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Lai, "Language learning strategy use and language proficiency for English as a foreign language (EFL) learners in Taiwan," 2005

USC Dissertation in Education.
August 24, 2009

Lai, Ying-Chun, Ed.D.

Abstract (Summary)
This study investigates language learning strategies employed by English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners in Taiwan and looks for relationships between learning strategy use and the patterns of strategy use based on language proficiency. The data on self-reported learning strategy use were gathered from 418 freshmen at Tunghai University in Taiwan, using Oxford's (1990) Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL). Data obtained were analyzed using descriptive statistics, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), and chi-square tests.

There were useful findings on the overall and broad categories of learning strategy use. Additionally, the study provides detailed information regarding use of individual strategies and reveals new findings regarding the differences between more and less proficient learners in choosing available language learning strategies.

All participants reported a medium frequency for strategy use on the SILL. Among the six strategy categories, the participants reported using compensation strategies most frequently and affective strategies least frequently. The most frequently used individual strategies involved guessing intelligently and overcoming limitations in using English; the least used items involved speaking and writing to others in English.

The research results showed that proficiency level has a significant effect on strategy choice and use. More proficient and less proficient learners chose and used learning strategies differently. The more proficient learners used more learning strategies. They used metacognitive strategies and cognitive strategies most frequently and memory strategies least frequently. The less proficient learners, on the other hand, preferred social and memory strategies to cognitive and metacognitive strategies. The research also analyzed individual strategy items, finding that the strategies reported as used more frequently by the more proficient learners were arranging and planning their learning; using analytical and reasoning skills; and practicing their pronunciation and speaking. These strategies distinguished more proficient from less proficient learners.

Advisor: Yaden, David B., Jr.