language teaching and learning. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.


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Okada, M., Oxford, R. L. & Abo, S. (1996). Not all alike: Motivation and learning strategies among students of Japanese and Spanish in an exploratory study. In R. L. Oxford (Ed.), Language learning motivation: Pathways to the new century (pp. 105-119). Manoa, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press. Oxford, R. L. (1990). Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know. New York: Newbury House / Harper & Row. Now Boston: Heinle & Heine. Oxford, R. L. (2011). Teaching and researching language learning strategies. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education. Oxford, R. L., & Nyikos, M. (1989). Variables affecting choice of language learning strategies by university students. The Modern Language Journal, 73, 291- 300. Oxford, R., Park-Oh, Y., Ito, S. & Sumrall, M. (1993). Learning a language by satellite television: What influences student achievement? System, 21(1), 31-48. Platsidou, M., & Sipitanou, A. (2014). Exploring relationships with grade level, gender and language proficiency in the foreign language learning strategy use of children and early adolescents. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning, 4, 83-96. Psaltou-Joycey, A. (2003). Strategy use by Greek university students of English. In E. MelaAthanasopoulou (Ed), Selected Papers on Theoretical and Applied Linguistics of the 15th International Symposium of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (pp. 591-601). School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Psaltou-Joycey, A. (2010). Language learning strategies in the foreign language classroom. Thessaloniki: University Studio Press. Psaltou-Joycey, A., Sougari A. M., Agathopoulou, E., & Alexiou, T. (2014). Use of strategies by Greek EFL learners. Paper presented at the Early Language Learning 2014 conference (ELL 2014). 12-14 June, UMEA University, Sweden. Salahshour, F., Sharifi, M. & Salahshour, N. 2013. The relationship between language learning strategy use, language proficiency level and learner gender. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 70, 634-643. Tragant, E., & Victori, M. (2012). Language learning strategies, course grades, and age in EFL secondary school learners. Language Awareness, 2, 293-308. Tuncer, U. (2009). How do monolingual and bilingual language learners differ in use of learning strategies while learning a foreign language? Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1, 852â&#x20AC;&#x201C;856. Victori, M., & Tragant, E. (2003). Learner strategies: A cross-sectional and longitudinal study of primary and high-school students. In M.P. Garcia Mayo & M.L. Garcia Lecumberri (Eds.), Age and the acquisition of English as a foreign language (pp. 182â&#x20AC;&#x201C;209). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Vrettou, A. (2009). Language learning strategy employment of EFL Greek-speaking learners in junior high school. Journal of Applied Linguistics 25, 85-106. Vrettou, A. (2011). Patterns of language learning strategy use by Greek-speaking young Learners of English. Unpublished PhD thesis, Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.


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Vrettou, A. (2014). Language Learning Strategy Use by Elementary School Students of English in Greece. In N. Lavidas, T. Alexiou, & A.-M. Sougari (Eds.), Major trends in theoretical and applied linguistics: Selected papers from the 20th ISTAL (pp. 407-429). London: Versita Ltd. Vrettou, A. (2015) Strategic age- and motivation- related preferences in Greek state elementary and junior high schools. Research Papers in Language Teaching and Learning, 6(1), 35â&#x20AC;?54. Wharton, G. (2000). Language learning strategy use of bilingual foreign language learners in Singapore. Language Learning, 50(2), 203-244.


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Gender and age impact on language learning strategy use: A study of Greek EFL learners

Vassilia Kazamia Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Abstract Possible gender effects on the use of language learning strategies (LLS) have included studies with various participants, such as native speakers of English learning a foreign language as well as learners of English as a second or foreign language. The present study focuses on the interactions among gender, age and use of LLS by learners of English who attend junior secondary schools in Greece. Results indicate specific patterns of strategy use which differentiate not only between boys and girls but also among the age levels. Research findings are related to English language curricula as well as course books designed for Greek state junior secondary schools in order to present pedagogical implications. Keywords: Language learning strategies, Greek EFL learners, curricula, Junior Secondary School English course books 1. Introduction Since the beginning of LLS research more than thirty years ago, research has explored individual differences in EFL strategy use, such as age and gender among others, in an attempt to uncover patterns which might shed light on the way strategies are employed by learners hoping thus to find ways that might answer the question â&#x20AC;&#x153;how can one learn English effectively?â&#x20AC;? (Ehrman & Oxford, 1989; Griffiths, 2008; Oxford, 1993a; Oxford & Nyikos, 1989; Politzer, 1983; Rubin 1975, Willing 1988). Such a question is further supported by the claim that use of LLSs can counterbalance a learning process which is ineffective because of other factors. As Oxford and Rang Lee (2008) suggest: Teachers must understand the crucial roots of language learning, such as age, gender, personality, and aptitude. It is especially important for teachers to remember that a slightly lower aptitude can be balanced by strong motivation and positive use of strategies. (p. 312) Adopting this stance as a starting point, this paper aims to explore whether the strategy use of Greek junior secondary school students is related to their age and/or gender. It will present a brief literature review on relevant research with particular


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focus on Greek context studies. Furthermore it will outline how LLSs are incorporated in curricula as well as in currently taught course books in order to illustrate the official policy on LLSs and link this with the present research results. 2. Literature review Language learning strategies are generally regarded as facilitative actions which contribute to one’s learning. As Oxford states (1990, p.8) they are “…operations employed by the learner to aid the acquisition, storage, retrieval and use of information” while Griffiths relates them to learners’ autonomy since she defines them as “activities consciously chosen by learners for the purpose of regulating their own language learning” (2008, p. 87). 2.1. Gender and strategy use Gender is generally classified under individual differences (Nyikos, 1990; Macaro, 2006), while Ellis (1994) attributes to gender a social element since it is presented as a social nature factor. Gender, although commonly understood as the state of being male or female, also denotes cultural or social differences (New Oxford Dictionary of English). Therefore the values, habits or educational principles adopted by society might have some impact on the way women and men manipulate knowledge when they use language learning strategies. In fact, Nyikos (2008) combines biological research studies with her interpretation of strategy differences between males and females by reporting research which presents neurological and hormonal differences in the brains of males and females (Legato, 2005; Tyre, 2005 as cited in Nyikos, 2008). Cerebral differences were also mentioned much earlier by ZoubirShaw and Oxford (1994) who stated that there are differences in brain lateralization/hemispherisity between males and females. Another reason for the difference in strategy use between males and females is attributed to socialization factors which affect the way men and women process similar information. Therefore any differences in the selection of strategies may be explained by the way people were nurtured to operate in society (Nyikos, 1990). Many studies have been conducted exploring the relation of gender on the strategy use of EFL or ESL learners (Bedell, 1993; Chang 1990; Dreyer, 1992; Green, 1991; Green & Oxford, 1993; Noguchi, 1991) where females demonstrated greater strategy use than males. However, there are some studies that concluded the opposite; in the studies conducted by Tran (1988), Wharton (2000) and Tercanlioglu (2004) males surpassed females. Generally, researchers are reluctant to state definitely that women are more frequent strategy users.


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...strategy use often differs by gender-but not always. Females typically seem to report more strategy use than males in many different cultures and with many different target languages. (Oxford, 1996, p. 247). Unfortunately we cannot identify a pattern of strategy use that is consistent across cultures. However, the Greek context studies (see Appendix 1) indicate that gender differences exist in Greek population. All studies uncovered a statistically significant relation between the use of strategy categories or specific strategy items and gender while in six of the seven studies illustrated, women outperformed men in the frequency of strategy use. Moreover, this pattern occurs in all age groups, whether the learners are young adolescents or adults. Consequently, this conclusion seems to follow the general tendency discerned in studies with non-Greek research participants (reported earlier) that females outscore in the frequency of strategy use indicating that Greek learners do not perform differently in these learning processes. 2.2. Age and strategy use Age, the second factor examined in this paper, is interwoven with a learnerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s personality. Age has been one of the principal areas in LLS research since it is important to uncover if and how strategy use differentiates when learners mature. Wong-Fillmore (1979) examined Mexican children, Brown, Bransford, Ferrara and Campione (1983) compared children versus adolescent strategy use, Griffiths (2003) investigated a wide range of ages, namely learners as young as 14 years up to as old as 64 years, Peacock and Ho (2003) focused on students aged 23-39 years, Victori and Tragant (2003) had a sample of age groups of 10 years, 14 years and 17 years old and lately Chen (2014) examined learners of three age groups 10-12, 13-15, 20-22 years old. Studies examining age impact on Greek EFL learners are not many. Kazamia (2003) did not identify any statistically significant relation between age and LLS use in adult population (age range 30-46). Contrary to this is the finding of PsaltouJoycey and Sougari (2010) who compared the strategy use of 10 (upper elementary school students) and 14 year olds (junior secondary school students) and came to the conclusion that cognitive, memory, metacognitive, affective and social strategy groups are related to younger learners inferring thus that upper elementary school students demonstrated more frequent use of LLS. Mitits (2014) researched 12-15 year old EFL learners and found that younger learners use more cognitive and memory strategies while older participants employed more affective and compensation strategies. More frequent selection of compensation strategies by the oldest group of learners (aged 16) was traced in Platsidou and Sipitanou (2015) as opposed to less frequent selection of memory cognitive metacognitive social and affective LLS.


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Although the studies outlined do not form a clear pattern, they do present that age could have an impact on strategy use; yet this does not appear to be linear, namely the older the learner the more strategies s/he uses. In any case, age and gender are considered as parts of learner identity which according to Griffiths et al. (2014) can be “influenced by the context in which the learner is situated” (p.51). Therefore it is considered useful to present some elements of the foreign language policy in Greece with particular reference to English, as well as curricula parts in order to depict features of the Greek context. 3. English in full time compulsory education in Greece In Greece, foreign language instruction is introduced as a compulsory subject at the age of eight while reforms to lower starting age (6 years) are being piloted. 96.1% of pupils in primary education learn English while this percentage decreases in lower secondary education where 80% of pupils study English (Eurydice, 2012). Nevertheless the rate of learners of English is still high, if we consider the fact that the remaining 20% opt for German, French and Italian in total. These figures align with other countries of the European Union and led the authors of the Eurydice report to conclude that there is “… a growing tendency in Europe to compel students to learn English” (Eurydice, 2012, p.48). In the same report, very interesting data regarding the motivation of Greek learners of English reveal that they consider English useful for their future work (95.7%) and even more when it concerns finding a good job (98.3%), while it is also important for their future education (97.1%) and even for their personal life (79.1%). These percentages are among the highest in the European Union report and suggest that Greek pupils consider English as a very useful foreign language. Considering the value Greeks attribute to English as well as the facilitative nature of LLS that can assist them in learning more effectively it is regarded necessary to examine if LLS are officially promoted by the existing curricula. The curriculum currently followed for the teaching of English is The Cross Thematic Curriculum Framework for Compulsory Education and it was authored by the Pedagogical Institute (2003) and issued by the Greek Ministry of Education (Government Gazette 304B/ 13-03-2003). It applies for primary and secondary education and it addresses LLS explicitly in three sections: a) in the Analytic Programme of study of English where LLS are mentioned as skills that should be developed by students in the context of foreign language literacy, multilingualism and multiculturalism (p. 4087); b) in the elementary school cycle where the aims underlying LLS are stated along with indicative topics and activities (p. 4097);


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c) in the junior secondary school cycle where they are stated in the same manner as in (b), namely LLS along with indicative topics and activities (p. 4108). English is also taught in senior secondary school so the relevant curriculum titled as Programme of Study for English in Senior Secondary School published in Government Gazette 1888b/11-10-1999 (p. 24166) states that LLS should be further developed by learners so that students are able to perform in communication situations as well as gain greater autonomy in learning and use them as a tool for constant knowledge acquisition throughout their adulthood. Therefore, the official policy on English language teaching for state schools, views LLS as an important skill that learners should be familiarized with, practice during school years and transfer this to any learning activities later on. This implies that teachers who are the implementers of curricula aims should promote LLS in class not to mention the fact that the teaching materials, namely the course books, should also support teachers’ endeavor. In line with the curriculum tenets, the course books for the teaching of English in state primary and junior secondary schools have incorporated LLS. As PsaltouJoycey (2014) reports, LLS are either implicitly embedded as it happens in The Magic Book series for 3rd grade, primary education or explicitly as it occurs in The ‘Think Teen!’ English course book series for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades, Junior Secondary School. In particular the Think Teen! series, which are the course books designed for and used by the participants of the current study, feature LLS either as: i) part of the self-assessment page which concludes each Unit (see Think Teen! 1st grade of Junior High School student’s books and Think Teen! 2nd grade of Junior High School student’s book advanced) or ii) part of the introductory page of each unit (Think Teen! 2nd grade of Junior High School student’s book and Think Teen! 3rd grade of Junior High student’s book). In the course books of the first set LLS are classified under relevant skills, for example speaking strategies, reading strategies, writing strategies, listening strategies as well as vocabulary, grammar and project work strategies. As far as the second set of books is concerned, LLS are not grouped according to a skill or any other criterion whatsoever. Yet the important point is to examine if the strategies presented are selected by the sample of the study. Such a finding could contribute to the discussion of the pedagogical implications of this paper. Research questions As mentioned earlier the focal point of this study is to examine whether age and gender are statistically related to the frequency of strategy use of Greek EFL students as well as whether the course book strategies are employed by the present sample. Therefore the research questions were phrased as follows:


Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

1. 2. 3. 4.

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Is there a relation between LLS use and age? Is there a relation between LLS use and gender? Is there a relation among LLS use, age and gender? Are the strategies promoted in the course books, employed by Greek junior secondary school learners?

4. Method Participants The sample consisted of 703 junior high school learners aged 13-15years old attending the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades of Greek state schools located in four regions of Greece (Attica, Central Macedonia, Eastern Macedonia, Thrace, and Epirus). The table below presents the sample distribution.

Table 1: Research participant profile

Boys Girls

13 N=228

14 N= 234

15 N=231

Materials/Instrumentation Data were collected with a 57 item questionnaire that taps how often specific strategy categories (memory, cognitive, compensation, metacognitive, social, and affective) as well as specific strategy items are used. It is an adaptation of the SILL version 7.0 (Oxford, 1990) and includes 9 culture specific strategies (Gavriilidou & Mitits, in press). Responses are on a Likert scale format with end points of 1 and 5


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while scores are classified as â&#x20AC;&#x153;Low: 1.0-2.4, Medium: 2.5-3.4, High: 3.5-5.0â&#x20AC;? (Oxford, 1990, p. 300). Analysis of data was performed through descriptive statistics (means and standard deviations) as well as inferential statistics using the appropriate parametric criteria: t-tests, ANOVA, MANOVA and post hoc analysis. 5. Results Regarding the first research question (age and strategy use) few statistically significant relations were detected. In particular, one correlation was traced between frequency of strategy use and compensation strategies and another one between frequency of strategy use and affective strategies. Consequently, age does not seem to have any particularly strong association with the remaining strategy categories of the questionnaire, namely memory, cognitive, metacognitive and social. Table 2: ANOVA tests between age and strategy categories Dependent Variable

A secondary school

B secondary school

C secondary school

F

Sig.

Partial Ρ2

Memory

2.654

2.556

2.564

2.169

.115

.006

Cognitive

3.051

2.925

2.978

2.762

.064

.008

Compensation

2.685

2.659

2.873

7.193

.001

.020

Metacognitive

3.342

3.209

3.229

1.898

.151

.005

Affective

3.310

3.205

3.378

3.011

.050

.009

Social

3.050

2.928

3.081

2.737

.065

.008

Further analysis with Tukey HSD index indicated that when learners become 15 years old they use compensation strategies (m: 2.87, SD= 0.65) more often than when they were 13 (m: 2.68, SD= 0.68). No other statistically significant findings were revealed for affective strategies.


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Contrary to the scarce findings in the age factor, the gender factor emerges as important. More specifically statistically significant associations were traced between gender and all strategy categories (table 3). Table 3: Associations between gender and strategy groups Dependent Variable

Male

Female

F

Sig.

Memory

2.501

2.671

15.80 2

.000

.022

Cognitive

2.877

3.081

21.47 8

.000

.030

Partial η2

Consequently gender is related to the frequency of all strategies, with females outscoring males. Examining the individual LLS items we encounter once more the more frequent use of strategies by females. In fact, of the 57 strategy items, all but two were more often employed by them. Males surpassed females only in two items, namely “I use the English words I know in different sentences” and “I look for similarities and differences between English and Greek”. As far as the third research question is concerned, that is whether there is an interaction between strategy use and age and gender, no significant evidence was detected either in the strategy categories or in individual strategy items. The fourth research question is examined via a comparison between the questionnaire items and the course books strategies. Thus by identifying those questionnaire items that are of high frequency and juxtaposing them with those presented in the course books we reach interesting findings. In particular if we look at those LLS with means from 3.5 to 4.4 which according to Oxford’s interpretation scale are “high” use items and are regarded as “generally used” (Oxford, 1990, p. 300) we encounter 17 LLS (see Appendix 2). Of them, 3 strategies are encountered at the strategy sections of the course books (Table 4). As illustrated in table 4, the questionnaire items “If I do not understand something in English I ask the other person to slow down or say it again”, “I encourage myself to speak English even when I am afraid of making a mistake” and “When I have unknown words I ask their meaning to my teacher” were the only items that had similar content with six strategies presented in four different course books of 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades of Junior Secondary School (Table 4). What is interesting though is that most course book strategies which correspond to the questionnaire items refer to the skill of speaking.


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Table 4: High use questionnaire items and their matching course books LLS Language Learning Strategy

Source

Ask your partner to repeat if you don’t understand (speaking strategy)

Think Teen! 1st grade of Junior High School – Beginners p. 24 Questionnaire item 45

If I do not understand something in English I ask the other person to slow down or say it again Ask your partner to repeat, rephrase or explain if necessary (speaking strategy)

If I do not understand something in English I ask the other person to slow down or say it again When I read or hear a word I don’t understand, I ask my teacher or a friend

Think Teen! 1st grade of Junior High School – Advanced p. 100 Questionnaire item 45

Think Teen! 2nd grade of Junior High School Advanced p. 26

Questionnaire When I have unknown words I ask their meaning to my teacher item 57 When doing a speaking activity I don’t worry if I make a mistake, as long as I make myself understood.

I encourage myself to speak English even when I am afraid of making a mistake. If I do not understand something in English I ask the other

Think Teen! 2nd grade of Junior High School Advanced p. 150 Questionnaire item 40

Think Teen! 3rd


Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

person to slow down or say it again

If I do not understand something in English I ask the other person to slow down or say it again When I speak, I am not afraid to make a mistake

I encourage myself to speak English even when I am afraid of making a mistake.

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grade of Junior High School p. 85

Questionnaire item 45 Think Teen! 3rd grade of Junior High School p. 85 Questionnaire item 40

Regarding the low frequency questionnaire items, namely those “not generally used” according to Oxford’s scale, three items (“I try to find myself the rules of English language”, “I physically act out new English words” and “I make summaries of the information I read or hear in English”) correspond to similar strategies located in the course books (Τable 5). Table 5: Low use questionnaire items and their matching course books LLS Language Learning Strategy

Source

Study the example sentences and guess the new rule

Think Teen! 1st grade of Junior High School – Beginners p. 126 & Think Teen! 1st grade of Junior High School – Advanced p. 116

Questionnaire


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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

item 19 I try to find myself the rules of English language I work out the rules and study them to learn the new form and its uses

I try to find myself the rules of English language When I learn a new language, I use mime to help me learn and remember new English words

I physically act out new English words

When I read a text I try to summarize what I read by thinking of headings for each paragraph

Think Teen! 2nd grade of Junior High School Advanced p. 120 Questionnaire item 19 Think Teen! 3rd grade of Junior High School p. 37

Questionnaire item 6

Think Teen! 3rd grade of Junior High School p. 85 Questionnaire item 22

I make summaries of the information I read or hear in English

6. Discussion The age findings presented here comply with those reported by Platsidou and Sipitanou (2015) and Mitits (2014) regarding a more frequent selection of compensation strategies by older learners (aged 15) and this could be attributed to maturity. Compensation strategies aim to assist learners to overcome limitations in knowledge so it is possible that as learners grow older they resort to such techniques in order to bridge gaps when using English to communicate; the later may be deduced by the range of strategies grouped under compensation which enable learners to guess the meaning and manage shortcomings of speaking, writing and reading. Another plausible explanation is the culture factor. Research shows that cultural background is related to strategy choice (Levine, Reves &


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Leaver, 1996) therefore results of studies (mentioned in the beginning of this paragraph) with sample similarity (Greek EFL young adolescents) and identical data elicitation tools that reached similar conclusions highlight the interpretation of culture impact. The results regarding gender form an even clearer and widespread pattern: females do use more frequently all LLS categories as well as all strategy items except two. It is therefore obvious that this finding is in line with relevant non-Greek EFL studies, yet more importantly it corroborates with Greek context research results provided by Mitits (2014) and Platsidou and Sipitanou (2015). This pattern may be explained by biological studies suggesting that women activate both sides of the brain and more areas than men (Legato, 2005) or psychological studies which assert that there are different socialization procedures for girls and boys and these could contribute to other learning processes (Beal, 1994). Pedagogically speaking, the current research results point to some directions that merit consideration. Optimal teaching requires teachers’ understanding of learning related differences in their students (Oxford 1992) while as Cohen and Macaro (2007) assert “Good language teachers have an intuitive understanding of language learning. What they do not have is a systematic understanding” (p. 12). Based on this, we may infer that the present study offers a principled, systematic and valid understanding of the types and range of strategies employed by Greek EFL adolescents as far as age and gender is concerned. The findings presented may become the areas that teachers could invest in in order to promote their instruction and enable learners to learn more effectively. The fact that females use LLSs more frequently, can be viewed by teachers as a challenge to listen more systematically to male needs and create a supportive environment for them in order to develop further their strategy use (Nyikos, 2008). Research indicates that strategy training can render men equally frequent strategy users compared to women counterparts (Oxford, 1992). Additionally, compensation strategies may and should be promoted by teachers at the 3rd grade of junior secondary school since they have already established a role in the learners’ strategy profiles. Therefore, any further training sought by teachers will be welcomed by learners of this age. As far as the connection of the current research outcomes to the Greek educational policy documents, namely curriculum and course books, useful inferences may be drawn. Indeed the curriculum tenets about strategy practice are implemented through course books and learners select some of the strategies presented in them. Furthermore, the strategies which are highly used give us a glimpse of the learners’ strategy comfort zones; these should be dealt by teachers as a starting point in order to consolidate their practice and gradually introduce


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additional strategies in their repertoires. To this direction a teacher’s guide (Psaltou-Joycey & Gavriilidou 2015) was developed within the Thales project which presents a variety of strategy activities for in class use. Some of them like “Activity 4: expressing emotions” (2015: 67) and “Activity 7: Short term memory game” (2015:79) are directly linked with course book tasks and exercises so they are smoothly introduced into the course book material.


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Karayianni, E. Koui, B., & Nikolaki, A. Think Teen! 1st Grade Junior High School (Arxarioi). Athina: YPAITH /Pedagogical Intsitute, Organismos Ekdoseon Didaktikon Vivlion [in Greek]. Karayianni, E. Koui, B., & Nikolaki, A. Think Teen! 1st Grade Junior High School (Prohorimenoi). Athina: YPAITH /Pedagogical Intsitute, Organismos Ekdoseon Didaktikon Vivlion [in Greek]. Legato, M.J. (2005). Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget. New York: Rodale. Levine, A., Reves, T., & Leaver, B. L. (1996). Relationship between language learning strategies and Israeli versus Russian cultural-educational factors. In R. L. Oxford (Ed.) Language Learning Strategies Around the World: Cross-Cultural Perspectives. (Technical Report #13), Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center. University of Hawaii, Honolulu. Macaro, E. (2006). Strategies for language learning and for language use: Revising the theoretical framework. The Modern Language Journal, 90(3), 320-337. Mattheoudakis, M., & Alexiou, Th. (Eds). Magic Book 1. Athina: YPAITH [in Greek]. Mcgavigan P. Think Teen! 2nd Grade Junior High School. Athina: YPAITH /Pedagogical Intsitute, Organismos Ekdoseon Didaktikon Vivlion [in Greek]. Mcgavigan P. Think Teen! 3rd Grade Junior High School. Athina: YPAITH /Pedagogical Intsitute, Organismos Ekdoseon Didaktikon Vivlion [in Greek]. Mitits, L. (2014). Language learning strategy use by early adolescent monolingual EFL and multilingual EFL/L2 Greek learners in the Greek educational context. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, Greece. Noguchi, T. (1991). Review of language learning strategy research and its implications. Unpublished Bachelorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s thesis, Tottori University, Tottori, Japan. Nyikos, M. (1990). Sex related differences in adult language learning: socialization and memory factors. The Modern Language Journal, 74(3), 273-287. Nyikos, M. (2008). Gender and good language learners. In C. Griffiths Lessons form Good Language Learners (pp. 73-82). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. New Oxford Dictionary of English. (1998). Oxford: Oxford University Press. O' Malley, J. M., & Chamot, A.U. (1990). Learning Strategies in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Oxford, R. L. (1990). Language Learning Strategies: What Every Teacher Should Know. Rowley, MA: Newbury House. Oxford, R. L. (1996). What have we learned about language learning strategies around the world? In R. L. Oxford (Ed.) Language Learning Strategies Around the World: Cross-Cultural Perspectives. (Technical Report #13), Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center. University of Hawaii, Honolulu. Oxford, R. L. (1993a). Gender differences in styles and strategies for language learning: what do they mean? Should we pay attention? In J. E. Alatis (Ed.) Strategic Interaction and Language Acquisition: Theory, Practice, and Research. Washington, DC: Georgetown University. Oxford, R. L. (1993b). Instructional implications of gender differences in second/foreign language (L2) learning styles and strategies. Applied Language Learning, 4, 65-94. Oxford, R. L., & Nyikos, M. (1989). Variables affecting choice of language learning strategies by University students. The Modern Language Journal, 73, 291-300. Oxford, R. L., & Rang Lee, K. (2008). The learnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; landscape and journey: a summary. In C. Griffiths (Ed.), Lessons from good language learners (pp. 306-317). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Peacock, M., & Ho, B. (2003). Student language learning Strategies across eight disciplines. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 13(2), 179-200.


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Appendix I Greek context LLS studies on gender Researchers/ EFL Greek Date learners

Elicitation tool

Age Kazamia (2003)

Adults age SILL mean:38,5 (sd: 7)

Strategies Strategies Females Use More Males Use Than Males More Than Females I remember None new English words or phrases by remembering their location on the page, on the board, or on a street sign I first skim an English passage then go back and read it carefully When I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think of a word during a conversation in English I use gestures I plan my schedule so I have enough time to study English I try to relax whenever I feel afraid of using English I notice if I am tense or nervous when I am


Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

studying or using English I try to learn about the culture of English speakers Vrettou 2009

EFL junior secondary school learners: 1415 years

SILL

None Cognitive strategies Metacognitive strategies Affective strategies Social strategies I remember new English words by making a mental picture of the situation in which I heard or saw the word I review English words and grammar often I remember new English words or phrases by remembering their location on the page, on the board, or on a shop sign I say or write new English words many times to learn them I use a dictionary to look

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up unknown words I watch English TV shows or listen to tapes or CDs or go to movies to practice in English To understand unfamiliar English words, I make guesses from context I try to find as many ways as I can to use my English I try to find how to be a better learner of English I look for people I can talk to in English I try to relax whenever I feel afraid of using English I encourage myself to speak English even when I am afraid of making a mistake I notice if I am tense or nervous when I am studying or using


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English If I do not understand something in English I ask the other to slow down or say it again PsaltouUniversity SILL Joycey & students Kantaridou 2009 Age mean: 19.5 years

Gavriilidou & Papanis 2009

Vrettou 2011

Memory strategies Cognitive strategies Metacognitive strategies Compensation strategies Affective strategies Social strategies

University 36 item No questionnaire statistically students significant relation SILL

None

No statistically significant relation

Cognitive Metacognitive Affective Social I remember a new English word by making a mental picture of the situation in which I heard or saw the word (in a dialogue, story, or song etc)

I make up new words from Greek (with English sounds or


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I review English words and grammar often I say or write new English words many times to learn them I try to talk like native English speakers I use a dictionary to look up unknown words I watch English language TV shows or listen to tapes or CDs or go to movies to practice in English I write notes, messages, letters, or reports in English (in class or on my own) I first skim an English passage (read over the passage quickly) then go back and read carefully I avoid translating word-for-word To understand unfamiliar English words, I make guesses from context I try to find as

ending) if I do not know the right ones in English I read English texts without looking up every new word


Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

many ways as I can to use my English I notice my English mistakes and use that information to help me do better I pay attention when somebody is speaking English I try to find out how to be a better learner of English I have clear goals for improving my English skills I think about my progress in learning English I try to relax whenever I feel afraid of using English I encourage myself to speak English even when I am afraid of making a mistake I notice if I am nervous when I am studying or using English I write down my feelings in a language learning diary

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I talk to somebody else about how I feel when I am learning English If I do not understand something in English, I ask the other person to slow down or say it again I ask English speakers to correct me when I talk I ask for help from English speakers I ask questions in English I try to learn about the culture of English speakers Mitits 2014

EFL junior secondary school learners Age group 12-15 years

SILL

Platsidou & Sipitanou 2015

EFL junior secondary school

SILL

Cognitive strategies Compensation strategies Metacognitive strategies Affective strategies Social strategies Cognitive strategies Memory

None

None


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learners Age group 12-15 years

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strategies Metacognitive strategies Affective strategies Social strategies

Appendix II High use LLS: Means 3.5-4.4 Strategy Group

Strategy Item

Memory

I review English often

Cognitive

I try to talk like native English speakers I repeat the pronunciation of English words in order to learn it I look for similarities and differences in English and Greek If I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t understand something in English, I translate the sentence into Greek

Compensation

If I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think of an English word, I use a word or phrase that means the same thing

Metacognitive:

I pay attention when someone is speaking English I try to find out ways to learn better I know what I need to do in order to improve my English I monitor my progress in English

Affective

I try to relax whenever I feel afraid of using English I encourage myself to speak English even when I am afraid of making a mistake I give myself a reward when I do well in English I notice if I am tense when I am studying or using English I always try to guess the meaning of words or to speak even if


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I may make mistakes Social

If I do not understand something in English, I ask the other person to slow down or say it again When I have unknown words, I ask their meaning to my teacher

Appendix III: Low use LLS: Means 1.0-2.4 Strategy Group

Strategy Item

Memory

I use rhymes to remember new English word I physically act out new English words

Cognitive

I try to find myself the rules of English language I make summaries of the information I read or hear in English

Compensation

When I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think of a word during a conversation, I use gestures

Affective

I talk to someone else about how I feel when I am learning English


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SILL questionnaire: an oral application using the bar for frequency and evaluation of strategy use among mixed student population in Thrace10 Persephone Mamoukari, Penelope Kambakis Vougiouklis Democritus University of Thrace Abstract Twelve Turkish-Greek bilingual and twelve Greek native speakers junior secondary school students, all learning English as a foreign language, were orally administered a translated version (Gavriilidou & Mitits, in press) of the SILL questionnaire (Oxford, 1990) and were asked to specify not only their frequency of language learning strategy (LLS) use but also their confidence as for the effectiveness of each strategy. The extra parameter of confidence has been examined in a series of studies in correlation with accuracy (Kambakis-Vougiouklis, 1992) or frequency of strategy use (Vougiouklis, 2012, 2013) with interesting results. Another innovation of the study is the use of a “[01] bar” (Kambakis-Vougiouklis & Vougiouklis, 2008) instead of the Likert scales for the answers in order to give both the participants and the researchers a more accurate choice as well as freedom and versatility of processing. Deviations between frequency and confidence in the results indicate that learners either consider that a strategy is effective but they do not know how to use it or that they use a strategy without realizing or having confidence in its effectiveness. These results suggest the need for pedagogical interventions to raise the learners’ awareness of language learning strategies and how to use them. Key words: strategy, qualitative, 0-1 bar, Likert scales, confidence, proficiency, efficiency 1. Introduction Language learning strategies (hereafter LLS) are consciously or semi-consciously employed for language learning and language use (Cohen, 2003: 280). Given the strong evidence that strategies may facilitate language learning, strategic behavior has greatly concerned research in language learning (Oxford & Nyikos, 1989; Ehrman & Oxford, 1995; Mochizuki, 1999; Wharton, 2000; Schmidt & Watanabe, 2001 This study is part of the Thales project MIS 379335. It was held in the frame of the National Strategic Reference Frame (Ε.Σ.Π.Α) and was co-funded by resources of the European Union (European Social Fund) and national resources. 10


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Psaltou-Joycey, 2003; Chamot, 2007). Moreover, there is enough convincing evidence that language learning strategies can and should be taught (Chamot, 2005; Cohen & Macaro, 2007; Graham & Macaro, 2008, Sarafianou, 2013). The picture that emerges from LLS research is often unclear, perhaps not surprisingly, since strategic use depends on various factors, for example, the learners’ age, their target language proficiency, and the socio-cultural context (see Tragant & Victori, 2012 and references therein). Moreover, discrepancies between studies may derive from differences regarding the methodological tools selected to investigate LLS use. It is with respect to the latter factor that our study differs from most previous ones on LLS in ways we explain next. In the present study we focus on the LLS of a small number of Greek L1 speakers and a group of bilingual Turkish-Greek speaking learners of English living in Thrace, Greece. Our study aims at a qualitative analysis of these learners’ LLS use as well as, importantly, their confidence in the effectiveness of each strategy, as measured by an oral questionnaire using the “[01] bar” (Kambakis Vougiouklis P. and Vougiouklis T., 2008; Kambakis Vougiouklis et al., 2011 and Vougiouklis T. et al., 2011) instead of the Likert scales. 2. Previous research on the LLS use in Greece The particular population that concerns us here are junior secondary school learners who are born and live in Thrace, Greece. Half of the participants in the study have Greek as their native language and are learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL). Kazamia (2003) investigated the strategy profile of Greek adults learning English as a foreign language and the way they perceive the tolerance of ambiguity while learning a foreign language. In that study the factors of age, gender, proficiency and job orientation are taken into account. Also, Kambaki-Vougioukli (2008) during her study of Muslim children learning English as a foreign language, having Turkish as the native language and Greek as a second language, recorded the level of confidence of the students about the usefulness of the strategy. Accordingly Psaltou-Joycey (2008) mainly focused on the effect of factors such as age, proficiency and cultural background of university students learning Greek as a second language. Gavriilidou and Psaltou-Joycey (2010) shed light on issues such as the definition of strategies, ways of recording them, strategies employed by effective learners, factors that influence the choice of strategies and the teaching of strategies. In another study Gavriilidou & Papanis (2010) investigate the effectiveness of direct strategy teaching with suggested activities for Muslim students. In 2009, Psaltou-Joycey and Kantaridou investigated multilingualism in


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relation to the use of learning strategies as well as learning styles. Also, Mitits (2014) conducted similar research regarding multilingual students and strategy use. Learning strategies are also investigated in the project Thales 2012 with the translation and validation of the SILL questionnaire in Greek and Turkish, aiming to the collection of useful data regarding LLS use. 3. LLS data collection and data processing Oxford’s (1990) SILL is a reliable tool (Oxford & Leaver, 1996) and very popular among researchers for more than three decades. The SILL measures how frequently learners use memory, cognitive, comprehension, metacognitive, affective and social LLSs, as described by Oxford (1990). The SILL is used to identify the level of strategy use (low, medium, high) and the statistical tool used to measure this frequency is the 5-point Likert scale. Most studies on LLS have employed this measurement for comparable results. Recently, however, there have been researchers who argue that the SILL has a lot more potential not yet investigated and identified. For instance, Bull and Ma (2001) introduced the Learning Style-Learning Strategies addition to the SILL to measure ‘similarity between individual learning strategies’ (p. 174), which may raise learner awareness of LLS use and usefulness. In the present study we also introduced an alternative measurement, described next. 3.1. An alternative statistical tool: the [01] bar Kambakis-Vougiouklis’ investigation has introduced an alternative way of measuring the learners’ responses (Kambakis-Vougiouklis & Vougiouklis, 2008; Kambakis Vougiouklis et al., 2011). This alternative way concerns the use of a bar [01] instead of the conventionally used Likert scales on the assumption that such a tool facilitates the collection and processing of the data. More specifically, a bar [01], 0_________________________________1, is suggested, where 0 represents the completely negative answer/attitude and 1 the completely positive answer/attitude. What is required in order to complete a Likert scale is that the learners fully understand the usually fine difference between grades. On the other hand, through the bar learners indicate their answers by cutting it at any point -actually infinitethey think that expresses their attitude towards any item. They answer is not influenced by their linguistic knowledge, as they are mostly required to “feel” their position on the bar, rather than consciously think of the wording or any suggested division pre-arranged for them. Replacing the Likert scales by a fuzzy one, such as that of the bar, seems even more suitable when a questionnaire is not in the learners’ mother tongue and as they have insufficient linguistic knowledge of the


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target language, which may distort the validity of the questionnaire. Similarly, at the results processing stage, when using a Likert scale, researchers must decide in advance how many divisions will be used. By contrast, the employment of the bar does not require such an initially predetermined decision. Moreover, the same data can be processed using different subdivisions, for a number of reasons including that of comparability with different researches. The bar was first introduced at a length of 10 cm but was later modified at 6.2 cm, which is the Golden Ratio of 10 (Vougiouklis, T. & Kambakis Vougiouklis P., 2011) . The reason for this change is that, as argued, since human eyes are used to the decimal system, people can easily divide a 10 cm long bar equally, which is not desirable in our case. On the other hand, a bar length of 6.2 avoids familiar divisions, leaving the participant free to choose from an infinite number of points (Vougiouklis & Kambakis-Vougiouklis, 2011). Finally, Kambakis-Vougiouklis et al. (2011) compared the fuzzy bar with the Likert scale in an application of a departmental evaluation questionnaire among all students of the Department of Education in Alexandroupolis, Greece, asking the students to specify which method they preferred. The results yielded an overwhelming majority of 98% in favour of the bar. 3.2. Confidence as a complementary to frequency parameter Confidence as an important, yet not systematically studied, factor in the process of language learning has been investigated in association with communication strategies by Kambakis-Vougiouklis (1990, 1992) and Mathioudakis and KambakiVougioukli (2010) among regular student populations. Recently Intze (2010) and Intze and Kambaki-Vougioukli (2009) investigated confidence in association with the strategy of guessing among Muslim learners of Greek as a second/foreign language and found statistically significant differences between males and females, with the latter being better at guessing and more confident too, compared to their male peers. When questionnaires such as the SILL are used, some issues normally not tackled, at least to our knowledge, might develop. How familiar are the learners with certain strategies mentioned in the questionnaire? Are they sure they really employ the strategies they claim they do or do they think so because they have heard the teacher or their peers mentioning it? Although one would assume that when learners claim they use a strategy, they are most likely to consider it effective, we have many reasons to believe that this might not probably be the case. In a series of studies Kambakis-Vougiouklis (2011, 2012, 2013) included confidence along with frequency in the SILL questionnaire, namely, the learners were asked to specify not only how frequently they used each strategy but also how confident they felt of its effectiveness. Results from these studies indicate that when the learners claim they


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use a strategy, this does not necessarily imply that they also consider it effective as evidenced by low confidence scores in strategies they claimed they use very often. Also, conversely, there were cases where learners claimed they did not use a strategy but nevertheless seemed confident that this strategy would really help them in language learning. Kambakis-Vougiouklis’ interpretation of the above results was that when confidence is higher than frequency, then this strategy might need to be systematically taught to learners as they seem to evaluate it. If, on the other hand, there is lower confidence than the actual frequency, one could assume that the learners might use this strategy as a routine, not really appreciating it. In either case instruction is necessary before considering different action, such as excluding some strategies for the specific learners. However, given that the discussed results come from the analysis of questionnaires completed in a written form and also given the lack of opportunity to ask those who completed the questionnaire for clarifications, Kambakis-Vougiouklis’ interpretation of the data needs to be further investigated. Moreover, there has been quite some discussion regarding the connection of the proficiency level with the use of LLSs by the learners. The parameter of the learners’ proficiency appears to play a significant role in the selection and frequency of strategy use. It is yet to be further investigated if the advanced strategy use is the outcome or the reason for high proficiency levels. It is believed that there is a bidirectional relationship between the two, and that there is interference both ways (Green & Oxford, 1995; MacIntyre, 1994). The relationship between the LLSs and the student’s level of proficiency is investigated by McDonough (1999) and Bremner (1997). They, as well as the majority of the researchers that have studied the connection between the level of proficiency and the strategy use, have resulted in the acknowledgement that learners who make use of LLSs on a regular basis, usually have a higher level of language proficiency. However there have been studies that recorded exactly the opposite, the absence of any connection whatsoever. Nevertheless, according to the majority of researchers, the strategies that are most frequently used by the proficient learners are mostly cognitive and metacognitive strategies (Cohen, 1998; Gu, 1996; Nisbet, Tindall, & Arroyo, 2005). There have been instances of strategy use by less proficient students, not consciously, but in a random way (Ehrman & Oxford, 1995). However, in higher proficiency students there could be recorded use of LLSs in an automated manner, not consciously, yet in these cases the need for strategy use has been encoded as a way of successful learning (Ehrman & Oxford, 1995). 3.3. About the SILL administration and data analysis


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The SILL questionnaires are generally in written form and their data analysis process is usually quantitative. However, the oral administration of the SILL may glean important insights by stimulating the learners’ individual experiences and by allowing the expression of attitudes, feelings and behaviors, possibly opening up new topic areas. A qualitative analysis of such results, alongside a quantitative one may better explain why a particular response was given. 4. The present study 4.1. Aims and rationale Our research questions were the following: (a) How and to what extent does the use of the learners’ confidence an extra parameter, denoting the effectiveness of a strategy, can enlighten us about LLS use? (b) Does the version of our questionnaire contain any problematic items, i.e. items that are not well understood? (c) 4.2. The participants The participants in our study were twelve Turkish-Greek bilingual Muslims and twelve Greek speaking students recruited from the first three grades of a public junior secondary school in Thrace. The participants were recruited through a convenience sampling procedure. Four learners were selected representing each grade (A, B, C junior secondary education); from each group two students (one male and one female) represented the low and another two, accordingly, represented the high English language proficiency/competence level. The learners’ level of English language proficiency was estimated according to their performance in class and their course grades by their English teacher, who was also one of the investigators in the present research. We did not include learners of intermediate English language proficiency because previous research found differences in LLS use only between learners of low and high proficiency in the target language (Magogwe & Oliver, 2007) 4.3. The instrument and procedure of administration The questionnaire used was the Greek version of the 50-items SILL (Oxford, 1990) translated and validated by Gavriilidou and Mitits (in press). Each question was followed by two separate bars. The length of the bar was 6.2 so as to avoid familiar divisions, leaving the participant free to choose from an infinite number of points (Vougiouklis & Kambakis-Vougiouklis, 2011). The first bar was for measuring frequency of LLS use and the second one for measuring confidence in the effectiveness of each strategy, as exemplified in Figure1.


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Figure 1. An example from the SILL questionnaire employing the [01] bar for frequency and confidence The questionnaire was orally administered to all learners during individual interviews by their English teacher. The learners explained their decision each time they marked where they cut either of the bars. Instruction had been given by the teacher-researcher about how to fill in the SILL questionnaire using the bar, which was something completely new to them; they all familiarised themselves with the tool surprisingly fast. Then they were asked to pay attention to the fact that not only did they have to indicate how often they used a strategy but also how confident they felt with each of them, or, in other words, how effective they thought each strategy was. All interviews were recorded throughout, on the learnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; consent. 5. Results All the answers were normalized into groups on the basis of two criteria: (a) confidence, where the deviation between frequency of use and confidence in the effectiveness of each strategy for every single question was examined and (b) the nature of certain questions and/or their wording that might have caused problems. Also, a convention was decided that if the difference between the confidence and the frequency scorings was 6 on the 6.2 bar, then it was negligible and no further investigation was necessary. If it there was higher deviation, we estimated that it would need further investigation. 5.1. The criterion of confidence and how learners behaved towards it The questions that concern us here: (a) Are the learners confident that the strategy they employ each time is effective so they score high confidence where they score high frequency? (b) Do they use certain strategies often but they are not sure of their effectiveness, so they score lower confidence? (c) Do they not often use a strategy but nevertheless score high confidence in this strategy?


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(d) Are there any differences in the frequency of strategy use between the Turkish-Greek bilinguals and the Greek speaking learners? (e) How is confidence recorded in both groups? The application of the questionnaire revealed certain SILL items to be of particular interest regarding the way the learners perceive and answer these items, always in relation to the confidence factor. These items are the following: ● Combining the image with the sound of a new word (Memory strategy) From the Greek speaking group, four learners scored lower confidence than frequency, not regarding it as a useful strategy, while three scored higher confidence than frequency. Also four learners scored similarly in frequency and in confidence, yet their score was low, ranging from 0.3 to 3.6. Only one learner scored very high on both bars (Frequency: 5.7, Confidence: 5.8). Similar were the results in the Turkish-Greek bilingual group (three lower confidence, four higher confidence, five equally scored in frequency and confidence). Remark: The number appears to be similar both in Greek speaking students and in Turkish-Greek bilinguals. However, there is one remark by a Turkish-Greek bilingual student who cannot understand the strategy and needs to have it explained. ● I use flashcards with the new word on one side and the definition or other information on the other. (Memory strategy) Ten out of the twelve Greek speaking students scored higher in confidence, and similarly 8 out of twelve Turkish-Greek bilingual students did the same. Respectively, two out of twelve and four out of twelve had accordance between frequency and confidence. Remark: All learners exhibited a negative attitude towards this strategy, which indicates that the learners underestimate or even disregard it. Seven Greek speaking learners scored higher in confidence than frequency while five scored equally low in both. Here, the result could be interpreted as an appeal for instruction; most of the learners seem to appreciate the strategy, as they score higher confidence than frequency. We interpret such a result as a positive attitude towards this strategy and as an appeal for instruction, too. ● I physically act out new English words. (Memory strategy) Four of the Greek speaking learners scored equally in frequency and confidence, while eight learners actually thought that they could benefit if they adopted this strategy. All Turkish-Greek bilingual students (12 out of 12) scored very high in confidence, yet they scored low in frequency. Remark: It is worth mentioning that there were four learners who did not consider physical acting important. Those students were male and seemingly with introvert


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personalities, as stated by the interviewer who had also been their English language teacher for two years. The Turkish-Greek bilingual students all stated that they could benefit from the strategy, implying that they do not know how to do it. This could be due to their cultural background, according to which they tend to be more reserved and avoid free self-expression. Not one student stated s/he employs the strategy, however in a theoretical level, they considered it to be effective if employed. ● I watch English language TV shows spoken in English or go to the movies spoken in English. The numbers in both groups, Turkish-Greek bilinguals and Greek speaking were identical. Five students out of twelve stated perfect agreement between frequency and confidence and six students scored much higher confidence. Remark: It is remarkable that a strategy that seems so obviously beneficial, is not actually employed but it is considered as helpful if employed. The students are aware of the advantages of the strategy in language learning, yet do not fully exploit it. 5.2. The criterion of problematic areas There were certain ‘grey zones’ in the questionnaire itself that might possibly need attention/revision. (a) Questions that are not easily understood and need further explanation ● I use rhymes to remember new English words’ (memory strategy) Three of the learners needed further clarification in order to fully understand the question, due to the fact that the use of rhymes is not frequented in the Greek system. These learners were given examples and the interviewer did not continue until they were comfortable with the question. There were also two other learners who, although asked no questions about this strategy, looked puzzled and so the interviewer gave them some examples. Finally, there was one learner who answered after some pause and hesitation. ● I try not to translate word-for-word and I read English without looking up every new word There was a lot of confusion with these two items. All the high-level learners (hereafter HL learners) scored closer to the far right end of the bar, thus, stating that they do not translate nor look up every word in dictionaries. The low-level learners (hereafter LL learners) scored closer to the left end of the bar (0), which means they actually translate and look up words in dictionaries. However, when the learners were asked to justify their choice of frequency regarding this strategy, there was the following difference between the HL and the LL learners: while the formers’ explanations were in compliance with their answers in the questionnaire,


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the LL said that they neither translate nor look up words in dictionaries. In order for the students to answer there had to be explanation of the actual meaning of the item, because there was too much confusion. The explanation was possible as the questionnaires were answered in the form of an interview. (b) Questions that appear to be redundant ● ‘I ask English speakers to correct me when I talk’ and ‘I ask for help from English speakers’ It was interesting enough to see that half the higher level Greek speaking students had perfect agreement between frequency and confidence, while four believed the strategy was not that useful, and even two said that they do not do it as they do not like it and they do not believe it helps. However, the Turkish-Greek bilingual students appeared to either have equal numbers between frequency and confidence (six out of twelve) or appeared to have much higher confidence (six out of twelve). 6. Discussion In the present study the number of participants is sufficient, yet still small so as to draw valid conclusions. Future research with a larger sample would allow quantitative analyses and correlations that would provide more valid conclusions. The above limitation should also be taken into serious consideration as oral administration and interviews are not easily applied to a large number of learners. Concerning the first question of our research about whether confidence affects learners’ choice of strategy, as in previous similar studies we found that in a number of items there was great deviation between frequency and confidence. This could be interpreted as an appeal for instruction, as the learners appear to be confident that the specific strategy might help them, even if their frequency of use indicates that they do not use the strategy in an extensive scale that often or even not at all in some cases. This is an important finding as it demonstrates the difference between what is used and what is considered useful. As for the second question, if there are certain problematic items in the questionnaire, we have identified at least two that need to be revised as the majority of the students seemed puzzled while answering: I try not to translate word-for-word and I read English without looking up every new word because the answer ‘never’, for example, might be ambiguous and either be interpreted as ‘I never try not to translate’ which implies ‘I always translate’, or, by contrast, as ‘I never translate’. Probably, these two items need to be reworded into a positive mode (see Dörnyei, 2003, as well as Rozgowski & Soven, 2010 for suggesting similar improvements in questionnaires).


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7. Conclusion As it appears by the numbers recorded through the questionnaire, both groups, Greek speaking and Turkish-Greek bilingual students seem to have a very similar attitude towards most of the LLSs that they employ during the language learning procedure. The deviation that appears between the frequency of LLS use and confidence denotes the need for further instruction, so as to boost the learnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; confidence in the strategiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; effectiveness and reinforce their self-study. All in all, we could come to an agreement that certain improvement and/or changes need to be performed on the questionnaire to make it more appropriate for learners without any guidance, provided explanation or any other kind of interaction. That way it could be answered by all learners independently or even be applied to learners with hearing disabilities. Lastly, the format of the data-collection could be adapted, so that a bigger number of participants could be included, and therefore more valid information could be extracted through the use of a differentiated format of the same questionnaire. That way it could be massively applied to groups of learners, receiving little or even no aid by their interviewer.


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Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project

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The idea of Saita publications emerged in July 2012, having as a primary goal to create a web space where new authors can interact with the readers directly and free. Saita publicationsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; aim is to redefine the relationship between publisher-author-reader, by cultivating a true dialogue, and by establishing an effective communication channel for authors and readers alike. Saita publications stay far away from profit, exploitation and commercialization of literary property.

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Zoe Gavriilidou, Konstadinos Petrogiannis (Editors)

The papers selected for this volume explore Language Learning Strategy (LLS) use by upper elementary and junior secondary students attending public schools in Greece. These papers are elaborated versions of studies that were presented at the symposium “Language learning strategies in the Greek setting” that took place in the frame of AILA 2014 Conference, held in Brisbane (Australia) in August 2014.

This study is part of the Thales project MIS 379335. It was held in the frame of the National Strategic Reference Frame (Ε.Σ.Π.Α) and was co-funded by resources of the European Union (European Social Fund) and national resources.

ISBN: 978-618-5147-51-8

Language Learning Strategies in the Greek setting: Research outcomes of a large-scale project  

The papers selected for this volume explore Language Learning Strategy (LLS) use by upper elementary and junior secondary students attending...

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