Learning Strategies Instruction in Second Language Classroom

Learning Strategies are a set of operations, steps and plans used by the learner to facilitate the storage, retrieval and use of information. Richards and Platt (1992: 209) assert that learning strategies are ‘intentional behaviour and thoughts used by learners during learning so as to better help them understand, learn, or remember new information’.

Cohen (1998) says that learning strategies are consciously selected by the learner. All language learners use language learning strategies either consciously or unconsciously when they get new information and use them in the second language.

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It is reported that language learners who are capable of using a wide variety of language learning strategies appropriately can improve their language skills (Fedderholdt, 1997). Characteristics of the Second Language Learner There are students with different categories in classrooms for learning the second language. Teachers should educate different language learners with their special characteristics and must provide an individual quality education to suit the requirements of the second language learners.

There are a great number of learner characteristics and the teacher must identify different strategic techniques associated with different second language learners. Agreement between Teachers and Learners Teachers shoulder much of the responsibility for learning in the classroom. But in a language classroom teachers and students should share responsibility. The teachers take the role of a facilitator and the students take their role as active participants who are responsible for their learning. There must be an agreement between teachers and second language learners regarding how each will contribute in the learning process.

These agreements will be more successful if students provide the input on the agreement with guidance from the teacher. A sense of trust and a shared responsibility has to be established between teachers and language learners. The teacher is a coach who presents different kinds of plays, gives advice and opportunities for practice and provides feedback and support when playing the game. Students are to play, make decisions and evaluate themselves during the game. In the learning process the teacher can guide, facilitate and present materials clearly in an understandable way.

But, the teacher cannot learn the language for the sake of the students.

Students must take initiative for seeking opportunity to learn the language. The Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime”, which can also illustrate how the classroom should operate. The teacher gives students learning tools which will be useful for language learning. Students must be aware of their learning process and must be able to take control of their learning. A learner-centred classroom must initially be created by the teacher and must be accepted by the students.

A learner-centred classroom cannot be worked at so that all participants support the environment and are supported by the environment.

The stage must be set in order for strategies instruction to occur successfully. Setting Goals to Increase Motivation Students are to set language goals for them and that is a crucial step in second language classroom. Setting personal language goals increase their involvement in the learning process. Giving students an opportunity to establish their own goals allows students to reflect on their reasons for learning a second language which may lead to increased motivation. Oxford 1990) says that more motivated student tend to use more strategies than less motivated students and the particular reason for studying the language is important in the choice of strategies. Good teaching strategies can increase students’ motivation for second language learning tasks.

Second language learners are more motivated on tasks that they value. They value a task since it is intrinsically interesting or it can be applicable in their lives. Students with self-efficacy have confidence that they can solve problem. They believe that the more they learn and practice, the more their capabilities will improve.

They understand that mistakes are a part of learning.

Teachers should ensure that students experience meaningful successes with teaching strategies by providing authentic, appropriately challenging tasks and by teaching strategies explicitly so that students know how to apply them. Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition The Acquisition-Learning hypothesis According to Krashen, there are two ways of developing language ability. Acquisition involves the subconscious acceptance of knowledge where information is stored in the brain through the use of communication.

This is the process used for developing native languages. Learning, on the other hand, is the conscious acceptance of knowledge ‘about’ a language (i.

e. the grammar or form). Krashen states that this is often the product of formal language instruction. According to this theory, the optimal way a language is learned is through natural communication. As a second language teacher, the ideal is to create a situation wherein language is used in order to fulfill authentic purposes.

This in turn, will help students to ‘acquire’ the language instead of just ‘learning’ it. The Monitor hypothesis

This hypothesis further explains how acquisition and learning are used. The acquisition system, initiates an utterance and the learning system ‘monitors’ the utterance to inspect and correct errors. Krashen states that monitoring can make some contribution to the accuracy of an utterance but its use should be limited. He suggests that the ‘monitor’ can sometimes act as a barrier as it forces the learner to slow down and focus more on accuracy as opposed to fluency.

As a SL teacher it will always be a challenge to strike a balance between encouraging accuracy and fluency in our students.

This balance will depend on numerous variables including the language level of the students, the context of language use and the personal goals of each student. This balance is also known as communicative competency. The Natural Order hypothesis According to Krashen, learners acquire parts of language in a predictable order. For any given language, certain grammatical structures are acquired early while others are acquired later in the process. This hypothesis suggests that this natural order of acquisition occurs independently of deliberate teaching and therefore teachers cannot change the order of a grammatical teaching sequence.

According to this hypothesis, teachers should be aware that certain structures of a language are easier to acquire than others and therefore language structures should be taught in an order that is conducive to learning. Teachers should start by introducing language concepts that are relatively easy for learners to acquire and then use scaffolding to introduce more difficult concepts. The Input hypothesis This hypothesis suggests that language acquisition occurs when learners receive messages that they can understand a concept also known as comprehensible input.

However, Krashen also suggests that this comprehensible input should be one step beyond the learner’s current language ability. This hypothesis highlights the importance of using the Target Language in the classroom.

The goal of any language program is for learners to be able to communicate effectively. By providing as much comprehensible input as possible, especially in situations when learners are not exposed to the TL outside the classroom, the teacher is able to create a more effective opportunity for language acquisition. The Affective Filter hypothesis

According to Krashen one obstacle that manifests itself during language acquisition is the affective filter; that is a ‘screen’ that is influenced by emotional variables that can prevent learning. This hypothetical filter does not impact acquisition directly but rather prevents input from reaching the language acquisition part of the brain. According to Krashen the affective filter can be prompted by many different variables including anxiety, self-confidence, motivation and stress. In any aspect of education it is always important to create a safe, welcoming environment in which students can learn.