PART 1: INTRODUCTION
This part, which is an introduction to the thesis, helps to provide the background as well as the
context for the present study. The section includes the statement of the problem and rationale
for the study, research questions, aims and objectives, significance, scope of the study and an
overview of the rest of the paper.
1. Problem statement and rationale for the study
Since the first characteristic of “being able to function in a language is the ability to speak
that language” (Nunan, 1999, p. 225), English learners will lend themselves naturally to the
study of English pronunciation. Garrigues (1999) pointed out that good pronunciation is the
foundation of effective spoken communication. If speakers pronounce clearly and correctly,
their audience interlocutors should be able to understand what they are trying to express
easily. On the other hand, misunderstanding, in many cases, may occur when words are
inaccurately pronounced or stressed. As it can affect accuracy and comprehension,
pronunciation is drawing more attention in many ESL/EFL classrooms.
However, ESL/EFL learners encounter some common difficulties when learning
second/foreign language pronunciation. According to Kenworthy (1987), the factors affecting
students’ acquisition of pronunciation can be the native language, the age factor, the amount of
exposure, phonetic ability, attitude and identity, motivation and concern for good
pronunciation and the teacher’s role. Among those, several factors such as the age factor and
the phonetic ability can hardly be intervened during the learning process at the tertiary level
whereas the rest of which can be mediated with the help of the teacher.
As for Vietnamese learners, among the listed factors, the differences between Vietnamese and
English segmental and suprasegmental aspects of pronunciation pose many difficulties. Ha’s
study (2005) has revealed that the most common pronunciation problems among Vietnamese
learners are concerned with English consonants. From my teaching experience with both
English majors and non-English majors, it was apparent that poor pronunciation ability,
particularly inaccurate consonant sounds, prevented many students from being understood by
their teachers, friends and native speakers in oral communication. As a result, most of them
had little confidence in the classroom when it came to a speaking task. In other words, of the
factors contributing to students’ reluctance to speak English in class, the fear of making
pronunciation mistakes governed.
Acknowledging the importance of improving students’ pronunciation ability, the College of
Technology - VNU has developed the English program that separates pronunciation training
from other language skills. In this program, pronunciation training with the use of the textbook
“Ship or Sheep” (Baker, 1992) takes up to 1.5 hours a week. However, although official
training had been provided with quite plenty of time allocation, the teaching and learning of
pronunciation in this program still faced many challenges. The first problem is that students
did not have appropriate methods towards their learning of pronunciation. They were passive,
unconfident learners in the classroom, following teacher’s guidance when it came to
pronunciation practice. Also, they blamed their low pronunciation competence for the lack of
resources, learning strategies and motivation to practice at home. Another challenge may lie in
the pronunciation program itself. The lessons with the course book “Ship or Sheep” may
inhibit the students’ motivation to learn pronunciation with the repetition of the task types and
learning activities. From these problems, there are two questions that arise in my mind: i) how
can students be assisted in their learning approach to improve their pronunciation? and ii) how
can a teacher make the best use of the teaching time to help the students become more
involved in their own learning and more confident in their oral communication?
First of all, how can students be assisted in their learning approach to achieve better
pronunciation? The communicative approach to pronunciation teaching requires teaching
methods and objectives that include whole-person learner involvement (Morley, 1991).
Morley stated that there are three important dimensions the teacher should cater for in any
pronunciation program: the learner's intellectual involvement, affective involvement, and
physical involvement. The learner's involvement in the learning process has been noted as one
of the best techniques for developing learner strategies (Morley, 1991). It is, therefore, the
teacher's responsibility to develop the learning process so that the learner has the greatest
chance to develop the learning strategies that are unique to each individual. Vitanova &
Miller (2002) believed that once learners have mastered the basic sounds of English, it is time
to help them learn some strategies so that they can study more effectively on their own.
However, most of the research in the field of learning strategy instruction has focused on
reading as one of the important language skills (Carrell, 1998), and on cognitive strategies as
one of the main categories of learning strategies but little attention was paid to pronunciation
and metacognitive strategies, particularly the relationship between these two.
Metacognitive strategies, according to O’Malley and Chamot (1990), include selective
attention to the task, planning, self-monitoring, and self-evaluating. The importance of
metacognitive strategies has been emphasized by O'Malley et al. (1985, p.561) by stating that
"students without metacognitive approaches are essentially learners without direction or
opportunity to review their progress, accomplishment, and future directions". According to
Anderson (2002b), developing metacognitive awareness in learners may also lead to the
development of stronger cognitive skills and much deeper processing. It results in critical but
healthy reflection and evaluation of thinking. Therefore, in order to seek answers to the first
question proposed above, the present study focuses on explicit metacognitive strategy
instruction and its impact on pronunciation improvement of the students.
In answering the second question, to help learners become more involved in their own
learning of pronunciation, to become confident speakers of the language and to reduce the
one-to-one interaction between teachers and students in pronunciation lessons, peer tutoring
is advocated. Peer tutoring is defined as the process that “involves students learning from and
with each other in ways which are mutually beneficial” (Boud, Cohen and Sampson's, 2001,
p. 1). One reason for the use of peer tutoring in second language teaching is that firstly, the
participants seem quite capable of successfully learning with each other and secondly, they
can benefit socially from the experience (Cohen et al., 1982; Greenwood et al., 1998).
Additional evidence (King et al., 1998) indicates that peer tutoring may also encourage
students to engage in metacognitive self-monitoring, which helps learners to detect and
repair missing knowledge and misconceptions.
Although there are many methods and teaching materials to improve the pronunciation
learning and teaching, there appears to be no publication investigating the effectiveness of
using metacognitive strategies in pronunciation training as well as no advocate for the use of
peer-tutoring activities to encourage students’ confidence in oral communication. Therefore,
this study aims to develop a research program which combines these two variables to improve
students’ pronunciation. Arguments for adopting metacognitive strategy training and using
peer tutoring in teaching English consonants can be found in details in Methodology chapter
2. Aims and objectives of the study
Specifically, the study aims to:
i) investigate the teaching of English pronunciation and demonstrate the importance of
metacognitive strategy training to see how it can develop learners’ ability to take charge of
their own learning.
ii) evaluate the effectiveness of peer tutoring in the form of a pronunciation assignment and
see if, to what extent it helps to build up the students’ speaking confidence.
iii) find out whether students’ overall pronunciation competence is improved after such
practices as metacognitive strategy training and peer tutoring assignment are adopted or not.
3. Research questions
Based on the purposes of the study, the researcher attempted to develop a program particularly
for improving students’ pronunciation of consonant sounds. This investigation was designed to
answer the following questions:
1. What metacognitive strategies were employed by the students in their self-learning?
2. Can peer-tutoring assignment help to develop students’ speaking confidence?
3. Is there a significant difference in students’ pronunciation after metacognitive strategy
training and peer tutoring assignment?
4. Scope of the study
The research was conducted on a group of 15 students in the Collaboration Program of
College of Technology. Regarding its scope, the study only aimed at using metacognitive
strategy training and peer tutoring to improve students’ oral communication with reference to
segmental aspects of pronunciation. Particularly, the study investigated the effects of the
intervention on students’ pronunciation of consonant sounds. Vowel sounds, although
appeared in the practice of some tactics of metacognitive strategies throughout the research,
were not the focus of this study.
In addition, the study only takes the definition of reciprocal peer tutoring developed by
Fantuzzo and his associates (Fantuzzo, King, & Heller, 1992) into consideration. Reciprocal
peer tutoring refers to the type of tutoring which enables students to function reciprocally as
both tutors and tutees. Other types of peer tutoring will be described in the literature review
chapter only to underline the significance of reciprocal peer tutoring.
5. Methods of the study
The research design employed in this study is action research, with the use of a number of
instruments, namely, pretest and posttests, field notes, reflective reports and discussion. The
combination of different instruments used in this research would help to gain reliable data and
help the researcher have a close investigation into the problems that the students were having.
Rationale for the choice of action research and the use of mixed methods in data collection are
presented in Methodology chapter.
6. Importance of the study
The present research was carried out with the hope that ESL/EFL teachers will find out:
i) the importance of teaching pronunciation with an emphasis on metacognitive strategy
ii) the applicability of a peer-tutoring assignment in pronunciation to improve students’
confidence while communicating in English.
My further target is that there will be changes in the teachers’ perception of pronunciation
teaching and learning and then a change in their approach to pronunciation teaching and
practice in the classroom, particularly to the pre-intermediate and lower students.
7. Design of the study
The following parts of the study were divided into five chapters:
PART 2: Development
Chapter 1: Literature Review
This chapter reviews the current theories in pronunciation teaching and learning, the
classifications of language learning strategies, types of peer tutoring and the justification why
this study fits in the research area.
Chapter 2: Methodology
The Methodology chapter explains why action research was chosen as the research method,
presents the arguments for using metacognitive strategy training and peer tutoring as the
research variables, shows the steps of how the research was conducted, justifies data collection
instruments and data analysis methods.
Chapter 3: Findings and discussion
In chapter 3, the actions, findings and analysis of the findings in Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 of the
research are provided in response to the research questions.
Chapter 4: Implications
This chapter attempts to link the research results and discussed issues in the previous chapter
to the real-life second teaching and learning of pronunciation. This chapter suggests the
framework of teaching segmental aspects of pronunciation with the use of learning strategies
and pronunciation assignment to promote learners’ confidence in speaking English
PART 3: Conclusion
This part summarizes the findings of the action research, acknowledges the limitations and
offers suggestions for further research.
PART 2: DEVELOPMENT
CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW
In this chapter, the study aims to provide the concepts occurring in the subject matter and
review the theories and findings of the related studies in the research area. The chapter is
divided into six main parts: 1) pronunciation teaching and learning; 2) common pronunciation
problems among Vietnamese learners; 3) language learning strategies; 4) pronunciation
learning strategies; 5) learning strategy training and 6) peer tutoring.
1.1. Pronunciation teaching and learning
1.1.1. The importance of pronunciation teaching and learning
Many researchers agreed that only until recently, pronunciation teaching has been labeled “the
Cinderella of TESOL” (Kelly, 1969; Dalton, 1997). In traditional ways of learning English,
students often neglected the basic knowledge of speaking which includes the highlighted
importance of pronunciation. However, in communicative approach, Morley (1998) states that
pronunciation plays an important role in overall communicative competence and therefore
pronunciation teaching is an essential part of any course designed. Under this approach,
students are not required to have a native-like pronunciation, but intelligible one. This is a
kind of “accepted pronunciation”, which means students may make some mistakes but they do
not affect negatively on the comprehension of the listeners or cause misunderstanding.
Though Krashen’s (1985) position was that pronunciation is acquired naturally, pronunciation
teaching and learning in this study, however, follow Smith’s arguments (1981) that
consciousness and awareness raising are important in second language acquisition.
Furthermore, clear instruction was important to the effectiveness of pronunciation training
(Spada 1997, Pennington 1998 cited in Varasarin, 2007). These scholars also found that both
instruction in segmental accuracy and instruction in general speaking habits and prosodic
features, led to improved pronunciation. Others believe that teaching can play an important
role in helping learners develop ways of improving their pronunciation and shaping their
attitude toward the importance of pronunciation (Richards & Renandya, 2002 cited in
Varasarin, 2007). Fraser (1999, cited in Varasarin, 2007) concluded that most ESL teachers
agree that confidence with pronunciation allows learners to communicate more
successfully in the target language.
1.1.2. The acquisition of pronunciation
A number of studies have attempted to identify the factors that affect second/foreign language
students’ acquisition of pronunciation. Kenworthy (1987) has summarized these factors in his
The native language
This is proved to be the most influential factor affecting a students’ pronunciation. If the
students are familiar with the sound system of their native language, they will be influenced
enormously when they learn a second language. Therefore, a “foreign accent” which refers to
people with an accent of their native language can be easily identified among speakers of
English. It is known to many people that there exist the so-called Australia English,
Singaporean English, Vietnamese English, Indian English as the influence of the mother
tongue on the learning of English accent.
The age factor
Although it is often assumed that younger learners could learn to pronounce the second
language better than older ones, according to Kenworthy (1987), age is not the crucial factor
that affects learning or improving pronunciation abilities Brown (1992) presented that adults
were probably able to learn second language phonology as well as children did, in a direct
way, using a traditional listen-and-repeat exercise, minimal pairs in the context of the
sentences, conversation and role playing. However, there was no evidence for a simple and
straightforward link between age and ability in pronunciation of a new language. The fact is
that both younger learners and adults can improve their pronunciation abilities.
Amount of exposure
According to Brown (1992), it seemed that the amount of exposure is a contributing factor but
not a necessary factor for the development of pronunciation skill. He concluded that people
living in English-speaking countries have better pronunciation accuracy than those who did
not. However, it is hard to measure the amount of exposure to a language. A person living in
an English-speaking country but not using it in everyday life may not have more time using
English than another person living in a non-English speaking country but using it at work.
Therefore, there is doubt that the amount of exposure is an important contribution to
The phonetic ability
It is a common view that some people have a ‘better ear’ for a foreign language than others.
This skill is sometimes called ‘phonetic coding ability’ (Brown, 1992). Although students may
have attuned to phonetic discrimination as children, it does not mean that teachers cannot do
anything to help. Some studies have suggested that some elements of learning are a matter of
awareness of the different sounds. Therefore, pronunciation can improve with effort and
concentration on those sounds.
The attitude and identity
Brown (1992) pointed out that another influence was one’s attitude toward speakers of the
target language and the extent to which the language ego identified with those speakers.
Results from many studies have shown that learners who have a positive attitude towards
speakers of a foreign language tend to have a more native-like pronunciation. This is due to
the fact that when people like something, they are more likely to pay more attention to it. They
were not afraid of the second identity that may have been emerging within them. On the
contrary, some students are also aware of their foreign accent and do not attempt to sound like
native speakers as they want to be identified as the second language learners.
The motivation and concern for good pronunciation
This can become the strongest factor as the studies revealed. If learners really care much about
their pronunciation, they will become more careful with their speaking, and gradually build up
good pronunciation performance.
To conclude, these six factors have some effects on pronunciation learning and improvement.
Even though the age or the phonetic ability of learners cannot be controlled, teachers can
increase students’ exposure to the target language to a certain degree. Motivation seems to be
the main factor for successful pronunciation; therefore, teachers should promote it in their
classroom. For these reasons, innovation in teaching techniques can play an important role.
As stated before, with the prevalence of the communicative language teaching approach,
students are not expected to attain a “perfect” but “accepted” pronunciation. In other words,
the most common goal for ESL/EFL learners is “intelligibility”. Kenworthy (1987, p. 13)
defines intelligibility as “being understood by a listener at a given time in a given situation”.
By that it means, even when a foreign pronunciation is not precisely the same as a native
pronunciation, if it is understandable by the listener without much difficulty, it is acceptable.
However, an arising issue that concerns “intelligibility” is that why some foreign accented
pronunciations are accepted and the others are not and what is considered to be factors that
influence the “intelligibility”. It is easily assumed that it strongly depends upon a listener’s
language background which factors are influential and how much they are. Kenworthy (1987)
notes that “intelligibility” is often influenced by how familiar the interlocutor is to the speaker,
and therefore teachers (whether native or nonnative) do not make good judges, because they
are accustomed to the learners’ performance.
In EFL situations like that of Vietnamese, interaction in English is restricted to classrooms,
where a Vietnamese student interacts with another Vietnamese. Therefore possible
pronunciation problems that might threaten intelligibility are left unnoticed, or dismissed and
untreated in activities that draw on implicit learning. For example, a Vietnamese learner
usually “forgives” many kinds of pronunciation problems if she/he is familiar to that kind of
errors in everyday communication or she/he has the same pronunciation error.
As for a second/foreign language teacher, it is difficult to judge the level of intelligibility of a
student. This is further complicated since there is yet little agreement as to what phonological
aspects threaten the intelligibility of a teacher. This study, therefore has attempted to reduce
the complexity of this problematic issue by counting on the assessment of a native speaker as
to how much intelligible the students in the study were.
1.2. Aspects of pronunciation and classification of English consonants
Pronunciation is a complicated concept that involves many aspects. Generally, it can be
broken into the following components: vowels, consonants, word stress, rhythm, intonation,
elision, linking and intrusion. Basically, the sound system of English is studied under two
main headings: segmental and suprasegmental. According to Seferoglu (2005, p. 304 cited in
AbuSeileek), “segmental aspect of the sound system includes individual vowels and
consonants, and the suprasegmental aspect comprises word, phrase, and sentence stress, pitch
contour or intonation, and rhythm”.
The issue of teaching suprasegmentals in preference to segmentals is debatable. Because
segmental phonology is relatively more easily explained and taught than the suprasegmental
features (Coniam, 2002 cited in AbuSeileek), some studies focus on studying segmental
phonology in preference to suprasegmental features. However, as some recent studies have
revealed, new approaches to pronunciation have shifted focus away from segmental to
suprasegmental aspects of sound system. The current study is based on the belief that both
segmental and suprasegmental aspects of pronunciation are equally important to improve oral
communication competence but at different stages of students’ development, more attention
should be paid to either segmentals or suprasegmentals. As the students in this study are at
pre-intermediate and lower level, the focus is on segmental more than on suprasegmental
Traditionally, the three basic criteria used in the articulatory description of a sound are vocal
cord vibration (voicing), the place of articulation and the manner of articulation. As this study
focuses on segmental aspects of pronunciation, particularly on consonant sounds, the
following part only details the classification of consonant sounds in English. The table below
(table 1) summarizes the manner and place of articulation of English consonants:
Manner of articulation
Place of articulation
labio-dental (lips and teeth)
palatal (hard palate)
velar (soft palate)
glottal (glottis (vocal folds))
Table 1.1: Classification of consonant sounds according to manner and place of articulation
* Plosives – the flow of air is blocked and suddenly released, a bit like an explosion. So for
example, p (labial) is produced by closing the lips and releasing them.
/p/ as in pat
/b/ as in bat
/t/ as in tap
/d/ as in dog
/k/ as in cat
/g/ as in got
* Fricatives – the flow of air is restricted to make a hissy sound, a bit like friction.
/f/ as in fat
/v/ as in vat
/ / as in thin
/ as in then
/s/ as in sap
/z/ as in zap
/ / as in shine
/ /as the middle of pleasure
/h/ as in hat
* Semi-vowels are produced by keeping the vocal tract briefly in a vowel like position, and
then changing it rapidly to the position required for the following vowel.
/w/ – similar to ‘oo’, as in wet
/y/ – similar to ‘ee’, as in yet
* Laterals – l is the only English lateral, and is produced by putting the tip of the tongue
against the gums and letting the air pass on either side of the tongue. (Memorable because
lateral = sides)
/l/ as in let
* Nasal consonants are made with the soft palate down – air passing through the nose.
/m/ as in met
/n/ as in net
/ / /as in sing
1.3. Common errors of Vietnamese learners concerning consonant sounds
Many previous studies have been conducted to find out Vietnamese learners’ common
problems regarding English consonant sounds. Most of these studies have agreed that
Vietnamese learners tend to mispronounce sounds that do not exist in Vietnamese (Tran,
2008). More specifically, students make mistakes in palato-alveolar fricatives, dental
consonants, palato-alveolar affricates and voiceless plosive sounds. The second reason for the
errors is that many English sounds share some certain characteristics in their manner and place
of articulation, such as / / and / /. They are both palato-alveolar fricative so Vietnamese
learners can pronounce one sound correctly but mispronounce the other.
According to Ha’s research (2005) on the common pronunciation errors of Vietnamese
learners, these errors can be categorized into three types: sound omission, sound confusion and
sound redundancy. The common problems regarding consonant sounds can be seen from the
table 2 below:
Medial: l, d , r, s, k
Final: z, s, t, v, ks, d , r
tr = t
ð = z/ d
= j/ d/ z
= t/ f/ s
Table 1.2: Common pronunciation errors among Vietnamese learners (Ha, 2005)
Among them, the most common errors were sound omission in which omission of the ending
sounds were more frequent than others. It is easy to understand why ending sounds were
omitted so frequently, because Vietnamese speakers do not have to pronounce the ending
sounds. In addition, some of the sounds such as / ,
/, are really hard for Vietnamese
learners to pronounce especially when they occur at the end of words. For example, as for the
sound / /, the air-stream escapes through the narrow groove in the centre of the tongue and
causes friction between the tongue and the alveolar ridge. This is normally difficult for
Vietnamese learners because we do not have the same sound in our language, especially when
this sound occurs at the final position of a word. The act of holding the tongue against the
alveolar ridge for the air to pass through with some friction is a completely new concept for
many learners. The habit of “swallowing” the ending sound in the mother tongue is in fact a
negative transference that inhibits the pronunciation of ending sounds in the target language
There are several explanations for the weak pronunciation of Vietnamese students, among
which the lack of the exposure to authentic input is one important cause. Pronunciation used
not to be treated seriously in the curriculum of the secondary and high schools in Vietnam;
therefore, it is undeniable that Vietnamese learners have problems pronouncing these sounds.
Regarding the sounds that do not exist in Vietnamese that cause confusion to the learners, the
only way that can help is to provide the students with authentic input. Apart from providing
official pronunciation training program in the syllabus, students should be encouraged to show
concern for good pronunciation at any time they are exposed to the target language.
1.4. Language learning strategies
1.4.1. Concept of language learning strategies and other related terminologies
Research into language learning strategies (LLS) began in the 1960s and was much influenced
by the development in cognitive psychology (Williams & Burden, 1997, cited in Nunan,
2000). In the studies looking into how learners learn the language, the term language learning
strategy has been variously defined. It is stressed by Claus and Kasper (1983, p. 67) that a
learning strategy is “an attempt to develop linguistic and sociolinguistic competence in the
target language”. However, according to Ellis (1999) this definition by Claus and Kasper
appears not clear enough as it is often hard to tell the learner’s intention for learning, whether
they are driven by the desire to learn or the desire to communicate.
More precisely, Nunan (1999, p. 171) refers to learning strategies as “the mental and
communicative procedures learners use in order to learn and use the language”. This is
somehow shared by O'Malley and Chamot (1990, p. 1) as "special thoughts or behaviors that
individuals use to comprehend, learn, or retain new information". Also concerning the mental
and behavioral aspect of learning strategies, other scholars such as Weistern and Mayer (1986,
cited in Nunan, 2000, p. 234) claim that learning strategies both refer to “behaviours or
thoughts that a learner engages in during learning that are intended to influence the learner’s
Unlike the above notions, Wenden, Anita and Rubin (1987, p. 19) define learning strategies
more specifically as “any sets of operations, steps, plans, routines used by the learner to
facilitate the obtaining, storage, and use of information” which is rather similar to that of
Oxford (1994, p.1) "actions, behaviors, steps, or techniques students use, often unconsciously,
to improve their progress in apprehending, internalizing, and using the L2”.
While the concept of learning strategies is still controversial to many scholars, whether they
are general approaches or specific actions, Ellis (1999) provides a set of characteristics that
can help distinguish learning strategies to other concepts.
1. Strategies refer to both general approaches and specific actions or techniques used to
learn a L2.
2. Strategies are problem oriented – the learner deploys a strategy to overcome some
particular learning problem.
3. Learners are generally aware of the strategies they use and can identify what they
consist of if they are asked to pay attention to what they are doing/thinking.
4. Strategies involve linguistic behavior (such as requesting the name of an object) and
non-linguistic (such as pointing at an object so as to be told its name).
5. Linguistic strategies can be performed in the L1 and L2.
6. Some strategies are behavioral while others are mental. Thus some strategies are
directly observable, while others are not.
7. Some strategies contribute indirectly to learning by providing learners with data about
the L2 which they can then process, while others may contribute directly (for example,
memorization strategies directed at specific lexical items or grammatical rules)
8. Strategy use varies considerably as a result of both the kind of the task the learning is
engaged in and individual learner preferences.
As can be seen, the above characteristics summarized by Ellis have revealed most of the
debatable traits of the notion. The list can be considered “one of the best approaches to
defining strategies” (Ellis, 1999, p. 532). It is, therefore, reasonable why the present study
chooses to refer to the notion of learning strategies with all the characteristics listed in the
study of Ellis (1999). It is also the attempt of the present study to differentiate the “general
approaches” and the “specific actions” by referring to them as “strategies” or “tactics”,
respectively, as “tactics can be thought as specific tools to achieve the success of more
general strategies” (Oxford, 1990, p. 7).
1.4.2. Importance of learning strategies in the learning process
Considering the impact of LLS, most of the researchers on LLS feel the necessity of adopting
strategies to promote the learning process. Nunan in his research (1999) states that the greater
awareness learners have of what they are doing, or in other words, if they are conscious of the
processes underlying the learning that they are involved in, learning will then be more
effective. One of the leading teachers and researchers in the LLS field, Oxford (1990, p. 1)
argues that strategies are important for two reasons. Firstly, strategies “are tools for active,
self-directed involvement, which is essential for developing communicative competence”.
Secondly, learners with appropriate learning strategies “have greater self- confidence and
learn more effectively” (Oxford, 1990, p. 1).
In addition to developing students’ communicative competence, LLS are important because
using LLS can help them become better language learners. In one classroom-based study
which aimed to research whether learner strategy training makes a difference in terms of
knowledge, skills and attitudes, Nunan (1995) involved 60 students in a 12 week programme
“designed to help them reflect on their own learning, to develop their knowledge of, and
ability to apply learning strategies, to assess their own progress, and to apply their language
skills beyond the classroom” (Nunan, 1995, p. 3). Nunan concluded that his study supported
the idea that language classrooms should have a dual focus, teaching both content and an
awareness of language processes.
Generally, most of the scholars have agreed on the powerful impact of LLS on language
learning and teaching a foreign language. It can be easily drawn out that the success of
learning process may depend on how well and effectively the learner adopts LLS. With LLS
used in the learning of a foreign language, learners can become more competent, confident and
independent. Also, it is also suggested that less successful learners can be introduced with new
strategies, thus, helping them to become better language learners.
1.4.3. Classification of language learning strategies
Language Learning Strategies (LLS) have been classified by many scholars (Rubin 1981;
O'Malley and Chamot 1990; Oxford 1990; Ellis 1999, etc.). However, most of these attempts
to classify language learning strategies reflect more or less the same categorizations of
language learning strategies without any radical changes. For example, Rubin (1981)
considers learning strategies, communication strategies and social strategies three different
kinds of strategies. In their taxonomy (1990), O’Malley and Chamot, based on cognitive
theory, develops the strategies into metacognitive, cognitive and social affective strategies.
However, of all the classifications, the present study chose to follow Oxford’s (1990) which is
seen to be the most comprehensible way of classification by Ellis (1999, p. 539) “the most
comprehensive classification of learning strategies to date”.
Oxford’s taxonomy of language learning strategies (1990)
Oxford's taxonomy of language learning strategies (1990, p. 17) is summarized as follows:
I. Metacognitive Strategies
A. Creating mental linkages
A. Centering your learning
B. Applying images and sounds
B. Arranging and planning your learning
C. Reviewing well
C. Evaluating your learning
D. Employing action
II. Affective Strategies
A. Lowering your anxiety
B. Encouraging yourself
messages C. Taking your emotional temperature
III. Social Strategies
C. Analysing and reasoning
A. Asking questions
D. Creating structure for input and output
B. Cooperating with others
III. Compensation strategies
C. Emphathising with others
A. Guessing intelligently
B. Overcoming limitations in speaking and
As can be seen in this taxonomy, Oxford (1990, p. 9) sees the aim of language learning
strategies as being oriented towards the development of communicative competence. Oxford
divides language learning strategies into two main classes, direct and indirect, which are