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Language Learner Strategies: Contexts, Issues and Applications in Second Language Learning and Teaching
 9781474264143, 9781474264136, 9781474264174, 9781474264150

Table of contents :
Cover
Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
Acknowledgements
Introduction
Part ONE Basics: Principles and Practice
1 The Case for Language Learner Strategies and How It Responds to Modern Foreign Languages
2 What Research Tells Us
Part Two Strategies in Practice: From Theory to Research Practice
Introduction to Part Two
Section A: Progressin Modern Languages: What Difference Does Strategy Based Instruction Make?
3 The Role of Sociocultural Factors and Strategy Based Instruction
4 The Role of Affective Strategies in Students’ Learning
Section B: Beyond the Monolingual Learner of European Languages
5 Learning a Third Language: What Learning Strategies Do Bilingual Students Bring?
6 Strategies Used to Memorize Mandarin Chinese Written Characters
Conclusion to Part Two
Part THREE Applications
Introduction to Part Three
7 Strategy Based Instruction
8 Shaping Learning: Curricula and Syllabuses
9 Language Learner Strategies and Teacher Education
Conclusion
Notes
References
Index

Citation preview

Language Learner Strategies

ALSO AVAILABLE FROM BLOOMSBURY Bourdieu, Language and Linguistics, Michael James Grenfell Foreign Language Learning with Digital Technology, edited by Michael Evans Pierre Bourdieu, Michael James Grenfell Teaching Foreign Languages in the Primary School, Claudine Kirsch Teaching and Learning a Second Language, Ernesto Macaro Teaching English to Young Learners, edited by Janice Bland The Modern Languages Teacher’s Handbook, Gill Ramage

Language Learner Strategies Contexts, Issues and Applications in Second Language Learning and Teaching

MICHAEL JAMES GRENFELL AND VEE HARRIS

Bloomsbury Academic An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

LON DON • OX F O R D • N E W YOR K • N E W DE L H I • SY DN EY

Bloomsbury Academic An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square London WC1B 3DP UK

1385 Broadway New York NY 10018 USA

www.bloomsbury.com BLOOMSBURY and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published 2017 © Michael James Grenfell and Vee Harris, 2017 Michael James Grenfell and Vee Harris have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Authors of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. No responsibility for loss caused to any individual or organization acting on or refraining from action as a result of the material in this publication can be accepted by Bloomsbury or the author. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN: HB: 978-1-4742-6414-3 PB: 978-1-4742-6413-6 ePDF: 978-1-4742-6415-0 ePub: 978-1-4742-6416-7 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Grenfell, Michael, 1953- author. | Harris, Vee, 1949- author. Title: Language learner strategies : contexts, issues and applications in second language learning and teaching / Michael James Grenfell and Vee Harris. Description: London ; New York : Bloomsbury Academic, [2017] | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2017004463| ISBN 9781474264143 (hb) | ISBN 9781474264167 (epub) | ISBN 9781474264150 (ePDF) Subjects: LCSH: Languages, Modern–Study and teaching (Secondary) | Language teachers–Training of. | Language and languages–Study and teaching (Secondary) | Education, Bilingual. Classification: LCC PB35 .G7823 2017 | DDC 418.0071–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017004463 Typeset by Integra Software Services Pvt. Ltd.

Vee and Mike offer this book in warm appreciation of their collaboration together of over 25 years … and with a special dedication to Helena Harris, Mohammad Alnofaie and Ozge Razi

Contents List of Figures  ix List of Tables  x Acknowledgements 

Introduction 

xi

1

PART ONE  Basics: Principles and Practice 

7

1 The Case for Language Learner Strategies and How It Responds to Modern Foreign Languages 9 2 What Research Tells Us 27

PART TWO  Strategies in Practice: From Theory to Research Practice  47

Introduction to Part Two 



Section A: Progress in Modern Languages: What Difference Does Strategy Based Instruction Make? 

47

3 The Role of Sociocultural Factors and Strategy Based Instruction 55 4 The Role of Affective Strategies in Students’ Learning 79

Section B: Beyond the Monolingual Learner of European Languages  99

5 Learning a Third Language: What Learning Strategies Do Bilingual Students Bring? 101

53

viii

CONTENTS

6 Strategies Used to Memorize Mandarin Chinese Written Characters 123

Conclusion to Part Two 149

PART THREE Applications 

151

Introduction to Part Three 151

7 Strategy Based Instruction 153 8 Shaping Learning: Curricula and Syllabuses 179 9 Language Learner Strategies and Teacher Education 199 Conclusion  Notes  226 References  Index 245

221

229

List of Figures P.1 Short SBI activity 51 3.1 Attitude scores by group 69 3.2 Listening test scores by membership of experimental group and school attended 70 3.3 Attitude change by group and prior attitude 71 5.1 Listening gain score by monolingual/bilingual status 111 5.2 Reading gain score by monolingual/bilingual status 112 7.1 Overarching strategies 156 7.2 Flashcard for ‘Use what you know’ 164 7.3 Strategy wheel 164 7.4 Materials for teaching cultural awareness strategies 166 8.1 Topic, activities and associated strategies 193 8.2 Lesson plan 194 8.3 Strategies and activities 194

List of Tables 3.1 MRA results 66 4.1 Affective strategies for primary school learners 82 4.2 Affective strategies for secondary school learners 83 4.3 Contrasts in affective approaches 85 5.1 Languages spoken 109 6.1 Cross comparison of strategies 133 6.2 Memorization strategies in order of preference and indicating type 135 6.3 Factor analysis results 139 7.1 Progression in cognitive strategies from elementary to secondary 162 7.2 Summary of ISBI 170 7.3 Form for self-evaluation and feedback 173 7.4 Steps to autonomous classroom 175 8.1 Comparison of memorization strategies 188 8.2 Comparison of reading strategies 188 9.1 CLIL strategies 215

Acknowledgements W

e want to thank all the teachers who have worked with us in school. Without them, our classroom research would not have been possible. We are particularly grateful for all the hard work, invaluable insights and imaginative ideas of Jennie Prescott and Kate Scappaticci, and for the fun we had in turning theory into practical teaching activities. We also want to thank Maureen Barnshaw for piloting questionnaires and think-alouds and Sue Pritchard for her painstaking data entry and creative input throughout. We are indebted to Mike Griffiths, Goldsmiths College, London University, for his considerable expertise in the field of statistics and his patient but rigorous support. Thanks are also due to Jim Anderson for all his help and knowledgeable advice in setting up the Mandarin Chinese project. Also to the teachers in the school for their forbearance in initiating us into some of the complex issues involved in teaching their language and for creating the thinkaloud materials. We wish to acknowledge the Québec Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sport for permission to reproduce extracts from Self-Monitoring: A Handbook on Developing Metacognitive Strategies with First Year Elementary Cycle One ESL Students, and Progression of Learning English as a Second Language: Elementary and Progression of Learning at the Secondary Level: English as a Second Language Core Programs. We also wish to acknowledge Copibec for permission to reproduce the Strategy Wheel from a New Twist to English, Cycle 3, Student Book1, published by Lidec.

Introduction

L

anguage learner strategies (LLSs) have been and continue to be a source of considerable debate within the field of second language learning and teaching. Human beings have learned languages, both first and second, for millennia and there has emerged a very large body of literature about how this happens. In modern times, a plethora of teaching methodologies, techniques and approaches have been used to help individuals to learn languages. Some of these are based on reasoned argument, others on theoretical perspectives and still others just on a hunch. We are familiar with questions concerning the place of grammar and vocabulary learning in this process, as well as the role of communicative practice in living contexts. Yet, still, there is a degree of controversy about not only what to do but also why. Language learner strategies1 as a subject of enquiry emerged in the 1970s in a research field, which was evolving, evolving as a result of an expanding sociocultural context at a global level and partly due to the Chomskyan revolution that had hit applied linguistics from the early 1960s. The emphasis in the latter was on language as an innate mental ability – the so-called language acquisition device (LAD) – while the former took a socio-pragmatic view of languages as a communicative imperative within global societies. Early LLSs research was heavily influenced by preoccupations to investigate successful language learners, partly in the belief that exemplification of success could aid the less successful. However, this pragmatic intention was soon taken over by other more theoretical concerns about the very nature of language learning itself, and since the 1990s, strategy research has been dominated by a perspective, which stands in sharp relief to the Chomskyan paradigm. This book’s basic intent is firstly to offer an account of these developments and to contrast the theory and practice of language teaching and learning from various perspectives in order to show how and why LLSs are significant in this tradition. However, if one foot of its structure is in the various rationales

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of second language learning and teaching, the other is firmly set in practice itself, that is, researching strategies and applying what we find out in practical learning contexts. It is very much a state-of-the-art account based on several decades of our combined experience as language learners, teachers, teacher trainers and researchers into second language learning and teaching. There is, therefore, a reflective, summative element to the book. At the same time, it is very much forward thinking in setting an agenda for questions about principles and practice in the years to come. The research discipline of applied linguistics and second language acquisition is worthy of a historical account and analysis in its own right. It is a tradition, which has exploded in recent decades, partly driven by the international need to learn languages. However, there is a paradox here in the sense that while this rapid and large expansion has fuelled enormous activity at all levels, it has often taken place against an implied preoccupation with a certain sort of learner; briefly, they are adult and learning English. This situation is understandable enough: adults often find that they need second languages for professional and social reasons and, for many, school has not provided them with the necessary levels of proficiency for their needs; also, English has become, of course, a global lingua franca. The reasons and effects of this situation, as well as the extent to which it is true, involve arguments and debates outside of the scope of this book, but we can take it as essentially being so. This scenario has certainly cast its influence over the field of language learner strategy research but, on these two specific issues, our book takes a different line. Although we do draw on the vast quantity of research and practice in strategy work with adults learning English, our main focus is with child and adolescent learners of languages other than English. So, we are concerned with language learners at secondary school and college level. We are also interested by what in predominant English contexts are sometimes referred to as modern foreign languages. The latter have in the past mostly involved French, German and Spanish. However, in contemporary times, the assumption that second language learning naturally involves one or more of these has been challenged in many schools with pupils now taking courses in ‘non-European’ languages – for example, Mandarin Chinese, Urdu and Japanese. What the book will show is that the English-Adult focus has much to inform us within our own investigations. However, a nuanced approach must be adopted, since there are many, many contextual, linguistic and individual differences, which make non-adult/nonEnglish language learner strategies a subject of research and practice in themselves. These concerns are reflected in the structure of the book: it is divided into three distinct parts:

INTRODUCTION

3

1 Basics: Principles and Practice 2 Strategies in Practice: From Theory to Research Practice 3 Applications. Part One – Basics: Principles and Practice includes two chapters. Chapter 1 – ‘The Case for Language Learner Strategies and How It Responds to Modern Foreign Languages’ – aims to provide a context for the rest of the book by addressing issues of second language teaching methodology, and how this has evolved in modern times. We contrast the various approaches – grammartranslation, audio-visual, communicative – but also show the sort of language learning theories on which each was based as its underlying rationale. This is a critical aspect of the book since our support for a strategic approach to teaching is very much predicated on the learning theory that underpins it. That theory is the central pillar to Chapter 2 – ‘What Research Tells Us’. Here, we not only trace the developments in language learner strategies research, but also show how an emerging learning theory became central to its activities. Such a theory – cognitive – is set out in terms of its principal tenets, and the implications of these for both research and practice are explored. In this chapter as well, we raise one of the main tensions in the applied linguistics research tradition, namely the dichotomy between what we call the ‘social’ and the ‘psychological’. Applied linguistics as an academic discipline has, in the past, mostly been preoccupied with the psychology of learning, and thus its underlying rationales – behaviourism and universal grammar, for example. LLSs research also has often taken a micro-view of learning in its attempts to identify universals of learning, rather than examine the part that context plays – both individual and spatial. In order to inject rather more ‘social’ into our enquiries and discussions, we introduce some ideas gained from the perspectives of the French social theorist Pierre Bourdieu, whose approach we feel is congruent with the cognitive paradigm. As noted above, much of LLSs research was inspired by the notion of identifying ‘good’ language learning practice in order to teach it to the not-sogood. One of the prime phenomena to arise from this research, therefore, has been the notion of strategy based instruction (SBI). Such a notion represents a fundamental shift in language classroom practice, where, rather than teachers teaching the language per se, they now instruct the learner in how to learn. This is the whole ‘learning to learn’ agenda which also implicates issues of autonomy and self-access in language learning. All these issues are introduced in Part One. However, it is in Part Two  – Strategies in Practice: From Theory to Research Practice – that they are investigated in more detail, and from a research perspective. Part Two is divided into two sections: Section A – ‘Progress in Modern Languages: What

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Difference Does Strategy Based Instruction Make?’ – and Section B – ‘Beyond the Monolingual Learner of European Languages’. In Section A, SBI has been worked on with various learners: we are interested in its impact compared to other influential factors, be they sociocultural or affective, and in differentials in response. In this way, we do raise the social as a significant feature of language learning within a strategic frame, creating links to Bourdieu’s work. The research reported on here highlights the factors and issues involved in second language acquisition from the perspective of individual learner’s characteristics and attributes but also, the learning contexts in which they find themselves. Social background is important, but affective strategies are also important and have often been overlooked in LLS research. The second chapter in Section A focuses on these in particular. In Section B, we extend our enquiries into sociocultural issues even further, in particular, in the contexts where languages other than the standard European ones are encountered. The first chapter in this section considers ‘bilingual’ learners of languages and their response to LLSs. Bilinguals are learners who begin their modern languages studies with more than one language already at their disposal. The modern language might therefore be their third, fourth or even more language. In theory at least, bilingualism should give the learner a positive advantage since they already possess developed language learning skills. But, does this play out in practice? If not, why not? And, how can these advantages be harnessed more effectively? Differences in linguistic progress and in strategy use between monolinguals and bilinguals form the core to this chapter. We again highlight the sociocultural, and with a Bourdieusian perspective, by exploring how the home environment can foster the development of certain strategies. In the second chapter, we report on a study where pupils are learning Mandarin Chinese. The central issue here is the extent to which a non-European second language – indeed, one without a Roman alphabet – changes strategic behaviour. We find that some strategies are the same, but others are particular and developed in the light of the characteristics of this specific language. We conclude by exploring how SBI may need to be adapted to take account of these differences. As noted, an important strand running through Part Two is the tension between the social and psychological mentioned above and each of these studies really shows how overlying cognitive processes – in this case SBI and LLSs – need to be set in a social context, which recognizes the factors that can have a determinate effect on outcomes. This is not to relativize our work and research, but to show up the complexity of understanding what is involved if a strategic approach to the language learning is going to have positive impact. Having provided a rationale and exploration of language learner strategies, and offered a series of empirical case investigations of them in practice, Part Three extends the contextual focus by offering a series of chapters on the

INTRODUCTION

5

Applications of LLSs. Here, we consider strategy based instruction in more depth and with greater exemplification. We also show how LLSs might feature in teacher education and various curricula and syllabuses. The intent is to raise issues about what we call the strategic classroom, and show both the techniques and the framing structures which need to be operationalized to make the most of this approach to language teaching and learning which might still be seen as novel and innovative. We offer the book as a stand-alone, integrated text. It also comes with a wealth of references – both in theory and practice – which can be followed up by the reader. However, the book can be read in various ways depending on the reader and their concerns. For example, some might read it linearly, from theory to research to practice. Others may begin with the practical chapters before consulting the theoretical rationale. Still others may be focused on the research chapters, as up-to-the-minute accounts of LLSs in situ, and the current burning research issues they raise. We ask then for a strategic and self-aware reading of our book. LLSs necessarily involve a number of interconnected issues, and it has been our intent in this book to show how they interweave and interrelate. Through it all, our concerns remain practice – specifically, teaching practice – in other words, how to make language learning for all pupils and students better. Earlier, we raised the issue of our own backgrounds and how this necessarily results in a reflective account. What is reported here does pertain to the range of our experiences in different personal and professional roles in the field of language teaching. One of the main messages of this book, we hope, is that we see each of these as equal, and that one necessarily complements the other. To this extent, we offer its content as a contribution to an ongoing enquiry we are sure continues to excite and stimulate all those involved in the challenge of teaching and learning second languages in the modern world.

PART ONE

Basics: Principles and Practice

1 The Case for Language Learner Strategies and How It Responds to Modern Foreign Languages

Introduction Language learning, it seems, is a mystery in that no one really appears to know how it happens. And, yet people do languages and have always learned languages. How? There are many methods and approaches around, some going back centuries. None of them work! If a single one did, that would be the method everyone used. All of them work! Since people do learn languages despite what is done to them in classrooms. There are many factors involved, of course, and if someone works hard and is sufficiently motivated, no matter what the approach they use, they will become proficient in their second language. Conversely, if they do not work and are not motivated, they will not learn – no matter how ‘state-of-the-art’ the teacher’s techniques. This is perhaps enough for us to hold our hands up in despair and conclude ce qui sera, sera and it is all relative. But, that is not the end of the story…. This book is predicated on the idea that it does matter – critically – what teachers do with their learners. Any pedagogy will presumably have guiding principles, and these principles need to have a unifying rationale to make sense across time and contexts. As noted, there are many language learning methods, and this book begins with considering some of them before exploring their underlying rationales. Out of this discussion we shall see a number of issues emerging, which in their turn critically address what goes

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on in language classrooms. Along the way, the very nature of language will be scrutinized, and indeed our thinking about it. A socio-historical perspective will be taken in order to show how new methods have always built on old ones. We will also adopt a personal view from the vantage point of extensive experience as language teachers, teacher trainers and researchers into the processes of both. Issues of reflexivity are therefore never far from our discussion.

What goes on inside the black box? One of the key problems with understanding language learning is that we have so few ways of accessing its processes, and those that exist tell us very little about important aspects of what is going on inside the brain. If this is true for anyone’s first native language (L1), it is all the more so in a second language (L2) and even more in third language contexts (L3). Indeed, it is like looking into a black box where no light shines. In this case, we are forced to consider the product of language learning and surmise from that just what is happening inside. There is then always an element of conjecture about actual language learning, based as it is on what goes on in the course and as a result of it. Nevertheless, such a product can still be considered as empirical evidence and intelligent statements made about what is occurring under the surface. We have raised the issues of the multiplicity of language learning methodologies and approaches. These include the reform method, the direct method, the phonetical method, the active method, the natural method, the new method, the anti-classical method, the newer method, the reading method, the conversational method and more. Yet, this apparent diversity obscures an underlying consensus around just what are the issues to address in considering teaching/learning activities for the classroom. This is a question of theory and practice, and the relationship between the two is never linear or uni-dimensional. Theory, to some degree at least, needs to reflect what we find in practice, and in practice we must find trends that we can generalize about in a theoretical way. This is a natural short-hand to guide our choices, activities and behaviours. It is critically important, therefore, that we know what we are saying, and why, when we make methodological statements and justify our actions with theoretical principles, since what we believe will shape what we do, and this will have a direct effect on our leaners. Or, are we just unsure? C’est n’est pas la méthode qui nous manque, Palmer asserted, c’est la base même de la méthode (1917) (it’s not a method that we lack: rather it’s the foundations of method). This statement, made 100 years ago, still rings true today and does somewhat support us when we argue for the critical examination of language teaching methods in terms of

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language learning theory. In this way, we can weigh the pros and cons of each method in terms of what we understand about learning. We can also, in theory at least (!), design better language learning methods and techniques to help students in the very demanding task of developing active and worthwhile proficiency in one or more languages other than their native tongue. So, what is the ‘underlying consensus’ of which we speak? Any method used in language teaching is almost necessarily predicated on a set balance between the structure of language and its use. And, this is again a theory–practice issue. In other words, do we learn something in theory first, and then apply it in practice, or do we practise something in order to understand it in theory? There are literally thousands of examples besides language learning – for example, driving a car, learning to cook, indeed learning to teach itself (about which more later). A common sense response might, of course, be both; in other words, learn a little theory and apply it in practice until you can do so successfully, and then learn a little more theory. Or, should that be the other way around? Maybe it is not so common sense, and even if we think so, there remain key questions and issues about the exact balance between the two, and indeed the type of theory and the type of practice. Translated into language learning, this means which activities are students required to do and why. This question also leads us to consideration of the nature of language proficiency or competence, and therefore, the type of activity that is best at developing it effectively (see Grenfell, 2001). The next sections address the salient options for such theories of language learning; ultimately as a way of understanding which theory might best underpin language learner strategies, and therefore suggest the most successful approach in the languages classroom.

Structural linguistics (grammar-translation method) Structural linguistics, strictly speaking, arose from the work of the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1916/74), with its focus on the syntactic and lexical equivalence of language. As its name suggests, structure is all, and at any level – phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic  – any one language comes with its own characteristic features which might then be contrasted with those from other languages. The emphasis here is at least finding a ‘best fit’ when the learner moves from their first to their second language. Saussure made several insights and innovations with respect to our understanding of language, not least the ultimate arbitrary nature between meaning and what it signifies – what he termed the ‘signifier’ and the ‘signified’. However, this view of language is very much a common sense one and actually can be traced across centuries, if not millennia. Here,

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the meaning of language is to be found in the nature of language, and so it is up to us to learn its ways. The most well known approach to language teaching arising from such a perspective is the grammar-translation method. Here, as its name suggests, the rules of grammar are learnt and applied, while growing proficiency is tested through the accuracy of translations from L1 to L2 and vice versa; this would be true for both lexis and syntax. Higher levels of competence are affected through more fluent, and thus speedy, operationalization of such rules and equivalence. It is important to note not just the characteristics of grammar-translation, and indeed the underlying principles on which it is based, but the way a certain thinking (and thus relationship) about language shapes what we do in terms of teaching. It is easy to see here how intellectual analysis of language leads to an intellectualist approach to learning. It is unsurprising, therefore, to see activities in the grammar-translation classroom dominated by the intellectual discipline of comprehension tests, dictation and, of course, translation itself. It is possible, and indeed necessary, also to situate both learning theories and their associated teaching methods temporally. So, this studying of the structural form to understand language can be placed within the humanistic tradition that has followed our development in science and knowledge. Indeed, this is why language learning was for so long seen rather more as a mark of culture and learning than as a means to communicate. Structural linguistics emerged from de Saussure’s famous Course in General Linguistics in 1916. It would be an exaggeration to state that the grammar-translation method of language teaching represents a direct application of its principles, but it certainly resonates strongly with a cognate point of view. The same might be said of behaviourism and the audio-lingual method of language teaching.

Behaviourism (audio-lingual method) If grammar-translation and structural linguistics are avowedly intellectualist in their approach to language, behaviourism and the audio-lingual method can be understood as essentially psychological in a bona fide way. Behaviourism emerged in the early twentieth century as a reaction to theoretical abstraction in psychology, and asserted that researchers in this discipline should focus only on observable (practical) phenomena. Again, there is little or no attempt to get inside the black box, and the predominant occupation of behaviourists is the outer manifestation of mental (and physical) processes. Clearly, therefore, the scope of behaviourism goes beyond language. However, through works such as those by behaviourists Watson (1930) and Bloomfield (1933), an approach to language learning emerged which saw it essentially

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as a skill-based (and thus induced) activity. Such skills are developed through stimulus-response activities, which embed them in an almost habitual manner. It is easy to understand this by thinking of the way we might repeat a particular pronunciation until mastering its correct phonetic form. Similarly, we might ‘rote learn’ vocabulary or a particular grammar rule; for example, when translating from English to French, remembering that ‘when any form of the verb ‘to be’ is followed by another verb ending in ‘–ing’, the real verb is the verb ending in ‘-ing’. Thus, ‘he is dancing’ is ‘il danse’.

How might this learning theory be articulated as a teaching method? The obvious example is the audio-lingual, or audio-visual, approach, which is enshrined in the famous (some might say infamous) language laboratory. Here, repetition is the guiding principle. So, vocabulary is learnt through repetition and structural grammar forms are practised through saying them over and over. The difference between the two is that in the latter there is also a visual support to the repetition exercise; in this way sense and meaning go beyond language in itself. However, in both cases, proficiency in a language is gained through acquiring good language habits. Lack of competence then needs to be interpreted as insufficient practice. Therefore, the conclusion is, obviously, to practise some more. There is an element of functional ability in most human actions, and language is no different; some aspects of it are indeed learned by pure physical fluency. However, clearly, there are dangers in viewing language in this way, in that it is not evident how the necessary productive skills are developed through the memorization of a large series of stock-given phrases. There is a sense that what we end up with is a rather robotic ability in the language, limited by the phrases that have been committed to long-term memory. And, of course, endless repetition exercise can exert a negative impact on the learner for its very predictability and literal aimlessness of tasks. Universal grammar and communicative language teaching responded to both these criticisms.

Universal grammar (communicative language teaching) The behaviourist Skinner is sometimes associated with empirical experiments that track the predictable behaviour of living creatures (often rats!) in response to strength of stimuli. However, he also addressed language in terms of verbal behaviour (1957). For him, language followed a similar pattern to other human behaviour. So, the strength of any response itself was based on the magnitude of the stimulus, which was in turn a result of external environmental conditions:

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degree of interference, speed, amount of repetition. Such a view was directly criticized by Noam Chomsky with his theory of ‘language innateness’ (1957). For Chomsky, language was not so much a skill or habit as a natural characteristic of the human mind. In other words, the human brain was predicated on language activity, or what he called the language acquisition device (LAD). It follows that all languages are the same – at a deep structural level at least – since all human brains are essentially equivalent in nature. The diversity of actual languages in the world consequently need to be understood as simply surface difference; in other words, particular languages on the surface might be analysed and understood as arising from the same ‘deep’ structures. Clearly, this takes language learning even more deeply into a psychological level and, indeed, predictions can then be made and tested in situ as to the differences and similarities that might be observed between languages in practice. In actual fact, the LAD needed to be understood as a series of mental switches; which ones were turned on, and which were left off, in a sense, defines what language any one individual would end up with as native linguistic competence. In fairness, Chomsky was reluctant to make any claims, or even speculate, on the implications of universal grammar for second language acquisition (SLA). But, he did not have to, as there were plenty of others ready to do that for him. The most noticeable example is Stephen Krashen (1981, 1982). Like all good researchers, Krashen’s arguments were formulated as a result of close observation, namely, that individuals seemed to learn a second language by first listening to the meaning that surrounded them. There was even a silent period, where not much actual language was produced. Once set up, however, active linguistic production could come very quickly and cover all features of language. Why? Well, the short answer is because in the process of linguistic consumption, the LAD itself was being stimulated. No wonder his approach to language teaching called itself ‘the Natural Approach’. It was natural because it is predicated on the idea that language learning can indeed access this innateness of the human mind to learn language. From this perspective, ‘learning’ a language per se was not possible, in the sense of grammar-translation. Rather, language is ‘acquired’, that is, built up through a natural morpheme order as a result of lots of comprehensible input. Level of competence ipso facto determined what could be understood and thus learnt – anything beyond was incomprehensible and therefore un-learnable, anything beneath was already known and so did not affect learning! The only real factors in influencing such a natural process were affective, that is, the degree to which learners were open to allowing this natural process to occur. Excess anxiety clearly inhibited it. The ability to stay silent was a positive facilitator in reducing tension by not insisting on immediate production.

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And so to communication… It would be wrong to claim that Chomsky, Universal Grammar or Krashen and his Natural Approach were the instigators of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). There are numerous sociocultural reasons for its rise as a dominant language teaching approach from the late 1960s. The expansion of global communications during this time, not to mention the commercial imperatives, which often accompanied such growth, all led to a call for greater levels of discourse between peoples of the world (and indeed the communicative means to do so). Yet, the rationale for communicative teaching also arose from humanistic reasoning of a principled kind. For example, Hymes famously wrote that ‘there are rules of use without which the rules of grammar would be useless’ (1967/72), which asserted the realization that language needed to be understood in its social as well as psychological manifestations. We may know, for example, the conditional tense in French to allow us to ask someone to pass the butter (‘Could you (formal) pass the butter?’) but we also need to know that this form is appropriate with strangers rather than with our partner or children where we might simply say, ‘Pass the butter please’! From this insight, it was a short journey to seeing that communication was not only the aim of language learning (something which, surprisingly enough, had not always been accepted over the centuries), but the means to this aim. In other words, we learn languages by communicating. CLT methodology could then be devised by following the characteristics of communication: focus on meaning, information gathering and personalized exchanges; the unpredictable, authentic and legitimate (rather than contrived and formulated) language; extensive use of target language; tolerance of mistake; and appreciation of the difference between the oral/aural and written forms of language (see Centre for Information on Language Teaching: CILT, 1989 for references). It is perhaps somewhat paradoxical that these features, which seem to focus so much on the social aspects of language, resonate in many ways with the psychological stances of Chomsky and Krashen. Indeed, the very notions of an LAD and comprehensible input are almost perfectly analogous to the communicative tenets of CLT. Maybe, that is why it became so successful.

Successes and failures in the language classroom Clearly a good deal of second language learning takes place in natural settings when any one individual child or adult finds themselves transported from their L1 native environment to an L2 ‘foreign’ [sic] one. However, this is not the primary focus of this book which is mainly concerned with the ‘formal’

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context, that is, where an L2 is learned in educational settings like schools, universities and colleges. Here, of course, language learning per se is not the only challenge, but also the ability to perform in assessment systems based on various curricula. The challenge with the latter has been to marry tests to what we regard as actual proficiency, in other words, to ascertain levels of competence in various skill areas within a framework of actual teaching. As noted above, such language teaching has often been predicated on principles derived from distinct beliefs in terms of language learning theory, and this has shaped teaching methodology. It is therefore unsurprising to see curricula derived from the grammar-translation approach based around lists of grammar and vocabulary, both of which tended to be grouped in terms of perceived levels of difficulty and morphological utility. The content of subsequent assessment procedures is based on accuracy and content-light, if not content free altogether. Translation, from L1 to L2 and L2 to L1, follows a similar pattern; indeed, listening and comprehension tests can at that time in effect be best understood as extended vocabulary tests. Various audio-lingual methods did at least bring more content relevance into learning, since the said structural drills were based around situational contexts where there was some link between lexis and syntax and the selected subject area. Underlying this approach, however, the goal still tended to be grammatical accuracy; indeed, grammar-translation was even grafted onto audio-lingual approaches as a way of each complementing the other. No one would claim that understanding of L2 grammar – implicitly or explicitly – is not useful, indeed essential, to a fully productive proficiency in a second language. However, the two could so easily become separated, where a learner studies the grammar as an end in itself, rather than for a practical usefulness. Personally, when landed with a grammar curriculum to teach, I found that my best students were also good at mathematics – they liked and responded to syntactical equations that they could solve in a mentalist way. Similarly, someone not so equipped could so easily flounder, lost in the metalanguage of tenses, pronouns, the subjunctive, agreements, cases and lexical gender. There are then benefits to different methods, according to the individual learner. Equally, there is no doubt that a certain functional embedding of structure and phonetics, developed in frequent language laboratory sessions, is an aid to both fluency and pronunciation. Also, the situational dialogues of the audio-visual classroom, with its slides and tapes, helped to create links with contexts in the real world. However, rote drilling can also be highly demotivating, and it is not certain how stock phrases translate into fully productive generative proficiency. And, situational dialogues were so often impersonal, based on the third person – he, she, they – rather than about the learners themselves – ‘we’ and ‘I’.

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It would be misleading to claim that these methods were an abject failure and that their underlying learning theories have nothing to tell us. Context is all and, in national situations where language learning is backed up with a range of cultural and educational factors, they have been used to support the development of successful learners. However, all too often, the outcomes to these approaches were not unlike what is described above, either grammar machines with little communicative proficiency, or simply demotivated robots. The prospect of addressing this situation is exactly what CLT offered, with its emphasis on ‘getting things done’, as transactional-interactional language – from a personal I-We focused perspective. The communicative emphasis went to the heart of curricula where the emphasis was now on notions and functions of language rather than grammar and syntax (see Wilkins, 1976). The latter was integrated in terms of its usefulness rather than degree of difficulty. Language lessons then became a rehearsal for real-life performance. The concept of the sympathetic native speaker also emerged, by which was meant that proficiency could be judged in terms of its acceptability (note rather than accuracy) for an L1 speaker. Errors were not to be penalized.

A national example… We can see this trend by considering the case of modern foreign languages in the UK. Traditionally, learning a second language was for the elite, that is to say students and pupils in the upper echelons of achievement, and based on skill in grammar and translation. This began to change in the 1960s with the introduction of various audio-visual/audio-lingual programmes that sought to engage learners in more direct oral/aural engagement. By the 1980s, however, modern language exams still might come on small, coloured papers where the necessary translation, comprehension and essay titles were given. The oral exam was almost an adjunct with few marks being awarded for spoken proficiency. All that changed from 1990, however, with the arrival of the National Curriculum. Initial Advice (Department of Education and Science: DES, 1990) which set out the communicative case as outlined above. Subsequently, the very way we talked and thought about language changed. Out went skill areas – translation, comprehension, dictation and so on – and in came Attainment Targets – Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing – which were given equal weighting in exams, and thus, hopefully, teaching. This was a topic-centred curriculum with suggested areas for coverage: personal lives and everyday activities, the world of education and work, leisure and travel, culture and international relations. Attainment targets were expressed, not in terms of prescription and accuracy, but ‘levels’ defined in terms of composite criteria

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based on gradients of complexity, range and sophistication. What actual language proficiency amounted to was set out in a series of Programmes of Study: ●●

●● ●●

●●

Communicating in the Target Language – that is communicating to each other and in groups for ‘real purpose’; Language Skills – writing, reading, speaking and listening; Language-Learning Skills and Knowledge of Language – the means to learn and the component parts of language; Cultural Awareness – familiarity with authentic materials and knowledge of the country, as well as actual contact with native speakers.

It is easy to see the general communicative thrust of this approach and the sort of language learning theories that underpinned the curriculum. So, the general approach was that a second language could indeed be acquired in a semi-natural way through communication itself. Everything else – metaand paralinguistic features – would be subordinated to communication. Various points can be made. First, communication does not mean only the spoken word, and it was probably an oversimplification if CLT in this context concentrated only on speaking, and it is as well to remember that Krashen himself argued that Reading could indeed also be a form of comprehensible input. Second, nowhere in CLT is it stated that grammar should not be taught; it is just that, it is argued, it should be taught with communicative aims in sight. Third, whatever happens in the classroom as a result of this curriculum, it is led by context – in other words, the situation in which the language is used. Fourth, the psychological – actual language learning – is seen as very much being complemented by both the cultural and the social. Fifth, language learning skills are central to the task; there is then acknowledgement of the necessity of acquiring not just language but the means to do so other than straight learning. It is important to set this national case study in its own socio-historical context. So, the enthusiasm to embrace the communicative approach was partly fuelled by a certain despondency with what came before, which seemed to result in a very limited success and then only for the few. ‘Languages For All’ became the watchword of the time in a general push to democratize modern languages learning and teaching and, indeed, provision was extended to a far wider range of students, in secondary schools at least. The immediate effects were instantly positive. Publishers got on board with a fantastic array of teaching materials, many of them highly colourful and attractive. In place of the slim textbook based on a series of grammar

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exercises came the multifaceted course, with associated readers, computer games, worksheets and all manner of reading and listening materials derived from authentic sources. In examinations as well, the small question paper was superseded by booklets in which students were presented with language tests rooted in everyday contexts. There was an attempt to develop oral tests in a highly personalized way and they were again built around interactional/ transactional language. It would be hard to imagine that such a revolution in style and approach did not have a positive impact, and it did since pupils were able to engage more openly and creatively in this menu of activities. Teachers felt themselves somewhat freed of the yoke of grammatical accuracy, and both teachers and students became more motivated by this personalized style of learning. However, there was a flaw at the heart of this interpretation and application of CLT, and it was one that was to play itself out with almost disastrous consequences in the years that followed. This flaw goes back to learning theory, what we understand by language, and how this is consequently translated into practice in the classroom. As such, it does rather return us to questions of theory and practice, of content and structure, and, ultimately, teaching and learning. The most succinct way to sum up the flaw on the content side is with the cliché that students spent much of their time ‘ordering meals that they were not going to eat, buying tickets to places they were never going to visit, and learning about people whom they were never going to meet’ (see Grenfell, 1991). So, transactional language was all very well and good with early learners, and could form the basis of entertaining language activities in the classroom. However, the discipline struggled to move beyond these and, three plus years in, when learners were still finding themselves in similar contexts, the interest had worn off (with the resultant negative impact on motivation). The second issue is structure again – in a word, grammar! As noted, no one had really ever argued that grammar teaching was bad, but somehow, in the general willingness to embrace CLT, the impression had been given that that was the case. At best, there was no systematic coverage of grammar and language rules. At worst, there was just plain confusion on the part of teachers, which quickly rubbed off on their students. In both cases, we need to ask how it was believed that learners would acquire genuine productive language skills – in other words, to be able to manipulate language in their own way for their own purposes. Too often, it was assumed that it was enough to ‘stimulate’ the LAD and with the smallest amount of actual formal metalanguage for generative language competence to occur. Again, it was thought that learners would somehow break down ‘chunks’ of language by unconsciously analysing them and perceiving their underlying rules. Both of these assumptions now appear as extreme acts of faith. In the UK at least, where curricular reform was also accompanied by inspections on the part

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of government agencies in order to check that the necessary changes were being implemented (and indeed where percentage target language use was almost seen as synonymous with the quality of language teaching), feedback suggested that all was not well, and the problems were as we might have predicted. First, more systematic inspections revealed that motivation often waned after the early years as topics became repetitive and language teaching materials struggled to engage older learners in more mature subject content (see Dobson, 1998). Second, as motivation decreased, so did actual progress; so, learners’ actual proficiency plateaued out after an initial surge leading to the familiar linguistic problem of fossilization. Third, learners showed little ability to use language in an independent manner, thus initiating and shaping language in their own terms – too often, it seemed they were overly dependent on the teacher’s scaffolding of their language production. Of course, it is important to guard against generalizing and, behind this account, clearly, there was a very wide range of practice, some better, some not as good as that described here. What we write of are trends. The same might be said of CLT itself, which is certainly more complex in its actual manifestation in many ways than the grammar-translation method. CLT is, after all, an approach rather than a method, so axiomatic rather than prescriptive. There is considerable variation in how it is used to teach English to adults, for example, and how it is interpreted by UK teachers of European languages in secondary schools. The room for individual interpretation and application, therefore, was enormous. Yet, there were voices of concern right from the very beginning and, as we noted above, language pedagogy has always developed on the back of both successes and failures anyway – so, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It is probably best to understand CLT as a series of generations – first, the period of the later 60s and 70s when it appeared as a result of both sociocultural and linguistic developments; second, the fully flowering of CLT as a natural approach, one where L1 and L2 somewhat mirrored each other; and third, the realization that full-blown acquisition does not necessarily impact on proficiency, or, if it does, it is rather more slowly than would be wished. A fourth generation, in the UK at least, then began to assert itself as a call for greater autonomy in the language classroom – this in place of the cliché of the ‘all-singing, all-dancing’ approach to CLT which seemed to amount to class chanting every bit as repetitive as any audio-lingual approach, and the production of walking phrase books with little ability to manipulate and manage the second language. Autonomous techniques aimed at introducing greater learner choice in language learning proceedings, most noticeably by involving them in activities where they took real decisions from their own perspectives and world views. This was part of a changing view that saw self-regulation as critical in the negotiation of the learning experience. Furthermore, it was

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realized that the most authentic part of language learning for students and pupils was the classroom environment itself, not replicating some ‘foreign’ culture through posters and realia. Such independent techniques might simply involve choice over a range of materials, tasks, the speed with which the learner accomplished them or the purpose of language work. Project work, for example, might be included based around a long-term defined outcome. Or, route maps might be provided of existing published textbooks within which learners could ‘travel’ on their own terms (see Gathercole, 1990). If autonomy is a fourth generation, then a fifth, or sub-generation, soon followed with the realization that independent language learning needed to be supported by giving learners the necessary skills to work ‘on their own’ (Grenfell and Harris, 1994, 1995). Language-learning skills, of course, have a long history and would include ways to remember vocabulary and grammar rules. But, now, under the autonomous banner, such skills were joined by a whole battery of other activities designed to help the learner organize their own learning. This might range from how to use a dictionary to key phrases to request clarification or elucidation. Such might be seen as simply utilitarian. However, it is important to stress that beneath them lies another fundamental shift in how we regard teaching and thus learning: and, within the autonomous paradigm, the accent shifts very much from the teacher teaching to the learner learning. The role of the teacher therefore changes from being the source of learning – by teaching – to one of organizing learning: And, it is here that strategies in general, and language learner strategies in particular, become immediately relevant as ways of understanding and enabling learners’ ‘learning to learn’. But, what of learning theory? How does it fare in the light of these insights and developments?

So, what is language knowledge? In this chapter, we have sought to show how different ways of thinking about language have shaped language teaching, and to underline the ways in which problems arose as a result. We have gone from language in its most structural form to theories which have claimed to get inside the black box of the mind and to explain what happens there from a psychological point of view. Finally, we have shown how pedagogic as well as sociocultural imperatives came to influence thinking about language teaching and learning, and, in a way, how CLT can be understood as representing an attempt to bridge the social and the psychological. Yet, still there are problems in language teaching. We wish to argue that such problems come about as a result of our thinking about language itself, and thus the relationship we have with it. And, in this respect, too often, we confuse the things of logic with the logic of things. Structural linguistics is a product of such logic and seeks to describe language

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forms. Behaviourism takes such forms as the basis of linguistic action. What is different about Universal Grammar is that it proposes a natural innateness to the language-learning condition of the human mind. Chomsky posited a fundamental distinction between competence and performance; in other words, any one individual performative linguistic event was always a product of a base competence, which needs to be appreciated more in terms of potential rather than proficiency. Competence is, as it were, the deep structures of the mind that can generate language. Language is, after all, finite, but with the capability to deal – both productively and receptively with an infinite number of forms. We have seen how Chomsky was mostly concerned with L1 and it is debatable to what extent the same logic applies to L2 contexts. We have highlighted the way that Hymes (1967/72) emphasized language ‘rules’ which would lay outside of the narrow grammatical definitions, whether structural or innate. For him, language should also to be thought about in terms of social dimensions such as appropriacy, possibility and feasibility. Language needs to be seen as being inherently ‘problematic’ in that there are a number of discourse features to adhere to – coherence, cohesion and so on – as well as fluency and accuracy. Canale and Swain (1980) attempted to formalize this perspective by bringing the robustness of the Chomskyan concept of ‘competence’ (which, incidentally, is strong theoretically in Popperian terms) – essentially psychological in nature  – to these more social dimensions of language. So, knowledge of social aspects of language became sociolinguistic competence; global knowledge of the structure of dialogue and narrative became discourse competence; and actual syntactical knowledge became grammar knowledge. Canale and Swain also recognized that language learning was inherently problematic as we have discussed and so proposed a fourth strategic competence as knowledge that allowed the learner to ‘resolve’ learning difficulties. This schema allows us, therefore, at least to see language learning as potentially a systematized set of competences that goes to make up communicative competence in the ability to both understand and generate language for a wide range of contexts. It also suggests that each component part has equal weighting with any other, supporting the notion that language teaching needs to take a more systematic look at these other dimensions of language learning and incorporate them in a much more explicit manner in their pedagogies and curricula. Indeed, Bachman (1990) classified all manner of language features under two general headings of pragmatic competence and organisational competence in his attempts to create a framework that could assess communicative competence in a composite manner. However, at base is still the same issue of ‘dichotomizing’ language into form and function, or content and structure – in short, theory and practice. Moreover, all this still compartmentalizes languages. Not only is it words about words,

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but words which predicate a different order of knowledge, and thus theory, about different aspects of language. This is important since, as above, what is essential is to understand how the way we describe language will affect how we approach it. Our fourth language learning theory seeks a different approach.

Cognitive theory (language learner strategies) Cognitive theory is another psychological approach, one which essentially sees the brain as an information processor. All of the aspects of competence, and the features of communicative competence, are therefore understood as different sources of information. Certainly, these sources are different orders of knowledge, but information for cognitive processing no less. ‘Cognition’ can be defined as simply ‘mental processes’. As we have noted, conventionally, language is often expressed in terms of a series of ‘levels’ from sound source to structure and meaning: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. Clearly, each level operates in a different way, which to an extent may involve physical control. From a cognitive theoretical point of view, they are all aspects of information being processed. However, cognitive psychologists can study SLA in terms not only of language forms and formation, but also how language is involved in shaping/making sense of the environment – both ideational and material – which surrounds the learner. The social, including the personal and the affective, is therefore as important as the psychological in cognitive theory. Memory, attention and perception are the focus for cognitive psychologists, and the processes and influences on these. In cognitive theory, there is another dichotomy, which we need to understand in its applicability to language learning and use, that is, cognitive and the metacognitive. If Cognitive is simply mental processing, the metacognitive is broadly ‘thought about thought’ – there is then this distance between actual thinking and thinking about thinking. Metacognitive therefore necessarily involves some time separation between the mental event and thinking about it. This is most clearly manifested in the strategies of planning, monitoring and evaluating, for example, on capabilities, performance, particular mental tasks and choice of behaviour (thus both mental and social). There is a further dichotomy in cognitive theory with respect to the way that knowledge distinguishes itself: that is, the declarative and procedural. Declarative knowledge is knowledge of facts and things that can be ‘declared’, although not necessarily by the knower since not all that is known can be known to be known. For instance, it is possible to use language perfectly without being able to declare the linguistic levels of use cited above. Declarative knowledge might also include images and temporal features in

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strings of events or sequences. Procedural knowledge, on the other hand, is knowledge of how to do things, and how to solve problems through developing knowledge about relational elements. Syntactical competence is clearly one aspect of procedural knowledge as it relates to knowing how to bring these relations together to make the desired sense. In a world according to cognitive theory, we are constantly confronted by situations which have to be understood, interpreted and responded to according to a combination of declarative and procedural knowledge. In the L1 context, the world confronts the learner and is ‘declared’ to them in and through their linguistic environment by the individuals surrounding them. It is not declared in terms of the technical term of language but in naming the world and the relations existing in it. This process is part of the cognitive development of the learner and their place in the world. It includes abstract as well as concrete features. Language in an L2 context operates differently. For a start, it double declares the world. In other words, it names that which has already been named. Moreover, it expresses linguistic relations in a way which is different from those already present in the learner. This second dimension of L2 learning allows for further possibilities. For example, it is not only a question of thought and language, and the relationship between the two in a developmental process, but thinking about language and thought, and the language, which might be employed to navigate this thinking. It is in this sense that a cognitive approach to ‘language learning’ can focus on the processes of ‘learning’ and as ‘learning to learn’ under one cognitive banner. Here, as with the autonomy branch of CLT, the emphasis is placed not so much on teaching language and knowledge about language as on the strategies, tactics and activities the learner might engage with to help themselves learn. Language learner strategies therefore need to be understood not as discrete, facilitative elements that can be useful in the teaching and learning of language, but as representing a genuine paradigm shift in the way we regard language, especially second language. It is not so much that we have language, language learning and strategies, but that language, language learning and teaching need to be understood as all being inherently strategic – and at all levels.

In summary… In this chapter, we have considered the background to modern language teaching and learning in the context of the UK at least. It is not only an informed view, but a personally experienced one since we are language learners ourselves and have been employed as teachers of language, as well as trainers of teachers. To this extent, we have lived the successes and failures referred to above, as well as the developing theoretical insights that

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have been made. As we have noted, there is an innate paradox at the heart of language learning and teaching, which is one of structure and use, or form and content. And, we have seen the various ways by which different approaches to both teaching and learning have fluctuated between one and the other in its attempts to come up with satisfactory explanations in the practice of both. We have emphasized how all the ebbing and flowing of theory and practice needs to be understood also in terms of relations to language, which shape what happens in actuality. We have alighted on cognitive theory in preparing the way for the rest of the book. In the next chapter, we base ourselves in research in order to show how the Language learner strategy case was developed and further explore its underlying theoretical rationale while, of course, never losing sight of pedagogical implications. This is in order to set a framework for the next two parts of the book where these issues will be taken up in greater detail.

2 What Research Tells Us

Introduction In the last chapter, we considered issues concerning the actual teaching of Modern Languages with special reference to underlying language learning theories. We saw how what we teach is shaped by what we understand language to be, and this in turn discloses a certain relationship to language. Central to the discussion was the notion of competence – communicative competence – and the units of knowledge that go to make up linguistic proficiency. We saw the advantages and pitfalls of the various approaches and methods of the past and ended up with cognitive theory, the principal paradigm underpinning Language Learner Strategies (LLSs). This chapter looks further into the theoretical background and justification for a cognitive view of language learning by tracking research concerns and findings. We aim to show the research rationale for LLSs as a basis for the chapters which follow. We shall stress the issue of the individual language learner, but very much as part of the social, cultural and hence pedagogic environment, which surrounds them. We will end with presenting the case for strategy based instruction (SBI) – in other words, how to build the ‘strategic classroom’.

The Good Language Learner The notion of a `Good Language Learner’ (GLL) is an attractive one: firstly, because it does reflect a common-sense notion of second language learning, some learners seem inexplicably more successful than others, and secondly, because it offers the temptation that if we can find out how?

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and why? good learners are successful, then we might be able to teach the not-so-successful what they are doing. Early attempts to catalogue what good language learners were doing set themselves very much on the communicative crest of the wave which was sweeping through language teaching at the time, although often observing that formal language structure – whether as syntax or lexis – still had a part to play. Hence, Rubin (1975, 1981) identified the learning ‘processes’, which could help learning a language learner – clarification, monitoring, memorization, guessing, inductive inferencing – and Stern (1975) also listed ‘technical know-how’ in ways to ‘tackle’ a language, as well as the willingness – and indeed the skills – to plan and experiment with language in such a way that a stable system of competence indeed develops. Willingness to practise, however, underpinned these skills, as did a certain ‘communicative attitude’. So, the Good Language Learner, for both Rubin and Stern, looked for meaning in their language – what they wanted to do and say in it – and opportunities to communicate with others. The social and individual, as well as the contextual, were therefore equally important in shaping individual leaners’ ‘linguistic destinies’. For Stern (1975), in particular, such an attitude clearly involved the emotional – or affective  – and the social; so, a positive outlook with regard to language learning, active engagement and tolerance were essential to success. This amalgam of GLL practices was later formalized by Naiman et al. (1976/96) in their research that went by the same name: 1 Active Task Approach GLLs: are active in their response to learning situations; intensify effort where necessary; practise regularly; identify problems; use everyday-life experiences for learning. 2 Realization of Language System GLLs: refer ‘judiciously’ to their own native language and make comparisons; make guesses; make inferences about language; follow clues; develop a language ‘system’. 3 Realization of Language as Means of Communication GLLs: frequently concentrate on fluency; do not prioritize accuracy; look for opportunities to communicate; are aware of sociolinguistic aspects of language learning. 4 Management of Affective Demands GLLs: realize that language learning involves emotional responses which have to be dealt with. 5 Monitoring L2 Performance GLLs: review their second language and make adjustments.

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On the face of it, this is a pretty useful list representing the range of behaviours that any individual would need in order to become successful in their language learning. Of course, there are questions concerning the degree of actual detail behind all these – what each actually entails in practice. Nevertheless, it is helpful to itemize this range of activity in a utilitarian way. Unsurprisingly, therefore, other researchers in the early years of strategy research worked on developing and deepening our knowledge and understanding of strategy deployment: what? when? how? and why? For example, Oxford (1990) catalogued an entire inventory of the sort of strategies a learner may have at their disposal, something she argued ‘every teacher should know’; indeed, more pertinently perhaps, something that every learner should also know! Wong-Fillmore (1979), on the other hand, studied second language acquisition in classroom groups and saw how learning was dependent on achieving communication; but that the latter involved a series of ‘strategic’ orientations – impression management, making the most of clues, looking for support from those around you, and even giving the impression that you understand. This socio-communicative aspect to strategy deployment in fact opens up an entire research area allied to LLSs: Communication Strategies (see, for example, Bialystok, 1990). Such strategies involve a whole set of discourse strategies like filler phrases, as well as social and affective management skills in navigating through successful discursive encounters. Wesche (1981) further suggested it might not be an either/or situation; by implication, some of these GLL behaviours were more useful to some learners than others and vice versa. A learner with an analytic disposition would therefore make use of the specific formal learning skills, while another with a more communicative orientation would take up the socially orientated strategies. Clearly, the very useful aspects of LLSs research at this stage were the itemizing and developmental taxonomies of such strategies. However, in its attempt to be inclusive in drafting every possible strategic action, questions about just what were strategies in the first place were left wide open; so, it is not unusual to find strategies described at the time as ‘thoughts’, ‘skills’, ‘techniques’, ‘behaviours’, ‘attitudes’, ‘tricks’, ‘tactics’ and so on. Can strategies be all these things at the same time, or is there some hierarchy implied in their respective definitions? Confusion in this case, or should we say over enthusiasm about describing ‘strategies’, meant that questions of actual learning theory were passed over – often, somewhat in silence. When examining the case for LLSs, Dörnyei and Skehan (2003) consequently argued that on the work up until that point, the case for LLSs as a genuine research focus needed to be viewed with some ‘skepticism’ since there were problems including both the behavioural and the emotional in the current definitions of ‘strategies’. In other words, they were suspicious of any definition of strategy that functioned as both linguistic knowledge and

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language skills at the same time, thus, any theory underpinning strategy research applied to actual neurological and social activity. It is this question that a cognitive view of LLSs sets out to respond to, and it is to this that we now turn.

Cognitive theory revisited We introduced cognitive theory in the previous chapter as part of our discussion of possible modern language (ML) teaching methodologies. In this section, we are looking to revisit this topic and take it a little further. This in order to raise greater detail of the way we believe it features in our understanding of LLSs, and thus the way they need to be approached in the languages classroom. The key aspect of cognitive theory to appreciate is that it essentially deals with knowledge as information. All our thinking – our cognition – is information, to a greater or lesser extent. So, images are information; so is sound; so are objects. One of the advantages of the cognitive theoretical approach, therefore, is that it does not necessarily distinguish between language and other forms of information. In turn, we might see language itself as being represented by different forms of information: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantic linguistic information, as well as para- and meta-linguistic aspects of language and, of course, the content of thinking itself. Clearly, how each of these is processed varies enormously according to their functionality and indeed levels of explicitness, but at base it is helpful to regard them all as fundamentally forms of information. These statements lead to further issues with respect to memory and indeed how the brain works. For example, it was once thought that the brain retained language information in much the same way as we might store dictionary and encyclopaedic knowledge: as discrete forms of categories. However, this view of mental processes has given way to a much more ‘distributed’ form of neurological processing. Allport (1985), for example, argues that cognition occurs in terms of ‘distributed’ memory, which, once interconnected, forms concept domains. Such domains remain inactive and inert for the most part, until they are fired into action by thinking of the appropriate set of concepts. So, for example, one set of firings will lead to a set of concepts which represents ‘dog’ in the brain, while another represents ‘cat’. The point is that the two share many constituent features, but their exact representation is about the few that differentiate one from another close associative concept. Such firing, of course, presupposes a prior match between thought and the world. Otherwise, what ‘is’ will literally not exist.

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There is a series of related aspects of this perspective, which needs raising in the present context. Firstly, in terms of memory, there is a distinction to be made between short-term memory (STM) and long-term memory (LTM). STM tends to relate to the immediate past and only contains a fraction of what is actually known. It is also quite limited, and thus is looking constantly to free itself, empty itself, of content in order to deal with the immediate. However, LTM, on the other hand, provides an ever-expanding reservoir of information accumulated in the course of life experience. Ideally, therefore, information can be readily brought from LTM to STM when needed. This information will contain language- and non-language-specific knowledge, as highlighted above.

How do our previous dichotomies – declarative/procedural and cognitive/ metacognitive – feature in this scheme? As noted, declarative knowledge includes what can be ‘declared’; this is most obviously knowledge ‘of’ and ‘about’ the world, and can be descriptive and designating. However, it can also include ‘declared’ knowledge that often remains implicit, for example, in actual use – correct grammar or accent, for instance, in the case of language. Such knowledge needs to be ‘embedded’ in LTM so that it can be retrieved in actual use for short term purposes. Teaching and acquisition then ultimately are about how to embed this information through pedagogic activity. A similar thing might be said about Procedural knowledge. In this case, it is not so much what is known, but the ‘how’, in other words, the ability to transact processes through actual mental intention. Such knowledge would include anything where a goal-orientated process is involved, for example, making a cup of coffee or formulating the correct syntax for verbal conjugations. Even here, it is important not to confuse the things of logic with the logic of things. Declarative and procedural knowledge need to be set within and understood as part of the distributed memory systems described above, and indeed are ultimately based on associative networks of process, functions and facts. Procedural knowledge can even be ‘stored’ in the brain as a declarative chunk, and some declarative knowledge can only be cognisized by being ‘proceduralised’. In terms of Metacognition and Cognition, we can see that the latter includes any mental processing. Often, this is explicit and goal-focused, although not necessarily strongly conscious. For example, we may be ‘aimlessly’ processing linguistic information with no real objective; clearly, this is different from a specific task orientation, for example, finding out what the weather is going to do by listening to the forecast. Processing language – whether explicitly or implicitly – is, therefore, inherently cognitive. The

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key issue is then what is the difference between our first (L1) and second (L2) language? The chief feature here is that L1 is formed on the basis of a certain innocence of the world and the language used to represent it. L1 and knowledge about the world therefore develop together, alongside personality and relationships with others. The latter already exist when an individual comes to learning L2, and herein lies a problem, since while the world is more or less the same, the language used to represent it is very different. This is primarily what makes second language learning problematic, so that it needs to be seen as inherently ‘strategic’ as it at once confronts the learner with problems – and at every linguistic level – to be solved. What of metacognition? Metacognition is peculiar in that it can be defined as ‘beyond cognition’. Such, of course, is not possible since all thinking is cognition. However, it does raise the phenomenon where thought literally thinks about thought – cognition of cognition. This is particularly useful for language teaching as it allows for a developed cognition of the language learning process itself is somewhat distanced from the immediate. Indeed, time is a crucial feature in metacognition which, in terms of LLSs, often includes such activities as planning, monitoring and evaluation. Planning relates to making explicit choices about future linguistic activity and strategy deployment. Monitoring is developing a kind of linguistic ‘superego’ that is constantly checking linguistic performance and usefulness, or otherwise, of current strategies for the task in hand. Finally the learner evaluates both overall performance and the success of strategies used. Of course, we are used to arguments of accuracy versus fluency, and Metacognition can, at least in theory, be directed at either or both. Moreover, we are familiar with Krashen’s ‘monitor’  – that entity in the Natural Approach that indeed is constantly checking performance for accuracy. But, a metacognitive understanding of both necessitates taking them to the sort of mental processes described above in terms of distributed memory and concept domains. Short- and Long-Term Memories are also implicated, and time features as a restraint on the degree to which cognition and metacognition can be processed at any one time. We might side with Donald Schön (1983) and his ‘reflective practitioner’ metaphor in seeing that the distinction between ‘knowledgein-action’ and ‘knowledge-on-action’ (‘reflection-in-action’ and ‘reflection-onaction’) is very highly sensitive to time constraints as the STM simply cannot be too used up with cognitive processing if metacognition drawn from the LTM is to play a part. John Anderson (1983, 1985) uses this type of approach to describe what he calls ‘the architecture of cognition’. The metaphor is a telling one as it provides an image of the underlying structure of the human brain, especially with respect to language learning. Indeed, he partly developed

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this explanation by teaching computers to use language productively. For Anderson, language skills involve three stages: cognitive, associative and autonomous. Here, a particular language skill is first cognisized, then built into an associative framework of distributed procedural concepts and finally rendered as autonomous activity through embedding in LTM. Clearly, there is a lot of local variation between language production (speaking and writing) and consumption (reading and writing), and each will be actualized in particular skill-based tasks. For example, language production involves systems of Construction, Transformation and Execution, but the underlying theoretical perspective holds good for such. Moreover, all of this cognitive and metacognitive behaviour therefore needs to be seen as liable to a staged development; in other words, there is an incline of adoption from task dependent to task independent language knowledge. This adoption is itself time and learner specific but finally requires retention of the prerequisite linguistic features to express ongoing linguistic proficiency. At this latter stage, language cognition operates autonomously, thus again freeing up STM for further linguistic tasks; as we have noted, this is particularly important for the capacity and scope of active metacognitive knowledge on the part of the learner. What actualization means for Anderson is the adoption of ‘IF … THEN’ systems, which underlines its goal- orientated nature (accepting such goals may be intentional and not conscious – that is, implicit and/or process orientated). Moreover, such goals can also have sub-goals. So, for example, in terms of actual productive metacognitive knowledge, ‘If the goal is to answer with the information requested, and I want to form a grammatically correct sentence, THEN the sub-goal is to pay attention to word order and noun and verb endings as I respond’. Attention is therefore an important part of firing these systems. They particularly work well in strategic terms when there is sufficient time to operate them; for example, ‘IF I need to know the definition of a word, THEN I can look up the word in the dictionary’. And, in theory at least, such production systems might just as easily be applied to all aspects of linguistic knowledge. So, ‘IF I need to speak with the correct accent, THEN I need to activate my functional skills in accordance with the embedded norm for the particular phoneme’. Or, ‘IF I want to talk about the past, THEN I need to use this grammar form’. The possibilities are endless. In this way, language rules become language strategies because they are built on parallel linguistic forms of L2 which are, more or less, embedded in LTM. It is not, therefore, a simple L1 innateness that deals with language but a synthetic process that ends up with second language learning being somewhat of a ‘cognitive con-trick’; that is, it looks like L1 proficiency on the surface, but is in actuality somewhat of a constructed behaviour beneath – a simulacrum of the ‘real’ thing.

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At this point, it is probably worth quoting one attempt to produce a framework of LLSs according to this Metacognition, Cognition, Social scheme. It is from O’Malley and Chamot (1990: 137): A Metacognitive Learning Strategies ●●

Planning

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Directed attention

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Selective attention

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Self-management

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Monitoring

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●● ●●

Self-monitoring (comprehension, production, auditory monitoring, visual monitoring, style monitoring, strategy monitoring, plan monitoring, double check monitoring) Problem identification Self-evaluation (production, performance, ability, strategy, language repertoire)

B Cognitive Strategies ●●

Repetition

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Resourcing

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Grouping

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Note taking

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Deduction/induction

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Substitution

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Elaboration (personal, world, academic, between parts, questioning, self-evaluation, creative, imagery)

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Summarizing

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Translation

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Transfer

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Inferencing

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C Social and Affective Strategies ●●

Questioning for clarification

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Cooperation

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Self talk

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Self-reinforcement

Clearly, this is a fairly comprehensive and representative list of the sort of strategies that might be used in language learner. They are all in some ways related to specific goal-orientated aspects of language learning. We can also see that they are all very different if we break down what each involves in terms of process and procedure. For example, we can compare Selective Attention (deciding in advance to attend to specific aspects of input, often scanning for key words, concepts and/or linguistic markers), with Elaboration (relating new information to prior knowledge, relating different parts of new information to each other or making meaningful personal associations with new information). The first is evidently a metacognitive process of forward planning to proceduralize declarative knowledge in a certain way, while the second is the actualization of language procedures on the basis of new knowledge – both procedural and declarative. Indeed, in some cases, we would find that many strategies include, or at least imply, all three forms of knowledge – metacognitive, cognitive and social – as part of their operationalization. We might consider these in context as ‘conditional knowledge of strategies’. Moreover, some strategies exist as part of a chain, so, a learner might infer, and then evaluate such inferencing. Great fun could be had analysing, breaking down, elucidating and indeed exemplifying each of these strategies. And, there are many others. In fact, numerous attempts have been made to draw up lists of strategies, and there are many possibilities, especially when one considers the specificity of the individual skill areas. This rather implies that strategies are a somewhat loose affair and that anyone can add to or subtract from a list according to individual preference and choice. How then can we see LLSs as anything other than a fairly useful list of learning techniques? The next section considers this question.

Language learner strategies: What are we talking about? In the course of the last two chapters, we have made some effort to develop our discussion around questions concerning what needs to go on in the modern language classroom by way of methodology – theories of teaching –

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and our underlying understanding of the rationale for preferring one approach over another. We have argued that LLSs are useful, not simply because they add another pedagogic dimension to learning activities but because they offer a genuinely distinct approach to our whole understanding of the nature of language, and thus how it should be learned. One of the basic dichotomies is the very evident difference between what we might call product and process, ultimately expressed in terms of grammar knowledge and use. As we have noted, we know that we can use language without really ‘knowing’ how it works. Alternatively, we can ‘know’ rules without being able to ‘apply’ them. Various researchers have expressed this apparent divide by employing a whole set of metaphoric descriptors to indicate that some language knowledge seems to go on in an ‘automatic’ way and other knowledge is more ‘controlled’ (Shiffin and Schneider, 1977), or ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ (Krashen and Seliger, 1976), or ‘analysed’ and ‘unanalysed’ (Bialystok, 1984), or ‘planned’ and ‘unplanned’ (Ellis, 1990). Indeed, behind these ‘dualities’ there further rests Krashen’s opposition between Acquisition and Learning – the ‘things’ of language and their ‘use’. We would argue that a Cognitive theoretical approach to language learning is important because it gets beyond these dichotomies precisely because it encapsulates all language, indeed, all human knowledge activity within one mental system of information processing. In cognitive theory, it is not that any of the above – or others – needs to be seen as problematic, or either/or, but all of them need to be understood as explicable and understandable within the terms set by cognitive theory. This realization has important consequences. It is not uncommon to come across ‘thinking skills’ in education and training. For example, a list of the sort of information processing activities that may be useful in teaching and learning is as follows: sequencing, sorting, grouping, comparing, hypothesizing, distinguishing, brainstorming, recognizing, decision making, planning, ordering, classifying, contrasting, prediction, concluding, formulating, problem solving, testing, inferencing (see, for example, McGuiness, 2000). Some of these seem very akin to the type of strategies listed above. But, the crucial issue is that all of them remain simply lists of useful activities, formulated as part of humanistic reasoning to be fundamentally ‘good’, without an underlying theory that links them and thus explains what is going on where in the learning process and why? This is a critical issue in understanding what a strategy actually is, or represents. If there is not clarity in this question, then strategies too become simply a useful list of utilitarian activities aimed instrumentally at enhancing performance. Indeed, without theory, strategies themselves become output rather than process driven – ‘micro’, ‘marginalised’, ‘psychologised’, ‘individualised’ and ‘decontextualised’. In other words, the goal determines practice, rather than that practice inherently being driven by an appreciation of what is language

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and how it is learned. This point is in fact played out in some strategy research itself, which defines them as only ‘conscious’ – in other words, any activity that is explicitly and consciously selected by the learner to deliver a determined outcome. The dichotomy of Lantolf and Frawley (1983) ‘Conscious’ versus ‘Unconscious’ is another way of expressing the same thing. This selective definition risks omitting the most important aspect of language learner strategy research which is that language learning is – by any measure within the dichotomies listed above – inherently ‘problematic’, strategic, from a cognitive theoretical perspective. In brief, language learning strategies are both conscious and unconscious, and everything in between. The difficulty is with the descriptor, not the thing being described. The struggle to understand language learning goes on. Researchers acknowledge language ‘awareness’ as opposed to language ‘knowledge’, or knowledge about language (KAL) as opposed to its use. However, this somewhat false opposition lies at the heart of the dilemma that communicative language teaching has found itself in: briefly, to teach grammar, or not to teach grammar. This confusion has in turn led to the belief that somehow grammar can be imbibed through use, either in some proto-Krashenite way by which the language acquisition device is ‘fired’ into action, or by some implicit (unconscious!) analysis of ‘chunks’ of language, out of which are distilled structural grammar rules that can then be used generatively in other linguistic settings. The Common European Framework (Council of Europe, 2000) expresses the same confusion when it creates a model of language based around forms of ‘knowing’ – the Savoirs: Savoir, Savoir-faire, Savoirêtre, Savoir-apprendre. Of course, this is a useful description of the various dimensions of language learning and includes many of the components of the Communicative Competence model of Canale and Swain (1980), for example, grammar knowledge, knowledge of language use and knowledge of how to present oneself through the language. But, in effect, it is simply rearticulating the misunderstanding of language expressed in so many of the idealized pairings above by compartmentalizing it and, in so doing, believing that distinct linguistic product features must arise from essentially different process systems. Yes, the brain is localized and holds specialized systems, but all these are based on a unified cognitive nature as we have set out above. So, in contrast to the position adopted by Dörnyei and Skehan (2003), above, we would argue that language learner strategies can be based on a theoretical understanding in which they are precisely both neurological and cognitive, behavioural and motor. Indeed, that is the whole point of them! In the past sections, we have detailed our theoretical background of language learner strategies, and have taken time to set out our particular understanding of how they are important and why. This discussion has tracked the history of both language teaching and language learning in order

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to establish our own take on these matters and to explain its significance. Of course, what we express here underpins all the rest of book. However, we are aware that in having focused on theory and language learning we have pitched the debates at a level where the psychological has been prioritized over the social, and this position has been criticized for not being contextual enough (see Canagarajah, 1999; Pennycook, 1998). Moreover, our would-be learner has been hypothesized as somewhat of a homogeneous entity. We know that there are considerable differences between learners, both social and psychological. Again, much of the rest of the book begins to explore such differences in empirical terms in the chapters which follow. In these, we tease out differences of learning approach and context, and their significance for teaching and learning. However, as a prelude to this, we now want to complete this chapter by delving in a little more detail into the ‘social’ side of language learner strategies. Remember: Social Strategies form one part of O’Malley and Chamot’s taxonomy, and also imply all those affective aspects to language learning – cooperation, handling stress, building confidence and motivation. In this way, the psychological and the social are intimately connected and need to be understood as interlinked in our ‘strategic’ approach to language learning.

The social and the psychological From the above discussion, it is possible to see that much of learning theory has been approached from a psychological perspective, and why would it not? If we are to understand what is going on inside the ‘black box’ of the mind in processing language, then we do need to get inside, or at least surmise what is going on there. Indeed, a good deal of ‘applied linguistic’ research takes a similar line. In fact, linguistics and applied linguistics are often quite bad at taking a ‘social’ line. Even when it does deal with it, it tends to remain empirically rooted – for example, the way sociolinguistics charts and records language variation rather than the link between context and psychology. This is a positive hindrance in the case of language education since teaching invariably takes place within the social – the classroom – and, even in natural acquisition situations, the social can have an enormous impact on what actually occurs. And, yet, we can say, applied linguistics is almost antipathetic to the social and it is only relatively recently that work has appeared which explicitly addresses the social (see, for example, Block, 2003). Even here, reception on the part of the applied linguistics community has often been lukewarm. The social, we might say, has been the ‘elephant in the living room’ – the unspoken of other! In LLSs research, we have seen that the social – along with the affective – has been covered but then usually as somewhat of an adjunct or complementary to pragmatic and utilitarian approaches.

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To this we might add also that applied linguistics has very often focused on an ideal view of the language speaker/learner. Chomsky (1965), somewhat of a father to modern linguistics, even states that its concern should be, ‘the ideal speaker-listener’, in ‘a homogeneous speech community’ with ‘perfect grammatical competence’, in other words, something that does not exist in reality. The search has been for universal forms, which can account for the essential nature of language learning. Individual differences have been discussed, for example Skehan (1989), but even here, coverage often prioritizes the psychological – aptitude, motivation, cognitive style, etc. – over the social, that is, the contextual impact of the environment on these. Much work remains to be done to develop a view of language that integrates both the social and the psychological, and it is our contention that cognitive theory does just that, and that LLSs are therefore a good way of grounding such in actual teaching/ learning practice. This section develops this argument a little further. Lev Vygotsky (1962, 1978) is probably the founding father of contemporary cognitive theory – his views certainly resonate with it very strongly. Vygotsky was a Soviet psychologist who worked in the early part of the twentieth century and died in 1934. One might say that the Soviet view of the socially based makeup of individual thought led him to emphasize that ‘the social’ as a strong source for the way that thinking arises and develops. Indeed, for him, ‘nothing appears in the psychological (inner) realm before it has first appeared in the social (intra) realm’. Language, and the thinking it displays, therefore has a strongly social provenance, as compared to Chomskyan linguistics, which is predicated on the almost biological innateness of language. However, language for Vygotsky in the real world is experienced more as a form of Control: Over Self, Others and Objects. In other words, language mediates each individual’s relationship to the world by ‘naming it’. In naming it, it is brought into the cognitive plane of information to be processed as such – this being part of self-regulation between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ as mediated ‘in’ and ‘through’ language. Language learning is therefore an activity towards psychic equilibrium. This is certainly true in L1; that is, it develops with respect to a whole expanding relationship to the world – of ideas, objects and people, where, as noted above, the schematic and the systemic are then one. However, in L2 too we can now see SLA as a process where the learner seeks to gain control over the world in a different language. This is why language learning is problematic, and so ultimately and essentially liable to strategic action; the prime issue in this case being that the systemic and schematic are separate. A second major feature of Vygotskyan psycholinguistics is the concept of Inner Speech. This is based on the observation that small children often talk out loud in language that is directed to themselves rather than in social exchanges as a way of navigating through the world. In other words, by naming in language, the world is brought under cognitive control. What Vygotsky noticed, as Piaget before him, was that this ‘egocentric speech’

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tended to die out as the child matured, and thus the world was indeed ‘under control’. However, unlike Piaget, Vygotsky argued that such personally directed commentary of the world did not actually fade, but became internalized as ‘inner speech’, where it was available for continued use. Such ‘inner speech’ can be thought of either as conscious planning or semi-articulated impulses to tackle linguistic information – representing again Self, Others and Objects – in a certain way. Metacognition and Cognition can therefore be understood as a continuum in dealing with a range of linguistic information, and knowledge about processing it. They are also the source, representation and mediation of Self, Others and Objects. The degree to which inner speech becomes explicit is determined by how problematic is the linguistic task. As we have seen, both declarative and procedural knowledge can be proceduralized to the extent that it can occur in an almost automatic way, or the opposite – so demanding that the learner even has to turn inner speech back into egocentric speech and talk the problem through ‘out loud’ in order to ‘gain control’ over it. The outcome can then be declared and re-internalized to guide current and future linguistic processing through the interchanges between short- and long-term memory. The final key concept in Vygotsky’s view of language concerns the way that all the above occurs at a certain point where there is a notional balance between the social and psychological as defined by the capacity of the latter and the demands of the former. If the task involves world knowledge that is known and easily represented in language, there is little cognitive load, which is good in terms of demand but bad in terms of potential for learning development. If the task involves world knowledge that is not really known and/or the language is not present to inform it, then the task is simply ‘beyond’ the learner, and no learning takes place. The optimal is the realm – the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) – which achieves a delicate balance: the task is demanding and the language not altogether up to the job, but there is sufficient of both to work with it. At this point, learning takes place (this is similar to Krashen’s i+1). These unifying concepts allow us to work through declarative/procedural and cognitive/metacognitive, as well as the social, in a unified way, as facets of the processing of various elements of information in the course of language learning. As noted above, linguistics has been generally quite slow at accepting and applying the social in its research and theory building. It has occurred, however. For example, Norton (2000) and Norton and Toohey (2001) looked at the Good Language Learner and Language Learner Strategies through a social lens and observed that any one individual can have a high degree of aptitude for learning language and a good set of useful strategies; however, if they do not have the social contact to employ these, then they will not be successful. In one case, she explains how a seemingly shy, unforthcoming immigrant can be dismissed as a ‘poor language learner’, rather than acknowledging the power relations that

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distance her from unsympathetic, impatient native speakers. In other words, success depends not only on possessing the necessary learning accoutrements, an individual must also have the opportunities to use, and thus benefit, from them. However, even here, the focus tends to be on the instrumental impact of social access rather than being built into the whole essential nature of language itself. For the latter, we need to employ more developed theories from the sciences of the social; in particular, the sociology of language. This will allow us to understand how social differentiation and distinction can themselves impact on the actual of language learning. We are going to employ the perspectives of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu since we find his approach to be most original and significant for our needs (see Grenfell, 2004, 2011, 2012).

Bourdieu and language Bourdieu was a renowned sociologist but he began his career and rise to academic fame as a philosopher, and this has an important influence on his thinking about language. In some ways, Bourdieu is very Vygotskyan. He saw language as the element per se which connected humans with the world and its contents – thus Self (individual thoughts, knowledge and actions), Others and Objects in a similar way to the above. However, for him, all this implied sociocognitive relationships, which were experienced via sensations of the human mind and body. Such relationships were therefore structural because they were based on intentional engagement – consciously and unconsciously – with the surrounding social environment, both as an external and internal representation. Language, for him, both expressed and mediated those structural relationships, and therefore needs to be understood as quasi-phenomenological – as a psychology and philosophy of phenomena and the ways they are instantiated for individual humans. So far, so Vygotskyan, but Bourdieu goes one step further. Vygotsky, as we described above, argued for a social understanding of language. However, once established, it is still quite undifferentiated in terms of the actual learner. In many ways, in theory at least, the Vygotskyan individual learner seems just as anonymous and homogeneous as the Chomskyan version, as is LLS research in many respects. What Bourdieu adds is an insistence that every language learner is indeed unique in terms of provenance and actualization of linguistic proficiency. Why? Firstly, because any individual’s track through the world, and the knowledge and language that such a journey provides, is actually sui generis. Secondly, society is not homogeneous; therefore, the individual will imbibe the sum total of the repertoire of distinction that has surrounded them in such passage. Thirdly, however, the language that is picked up through social structural relationships to the world and their consequent linguistic

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representation cannot therefore be value-free, and identical for all. Rather, that language, and that world, and those relationships, all carry values indicative of a particular representation of society as set out across the spectrum of the social hierarchy. This hierarchy is preordained to structure itself according to values inherent in such social characteristics as class, gender, race, and a host of regional and local microcosms. In other words, language itself always carries values, and those values will in some ways express and define the linguistic profile of any one user. Because language – and at all levels – had value, Bourdieu referred to it as capital, since it bought individuals position in the social hierarchy by being recognized as orthodox, or indeed unorthodox, within the context of linguistic activity. Because it is ‘only’ value, such capital also needs to be thought of as symbolic, as it represents a certain value and linguistic position by being acknowledged in a way which is in fact quite arbitrary; that is, not based on any inherent, natural quality in itself. Features of language use can even be thought of as features of linguistic capital, which is how they will be viewed and valued in what he called the Linguistic Market. By systems of recognition and acknowledgement what is deemed ‘the norm’ can also be defined on all linguistic levels. There only then needs to be moves to convergence and divergence, which social psycholinguistics (see Giles and Powesland, 1975; Tajfel, 1982) have noted, for the dynamic of linguistic differentiation to play itself out with consequences on the basis of variably valued distinction in language use. For example, the way that certain accents or dialects are deemed to be valuable and acceptable as opposed to others, which is marked by tacit (and explicit) approval and disapproval – again, expressed symbolically. Linguistic capital, therefore, could represent an entire relationship to language  – both L1 and L2 – and it is this relationship that learners bring to their own language learning and which therefore will shape it. In other words, linguistic capital can impact on proficiency and competence, no matter what approach to learning and teaching is employed. However, Bourdieu went further. He also posited that such underlying processes in language were actually mostly misrecognized, in that they operated in an implicit way outside of normal view. Indeed, it would not happen at all if it were not; to this extent, it should be seen as a form of symbolic violence as forces of inclusion and exclusion occur which position individuals within the social spectrum, itself a reproduction of the social hierarchy, which has real consequences for the outcome. Therefore, we can see that success in language learning would, under this perspective, not be dependent on innate talent, but on socially prescribed characteristics which were formed outside of any one learner’s volition, or indeed commitment to learn, and that these would impact on their ability to develop and employ a strategic approach to language learning.

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For Bourdieu, features of individual biography constituted the habitus, common characteristics of which could be developed across social groups. Habitus always formed itself, and was formed, within social space, which might include socially bounded specialized locales, such as education, politics, and the media. (in other words, fields). Ultimately what happened and, more importantly in our case, the language that carried, it was dependent on the outcome product of the relationship between habitus and the social space, especially including specific relevant fields. However, for Bourdieu, not all capital was either symbolic and/ or linguistic. There were other forms: for example, cultural capital (learning, qualifications, cultural artefacts), economic capital (money, wealth) and social capital (the network of social networks an individual held). Bourdieu argued that each of these forms of capital played off each other in social contexts in order to establish and advance any one individual’s route and promotion through them. Both quantity and configuration of capital are important as implied by any one field context or social microcosm. Indeed, how any one individual employs their capital holdings can itself be seen as strategic, as relating to a certain positioning towards a problematic, and a relationship to it. Language, and the linguistic capital (power) it displays, is part and parcel of this process, while remaining essentially founded on the same epistemological prerequisites. This has consequences for our view of language learner strategies. We shall use this Bourdieusian perspective at various times throughout this book, to bring attention to social influence and variation within the processes and outcome of language learner strategy work; this is in order to avoid essentializing a psychological approach to LLSs and to explore more the social context – both individuals and their social space – as major factors in strategic language learning.

In summary … strategy based instruction and beyond All the above presents a complex web of issues with respect to language learner strategies and, clearly, there is a very large set of questions about the theory and practice of them. However, whatever one does or does not understand by them, or how one stands by them, there is one glaring topic, which we have yet to address: strategy based instruction. The question is: Given what we know about such strategies, basically, what are we going to do about it? Much of the early research seems to be content to catalogue the strategies – what learners do and do not do. However, very quickly, it became obvious that there is then a temptation to take these findings into the

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classroom; this, in the belief that ‘if we know what good language learners are doing – strategy wise – why don’t we teach the not-so-good learners the strategies that the good learners are using and, in so doing, help them to improve?’. There has been growing consensus over how SBI is to be conducted, also informed, unsurprisingly, by cognitive theory and increasingly by a sociocultural perspective. Chapter 7 charts the development of SBI over the last decades and the issues raised. Of interest here is the thinking behind it (see Gu, forthcoming). We have discussed the role of declarative and procedural knowledge in the development of strategic competence. These also underlie SBI. First, it should be explicit. Although teachers may employ strategies in their own demonstrations (for example, how to remember a word or a grammar rule), there is no guarantee that students will absorb them by osmosis unless they are brought to their attention so that they know the range of strategies that will help them tackle a tricky task. Second, SBI should not be a separate course but embedded in regular lessons so that multiple opportunities are provided to proceduralize them in different tasks. Thus, by working collaboratively the learner co-constructs a strategic approach, integrating prior knowledge from their individual biography with new knowledge from their peers to tackle the task in hand. The summary of the steps in the cycle of SBI below leads the learner gradually through this process towards increasing independence (see Grenfell and Harris, 1999; Rubin et al., 2007): 1 Raising Awareness Learners reflect on the strategies they already use, often by thinking back to a task that they have just performed. 2 Modelling By brainstorming how they tackled the task, using their own words and other cultural tools, learners are often already modelling for each other the strategies to use. These may then be supplemented by the teacher, often by ‘thinking aloud’ how s/he would tackle it, so that, in a Vygotskyan sense, a common language is co-constructed for shared experiences. The development of declarative knowledge in these first two steps enables learners to ‘know’ about appropriate combinations of strategies and what is meant by using them. 3 Practice and Fading of Reminders Such knowledge is not enough. They need to know how to put that knowledge into action for themselves. This requires extensive exposure to the same and similar tasks before they can be proceduralized.

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4 Transfer Students reflect on where else they could use their newly acquired strategies; for example, in other ML skill areas or indeed other areas of the curriculum and, again, this needs to be followed up with ample opportunities to do so. 5 Evaluation Finally, learners are asked to reflect on how things went: what worked well, and what did not. The importance of self-regulation in developing a strategic approach will be discussed further in Chapter 7. Here, we simply note that the learners’ metacognitive management of the learning process cannot be ignored. Furthermore, they not only need ‘the skills’ but also ‘the will’ (Weinstein et al. 2000). The link to the affective strategies, described in Chapter 4, is clear since motivation and persistence are essential to try out new strategies and incorporate them into their regular approach. The next part of our book looks at a number of empirical research studies where SBI was central to what was being investigated. In effect, we want to know if SBI works, and how and for which groups of learners. However, given all that we have written above, it is clear that SBI cannot be treated as a value-free, instrumental process in which learners mechanically acquire the right strategies for learning. What goes on is clearly not simply a psychological homogeneity, but one susceptible to the sorts of sociocultural dynamic highlighted in the last section. Indeed, each of the following studies is set within one or more of these social characteristics, which we can then examine from both a psychological and sociological point of view (remembering that, for us, they are co-terminus). So, having established language as a cognitive characteristic of the brain, and indicated the ways in which it is processed, we have seen that processing is itself heavily overlaid by the social conditions of language which renders it shaped in the form of a range of sociocultural forces. So, no one ever learns a language, or uses it even – and in L1 and L2 – without displaying a whole set of particularities of their relationship to it, which are themselves sculptured by the social environment which surrounds them in this formation. We have insisted that language learning is not simply a psychological fact, but it is also an expression of sociological exegesis. Cognitive theory – which might also be described as structural constructivism (or constructive structuralism) – allows for both the social and the psychological; in fact, it is predicated on them being two aspects of the same thing. So, it is not just about being a Good Language Learner, or not, but a question of in which social contexts. The GLL, for instance, will have a habitus, which

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shapes a whole range of cognitive and affective dimensions to language in terms of its social provenance, what Bernstein (1971) referred to as Elaborated and Restricted Codes. This habitus enters a social space of possible fields where language is defined in terms of their orthodox norms. What is possible is then determined by the interaction – empathy, dissonance – between the two. If all goes well, it is as if a ‘fish were in water’, but the opposite can also be the case, as a ‘fish out of water’. Obviously, this can have a highly advantageous or devastating effect on the proficiency outcome. These points underpin many of our concerns in the rest of the book. In the next part, we focus explicitly on a range of studies of SBI and language learner strategies in practice. In Chapter 3, we weigh up the impact of SBI against a range of social and psychological characteristics: social class, gender, nationality, motivation and achievement. Chapter 4 examines the social psychological aspects of LLSs; in other words, how affective factors are partly induced and produced by the interplay between emotional psychological states and specific language learning activities. In Chapter 5, we move beyond the monolingual learner of English and look at the case of bilingual learners learning French which may be their third language (or even fourth or fifth!). We see how their cognitive style has shaped their use of language and their regard to it – they are seen as having various defining characteristics, which we might see in terms of linguistic capital and habitus within the context of the education field (curriculum) and the home environment. Chapter 6 also looks beyond the learning of English: in this case, what happens when students are learning a language in an unfamiliar script – Mandarin Chinese. In the final part of this book, we focus further on SBI and address the ways LLSs feature in curriculum and syllabuses. We also examine what all this means in terms of teacher education, that is, preparing language teachers to work with strategies within a number of external constraints such as time available and government demands. Parts Two and Three will afford further opportunities to critically discuss the theoretical and practical aspects of language learner strategies through research and exploration of what all this implies for actual classroom activity in learning second languages. However, we now move to the first section of Part Two where we set out a range of projects researching language learner strategies in practice.

PART TWO

Strategies in Practice: From Theory to Research Practice Introduction Part One has located LLSs within their historical context, tracking changes in theories of language learning, and of methods and principles of language teaching. In so doing, we have seen how cognitive theory, as a single mental system of information processing, allows us to integrate the social with the psychological, and to see language learning as a strategic process of problem solving. It thus resolves any dichotomies between conscious and unconscious, with the metacognitive, cognitive and social also operating on a continuum for dealing with information. We considered too the ‘so what?’ question and how an understanding of LLSs and the intent to foster autonomy have led to the development of the ‘cycle’ of strategy based instruction.

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Our concern as teachers and teacher trainers has always been to relate theory and practice to each other, and the aim of Part Two of the book is to translate the discussion so far into examples from our projects with real learners working with languages in real classrooms. It is divided into two sections. In Section A – ‘Progress in Modern Languages: What Difference Does Strategy Based Instruction Make?’ – we return to our focus on the social by exploring in Chapter 3 the impact of SBI relative to pupils’ social class, gender and bilingual status and whether, in turn, these factors influence pupils’ response to the SBI itself. Chapter 4 considers affective factors that to date have been somewhat neglected in LLS research, and we also see how the learner seeks to gain control of Self and Others in the struggle to communicate. Section B – ‘Beyond the Monolingual Learner of European Languages’ – then addresses the problem implicit in the title of the narrow focus of much LLS research and illustrates how context is key in affecting the strategies themselves. Chapter 5 explores not only which strategies are favoured by bilingual pupils but also why, allowing us to reveal relationships between their home environment and the strategies that that environment fosters: between pupils’ habitus and their linguistic capital. Chapter 6 then shifts the focus from uncovering differences in strategies according to the learner’s status (bilingual or monolingual) to differences arising from the nature of the language itself. How does the pupil adapt to learning a language in an unfamiliar script such as Mandarin Chinese? The chapter returns to the theme of SBI with suggestions for how it can be adapted to take account of the new strategies pupils need. Together, Sections A and B reflect our concern to bring together both qualitative and quantitative research measures in order to capture the complexities of strategy use. We also report on individual case study students as well as whole classes. That said, Chapter 3 leans more heavily towards quantitative measures, whereas Chapter 4 reports mainly on qualitative measures. Our aim throughout is that the learner’s voice is heard. Our commitment to exploring how to make language learning better for all pupils is reflected in the choice of context for the projects, which were situated in state-funded London schools, two out of three being inner-city schools. The SBI project, known as STIR (STrategy Instruction Research), took place in two South East London schools. It was a broad scale piece of research which, as indicated above, weighed the impact of the SBI on 12–13-year-old pupils’ progress against their social class and gender, affective factors and their bilingual or monolingual status. It also explored the issues involved in encouraging pupils to transfer strategies across L1 and L2. The second project, which focused on adolescent pupils learning Mandarin Chinese (MC), was located in North East London. A full description of the research measures used in the MC project is provided in the chapter itself. However, since the STIR project was the more wide reaching, and aspects of it will be discussed

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further in Part Three, it is useful to provide details of the project here. The means of analysing the data will be described in the individual chapters according to their focus.

The STIR project: Schools, pupils and SBI The STIR project took place over nine months in two schools, each with a different socio-economic background. West School (names changed to protect anonymity) has a higher number of students entitled to free school meals than the national average and a higher number of students with special educational needs (SEN). Standards on entry are below the national average. In contrast, Moreton School has fewer students with SEN than the national average and students’ attainment level on entry is above the national average. The National Curriculum levels in Moreton School are higher than for West School, suggesting that the learners may have a larger lexical repertoire. The investigation was ‘quasi-experimental’ in design using intact class groups: in each school, two parallel classes of thirty students ages 12–13 years learning French. The students had begun to learn the language at the beginning of the previous year, with approximately two hours a week of lessons, thus approximately seventy hours of language learning prior to the intervention. The classes had been designated by the schools as ‘top sets’, that is to say, the most proficient pupils in the cohort. As is usual in experimental research, such as clinical trials, there was a control and an experimental class in each school. The experimental classes were taught by the two teachers working on the project and the control classes by another experienced teacher in each ML department. Both classes followed the ML scheme of work in each school but the experimental classes were also exposed to SBI. The SBI lessons were developed through close collaboration between one of the authors and the teachers. Given the need for extensive practice in the strategies involved in each skill area, it was decided there was insufficient time to deal with all four language skills in sufficient depth over the course of the project. A pilot study conducted with the teachers finalized the choice of reading and listening as the skill areas (see Harris, 2004); since the students reported finding listening comprehension one of the hardest skills and reading was felt to be a useful, related ‘way in’. Both Listening and Reading are receptive skills but reading strategies might be more accessible because the learner has greater control of the process, as they have the time to read and re-read. Over the nine-month period, the experimental classes were taught twenty-five lessons or parts of lessons incorporating SBI; the control class was merely exposed to the same reading and listening texts.1 The strategies in both skill areas can be found in Appendices 3.1 and 3.2.

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Chapter 7 will discuss some of the difficulties teachers face when they select strategies to teach. For the STIR project, we decided to draw on Oxford et al.’s (2004) revised version of Ikeda and Takeuchi’s reading questionnaire to identify the reading strategies. Their focus on task-based strategy assessment overcomes some of the vagueness of generic strategy taxonomies (‘advance organisation’ or ‘inferencing’, for example) and provides clear descriptions specific to reading (‘I use the title to help predict the contents’, ‘If I don’t understand something, I guess its meaning using clues from the text’). We considered this particularly important given the students were only 12 years old. Similar reasons guided the selection of listening strategies from Van Der Grift (2003) since, while the terms remain generic, definitions and representative examples are given. Bearing in mind the apparent difficulties learners experience with unclear strategy definitions, the wording was adapted and some strategies ‘unpacked’ into ‘sub-strategies’ to make them more accessible to the pupils. In addition, where possible, the wording was similar across listening and reading strategies to encourage transfer between the two skills. In the overall selection of the strategies from the taxonomies above, care was taken to ensure that they included both metacognitive and cognitive strategies since it has been noted that SBI interventions are more successful if they include metacognitive strategies. Oxford et al. (2004) highlight metacognitive planning, monitoring and evaluation by listing strategies under ‘before/while/after reading’ and this was adopted for the layout of the strategy checklists given to the students. The selection included both ‘top down’ and ‘bottom-up’ listening and reading strategies to reflect the complex parallel interaction between world knowledge (topic, genre, etc., to build a conceptual framework for comprehension) and linguistic knowledge or compensatory strategies to cope with lack of such knowledge. The SBI followed the sequence of steps in the ‘cycle’ described in Chapter 2 (see Harris, 2007). For example, pupils were given a text to read for homework and, in order to raise awareness, the next lesson started by asking them what they had done when they had encountered words or phrases that they did not understand. This automatically led on to the modelling step, since some pupils were already using strategies that they could share with their peers. The teacher then went on to model other strategies that had not been mentioned. In order to ensure that pupils perceived the immediate relevance of the reading strategies, we then sought to practise them using authentic materials such as teenage magazines. Furthermore, in an attempt to highlight the importance of orchestrating strategies together, all the strategies were introduced rapidly over the course of several lessons. It became apparent that the combination of difficult authentic texts and a wide range of new strategies placed too heavy a load on pupils’ mental processing capabilities, and field notes and video-recordings indicated that enthusiasm began to wane. An alternative approach, which reminds us of the importance of the zone of proximal development described in Chapter 2, was initiated by the STIR

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teachers. It was decided to practise a cluster of related strategies through a short activity at the start of each lesson often directly related to the textbook, and then proceed with the usual lesson, as in Figure P.1. Here, to make the text less daunting, students were encouraged first to underline the cognates (words that look like English words). Then, in order to stress the value of a combination of strategies, they had to use comprehension monitoring to check that their first guess at the meaning made sense. For example, although ‘cave’ can mean cave, it is unlikely to be used in describing a house. ‘Cellar’ is the correct meaning here.

Puzzle: Trouvez les Faux Amis! 1) Underline all the cognates (2 mins)

exemple: Il aime écouter la cassette de l’histoire de Harry Potter.

a) Elle habite dans une petite maison avec un grand jardin, un garage et une cave. b) La mère de Micheal est anglaise mais son père est américain. c) Elle adore le football, son équipe préféré s’appelle Arsenal. Il aime regarder Arsenal surtout quand Thierry Henry tire un but. d) Le cours de français commence à dix heures le lundi matin. 2) Re-read the sentences, are you sure that all the words you have underlined mean the same in French as they do in English? Remember to use your common sense, as the sentence must make sense too! Make a list in the box below of any words that you think are not true cognates but instead are ‘false friends’ or ‘faux amis’. Try to work out the real meaning of the word from the sentence.

Faux amis Histoire

Possible meaning. How did you arrive at that conclusion? Story … Harry Potter is a novel so I thought he would be listening to a story rather than a history of Harry Potter

FIGURE P.1   Short SBI activity

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Once the pupils appeared comfortable with operating a cluster of strategies within familiar contexts, an extended group work activity was devised. Here, pupils worked collaboratively to read accounts of Christmas celebrations in different countries and prepare a poster. The aim was to enable them to move from supported practice in the use of a limited number of strategies to deploying the full range with authentic material and independently. We followed a similar sequence of steps for the listening comprehension but, this time, were careful not to practise too many strategies at once. Instead we aimed to withdraw the scaffolding more gradually, building up their ability to operate autonomously.

Research measures In order to examine whether SBI results in improved performance, a reading and listening test in French was administered pre- and post-intervention. In the hope that their experiences of tackling the tasks would be fresh in their minds, pre- and post-intervention reading and listening questionnaires were administered to the students immediately after the test. Furthermore, an attitude questionnaire was also given to all classes at the start and end of the project. Drawing on Chambers (1999), who explored motivation with cohorts of ML learners of a similar age in England, a general attitude score was constructed by taking the mean of responses to questions 1 (‘How do you feel about learning a new language like French?’) and question 2 (‘How hard do you think you try to learn French?’). A further attitude questionnaire and reading and listening questionnaires were completed by the experimental classes at the end of the year to gain some insight into their views of the project. Finally, pre- and post-intervention semi-structured interviews and think-aloud protocols were carried out with twenty-seven case study students of different attainment levels and of both monolingual and bilingual status. As noted above, the different means of analysing the data will be described in the individual chapters according to their focus.

SECTION A:

Progress in Modern Languages: What Difference Does Strategy Based Instruction Make?

3 The Role of Sociocultural Factors and Strategy Based Instruction

Knowing how to use listening strategies helped me not to panic. (STUDENT)

Introduction Why focus on sociocultural factors in modern language learning? The publication of the latest Language Trends survey (Centre for British Teachers Trust, 2014) paints a bleak picture of the state of modern languages (ML) teaching in Britain. Little appears to have changed since 2011 when it was already apparently ‘close to extinction’ (Shepherd, 2011). One illustration should suffice to indicate the problem: currently over 75 per cent of students opt out of studying ML at 14, and of those who continue to study French, only 9 per cent take the public examination at 18. One of the aims of the STIR project outlined above was to explore if this trend could be reversed, by explicitly teaching students ‘how to learn’ languages, since a key claim for SBI is that ‘intervening in learners’ strategic behaviour can improve learning processes and ultimate attainment’ (see Cohen and Macaro, 2007: 4). We also wanted, however, to study the situation in more detail. At what age does this decline in motivation and performance begin? To what extent can SBI combat other powerful factors, which impact on students’ educational achievement such as class, gender and bilingual or monolingual status? And, how does the work of Pierre Bourdieu relate to the impact of these factors on student progress? Moreover, although the study was situated in England, it was hoped that at least some of the findings might be relevant elsewhere, since issues of social class, gender and bilingual status are likely to play a role in many

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educational contexts. The last twenty years, for example, have been marked by a preoccupation with the underachievement of boys across the curriculum not only in England but also in Australia (Carr and Pauwels, 2005) and Canada (Kissau, 2006). Although there is evidence as to the underachievement of boys specifically in ML (Harris, 2008b; Rodeiro, 2009), there is less information as to the impact of social class on ML progress. Yet, as Whitty (2012) points out, social class inequalities in education generally have been a constant feature of English education research since the early part of the twentieth century, so it seemed likely that it would affect ML too. Furthermore, although being bilingual can facilitate learning a second or third language, some groups do still under-perform, both in the United Kingdom (DfES, 2006) and the United States (August, Shananhan and Escamilla, 2009). In addition, given that class, gender and bilingual status play a role in students’ progress, we wanted to know whether they also played a role in how students responded to SBI. Were certain groups more receptive than others and did attainment level also make a difference? Our decision to focus on the 12–13-year-old age range was in part determined by wanting to know how quickly the downtrend in ML occurred, since at the time of the study most pupils started language learning at age 11. Our focus on this age group was also informed by the findings of the systematic Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-Ordinating (EPPI)2 review of SBI (Hassan et al., 2005: 2). They concluded that, while there is some evidence for the effectiveness of SBI with adults, there was a need for more interventions with school-level learners learning ML and for more longitudinal studies. The project sought to meet this need. We begin the chapter by relating the issues herein to our earlier discussion, which described the shift in LLS research to a more sociocultural approach. We then summarize the research evidence about the role of class, gender, bilingualism and attainment level in students’ progress in ML and how they determined the questions we wanted to explore in the project. We move on to describe the SBI in some detail and to explain our research methods. We then use both the quantitative and the qualitative data to discuss our findings; both those that we had anticipated and those that surprised us. We end the chapter with some conclusions about the value of SBI.

From theory to practice: The STIR project What we know already… A sociocultural approach to learner strategies It is only in the last two decades that LLS studies have started to consider how the sociocultural context impacts on strategy use. Indeed, as we have

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seen in Part One, one of the criticisms of the early GLL research and indeed SLA research in general was that learning was perceived as an individual cognitive process located within the mind of the learner, rather than shaped in interaction with the world around them. Our definition of ‘sociocultural’ here is in line with Gipps’s study of the sociocultural aspects of assessment (1999) and includes the economic and political contexts, as well as social and cultural, thus connecting to Whitty’s discussion of social inequalities. By way of illustrating what this means for LLS, we have seen how the seemingly unforthcoming immigrants in Norton’s study (2000) in reality have restricted opportunities to engage in communication with unsympathetic peers or colleagues. Although less common, the sociocultural approach has also been extended to strategy based instruction (SBI), where learners are explicitly encouraged to develop the tools they need to succeed. The majority of such studies focus on the cognitive processes within the individual, examining changes in performance or strategy deployment as a result of the SBI. However, in outlining his social autonomy model, Holliday (2003) takes a broader view, criticizing teachers who provide ‘imperialistic’ SBI based on their own alien cultural values rather than encouraging students to choose strategies according to their own personal goals. To date, little is known about whether there are differences in response to SBI according to sociocultural factors. The majority of SBI research has focused on the impact of interventions in terms of test results or shifts in patterns of strategy use. Differences in response according to attainment level is one of the few areas that studies have explored. What evidence there is, is inconclusive (see, for example, Ikeda, 2006; Van Der Grift, 2007). Because factors such as gender influence progress in language learning, it seems likely that they will also play a role in determining the students’ response to the SBI. It may (or may not) succeed, for example, in reversing boys’ underachievement. It is even harder to know if social class and bilingualism will also affect students’ progress. However, in the next section we summarize what we do know about individual and sociocultural differences in language learning success. Under each heading (‘Social Class’ or ‘Gender’, for example), we first consider its possible weight compared to SBI. For example, gender may be a more significant factor than the SBI for the students in the study, given that more boys than girls opt out of continuing their studies of ML to GCSE level (Coleman, Galaczi and Astruc, 2007; DfES, 2007a; Sedghi and Evans, 2011).3 We then address whether that same factor may or may not have a role to play in determining students’ response to the SBI itself. The section cannot, of course, do justice to the complexity of findings within each area and only limited reference will be made to bilingual and monolingual students, since we explore the relevant studies in detail in Chapter 5.

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The role of sociocultural and individual differences in language learning progress Social class Although socio-economic background has been shown to play an important role in determining educational achievement generally (Cassan and Kingdon, 2007), the extent to which it applies to ML is unclear. Nor is it obvious if such factors also come into play in determining students’ response to the SBI itself. In the ‘Introduction’ to Part Two, we described how the two London schools in the project serve very different catchment areas. West School is a large, multiethnic, mixed comprehensive school in a working class district of South East London. Moreton School is a small, mixed, voluntary aided Catholic school, serving a predominantly middle class population in a London suburb. How might such differences impact on the students’ progress in ML? In spite of the government’s drive to raise standards in England, social class is still the strongest indicator of educational success (see Bynner and Joshi, 2002; Gillborn and Mirza, 2000). Eligibility for free school meals, for example, is strongly associated with low educational achievement generally (Cassan and Kingdon, 2007). Social class may also be associated with the level of challenging behaviour in the classroom and high or low parental expectations. Reay (2006) vividly describes how working class pupils may be marginalized by teachers’ behaviour towards them. They can feel, as we described in Part One, like a ‘fish out of water’. Little is known about the links between social class and ML performance specifically. However, it seems likely that the students’ attitudes towards language learning, whether positive or negative, will affect their progress, especially in the light of Bartram’s study (2006) of the importance of parental influence on attitudes to language learning. Motivation is a complex controversial phenomenon; for example, whether it is a psychological attribute or a sociological condition, and how the unit of analysis, once defined, can be researched (see Chapter 4). Whatever the definition, Moreton School students would have the advantage of holidaying in France or Spain and hence might be more likely to see the relevance of learning a new language (Buttjes and Byram, 1991). As early as 2002, Chitty highlighted the link between social class and ML achievement, pointing out that students opting out of language learning at age 14 are much more likely to come from inner-city schools. This trend towards languages as an elitist subject continued (Centre for Information on Language Teaching, 2006) and the Guardian newspaper warned that the study of ML was becoming a privilege largely restricted to private schools (Curtis and Shepherd, 2009). More recently, the Language Trends survey reports that the proportion of state schools in which the study of a language is compulsory beyond the age of 14 is 16 per cent, as compared to 69 per cent in the independent sector

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(CfBT, 2013/14). Furthermore, while 90 per cent of independent schools offer all students the chance to learn one or more languages from the age of 11 to 14, the figure drops to 33 per cent in state schools. Given such disturbing findings, it seemed likely that the social class background of the students might mean that students from Moreton School outperformed those from West School. However, it might be that the advantages did not yet play a role for these 12–13-year-old students and only came into play later in their language learning career. Nor was it clear whether social class would play a part in determining students’ response to the SBI itself. Would the students from Moreton School be more likely to perceive the value of the SBI, as it would enable them to make the most of their holidays abroad?

Gender The problem of the underachievement of boys in ML in England (Ofsted, 2004) was further exacerbated when students were allowed by 2004 to opt out of studying a language post 14. In the same year, the chief inspector for schools already expressed his concern that French and Spanish might become the preserve of middle class girls (Bell, 2004). The situation has continued to deteriorate (Rodeiro, 2009). Figures regarding the gender imbalance in ML in England are often drawn from a comparison of GCSE results. However, it is not clear at what age such disenchantment on the part of boys begins, and whether the SBI might contribute to reversing the process, since there is likely to be a link between gender, motivation and attainment. On the one hand, given boys’ underachievement, the female students may be the more successful language learners, hence more motivated than their male peers and therefore more receptive to the SBI. On the other hand, Harris et al. (2001) point out that high attainees of either gender can become complacent, believing that their existing use of strategies already guarantees them success. The possibility that boys, in particular, might benefit from the SBI is increased in the light of the study by Jones and Jones (2001). This suggests that boys value explicit discussion of what and why they are learning and how to approach it. They also benefit from developing greater skills of self-regulation (Watkins, 2007). Thus, the issues are firstly whether these 12–13-year-old boys are already underachieving and secondly whether the SBI can reverse the downward trend. This may be particularly relevant for reading comprehension, as compared to listening, since Shapiro (2007) suggests that girls’ superior attainment is more pronounced for skills linked to literacy even in their mother tongue (L1).

Bilingualism Chapter 5 reviews in detail studies highlighting the change of thinking in relation to bilingualism and particularly the specific benefits it offers for Third

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Language Acquisition (TLA). To summarize, it is clear that for many years, bilingual students were considered problematic for the ‘special needs’ they represent; competence in the home language being seen as interfering with the development of English. The view was discredited by Cummin’s ‘common underlying proficiency model’ which argues that although on the surface the two languages are different, underneath they are fused in a single, central, processing system (see Baker, 2006). Nevertheless, some groups do underperform and the start of the millennium saw a raft of initiatives in England to support them (DfES, 2004b, 2006). Uncovering the reasons for their underperformance is particularly complex since bilingualism is linked to class and race and there is considerable variation in educational achievement between ethnic groups (Gilborn and Mirza, 2000). Within ML, there is a growing body of evidence that bilingualism facilitates the acquisition of a third language (see Jessner, 2008 for an overview of current findings). However, in the light of Norton’s (2000) and Cummins’s research (2000, 2001a,b), it seemed likely that a complex range of factors might be involved in the progress of bilingual students learning French in these two London secondary schools. Such might include not only their general proficiency level, ethnic group, home environment and sense of identity, but also the extent to which the schools’ ethos and policies recognize and validate that identity or whether they view bilingualism as a problem. In other words, what is the interaction between their habitus and the orthodox norms of the field of the school? They may have what we described in Bourdieusian terms as a certain linguistic capital, a certain relationship to language, but, if this is not recognized within the school, it is valueless. It was therefore hard to predict the likely impact of the SBI weighted against the role of the students’ bilingual or monolingual status itself and also their responsiveness to the SBI. Do bilingual students make more progress than their monolingual classmates because, as the research suggests, they have already developed some strategies? For that very reason, do they perceive the SBI as an unnecessary ‘waste of time’? Do they indeed make the connections between the ‘natural’ home language learning environment and the school classroom? In summary, then, the question is whether the students’ bilingual status facilitates their progress in ML and whether bilingual or monolingual status is a factor in determining their response to SBI.

Attainment ‘Attainment’ is the term used by the English government to capture the learner’s level at a particular moment against set criteria and regardless of age: hence, for example, their concern to analyse over time student attainment by gender (DfE, 2010) and by minority ethnic group (DfES, 2007b).

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Attainment thus expresses the outcome of the interaction of a number of complex factors including those already discussed, such as motivation. While some of these factors might fluctuate over time, it seems likely that a student’s existing attainment level is a significant factor in determining their progress, successful high attainers making greater progress over the course of the year than low attainers. Furthermore, high attainers’ wider vocabulary may also enable them to benefit most from the SBI. A common distinction in terms of reading and listening strategies is made between ‘bottom-up’ strategies such as word for word translation and more global ‘top-down’ strategies such as inferencing. Following on from Clark’s research (1980), Macaro, Graham and Vanderplank (2007) argue that it may be that learners’ lexical knowledge needs to exceed a certain ‘threshold level’ if they are to successfully exploit top-down strategies such as prior knowledge. So, for some low attaining students in the study, the SBI may simply be ‘beyond’ them. However, the evidence is inconclusive. On the one hand, in one of the few studies of individual differences in response to SBI, Ikeda (2006) reports on its impact on 210 Japanese university EFL students. She notes that for the lower proficiency group, the intervention was not effective enough to make them change their strategy use and surmises that they did not have enough EFL reading ability to make use of the top-down strategies that were the main focus of the SBI. In contrast, Kusiak’s (2001) study showed particularly positive results for the lower proficiency group and Van Der Grift’s weaker listeners (2007) in the experimental classes made no fewer gains in listening than those in the control class. Furthermore, the possible negative impact of a ‘threshold level’ has to be balanced against low attainers’ increased motivation, since there is some evidence that SBI enhances motivation (see Chamot et al., 1996). Rubin (1990) also highlights its potential benefits for low attainers, linking it to motivation. Often poor learners don’t have a clue as to how good learners arrive at their answers and feel they can never perform as good learners do. By revealing the process, this myth can be exposed. (282) We will see how important this sense of self-efficacy is when we look at affective strategies in the next chapter. The point here is that the low attaining students’ limited lexical repertoire might be compensated for by their increased motivation. Finally, Baines, Blatchford and Chowne’s study (2007) may be of some relevance, even though it was not concerned with teaching language learner strategies specifically. The aim was to investigate the impact of training primary school students to develop collaborative group work skills. They

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found that low, middle and high attainers made equal progress over the year; and there was little difference according to gender. In sum, the issue is to establish whether in spite of their attainment level, low attainers can make as much progress as high attainers and whether they can benefit from the SBI. It is hardly surprising if this brief summary of existing research makes it difficult to predict the outcomes of the project. Takeuchi, Griffiths and Coyle (2007) discuss individual, situational and group differences, although they only look at the relationship between strategy use and gender, attainment and motivation. They point out that much of this research is inconclusive or contradictory, sometimes because the cultural contexts themselves differ. For example, Dreyer and Oxford (1996) in their study of South African students found that females use strategies more often than males, particularly social and metacognitive strategies. In contrast, Wharton (2000) reported in his investigation of students in Singapore that men use more strategies than women and neither Griffiths (2003) in New Zealand nor Nisbet, Tindall and Arroyo (2005) in China found any difference. Neither social class nor bilingualism is included in Takeuchi, Griffiths and Coyle’s review. They themselves acknowledge the relationship between a wide range of both individual and sociocultural factors in their plea that: future research, rather than trying to isolate these many variables from each other as much previous research has done, needs to develop methods for including consideration of the multiple factors which affect [sic] the ways that individual learners learn in specific situations. (2007: 92 Our emphasis in italics) The project then sought to meet this need by weighing up the role of various social and psychological factors that might influence this group of London students’ learning French by exploring the following questions: 1 What are the potentially powerful factors, such as socio-economic background, gender, bilingual status and attainment, which make a significant difference to 12–13-year-old students’ performance and motivation in ML?

a) How strong a predictor of success is social class specifically in ML? b) Do girls already outperform boys in ML at the age of 12–13? c) Is students’ bilingual status a problem or an advantage at this stage?

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d) To what extent does prior attainment predict future performance in ML? 2 What is the impact of SBI relative to these other factors? Does it make a significant difference and if so, does it play more or less of a role than gender or social background? 3 Within the group exposed to SBI, what role do these other factors play, if any? Do some sub-groups benefit more from the SBI than others?

a) Are middle class students more motivated to ‘learn how to learn’ because of holidays abroad? b) Do girls respond more positively to SBI than boys because of their higher performance and motivation levels or do they feel they already know how to tackle their learning? Alternatively, is it the boys who make the most of the SBI because they value explicit discussion about ‘how to learn’? c) Are bilingual students more likely than their monolingual peers to recognize the value of SBI, because they are already familiar with language learner strategies? Or, do they perceive it as unnecessary or even fail to make the connections between the ‘natural’ home language learning environment and the school classroom? d) Do low attainers in particular value learning the tools they need to be more successful or does their limited lexical repertoire prevent them from successfully exploiting top-down strategies such as prior knowledge?

Researching the relationship between SBI and sociocultural factors The ‘Introduction’ to Part Two describes the STIR project in some depth and also gives an overview of the methodology used in the project. We begin this section, therefore, with only a brief reminder of its main features but give more detail of the profile of the students in terms of their gender and bilingual status. We conclude by outlining the research measures used and explaining why we chose multiple regression analysis to weigh up the impact of the SBI.

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Schools, pupils and the design of the SBI As outlined in the ‘Introduction’, the project took place in two South East London schools over a nine-month period. In each school, there were two parallel classes of thirty students ages 12–13 years learning French: a control and an experimental class. The experimental classes were taught reading and then listening comprehension strategies, using the SBI cycle, moving from raising their awareness of their existing strategies to modelling and practising new ones and ending with evaluating their progress and their strategy use. The control classes were simply exposed to the same texts. Within the 120 students across the control and experimental classes, 51 per cent of the students were female in each school. At inner-city West School, 33 per cent of the students were designated as ‘bilingual’ compared to 3 per cent at Moreton School (i.e. 18 per cent across both schools). We describe the bilingual pupils’ languages and response in detail in Chapter 5.

Research measures The quantitative measures consisted of pre- and post-intervention reading and listening questionnaires administered directly after the tests so that pupils would be more likely to remember the strategies they used. They also completed a general attitude questionnaire, where the score was constructed by taking the mean of responses to question 1 (‘How do you feel about learning a new language like French?’) and question 2 (‘How hard do you think you try to learn French?’). The qualitative data in the form of the think-alouds will be described in the next chapter. A separate questionnaire was administered to the experimental classes at the end of the year to gather their opinions on the SBI, for example, whether they found the listening or the reading SBI most useful. Separate independent samples T-tests and between-groups ANOVAs could have been used to assess the impact of SBI on the performance of the experimental classes compared to the control classes. However, the study sought to examine the role that factors apart from the SBI played in student progress and their relative influence. Multiple regression allows comparison of an intervention’s impact with that of other factors determining students’ progress (Brantmeier, 2004; Hatch and Lazaron, 1991). Since the aim of this aspect of the study was to explore the relative ‘weight’ of SBI, the effect of being in the experimental group was one of the factors included in the regression. The other factors included for comparison were: students’ prior attainment (their autumn score on the same test), school attended (as an indication of socioeconomic background), gender, bilingual status, and the

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autumn combined attitude score (as an indication of prior motivation). To explore whether the SBI was especially valuable depending on any of these variables (e.g. whether it was particularly useful for students at one school), the interaction of each of these factors with the SBI was also included in the regressions. The outcome measures were the students’ gain scores (from autumn to summer) in the reading and listening test and students’ gain scores in the attitude questionnaire over the same period, the focus being on progress made rather than on final attainment level. Regression and correlation analyses were run in the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The regressions were hierarchical, showing separately how much of the total variance was explained by the intervention and its interactions; the default Enter method was used at each of the two hierarchical stages.

What we found out… We begin this section with an explanation of the rather complex table that presents all the findings together. We then ‘unpack’ the data under each of the factors in the multiple regression analysis (MRA) such as ‘Social Class’ and ‘Attainment’, having first described changes in students’ attitude. Table 3.1, column A, lists the different areas of progress measured, for example, in listening and reading comprehension. It also shows the number of students providing data for each. ‘Variance explained’ in column B indicates the extent to which the factors included in the analysis, such as students’ gender and prior attainment, account for the differences in the gain score (the difference pre- and post-intervention). The headings in column C indicate the relative weight of each one of these factors to contributing to the students’ progress. Thus, regardless of whether they are in the control or experimental classes, they show the contribution of students’ gender to their progress, for example, as well as of the SBI itself. In contrast, column D, ‘Possible factors predicting progress within experimental classes’, does not apply to the control classes and only indicates any differences in response to the SBI according to the students’ prior attainment, gender or bilingual status. Significant results are indicated by asterisks, non-significant trends by a plus sign.4

SBI weighted against other factors influencing students’ overall progress In Table 3.1, column B indicates that 47 per cent of the differences between the students’ listening gain scores and 52 per cent of differences in the

TABLE 3.1  MRA results A. Outcome measure and sample size

Listening gain

B. Effect size

Variance explained: 47%

(N = 99)

Variance explained: 52%

(N = 107) Beta

D. Possible factors predicting progress within the experimental classes Interaction with Experimental Group

Experimental Group

Prior attainment (autumn score)

School

Gender Bilingual

Zero order

10%**

22%***

8%**

1%

Semipartial

7%**

20%**

2%+

0.27

-0.64

0.22

Experimental group^

Lower achievers^

Zero order: West School^ Semi-partial: Moreton^

Zero order

5%*

36%***

22%***

Semipartial

2%+

20%**

0.13 Experimental group^

Beta

Reading gain

C. Main effects. Possible factors predicting progress across control and experimental classes

Prior Attitude

Prior attainment (autumn score)

School

Gender Bilingual

Prior Attitude

5%*

1%

0%

4%*

0%

1%

0%

0%

4%*

4%**

0%

5%**

0%

0%

0%

-0.01

0.22

0.24

0.05

-0.33

0.03

0.04

0.03

Bilingual^

Higher attitude^

1%

3%+

0%

0%

0%

0%

1%

1%

4%**

2%+

1%

0%

3%*

0%

0%

0%

1%

-0.55

-0.25

0.15

0.11

0.04

-0.21

0.02

0.05

0.08

0.12

Lower achievers^

West School^

Girls^

Bilingual^

Low autumn scores^

West School^

TABLE 3.1  MRA results (continued) A. Outcome measure and sample size

B. Effect size

C. Main effects. Possible factors predicting progress across control and experimental classes

Experimental Group Attitude/ motivation change (N = 99)

Variance explained: 18%

Beta

Prior attainment (autumn score)

D. Possible factors predicting progress within the experimental classes Interaction with Experimental Group

School

Gender Bilingual

Prior Attitude

Prior attainment (autumn score)

School

Gender Bilingual

Prior Attitude

Zero order

4%*

1%

0%

0%

5%

2%

1%

0%

3%

Semipartial

5%*

0%

1%

0%

6%*

4%*

0%

1%

1%

0.24

0.07

0.12

−0.05

−0.27

0.22

−0.03

0.10

−0.13

Less decline for lower prior attitude

Moreton Schools^

Less decline in experimental group

Notes: Variances explained are based on unadjusted R-squared. ^Indicates which group/subgroup made more progress. +p < 0.100; *p < 0.050; **p < 0.010; ***p < 0.001.

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LANGUAGE LEARNER STRATEGIES

reading gain score are accounted for by the factors included in the analysis, such as students’ gender and prior attainment. In other words, nearly half of the differences in student progress are accounted for by their prior attainment, social class, gender, bilingual status and the SBI itself. It is encouraging to note that the intervention is one of the significant factors in contributing to this progress both in listening and reading progress. Column C in the table shows that membership of the experimental group was a significant predictor of the listening gain score (10 per cent). Students in the experimental group gained an average of 14 per cent more marks by the end of the year compared with 6 per cent in the control group. Although the figure is less (5 per cent) for the reading gain score, it is still statistically significant. The relative weight of the SBI against these other factors can be seen in the figures below, which give the significant predictors of the gain in listening scores in order of effect size as measured by the zero-order correlation: 1 prior attainment (as indicated by the autumn term scores) (22 per cent), low attainers making the most progress over the course of the year; 2 membership of the experimental group (10 per cent); 3 school attended (8 per cent), West School students gaining more; 4 bilingual status (5 per cent).5 We turn now to the significant predictors of reading progress in order of effect size: 1 prior attainment, as indicated by the autumn term scores (36 per cent), low attainers making more progress; 2 school attended (22 per cent), West School pupils gaining more; 3 membership of the experimental group (5 per cent).

Changes in attitude Before describing in more detail the relative role of each of the factors, we want first to look at gains in the attitude score. Only 18 per cent of the variance here is explained by the MRA model, factors other than social class, gender, bilingual status or the SBI accounting for the remaining 82 per cent. This may reflect the brevity of the questions, which perhaps provided only a crude measure of students’ attitudes. Figure 3.1 shows that the attitudes of all students towards their language learning are already declining at the end of their second year of language learning, although at this stage neither the students’ socio-economic background, nor their gender, nor bilingual status plays a role in this decline. It is encouraging to note that the attitudes of students in the experimental

SOCIOCULTURAL FACTORS AND STRATEGY BASED INSTRUCTION

69

4

Attitude score

3.8

3.6

3.4

3.2

3

3

3.2

3.4

Autumn Control

3.6

3.8

4

Summer Experimental

FIGURE 3.1   Attitude scores by group classes are less likely to become negative than those in the control classes. A histogram suggests that this is not due to a floor effect.

The role of social class in progress Regardless of control and experimental groups, socio-economic background, in terms of school attended, was a significant predictor of progress in listening. However, it was not in the way we had anticipated. Even though the autumn term listening scores of pupils in West School were below those of Moreton School, and were still below them in the summer term, they made significantly more progress. School attendance played an even more important role in reading gains, again West School students gaining more, although a histogram suggests that a ceiling effect may be involved, so some caution must be exercised in interpreting the results. Turning to differences in the response to the SBI (column D in Table 3.1), students at West School were again at an advantage. Although all students in the experimental classes benefitted from the listening SBI, regardless of factors such as their attainment or gender, Figure 3.2 shows that students in the experimental class in West School made more progress in listening comprehension than both those in Moreton School and in the control classes. It might be assumed that this is because there is a larger proportion of bilingual students in West School, since, as we shall see in Chapter 5, they outperformed

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LANGUAGE LEARNER STRATEGIES 70

Listening score

60

50

40

30

Autumn Experimental Moreton

Summer Control Moreton

Experimental West

Control West

FIGURE 3.2   Listening test scores by membership of experimental group and school attended

the monolingual pupils in listening comprehension. However, there are similar numbers of bilingual students in both the control and experimental class in West School and the MRA indicates that there is no significant interaction between group and bilingualism. There was no such difference between experimental groups in the two schools in terms of the reading gain scores. However, the semi-partial correlation of 4 per cent* in column D suggests that students in the Moreton School experimental group are less likely to develop negative attitudes than those of their peers in West School.

Gender The data in column C suggests that gender does not play a significant role in contributing to the gain scores in listening at this stage in the students’ language learning career. However, in terms of reading, the semi-partial correlations suggest a non-significant trend of 2 per cent+ in favour of girls, suggesting that they are making more progress, albeit limited, in reading comprehension than the boys. Within the experimental classes, gender does not appear to influence the effectiveness of the SBI.

Bilinguals In Chapter 5, we shall see the way that bilingual status is a significant predictor of the gain in listening scores (5 per cent), bilingual students across

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71

both experimental and control classes achieving greater gain scores than their monolingual peers. There was also a non-significant trend of 3 per cent+ in favour of bilingual students in terms of reading progress. Unlike listening comprehension, these students do not start out at a disadvantage in their reading, but they improve more than their monolingual peers.

Attainment Contrary to our expectations and regardless of the SBI, low attainers made the most progress in listening and reading gain scores over the course of the year: 22 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively. The higher the score in the autumn term, the less the gain by the summer term. However, a histogram reveals that a ceiling effect may be involved in terms of reading gain scores. While it seems that the SBI benefits all students regardless of their socioeconomic background, gender, bilingual status or prior attitude, the semipartial correlation of 3 per cent* suggests that students with low autumn term scores may be more likely to benefit from the reading instruction than high attainers. In terms of students’ attitudes to their learning, Figure 3.3 indicates

1.00

Attitude score change

0.50

0.00

−0.50

−1.00 R Sq Linear = 0.143

−1.50

R Sq Linear = 0.005 −2.00 2.00

2.50

3.00 3.50 4.00 Attitude score autumn

4.50

5.00

Group control

experimental

control

experimental

FIGURE 3.3   Attitude change by group and prior attitude

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LANGUAGE LEARNER STRATEGIES

that there is a non-significant trend of 3 per cent+ for the interaction between experimental group and prior attitude. There is thus a tendency for students in the experimental classes with very low autumn attitude scores, to increase their scores slightly by the summer. In the control group there is no such tendency.

Implications The limitations of the study are apparent. The sample sizes are quite small and devising appropriate tests at this level proved challenging. The ‘Hawthorne effect’ may also have had a role to play; involvement in the intervention rather than its particular characteristics possibly determines the greater progress of the experimental classes. Nevertheless, we feel our findings suggest some useful avenues for further research with larger cohorts of students, of varying ages and backgrounds and learning languages other than French. Although the focus of this chapter is on the psychological and sociocultural aspects of the quantitative data, some reference will be made to the qualitative data, where appropriate. Chapter 4, on affective strategies, will explore unexpected aspects of the qualitative findings in more depth.

The impact of the SBI The results of the project appear promising at least in relation to this group of London-based students. The first research question set out to explore the potentially powerful factors which might make a difference to the level of progress and motivation in 12–13-year-old students across the control and experimental classes. It appears that teaching them how to go about their ML learning can make a small but significant difference, listening (10 per cent) being slightly greater than reading (5 per cent). Qualitative data suggests some possible explanations for the difference in impact of the SBI across the two skill areas. In a separate questionnaire for the experimental classes (Harris, 2007), 30 pupils (55 per cent) reported that the reading SBI had helped them most as against 10 (19 per cent) for the listening SBI and 14 (26 per cent) indicating ‘the same’. However, the listening strategy instruction may have made more of an impact on actual progress than they realized, as both teachers and students were more attuned to it, having already engaged in the reading SBI prior to the listening SBI. A further reason may be that students found listening more difficult than reading and hence having explicit instruction on how to tackle listening texts was more useful, even if many of the students were not themselves aware of it. As

SOCIOCULTURAL FACTORS AND STRATEGY BASED INSTRUCTION

73

one student commented, ‘knowing how to use listening strategies helped me not to panic’. It appears that the SBI played a positive role not just in improving performance but also in reducing the downward trend in terms of attitude. It should be borne in mind however that the MRA model as a whole only explained 18 per cent of the variance in attitude so further research is needed to uncover the other possible factors at work.

The impact of social class In terms of the other influences on progress, we had thought that social class would play an important role, with students in Moreton School making the greatest progress, because of holidays abroad and fewer discipline issues. However, it is the West School students across the control and experimental classes who make greater gain scores in listening, the possible ceiling effect making it difficult to draw a similar conclusion in relation to reading. Nor did a more privileged social background with holidays abroad mean that students in the experimental classes at Moreton School were more receptive to the SBI. Indeed, the reverse is true with students in West School making greater progress and again this was in listening comprehension. The reasons are unclear. Perhaps both control and experimental classes in West School had, for some reason, initially struggled more with listening comprehension than reading comprehension since listening is fleeting and time dependent and the additional year from 12 to 13 allowed them to become more accustomed to it. In terms of receptiveness to the SBI, it is not possible to rule out the possibility that the teacher at West School taught the listening strategies more effectively than her colleague in Moreton School. However, one might assume that the same West School teacher would also teach the reading strategies more effectively and this does not appear to be the case. A further possibility is simply that the more middle class catchment area is one where reading is more highly valued than listening. Further research is needed in a range of schools serving different populations. Although attendance at West School appears to have played a positive role in terms of progress in listening comprehension, it is a different picture in terms of attitudes to language learning. While motivation declined less in the experimental classes than the control classes overall, those in the experimental class at Moreton School appeared to decline slightly less than at West School. Although caution must be exercised when interpreting non-significant trends, it is interesting that it is only the experimental class where motivation levels drop less, not pupils in the school as a whole, so it is not simply due to the students having direct experience abroad of the relevance of their language learning. Perhaps there is a complex interaction between social class and SBI

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so that the SBI increases students’ motivation by providing them with the tools to cope when they are on holiday abroad.

The impact of gender We were aware that girls outperformed boys but were unclear at what point the differences become apparent. In our study, the 12–13-year-old girls across the control and experimental group did not make more progress than the boys in listening comprehension and there was only a non-significant trend of 2 per cent+ in the semi-partial correlation for reading. So, at this early stage in language learning careers, the differences noted by Shapiro (2007) are only just beginning to arise. This perhaps explains why there were no significant differences in terms of responsiveness to the SBI. Perhaps any higher level of motivation among the girls may have been counterbalanced by the boys’ appreciation of the explicit nature of the instruction, like those in the research of Jones and Jones (2001).

The impact of bilingualism Far from being a problem, bilingualism appears to be an advantage at least for the development of listening skills and possibly also for reading comprehension. We later describe how bilingual students’ rich linguistic home environment can facilitate the development of valuable listening strategies such as inferencing which are perhaps transferred to reading comprehension. We also outline ways in which ML teachers and the school as a whole might both validate and expand bilingual students’ strategies.

The impact of attainment We had expected to find that attainment would play an important role in success across control and experimental classes, high attainers making greater progress than low attainers. In fact, the reverse was true suggesting that perhaps there is a need in both schools for differentiated approaches to stretch high attainers more fully. We were unsure about the degree to which attainment would play a part in students’ response to the SBI itself. On the one hand, high attainers’ wider lexical repertoire might put them at an advantage. However, it was also hoped that low attainers might become less discouraged once they understood what was needed in order to tackle learning a new language. In the event, it appears that a linguistic ‘threshold level’ was not a problem for them. Indeed, there is some indication from the semi-partial correlation that the explicit instruction in reading strategies

SOCIOCULTURAL FACTORS AND STRATEGY BASED INSTRUCTION

75

appeared to have benefitted low attainers the most. The non-significant trend of 3 per cent+ indicates that the SBI may have also improved the motivation of those students in the experimental classes with very low attitude scores. As we indicated earlier, further research is needed to investigate the possible interaction between factors: in this case, between the SBI, attainment level, motivation and performance.

Pedagogical implications Although it is encouraging that at this relatively early stage in their language learning, factors such as social class and gender have not yet significantly impacted on students’ progress, we need to know if they are more likely to come into play when students reach the 13–14 age range and why. Given that the SBI appears to reduce the decline, integrating it into the curriculum throughout the entire span of a student’s education might contribute to reversing the achievement gap between boys and girls. Such a move may also be of benefit to low attainers since they, like high attainers, were able to access the SBI. Understanding exactly how to go about their language learning may have, as Rubin (1990) suggested, served to demystify the process and increase their sense of self-efficacy. Teachers are not able to alter students’ gender, social class or bilingual status. As we will see in Chapter 7, however, through SBI, they can empower learners, giving them a sense that they can achieve and the tools to do so. They can also draw on bilinguals’ ‘good’ language learning skills to show students what these tools look like in practice.

In summary… In adopting a sociocultural approach to the collection of data, the STIR project sought to recognize the powerful role socially prescribed characteristics play on pupil progress. The World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE, 2016) provides strong evidence of the impact of wealth, gender, ethnicity and location in shaping people’s opportunities for education and life, drawing attention to unacceptable levels of educational inequality across countries and between groups within countries. Although modest in scale, we hope that our findings contribute not only to an understanding of the impact of SBI but also of other factors influencing the progress of 12–13-year-old students learning French. At this early stage in their learning, gender appears to be less influential than expected. In contrast, being bilingual may be an advantage that has not yet been fully recognized. It is promising that SBI appears to play

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LANGUAGE LEARNER STRATEGIES

a significant role in determining the progress of young school students ages 12–13 learning an ML. Given the high rate at which students in England are opting out of ML post 14, it appears that there is all to play for in the preceding two years. Learning how to learn languages may be one pedagogical approach that is effective with all students and may contribute to encouraging them to continue their ML studies and prevent it becoming the preserve of the elite. This chapter has used quantitative data to explore the weight of SBI relative to sociocultural factors. However useful the MRA was, it only explained about half the variation between the gain scores; in other words, other influences were at work apart from social class, gender and bilingual status. In the next chapter, we draw on the qualitative data to investigate what these other factors may be.

Appendix 3.1: Reading strategy checklist Before reading 1.

I work out from the layout what I am reading, for example, if it’s instructions, or a short paragraph or a letter, or even an advert or a brochure

2.

I try to get clues from any pictures and the title to help me guess what it will be about

3.

I try to predict all the words and information that I might find in the text While reading

4.

I don’t panic and switch off but I just tell myself it’s OK and keep reading even if it is hard

5.

I just try to get the main ideas first and then read it again for the details

6.

I skip over words that I do not understand

7.

I try to spot familiar words that I do understand from when we learned them in class

8.

I look out for cognates

9.

I look out for the names of people or places and for punctuation clues

10.

I think about all the possible things it could mean

11.

If I don’t understand, I use my common sense to guess the meaning from the rest of the words in the sentence and what I have worked out so far

SOCIOCULTURAL FACTORS AND STRATEGY BASED INSTRUCTION

77

3.1  Reading strategy checklist (continued) 12.

I say the difficult bits out loud or in my own head

13.

I say in English what I have worked out so far in the sentence and substitute ‘something’ for the words I don’t know

14.

I break the word or sentence up into bits that I may recognize

15.

If I don’t understand one bit, I go back to it and read it over several times slowly

16.

I try to use grammar clues to spot what kind of a word it is – a noun, a verb, etc. After reading

17.

I try to remember everything that I have read and then fit it altogether so that it makes sense

18.

I check back to see if my first guesses still make sense

Appendix 3.2: Listening strategy checklist When I am listening to the CD (or to the teacher talking in French): Before listening 1.

I work out from the layout (pictures and instructions) what I will hear: a conversation, directions round town, a railway announcement

2.

I try to predict all the words and information that I might hear

3.

I decide on the key words to listen out for While listening

4.

I don’t panic and switch off but I just tell myself it’s OK and keep listening even if they do talk fast

5.

I just try to get the main ideas, when the tape is first played, and then I listen again for details

6.

I try to get clues from the tone of voice (questions? feelings?) and from gestures or background sounds

7.

I skip over words that I do not understand so that I don’t miss what is said next

8.

I don’t try to write and listen at the same time

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LANGUAGE LEARNER STRATEGIES

3.2  Listening strategy checklist (continued) 9.

I make pictures in my head of what is said

10.

I try to spot familiar words that I do understand from when the teacher said them in class

11.

I listen out for possible cognates and think about how they may sound different in French

12.

I listen out for the names of people or places and think about how they may sound different in French

13.

I break the sounds down into possible words and try writing them down to see if I can recognize them

14.

I think about all the possible words it could be and things it could mean

15.

I double-check words because a word may sound like English but not mean the same thing at all

16.

If I don’t understand, I use my common sense to guess the meaning from the rest of the words in the sentence and what I have worked out so far

17.

I say in English what I have worked out so far and substitute ‘something’ for the words I don’t Know

18.

If I don’t understand one bit, I listen out for it when the tape is played again

19.

I try to use grammatical clues to spot what kind of a word it is – a noun, a verb, etc. After listening

20.

I try to remember everything I have heard and then fit it all together so that it makes sense

21.

I check back to see if my first guesses still make sense

4 The Role of Affective Strategies in Students’ Learning

It helps to revise with a friend ‘cos like otherwise it’s really hard to sit back and learn the vocab and French is one of the worst subjects for getting side-tracked. (STUDENT)

Introduction Why focus on affective strategies? In Part One of the book we presented our view that second language learning is inherently problematic, constantly confronting the learner with difficulties as they struggle to express their identity within limited linguistic resources. Learning a new language is thus an adventure of the whole person rather than merely a cognitive exercise: a journey in which the learner’s personality and personal emotions are engaged as well as their intellectual capabilities. We argued that from a Bourdieusian perspective every language learner is unique because their pathway through the world, and the knowledge and language that such a journey provides, is actually singular and, of course, this is experienced emotionally as well as cognitively. Because society is not homogeneous, each learner will imbibe something different as they make that journey. We thus stressed the unified nature of learner strategies, suggesting that they can be neurological, behavioural, cognitive and affective. Yet, along with the sociocultural, the affective aspect of LLS has been largely neglected in research until the last decade or so. In the last chapter, we explored the sociocultural dimension of LLS. Using multiple regression analysis we analysed the quantitative data and saw how SBI had a positive impact both on students’ progress and their

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motivation. However, as noted, qualitative data was also collected through think-aloud procedures and interviews from three bilingual students and twenty-four monolingual case study students. We anticipated that SBI would lead to noticeable changes in the students’ deployment of cognitive and metacognitive strategies – not simply in the quantity of strategies used but in how appropriately they were used. In terms of our own relationship with the data, we were surprised that we could not always find evidence either in test performance or strategy deployment to distinguish experimental from control pupils of the same attainment level. So, we looked at the think-aloud data again and were struck by the complex interaction between strategy use and what we then termed as ‘emotional’ differences in the students’ approach to tackling the text, differences that we would now refer to as affective strategies. This chapter begins by tracking the development of interest in this area, describing recent studies on self-efficacy and self-regulation, and we provide some examples of progression in affective strategies from the primary to the secondary teaching curriculum, from those seen as ‘easier’ and more within the grasp of beginners to ‘harder’ strategies for more advanced learners. This issue of progression according to the level of the learner is one of the central themes of Chapter 7. We move on to present the data and initial discussion from the STIR think-alouds, but this is then reanalysed in the light of these recent studies into affective strategies. The same process of presentation and reanalysis is repeated for the data of three learners from our previous studies. Our aim here is to highlight the vital role affective strategies play and how a close analysis of each student can enable the teacher to provide them with individualized feedback to foster their growth as independent learners. We conclude the chapter with some brief suggestions for SBI in affective strategies.

Researching affective strategies: From theory to practice What we know already… This section tracks the development of interest in affective strategies over the last decades. We have seen in Part One that as early as 1976 Naiman et al referred to `Management of affective demands’ and Krashen (1982) to `excess anxiety’. Yet in their seminal taxonomy of strategies, O’Malley and Chamot (1990: 139) identified just two affective strategies: self  talk to reduce anxiety and make yourself feel competent to complete the task; and self-reinforcement to arrange rewards for oneself when the task has been successfully completed. Oxford’s (1990: 163) list is more extensive. She refers

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to different strategies for lowering anxiety and for encouraging yourself and includes ‘taking risks wisely’. This, she explains, means using the language in spite of fear of failure, but through tempered judgement rather than through wild guesswork! Nevertheless, much of the subsequent research into LLS did not follow up these suggestions and concentrated instead on cognitive and metacognitive strategies. Noting the absence of studies on the link between emotions and self-regulation, Bown and White (2006) argued that those studies that had been undertaken focused on negative emotions such as anxiety rather than the positive approaches that may be a factor in the successful undertaking of a task. Even the review of thirty years of LLS research edited by Cohen and Macaro (2007) pays little attention to this group of strategies. Like other areas in SLA, it seems to take some time before language teaching explores in any real depth the implications of insights from general educational psychology. We will see this emerging again later in relation to the latest developments in SBI. A key concept to emerge from general educational research related to the learner’s emotions and identity is motivation and particularly self-efficacy, the belief in one’s ability to do a task. Bandura (1995) found that high levels of selfefficacy are important in maintaining motivation in the face of difficulties and failure. Related to this is how learners explain their success or failure: are they factors within their control – such as how hard they tried or which strategies they employed, or are they perceived to be beyond their control, such as the task being too hard or their own innate inability? Graham (1997, 2004, 2007) was one of the first to explore the implications of this research for modern languages. Her focus, however, has tended to be on the 16–18-year-old learner. Oxford’s more recent work also draws on the more advanced learner for exemplifications. She devotes an entire chapter to ‘strategies linked with emotions, beliefs, attitudes and motivation’ (2011: 61). Reflecting our own view discussed in Part One, she quotes Guiroa (1983: 8) who states that ‘the task of learning a new language is a profoundly unsettling psychological proposition’. She expresses her surprise that so few strategy researchers have explored affective strategies in sufficient depth and contests Macaro’s contention (2006) that affective strategies are simply part of metacognition. She argues that just as cognitive strategies have metacognitive strategies to provide overall control and management of their deployment, so ‘Meta-affective strategies’ allow learners to reflect on their affective needs and take control of their emotions and beliefs which can be anxiety-provoking especially in the early stages of learning. Her Strategic SelfRegulation model is one of the significant paradigms on the ‘conscious end of the modelling spectrum’. Here, she uses the same categories for these ‘Meta-affective’ strategies, as for metacognitive strategies: ‘Paying attention to’, ‘Planning for’, ‘Orchestrating’, ‘Monitoring’ and ‘Evaluating’, and she identifies numerous ‘tactics’ from adult learners’ reports for each category. The extensive taxonomy is further complicated by two groups of affective strategies that are

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directly involved in controlling emotions, rather than overseeing them, namely ‘Activating supportive emotions, beliefs and attitudes’ and ‘Generating and maintaining motivation’. We will explore how her taxonomy relates to the pupils in the STIR study in the next section. First, however, we will offer some rather more simple examples of affective strategies, and for younger learners, taken from ‘Progression of Learning English as a Second Language’ published by the Ministère de l’Education, du Loisir and du Sport for primary schooling in 2009 and at secondary level in 2010. The publications should be read within the context of the public education system in Québec, where French as the L1 prevails outside central Montreal and English and is thus the L2. Cycle 1 covers ages 6–7 years, cycle 2 ages 8–9 years and cycle 3 covers 10–12-year-olds. Table 4.1 is for primary school and Table 4.2 is for secondary.1 Elementary School (6 to 12 years) is marked with ‘E’ and increasing independence is also shown by an arrow indicating the student may need teacher guidance initially but, by the end of the year can apply the new knowledge (a star), and reinvest it (dark space).

TABLE 4.1  Affective strategies for primary school learners Cycle One

Cycle Two

Cycle Three

1

3

4

5

2

6

Directed attention Decides to pay attention to a task and to ignore distractors

1

Decides to concentrate on the right things Maintains attention during tasks

Risk-taking Uses words, strings of words and expressions to communicate only in English

1

Dares to use functional language frequently used in class to speak only English, in spite of making errors





Experiments with known language

1

Experiments with known language







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Attempts to integrate new language

1

Attempts to integrate new language





Accepting not being able to understand everything listened to or read Perseveres despite not understanding everything listened to or read, without getting overly anxious





TABLE 4.2  Affective strategies for secondary school learners 1

2

1.5. Encourage and reward self and others a. Makes positive statements during a task and congratulates self and others upon completion





1.6. Lower anxiety a. Reduces stress by reminding self of goals, progress made and resources available













1.7. Take risks a. Pushes oneself to experiment with language and ideas without fear of making errors

E

3

4

5





2. Self-regulation of social/affective strategies a. Uses self-evaluation means to reflect on the effectiveness of a specific social/affective strategy (e.g. selfevaluation grid, class discussion) b. Manages an inventory of social/ affective strategies: identifies the strategies, selects which ones to use for a given task, uses them appropriately, analyses their effectiveness, makes necessary adjustments

E





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Decisions regarding what should be covered in the early years of language learning and what in later years is a key theme of Chapter 7. Here, we simply note the positive nature of many of the strategies listed: for example, experimenting, accepting not understanding everything, rewarding oneself and risk-taking. The reference to Self-regulation reminds us of Oxford’s `Meta-affective’ strategies. Because the STIR project took place before the publication of these various studies, we did not explicitly ask students about their affective strategies. For this reason, we believe it would be valuable to reanalyse the data in the light of this new knowledge. The next section has two parts: the first focuses on the STIR think-aloud data, the second on the three case study students we previously studied (see Grenfell and Harris, 1999). We begin by briefly explaining how the data was collected and move on to describe the differences we noted at the time of the study. We then re-examine the data in the light of the recent studies into affective strategies to provide further insights into the learners’ affective strategies. We move on to considering how feedback on the strategies could help the students take greater control over their emotions, beliefs and attitudes.

Researching learners’ affective strategies In order to collect detailed qualitative data on the students’ strategy deployment, six monolingual students in each of the experimental and control classes were selected as case studies: two high, two average and two low attainers, with one male and one female in each attainment grouping yielding a total of twenty-four students. Selection according to proficiency level is problematic. To give just one example, is it accuracy or fluency and in which skill areas which counts as proficiency? After some discussion, we decided to base our decision on a combination of the pupils’ ML test score the preceding year and their Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT) verbal score, since the latter is considered the most reliable predictor of ML GCSE performance (see NfER Nelson, 2003). As previously noted, we were aware that these young students might find it difficult to articulate their thoughts in a think-aloud activity. So, in order to train them, we followed a suggestion from Chamot (personal communication). First, they were shown a number of small stuffed toys, which were then placed in a bag. Having modelled it first for them, we then asked each student to feel in the bag for one toy and to guess which animal it was, thinking aloud what they felt: for example, ‘I can feel something that is like a tail so it can’t be the frog. That feels like two ears so it could be the mouse.’ Finally, we asked them to use the same technique on a reading text. Once they had been trained in the process, think-aloud procedures were carried out with the twenty-four students across the two schools. For

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the reading comprehension, we had successfully trialled an extract from a teenager magazine about recent films and had asked them to focus on the one describing ET. The listening comprehension involved a recording of the meeting of two young people at a disco. As the music is very loud, they have to keep repeating the questions about their names, if they like the music etc.

What we found out… We had thought, or indeed hoped that, as a result of the SBI, there would be a marked difference between control and experimental case study pupils in their strategy deployment: differences not simply in the number of strategies they used but whether they could combine them appropriately according to the task in hand or even the section of the task. However, this was not always the case. Of course, we recognized the possible limitations of the study in terms of the small number of case study pupils, and the nature of the tests which may have restricted the opportunity to reveal differences in strategy use. However, when we looked at the think-aloud data again, it was clear that something else was going on apart from the use of cognitive and metacognitive strategies, namely differences in what we then thought of as ‘emotional’ approaches to learning. Bearing in mind that the MRA only explains a limited amount of the variance between pupils (47 per cent for listening, 52 per cent for reading), we believed that these less tangible influences, along with the ‘flexibility of strategy use in context’ noted by Takeuchi, Griffiths and Coyle (2007), might underlie some of the remaining variance. Table 4.3 summarizes some of our preliminary conclusions about the differences in the students’ approaches (Harris and Grenfell, 2008). For reasons of brevity, we have restricted the data here to extracts from three students’ think-aloud exercises in order to illustrate these differences, differences that

TABLE 4.3  Contrasts in affective approaches Positive affective approaches

Negative affective approaches

Persists

Gives up rapidly

Assurance: tolerates ambiguity, ‘not knowing’. Moves backwards and forwards, piecing information together

Self-doubt: unsure of each piece of information so cannot relate it to the next pieces

Constant willingness/openness to reevaluating. Takes risks with the language

‘Blocked’, tries once then rapidly loses interest.

Operates strategies flexibly

Sticks to limited combinations of strategies

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were often already emerging prior to the intervention. We describe these initial findings in some detail before exploring how they relate to the recent studies into affective strategies outlined earlier in the chapter. It so happens that in the think-aloud extracts that follow we contrast the more successful approaches of students in the experimental classes with less successful approaches of students in the control classes.2 This is only because they portray such clear differences. The important point is that there were already differences in approach in the autumn term, so the extent to which the SBI may have facilitated the experimental pupils’ progress is unclear. To summarize the portraits below, we contrast the think-aloud exercises in reading and listening of Hannah, who is in the control class, with two pupils in the experimental class (Christine and Alison). They score identical marks to Hannah in the autumn term but make greater progress than her by the summer term. At the beginning of the year, both Hannah (control class) and Christine (experimental class) are average attainers, scoring similar marks in the reading test. By the summer term, Christine’s gain score has improved by 33 per cent, compared to Hannah’s 19 per cent but they were already demonstrating dissimilarities in how they tackle their learning prior to the SBI. In the preintervention reading think-aloud, both use strategies such as searching for cognates and using the picture for clues. However, whereas Hannah rapidly abandons any effort to work on it further, Christine persists for longer. She appears to tolerate ‘not knowing’, moving backwards and forwards across the text in an effort to make it make sense. She breaks words down but is flexible and orchestrates the use of this strategy with comprehension monitoring: for example, on encountering ‘autrui’, she comments, ‘because that’s a- u- t, I’ m thinking if it’s autumn but I doubt it’. Her self-reliance is evident in her explanation as to why she recognizes ‘États-Unis’, since she met it in her homework and unlike some of her peers took the trouble to look it up in the dictionary. By the summer, little has changed for Hannah. Asked by the teacher (T) what she would normally do having identified some words and tried to use them to work out the meaning of others, she replies, ‘I dunno, probably leave it there’. In contrast the student (S), Christine continues to monitor initial guesses but also explicitly makes effective use of the strategy of substitution taught during the SBI, replacing an unfamiliar word with ‘something’: S: Elliott, un jeune.. I think, no that’s not yellow T: what made you change your mind? S: Cos, that’s not how you spell it and cos something American is 10 years old. So Elliot, something American is 10 years old.

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Both these pupils were average attainers in reading comprehension. Over the course of the nine months, both had opportunities to increase their vocabulary range, possibly beyond the linguistic ‘threshold’, discussed earlier, allowing them to extract more words from the text and ‘put them together’ to infer meaning. What seems to differentiate Christine from Hannah is the willingness to persist, to tolerate not knowing already suggested in the autumn term and again evident in the summer term. Being able to hold on to uncertainty and being open to re-evaluating initial guesses are features of the more successful case study pupils. Christine also appears to have a greater degree of self-reliance from the outset. It is impossible to say whether the SBI enabled her to build on these strengths by making explicit how to tackle texts or whether she would have pursued this course anyway. A delicate balance appears to be necessary between tolerating uncertainty and having sufficient confidence in the initial guesses to relate one piece of information to the next. Hannah’s score for listening in the autumn term is identical to Alison’s (in the experimental class). By the summer, Alison’s gain score has improved by 12 per cent, whereas Hannah’s has dropped by the same amount. Analysis of the think-aloud exercises suggests some interesting differences. Both before and after the intervention, Hannah’s guesses are expressed tentatively and she appears to lack confidence. While Christine’s willingness to monitor her comprehension appears to have positive results, Hannah’s ongoing self doubt may not be helpful in terms of allowing her to consolidate one set of facts and relate it to the next, as we see in the extract below from the summer term think-aloud: Tape: Tu danses le rock? Parle plus fort! Tu danses le rock? Je n’entends rien. Plus fort! S: Um.. are they dancing to rock or something? T: What makes you say that? S: Um.. he said ‘danses le rock’ T: Mm-hmm S: But I don’t know whether it was a question or he was telling her. T: Mm-hmmm … What do you think? H: I think it was probably a question. T: Why? H: I dunno.

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In contrast, Alison seems more self-assured, allowing her to piece together related information. Even in the autumn term, when she listens to the text for the first time, she has already identified key contextual clues: T: Alison, so any thoughts on that? S: Yeah, I thought they might have been in quite a noisy place because they had to repeat things a lot T: What makes you say that they had to repeat things? S:  Erm well first of all because the music was on. And then because they kept on asking each other to repeat what they were saying. T: And how do you know that? S:  The expression in their voices. T: Okay. What type of expressions helped you work out it was a question? S: Erm, like, they, they said it more high pitched, as if they were actually asking a question. Her persistent and self-reliant attitude is evident in her answer to the question about what she would normally do having heard the text for the first time. We see also her sense of self-efficacy: T: Right, okay, so how do you go, what happens now then in your head, if you don’t understand any of it. S: I’d probably try and listen to the recording again and then work it out a bit more and see if I could understand any words and if I couldn’t, I’d just move on and then later on, try and figure out what they were. Her responses seem to be in line with Goh’s conclusions (1998), namely that not only do higher attaining listeners use a greater number of metacognitive strategies, they also seem more able or more willing to keep on listening and not be daunted by unfamiliar words. Furthermore, by the summer, like Christine’s ability to deliberately use the strategy of substitution, Alison also seems to have a heightened metacognitive awareness of her own thought processes, commenting on the first listening: ‘I could sort of get an idea of it until half way through.. I think I just couldn’t … it became overload.’ It is not possible to say whether Alison would have reached this point without the SBI. However, in a follow-up questionnaire to the experimental classes three years later, when asked how she would explain to a beginner what learner strategies are, she wrote that strategies are: ways to tackle reading and listening tasks so they are maybe not easier in themselves, but easier to cope with and get through (our italics).

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This may support the quantitative findings in relation to motivation: that is, the text may remain difficult but the strategies make it less daunting and encourage the learners to persist. However, other factors apart from the SBI may also be important. Alison went on to take her GCSE exams early, achieving top marks and she became Head Girl of her school, this in spite of a long-term genetic illness affecting her mother and siblings. Her teacher notes, ‘so really she is quite a resilient kid’. It leads us to ponder the relationship between autonomy as a person and autonomy as a learner, between the individual and the environment that shapes them. In other words, did the necessity to be highly independent from a young age contribute to her persistence and independence in language learning? Did coping with a range of challenges give her a greater sense of selfefficacy? We are not suggesting in any way that such difficulties are beneficial for children; indeed, in our experience the reverse is often the case with a negative impact on many pupils. We rather wish to highlight, as discussed in Chapter 2 in relation to the work of Bourdieu, that we cannot separate from the society around them even small elements that make up an individual’s educational progress such as their affective and cognitive strategies; rather there is a constant interaction between their habitus and the field context in which they operate. We shall see how features of their home environment shape the strategies bilingual pupils use. Both of the examples above suggest that there were already differences in the autumn term between the students in the experimental and control groups, differences that may have been heightened by the SBI to allow the experimental students to achieve higher marks. For example, to what extent does knowing about a range of strategies for tackling a text encourage persistence? Does having a name for what one is already doing (‘comprehension monitoring’) validate and reinforce its use? The think-aloud exercises with these case study students reveal a range of emotions and attitudes such as Christine’s self-reliance and ability to tolerate not knowing, Hannah’s self-doubt and Alison’s persistence. There appears to be a complex interaction between these affective factors, the learner’s linguistic repertoire and their flexibility in strategy deployment.

Further thoughts… How then do these findings relate to the studies of affective strategies discussed earlier? Many of Oxford’s ‘Meta- affective’ strategies do not apply to the project data. Because we did not interview the students directly about their beliefs and emotional attitudes, we know little about how they plan their affective goals, like learning how to become less anxious or embarrassed, for example, or how they monitor why their thoughts are wandering. The direct

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affective strategy of ‘activating supportive emotions, beliefs and attitudes’ seems more relevant to our learners. Oxford’s examples include ‘substituting positive emotions, beliefs and attitudes for negative ones’ and she cites one learner (2011) who reports: Instead of getting threatened by contradictory or incomplete information, or thinking this language is too strange, I think of the contradictions as interesting. (120) While we cannot know if this is what Christine is thinking, it may lie behind her ability to tolerate uncertainty, as she keeps searching through the text in an effort to make it make sense. Such an approach may also free students up to re-evaluate initial guesses and change their minds, a feature of the more successful students. This in turn may encourage the use of combinations of strategies. Christine, for example, looks more closely at the spelling of ‘jeune’ and uses substitution to arrive at the correct meaning ‘young’. The ability to hold on to a number of possibilities rather than panicking to reach an immediate solution seems to be particularly important for the comprehension monitoring that we saw, for example, when Christine revises her opinion and rejects ‘autrui’ as meaning ‘autumn’. When they tackle a text, there appears then to be a constant interplay between the strategies pupils use and their ‘emotional’ differences. Oxford also includes using ‘positive self talk’ in the category of ‘Activating supportive emotions, beliefs and attitudes’, quoting a learner who explains that accepting that it is, fine not to understand everything, actually helps her to understand better. Again, we cannot know the reasons behind students’ statements but this understanding of the learning processes and acceptance that they will not know everything appears implicit in Alison’s calm recognition that she should just move on and come back to unfamiliar words later. However useful Oxford’s taxonomy might be for future studies of young people’s affective and meta-affective strategies, understandably, perhaps, it does not quite seem to capture the dynamic and immediate emotional tensions involved in reading and listening comprehension for these students. In spite of her criticism that prior to her work only strategies around anxiety and worry had been studied in depth, we found that a considerable number of her strategies were based on ways of avoiding anxiety rather than on more positive strategies such as the risk taking, perseverance and the willingness to re-evaluate that we observed. To what extent does the Québec Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sport Programme for ESL learners capture their approach more fully? Even in the proposals for primary school, we encounter (2009): ‘Perseveres despite not understanding everything not listened to or read, without getting overly anxious’

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At secondary level, we find under ‘Lower anxiety’ not just reminding oneself of goals, but also of progress made and resources available. There is also direct reference to experimenting without fear of making mistakes. Had we used speaking or writing think-alouds in our own study, this willingness to take risks with the language may have been more evident and indeed our reanalysis below of the 1999 case study students allowed us to do this. Here, we simply conclude that these simple statements from the Québec curriculum proposals relate more easily to our initial analysis than Oxford’s taxonomy and might perhaps be more suitable as labels for introducing affective strategies to younger learners. Further studies are needed to explore how younger learners manage their emotions and beliefs and the most useful way of categorizing the affective strategies they use. We turn now to use what we have learned so far to reanalyse data from the three case study pupils we interviewed in an earlier publication (see Grenfell and Harris, 1999). As with the STIR pupils above, one of the aims is to examine the extent to which Oxford’s meta-affective strategies fit the evidence from these learners, since we were able to talk to them about their approach to learning. At that time, we were simply interested in identifying any age-related differences in cognitive and metacognitive strategies, since their ages ranged from 12 to 17 years old, and in suggesting other strategies that could help them. Nevertheless, we did gain some insight into differences in their personal approaches and the kind of feedback that might be useful to boost both their sense of self-efficacy and their performance. Having outlined our initial thoughts at that time, we will reconsider the evidence in the light of the recent studies on affective strategies. We will conclude by suggesting some overall conclusions drawn from re-examining both the project and the three case study students together.

Three case studies: Ben, Jennie and Sophie – researching learners’ affective strategies A full account of these three learners and how the data was collected can be found in Grenfell and Harris (1999). To summarize, each learner was given a text to read and asked to think-aloud any thoughts they had while they were making sense of it. For the speaking task, they were presented with photos from the family album and encouraged to talk about them. They were also asked general questions about their family and school and finally were invited to question us on any topics of their choice. Towards the end of their session, we asked them how they felt about learning French, which skills they found easy or hard and how they tackled their homework.

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Sophie, the eldest, was 17 at the time and was studying for her Advanced Level Examination in French. We summed up her approach by explaining that she ‘prefers social interaction to analytical analysis and application of formal rules’ (Grenfell and Harris, 1999: 57). She confesses that ‘it’s in my nature to be lazy’ and that she should make more effort ‘to learn the genders of nouns and to do more independent work’ over and above completing her homework (Grenfell and Harris, 1999: 58). This awareness can be helpful but her belief in innate personality traits, such as laziness, echoes Bandura’s discussion as to how students attribute success or failure. We will see this again in Sam’s belief in girls’ innate ability. Brophy (1998) explains that feedback to the learner on their work and their approach is especially important in helping them see that rather than lack of ability, their difficulties may be due to ineffective strategies or insufficient effort. So, drawing on Oxford’s taxonomy, Sophie might benefit from ‘Paying attention to affect’ since Oxford (2011: 114) gives an example of a similar student but one who pushes herself to take things more seriously. Another learner (2011: 124) uses the strategy of negative self talk and keeps chiding themselves for being lazy which makes them stick to the task. In order to encourage herself to pay more attention to her written work, Sophie could follow the example of one of Oxford’s students for ‘Generating and maintaining motivation’ (2011: 124) by setting herself a more complicated essay than the one she could have submitted. We could add to this several other possible approaches that might help her. We noted that she appears comfortable to correct the errors she makes when speaking and this should be encouraged, just as it was helpful for the STIR students to change their minds about what they were reading. She would do well to transfer the strategy to checking carefully her written work. We previously suggested that she should develop a wider range of strategies for learning grammatical rules. We might now add to it by including under Oxford’s ‘Planning for affect’ something on the lines of knowing your own learning style and adopting strategies that match it. In this case, as Sophie is musical and has a strong intuitive feel, she might find Does it sound right? a useful strategy when checking her written work and one that is more motivating than her existing strategy of simply copying the rules out. It might also increase her sense of self-efficacy if she realized that instead of blaming her lazy nature, she could choose some interesting strategies for becoming more accurate. Finally, we noted in our earlier work her concern to assert her identity, to be herself in the language, but how this was often disrupted by her lack of vocabulary or grammatical knowledge. We described how she used fillers and pre-packaged chunks because she wanted to maintain the conversation and sound authentic: herself but French. Perhaps this might come under Oxford’s

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‘Activating supportive emotions, beliefs and attitudes’. We will find this concern with control and identity in all three learners, reflecting the difficulties of gaining control over the world in a different language that we discussed in Chapter 2. For Jenny, however, the problem is almost the opposite of Sophie’s. Jenny is 15 years old and is preparing for her GCSE.3 In contrast to Sophie, she has an analytical approach and enjoys deducing and applying formal rules. Her cognitive preference is for the written word and she gets very anxious about making mistakes especially when speaking. It is as if her sense of identity as a very conscientious and hard-working student might be threatened. Like one of Oxford’s students, she monitors her affective state during a task and knows that getting upset with herself only makes it worse. She is also aware of her own learning patterns and finds it helpful to use the strategy of revising: ‘with a friend’ cos like otherwise it’s really hard to sit back and learn the vocab. and French is one of the worst subjects for getting side-tracked’ (2011: 59). This perhaps would fit into Oxford’s category of ‘Organising the study environment for affect’. We advised Jenny to ‘buy herself’ time in speaking by using communication strategies like fillers and avoidance strategies. We believed that this might give her the control she needs in order to achieve the grammatical accuracy that concerned her, so that she did not appear ignorant or careless. We also suggested she used the self talk strategy identified by O’Malley and Chamot (1990). In the light of Oxford’s recent work, our suggestions might be expanded to include under ‘Planning for affect’ strategies like ‘thinking about what might help her’ for the oral part of the GCSE exam, and under ‘Evaluating for affect’ the strategy of noticing if the communication strategies we suggested helped her or not. Under ‘substituting positive emotions for negative ones’, she could ‘switch off the self-critical voice as if it were a mobile phone’! Turning to more positive strategies, we might encourage the risk taking strategy advocated in the Québec Programme, drawing her attention to the way she tolerates uncertainty already when reading and suggesting that experimenting with the language without fear of making errors is equally possible when speaking. Finally, we turn to Ben, who is 12 years old and less motivated to learn French than our other two learners. He prefers Welsh as he lives in a Welsh speaking area of Wales and has learnt it at school since he was 7. Again, identity is an issue because of his very limited linguistic repertoire: I seem, like, to be equivalent to a two year old. I just know I may sound stupid in France because it’d be so basic to them.

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That said, he is prepared to ‘have a go’ and take risks with the language: ‘it might work, c’est une grande soeur’ (‘tall/large sister’ for ‘older sister’). However, the same ‘playfulness’ may underlie his ‘wild card’ guessing when reading, where he needs to be more careful. We advised him to widen his range of reading strategies so that he was less reliant on guesswork and to monitor his initial hypotheses about the text. We also felt that time spent generating similar sentences to the written conversations might help him analyse the ‘pre-packaged chunks’ so that he could have more linguistic tools at his disposal. This would require a greater degree of motivation and, echoing Graham’s work, it might be easier for him simply to believe, as he does, that girls tend to work harder than boys. Teacher feedback, however, might help him realize there would be immediate benefits from the extra effort and work involved in monitoring his initial guesses and generating his own sentences. Under monitoring use of strategies, he could consider using different strategies for memorizing vocabulary or grammar rules, for example, which might help maintain his concentration. He could also ‘increase extrinsic motivation’ by promising himself a snack or computer game once he had completed the task. Finally, to reward himself for any extra effort he did put in, he could ‘evaluate his affective progress’ since one of Oxford’s students noted that, ‘I consider whether the good result of the German exam was due to an easy exam, easy grading on the part of the teacher, or my own preparation and knowledge. I feel I can take the credit for the result’ (Oxford 2011: 118). This link to self-efficacy is, in different ways, common to both him and Jenny. Jenny needs to believe in herself more and Sam needs to realize that with more effort, he could be a more effective learner.

In summary… What emerges from our initial analysis of the three case study learners and the project pupils was that we had already begun to notice differences in their ‘emotional’ approaches. By reanalysing the data we can appreciate even better now how different they are in terms of what we now know are their affective strategies. In reviewing the applicability of recent studies into affective strategies to our students, we did not always find a neat fit between the students’ approaches and Oxford’s taxonomy. This was partly because we found the meta-affective strategies somewhat repetitive with the insistence on bringing the headings in line with the metacognitive strategies of planning, organizing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating. That said, the use of these meta-affective strategies might help address the problems of control and identity, as we will discuss below. It would be valuable,

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however, to provide illustrations from beginners and younger learners and, in this respect, the simplicity of the strategies in the Québec programme was helpful. A further advantage of the Québec programme was the focus on positive strategies such as risk taking, perseverance, acceptance of mistakes and experimenting with the language: terms we already used in the STIR study, alongside tolerance of uncertainty, willingness to change the mind and to reevaluate initial guesses or to self correct when speaking. There seems to be evidence too of the value of ‘knowing one’s own learning style’ and adopting strategies that are in line with it: in Sam’s case strategies to increase his motivation and in Sophie’s to exploit her musicality and awareness of what sounds right. A key theme to emerge from all three think-alouds and interviews was the importance of control. In response to the speaking tasks, unlike Jenny, both Sophie and Ben preferred commenting on the photos and asking the interlocutor questions rather than answering the general questions about their family and school (Grenfell and Harris 1999: 68): They welcome the freedom to take control of the topic of conversation and have the social confidence to do so. The same freedom threatens Jenny. The tighter the structure, the safer she feels, as these are predictable routines and she gains confidence from knowing that she has revised them carefully and can produce the answers accurately. Differences in preferences for the tasks themselves then are important in understanding learners’ emotions, beliefs and attitudes. All three learners felt their identity threatened in different ways and this is possibly an aspect of self-efficacy that needs attention in future research. As we have indicated, learning a new language is very unsettling, especially in the early stages. Deliberately planning in advance which affective strategies will most help them and monitoring their effectiveness might give the learners a greater sense of control. It might also challenge the willingness of Sophie and Ben to attribute success or failure to factors outside their control, whether personality or innate ability. We have referred in this chapter to the kind of differentiated feedback that might help these different learners. We know, however, from our own experience in the project just how time consuming such feedback can be in a class of thirty pupils, even in terms of individualized feedback on the cognitive strategies that might be helpful to each of them for another similar task. How much more so then for sensitive issues of motivation, emotions, beliefs and attitudes? Yet, we will argue, in Chapter 7 that feedback and freedom of choice are essential in SBI if learners are to become autonomous and that SBI in affective strategies is just as important as metacognitive and

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cognitive strategies. To conclude, we offer some brief suggestions of how this SBI might be accomplished using the familiar model of SBI outlined at the end of Chapter 2. We may want to choose particularly carefully at what point to introduce a discussion of students’ affective strategies. It might be near the start of the course to check how they are feeling so far. We might also wish to take it up again at critical moments such as before examinations. Other opportunities might be if we notice motivation dwindling or homework is not completed. The key principle with raising awareness, as always, is that it should not ‘come out of the blue’ but be linked to a task or a situation so that the strategies students already use are at the forefront of their minds. Given the sensitivity of the subject, it is more important than ever that any brainstorming is preceded by pair or group work so that feedback is from the group as a whole and the individual is not ‘put on the spot’ to discuss their feelings. The sharing of strategies in a class brainstorm is a form of ‘modelling’ in itself. However, teachers may still need to model other strategies, for example, by ‘thinking-aloud’ strategies they use in everyday stressful situations or by sharing strategies that have been identified by other classes in other years. In terms of practice opportunities, students could be encouraged for their next homeworks, for example, to plan to use one of the new affective strategies and comment on it. There may be arguments for preceding their choice with a discussion of learning styles or, as we might term it, learning approaches, given the critiques of theories of ‘learning styles’ (Klein 2003, Willingham et al. 2015)  . In the case of memorization homework, this might be about how to select a strategy that matches your style, for example, if you are musical. However, in the case of other tasks, it might be important to stress moving outside your comfort zone so that a risk taker becomes more analytic and careful and an anxious person more willing to experiment. In Chapter 7, we will explore in more detail how feedback on tasks can be provided. Above all, given the importance of developing self-regulation through metaaffective strategies, students should be encouraged to plan and monitor how they manage their feelings, acknowledge the depth to which their identity may feel threatened and develop strategies that promote their sense of self efficacy. To sum up, we have explored a key aspect of individual differences. A large number of studies have looked at differences in the use of metacognitive and cognitive studies between adults and, indeed, it was differences between the ‘Good Language Learner’ and their less successful peers that inspired LLS research. We know less, however, about the differences between younger learners and bridging this gap has been one of our aims. We also knew little about affective strategies at the beginning of our work beyond their brief mention in O’Malley and Chamot (1990). But, we became aware of their

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importance through what we referred to as differences in learning styles and personality when discussing Sophie, Jenny and Ben. Similarly, although the STIR study explored differences in the use of metacognitive and cognitive strategies according to proficiency, class, gender, bilingualism and exposure to SBI, we found the qualitative data was also important to understand other differences between the pupils. We highlighted differences in persistence, tolerance of errors and uncertainty and risk taking. More recently studies into self-efficacy, self-regulation and affective strategies have allowed us to deepen our understanding. Much work remains to be done in this field, not only with younger learners but also with finding the most effective way of categorizing and describing the strategies. If SBI is really to work, then helping students to plan, monitor and evaluate their emotions, attitudes and beliefs is of key importance. We have argued that cognitive theory allows us to integrate psychological and social perspectives on learning. In discussing Alison’s home background, the work of Bourdieu has led us to reflect on the relationship between her autonomy and self-reliance as a person and her autonomy as a learner  – between the unique development of an individual’s strategies and the environment that shapes them. Bourdieu’s approach is in many ways congruent with cognitive theory as it develops what he calls a ‘structural constructivism’, or ‘constructive structuralism’ in the way again that individuals operate in relation to their social context – both material and ideational – and language is often the medium for doing so. In these cases, a certain sort of linguistic capital, a certain relationship to languages – both L1 and L2 – developed from birth in the course of socialization, can both aid and hinder language learning and the deployment of learner strategies. Similar themes will emerge in the next chapter when we look at the strategies of bilingual learners and how they are fostered outside the school environment.

SECTION B:

Beyond the Monolingual Learner of European Languages

5 Learning a Third Language: What Learning Strategies Do Bilingual Students Bring?

I close my eyes and sort of bring my spirit out, and get myself into that word, what it can mean. (STUDENT)

Introduction Why focus on bilingual learners? As we noted earlier, the STIR project was designed to compare the role of strategy based instruction (SBI) in fostering language learning progress weighed against other factors. There may be convincing arguments for engaging in SBI but how does it compare to other factors known to be important in the language learning enterprise, for example, class and gender? Chapter 3 discusses the findings in depth (see also Grenfell and Harris, 2013). In this chapter, we focus on just one of the factors selected for comparison, namely whether the students were monolingual or bilingual. The rationale for this choice lies in research studies in three fields: language learner strategies (LLS), second language acquisition (SLA) and third language acquisition (TLA) (see also Grenfell and Harris, 2015). It might be more accurate to say that we set out to bridge the gap between these three fields. Furthermore, this particular area of our findings allowed us to continue to explore how the language learning processes of our 12–13-yearold students related to Norton’s examination of the relationship between identity and language learning (2000) and the work of Bourdieu. The lack of studies to explore the learner strategies of bilingual students learning a third language and to compare them to their monolingual peers

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may stem from the separation between the two distinct research traditions of LLS and bilingualism. In comparison to the psycho-centric approaches often adopted in LLS investigations, a socio-centric approach is common in the field of bilingualism. Because our project situates itself at the interface between these traditions, it is difficult in this short chapter to capture the complexities of definitions and findings within each. Nevertheless, at the risk of doing neither of the areas justice, we begin by offering a brief review of the background literature into bilingualism and trilingualism. We then relate it to the linguistic profile of the particular pupils in the project and their home and school context and identify the key questions we hoped to explore in the project in relation to the bilingual pupils. After a short description of the research methodology used, we draw on the quantitative data to reveal the areas in which the bilingual pupils outperformed their monolingual classmates. Qualitative data then helps us identify what it is in their home environment that allows them to develop particular strategies. We conclude by considering the implications for the school as a whole and for the language classroom in particular.

From theory to practice What we know already… This section identifies the ‘gap’ in research studies between SLA, TLA and LLS studies: a gap which our work aimed to bridge. It begins by focusing on the research from SLA into the general long-term academic benefits of bilingualism. It moves on to focus specifically on the benefits for language learning, using studies into bilingual students learning a third language. Since, however, these studies do not set out specifically to explore bilingual learners’ strategy use, we turn to LLS research for insights. We will see how, for the most part, LLS investigations are limited to monolingual rather than bilingual learners, hence the need to pursue this area further.

Academic advantages of bilingualism It is worth remembering that over half the world’s population use two languages on a daily basis (Grosjean, 1999; Ibrahim, 2015) and research into SLA has presented a powerful case for the academic advantages of being bilingual (Cummins, 2005; Thomas and Collier, 2002). However, definitions of the term ‘bilingualism’ differ. It has been argued, for example, that it should be restricted to those who learn two languages at birth, rather than consecutively. Others suggest it implies being bi-literate and bi-cultural as well as bilingual (see, for example, Baker, 2000). Furthermore, the degree to which

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individuals will be bi-literate varies according to the level of instruction in their home language, either in the country of origin, or through regular attendance at community schools (whether on Saturdays or after school). The second influential factor relates to more informal teaching by family members in the home, including siblings (see Barron-Hauwaert, 2011; Gregory and Williams, 2000; Obeid, 2009). Whatever the definition, the evidence for the long-term academic benefits of bilingualism has led many to argue for bilingual education to support the development of both languages (see, for example, August and Shanahan, 2006; Genesee et al., 2006). Otherwise, there is a danger that we simply squander our bilingual resources. As Cummins (2005) explains, unless a certain ‘threshold’ level of proficiency is reached, it is not possible to capitalize on the potential intellectual rewards of bilingualism. The school thus has a responsibility to develop both languages. The importance of valuing the learner’s home language raises issues of identity, which will be discussed more fully later in the chapter.

Advantages of bilingualism for learning a third language Extensive though bilingual studies have been, they have focusing on the overall educational advantages of bilingualism rather than its impact on learning a third language. This gap is bridged in part by studies into TLA. Again, there are issues of definition here since there is an even wider range of possible contexts (see Jessner, 2008): for example, children who are bilingual in Turkish and Kurdish may acquire German if they go to live in Austria. The extent to which the language is learned only in an informal context, or also a formal one, is clearly important. Thus, the term ‘multilingual’ is sometimes preferred to ‘bilingual’ or ‘trilingual’ since, as Franceschini (2011) argues, it captures the underlying and interrelated ‘multicompetence’. TLA research has provided increasing evidence that bilingual learners are at an advantage to monolinguals in acquiring a new language, although biliteracy is an important factor (see, for example, Cenoz and Valencia, 1994; Hoffman and Ytsma, 2004; Sagasta, 2003; Sanz, 2000). Sociolinguistic factors again come into play since students’ attitude to the language is crucial. It is not just a question of typology (the extent to which the languages are related to the same family) but psychotypology; in other words, the degree of similarity and difference between the languages perceived by the learner and what the language means in terms of their identity (see Cenoz, 2001 for a full discussion of cross-linguistic influences). For example, Arabic has a deep cultural and religious significance for a large number of non-Arabic speakers (Sanz, 2000). However, in many of the TLA studies the third language (L3) is English, and little is known about bilingual secondary school students learning French, German or Spanish in England or the United States. Furthermore, the accounts offered to explain

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bilingual learners’ success tend to be broad and lacking in detail regarding what it is that these bilingual students are doing that their peers are not. Sanz (2000) offered some helpful explanations. Her study of the acquisition of English by Catalan/Spanish bilinguals compared to monolinguals indicated that, although mono and bilingual learners follow the same acquisition route, bilinguals acquire the language earlier. She suggests that the automatization of the basic sub-skills involved in input processing relieves the burden on working memory, the importance of which was discussed in Chapter 2. It also seems that bilinguals’ greater explicit knowledge about language leads to them to be more alert to features of the new language. Similarly, Ender (2007) and Zobl (1992) found that bilinguals make use of their previous learning experiences. Hufeisen (1998) explicitly refers to the role of LLSs in the process, albeit in general terms. She suggests that, in comparison to the L2 learner, the L3 learner already knows much about the process of learning languages and has accumulated a range of strategies to deal with it. However, neither the studies in TLA nor those within the bilingualism research field define these strategies in any detailed, concrete terms.

The contribution of learner strategies As we have seen from Part One, LLS research does provide a comprehensive and elaborate picture of how learners tackle language learning. However, the problem here is that researchers’ focus, for the most part, is on learning a second, not a third, language. In one of the few exceptions, Wharton’s (2000) study examined bilingual Singaporean university students learning Japanese and French. He suggested that bilingualism may be a more influential factor than either gender or ethnicity on certain types of strategy use. He concludes that future studies should compare the strategies used by bilingual to monolingual groups. However, to our knowledge, few studies have done so and none in relation to British school children learning French. This then is the ‘gap’ we referred to earlier. SLA research indicates the general educational advantages of bilingualism over monolingualism but not in relation to learning a language. TLA studies do focus on language learning but describe it only broadly, not in terms of specific strategies used. LLS research does capture the full complexity of strategies at work but mostly by monolingual learners learning a L2, not those of bilingual learners to learn L3. There is a need then to examine how exactly bilingualism works to give advantages for learning a third language. A further ‘gap’ is that many of the studies focus on learning English as a first or second language rather than other languages, such as French. In the Bourdieusian perspective outlined in Chapter 2, it is clear that first, second, third languages are not value free, but each contain a certain symbolic

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value – positive and negative – and this very much defined by the social context – home or ‘abroad’ – that is instantiated. Certain languages create a certain sociocultural way of thinking, which develops relations of convergence and divergence in the linguistic market (such as, where two languages exist side-by-side – Spanish and Catalonian). Social fields also manifest themselves with a certain orthodoxy – not just the way of speaking, and the lexis, but the language itself (like, the style and content of language expected in such fields as education and law). Sociolinguistically, effects can be devastating when any one individual finds themselves a (habitus) linguistic fish out of linguistic (field) water. The result can be that available learner strategies are completely disabled (see also Norton, 2000). We turn now to the project itself, to the linguistic background of these London students and their school and home context. A key question is, to what extent does the discussion of the research into second and third language acquisition relate to the 12–13-year-old pupils learning French?

Background to the focus on bilinguals in the STIR project We start this section by discussing the wide range of languages spoken in London. We move on to consider why, in theory at least, bilingual pupils’ performance may be superior to their monolingual peers in certain specific language skills. We then narrow the focus even further by exploring their possible strategies and how attitudes to their bilingualism in the home and school may shape their development. The section concludes by identifying the research questions that emerged for us from reviewing the literature and the methodology that seemed most appropriate to investigate them.

The bilingual pupils: Linguistic background, academic benefits and strategy use It is estimated that over 300 languages are spoken in London, ranging from English, Bengali, Punjabi, Guajarati, Hindi, Turkish, Arabic, Yoruba, Somali, Tamil, Ga, Lingala, Pashto, Amharic, Sinhala, to the major European languages (Literacy Trust, 2006). The students in the project’s two London schools may thus use several languages at home. If they are second-generation Bangladeshi children, by now English may be their first language (L1) which they speak at school and to their siblings, but Bengali with parents and grandparents. Alternatively, if they have recently moved to England, from Poland for example, English may be their L2, which they will have acquired both in formal settings (school) and informal settings such as the local community, TV (see Kenner et al., 2008). We expected to find considerable variation in our bilingual cohort as to which was their dominant language, according to variations in where and

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when they were born, what language(s) they used at home (with parents as compared to siblings), in the community (in shops and cinemas) and in school (with bilingual and monolingual peers). Furthermore, they may not necessarily be bi-literate. In terms of the possible general educational benefits of their bilingualism, Barradas (2006) explored the academic achievement of Portuguese students in London secondary schools. She concluded that those students who were encouraged to continue studying their home language were five times more likely to achieve the highest grades in national exams at age 16 (GCSE) than those who had not been encouraged to do so. Yet, at the beginning of the project, it appeared that no studies in English schools had explored the extent to which the advantages of bilingualism extended also to learning a third language in their ML lessons. It seemed unlikely that learning French would carry for these students the cultural or religious significance noted earlier, unless French was the language spoken in the home. Rather, in the light of Cummins’s research (2001a,b), it seemed that a complex range of factors may be involved in their progress including not only their general proficiency level, their literacy in L1 and L2, but also the support for their bilingual identity within the home and the school. As Anderson explains, the high status of English and the pressures to integrate with their peers means that some students are reluctant to speak the language even though they understand their parents: although comprehension skills may be well developed in certain contexts, this does not necessarily imply confidence in speaking or indeed literacy skills. (2008: 80) Thus, it was possible that the students in the study may only outperform their monolingual peers in the receptive rather than the productive skills. Furthermore, any superior progress may be limited to listening rather than reading, since even if they were bi-literate, the distance between French and, for example, Arabic or Mandarin Chinese would be greater than scripts like Spanish, which also use the Roman alphabet. So, for these students transfer across languages might be harder. Focusing just on these receptive skills, what strategies might we expect to find? One key conclusion in LLS research (albeit often with monolingual adults learning English) has been that successful learners orchestrate several strategies, rather than one at a time. In terms of reading and listening, they combine both ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ processes (see Brantmeier 2002; Goh, 2002; Van Der Grift, 2003). Thus, to save time during a particular task they may use paralinguistic, ‘knowledge of the world’ information (such as ‘inferencing’) but use word-for-word translation if they are still unable to establish the meaning.

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Narrowing the focus even further to one of the few studies of young bilingual students, Jiminez, Garcia and Pearson (1995) explore the benefits of bilingualism for the reading process. Like the students in the current study, the participants were ages 12–13, although the context (second language learning as compared to foreign language learning) was different. He compared the strategies used by successful monolingual readers of English to those employed by successful and less successful Latina/o readers of English. His findings suggest that, although successful ‘English as L1’ readers understandably have more and deeper vocabulary, successful L2 readers have the advantage of being able to transfer specific strategies across languages, including ‘searching for cognates’, and ‘evaluating comprehension’ on the premise that reading must make sense. They are thus more likely to deploy the valuable metacognitive strategies of ‘re-reading’ and ‘questioning’, reminding us of the way students like Christine in Chapter 4 tolerated uncertainty and went backwards and forwards in the text in an effort to make it make sense. Findings such as these and Wharton’s study suggested that bilingualism might be a factor in the students’ progress and that their enhanced strategy deployment might be an important element in that progress. However, we also wanted to explore why they might have superior strategy use; what was it that fostered their development? In Bourdieusian terms, linguistic disadvantage, in terms of sociocultural valuing, may make bilinguals even more linguistically aware and, as a result, amplify strategic knowledge – both cognitive and metacognitive – as well as promote the development of a broad range of sociocultural and affective compensation strategies. This may be particularly pronounced in comparisons between home and school backgrounds.

The home and school background Alongside research into bilingualism and into TLA, LLS studies have increasingly recognized the powerful influence of sociocultural factors (see Takeuchi, Griffiths and Coyle, 2007). Oxford (1996) also argues that strategy use may be affected by students’ cultural background. For example, Parry (1993) notes that Nigerian learners of English make greater use of oral/aural strategies and seek comprehension in broad concepts, whereas their Chinese peers pay more attention to detail. Home background is a further related factor. Purdie and Oliver conclude from their study of 9–12-year-old students in Australia, with a home language alongside English, that: the home environment is important in helping students to develop a strategic approach to second language learning and in feeling positive about their ability to be successful second language learners. (1999: 382)

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They do not, however, identify the specific features of the home environment that develop the individual strategies. As is very apparent from Cummins’s work, school context is a further influential factor. Walters (2007) carried out an ethnographic study of six bilingual Bangladeshi children learning to read English in a primary school. She highlights the sensitive position of the bilingual student within the school environment since some of the students used strategies like ‘memorising a text’ without understanding the meaning, to prevent their teachers from seeing the difficulties they had. Echoing Norton (2000), Walters concludes: It is not simply a question of what learners do as individuals but what opportunities are available to individuals in order to show who they are and what they know, it is a question of what the context/practices allow them to do. (2007: 61) The students’ feelings about their bilingualism, engendered both in the home and in school, were therefore also important in our study. Crossing the three research areas and in the context of the work of Bourdieu and Norton, these then were the key questions in relation to the students in the project: 1 Do bilingual students outperform their monolingual peers in French? If so, in which skill areas? 2 If the bilingual students do outperform their peers, in what way are their learner strategies different? 3 What factors underlie these differences?

Researching the learner strategies of bilingual students The focus across different fields required a dual methodology. Quantitative data could indicate whether bilinguals outperformed their monolingual peers in the learning of French and in what skill areas. However, qualitative data could illustrate what combination of strategies enables bilingual students to be more successful. It might perhaps also indicate what features of the home learning context foster the development of those strategies. As Cenoz and Valencia conclude from their study of Basque and Spanish bilingual learners of English (1994), research into the benefits of bilingualism should not limit itself to the advantages but examine the causes too. Due to time constraints, only three bilingual students were interviewed in addition to the 24 monolingual students. Since West School had a much higher number of bilingual students than Moreton School (33 per cent compared

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to 3 per cent), the three students selected all came from this school. The designation of the students as ‘bilingual’ was mainly determined by the school’s English as an Additional Language (EAL) list. Students between stages 3 and 5 in English on the list are educated in the United Kingdom from birth or an early age.1 In addition, a question in the pre- and post-intervention attitude questionnaire asked students if they had a home language. If they reported that they did, but they had not been identified on the EAL list, their teacher discussed with them the extent to which they were regularly exposed to that language within the school, the home and the community. The majority home language in the school was Vietnamese. However, it was decided to include other languages to gain some insight into any similarities and differences across the cultural backgrounds. Table 5.1 shows the breakdown of languages in the two classes in the school.

TABLE 5.1  Languages spoken Language

Number of students

Vietnamese

7

French

4

Jamaican Patois

4

Mandarin Chinese

3

Yoruba

3

Italian

2

Cantonese

1

Spanish

1

Bemba

1

Farsi

1

Hebrew

1

Bengali

1

Twi

1

Albanian

1

Serbo-Croat

1

Polish

1

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The three bilingual students selected were: Cuong, a Vietnamese speaker; Martelle, a Jamaican Patois speaker; and Kevin, a Spanish speaker from Columbia. Adaptations of the Latin alphabet are used by all three languages, although Vietnamese has additional diacritics for certain tones and letters. All three could be considered as ‘childhood’ bilinguals (Klein, 1995: 435) since they were operating in two languages from an early age. While Cuong and Martelle were born in England, Kevin had been living here since he was 4 years old. All three had similar Cognitive Ability Test verbal scores2 at around the class mean of 103. West School’s EAL list indicated that Kevin and Martelle were at stage 5 in English, whereas Cuong was at stage 4. However, their levels of literacy in their home language had not been measured by the school. That said, given they had all attended primary school, they were likely to be more at ease reading English than their home language. Martelle had never seen a book in Jamaican Patois, for example, and although Cuong had attended a Saturday school, it closed after he had only been there for two weeks. Kevin went to Saturday school but only for a year. Briefly, quantitative data was provided by the multiple regression analysis, as discussed in Chapter 3. This compared the control to the experimental classes’ progress in reading and listening comprehension tests to explore if the SBI had played a positive role by investigating its relative weight against students’ gender, socio-economic background and monolingual or bilingual status in influencing that progress. It then narrowed down the focus to the experimental classes, examining whether these same variables had any effect on the pupils’ responses to the SBI. Chapters 3 and 4 have discussed the comparison of the different variables in detail. Here, we focus just on the bilingual students’ progress. Qualitative measures were needed to reveal any changes in the students’ strategy use, and so semi-structured interviews and think-aloud protocols took place with twenty-four monolingual students across the classes. Based on a game piloted in another school (Harris, 2004), all the selected students were presented with a series of cards. Since one of the other aims of the project was to explore whether students perceived links between their L1 and L2 learning, they were asked to assign each card to one of four brightly coloured plastic containers labelled: ●●

I only use it for learning English;

●●

I only use it for learning French;

●●

I use it for learning any language (whether English or French);

●●

I do not use it.

The interviews were slightly modified for the bilingual students so there was an additional container labelled ‘I use it for my Home Language.’ We also asked

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the three bilingual students how they had learned their home languages and English with a view to exploring features of their environment that contributed to the development of strategies. The number of cards in each bin was not counted: rather the activity merely served to promote discussion.

What we found out… In this section, we look at differences between the bilingual and monolingual students: differences in progress and in the home environment. We conclude it by exploring the findings in relation to bilingual students’ sense of identity.

Bilingual students’ progress In Chapter 3, Table 3.1 summarized the results of the MRA and we explained how the rather complex table could be ‘read’. Here, we describe in more detail what the findings tell us about the bilingual students’ progress compared to their monolingual peers. Whether in the control or the experimental classes, being bilingual makes a difference, particularly in terms of listening comprehension, where it accounts for 5 per cent of the variance (p < 0.50). Figure 5.1 shows that although the bilingual students started out at a disadvantage across both the experimental and control classes, they achieved greater gain scores in the listening test 70

Listening test score

60

50

40

30

Autumn Monlingual

Summer Bilingual

FIGURE 5.1   Listening gain score by monolingual/bilingual status

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than their monolingual peers. A histogram reveals that this is not due to the ceiling effect. It may seem surprising that the bilingual students were not achieving higher scores from the outset. However, the restricted level of French to which they are exposed at age 11 may be too simple for them to relate learning this new language to the rich linguistic environment they encounter at home and in the local community. It may have been only during the following year that the more complex level of language triggered the deployment of their listening strategies. Although not as marked, there is also a non-significant trend of 3 per cent + in favour of bilingual students in terms of reading progress. Unlike listening comprehension, these students do not start out at a disadvantage in their reading, but they improve more than their monolingual peers (Figure 5.2).

Individual differences between two bilingual students Having compared progress across the cohorts as a whole, we turned to the variation between the three students. Why, for example, did Cuong make greater progress than Martelle in the listening and the reading tests? Although he starts a little below the class average (35 per cent compared to the class average of 39 per cent), his gain score is much higher than the class average (30 per cent as compared to 19 per cent) by the summer term. Martelle makes some progress too. However, unlike Cuong, she starts well above the class average (52 per cent), but by the summer term her gain score is only a little 80

Reading test score

70

60

50

40

Autumn Monolingual

Summer Bilingual

FIGURE 5.2   Reading gain score by monolingual/bilingual status

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above the average at 23 per cent. Cuong’s progress is even more notable in the reading test, where he again starts below the class average (31 per cent as compared to 62 per cent) but gains well above it (55 per cent as compared to 37 per cent). In contrast, Martelle again starts above the average at 69 per cent but her final progress is well below the class average (20 per cent as compared to 37 per cent). What accounted for the difference between them and why did Cuong make such good progress in the reading test, whereas the bilingual student cohort as a whole only outperformed their monolingual peers in the listening test? Faced with these findings, we turned to the think-aloud and interview data in order to compare the bilinguals’ strategy use to those of the monolinguals across the two skill areas.

Bilingual students’ strategy use and the home and school environment The data analysis of both this and the 2004 pilot study reveals how the contexts in which the students became bilingual enable them to make extensive use of oral/aural strategies to process their third language. In contrast, the students with only one language appear to favour strategies closely linked to the written word. Some illustrative examples are listed below. Where students reported using strategies, apart from those taught in the SBI, O’Malley and Chamot’s (1990) strategy taxonomy has been used as a reference point, since it is frequently quoted in LLS studies. Monolingual students often show a preference for using the written form to memorize words. Jamie uses the strategy of, ‘I look at the word and then close my eyes and try to see it in my head’ (‘imagery’). Ashleigh again focuses on the written word, using ‘look-cover-test-check’ (‘visual monitoring’) to check if she has remembered them accurately. Rebecca also relies on ‘visual monitoring’ but this time it is as if she has an internal mental image, rather than a word in front of her on paper: Sometimes when I am reading through my work and I spot a word and I think oooh that doesn’t look right then I try it both ways and then I choose which one looks better. In contrast, extensive exposure to the spoken form of two languages appears to favour the development of oral/aural memorization strategies for the bilingual students. Cuong, for example, explains how he acquired English at nursery school: I just sit and listen to the teachers. Erm, use, try, use English and just try, just listen to your teachers, how they speak.

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Unsurprisingly, his preferred memorization strategy appears to be, ‘saying the words out loud’ (‘repetition’). He also favours ‘oral/aural monitoring’ rather than ‘visual monitoring’, when he checks his written work: ‘I read it out loud, and then see if there’s mistakes.’ Similarly, rather than writing them down, Kevin picks up difficult words used in the Saturday Spanish community school because he knows to ‘keep saying it lots of times’ (‘repetition’). His awareness of the value of oral/ aural strategies also emerges when he discusses his successful translation of the pre-intervention reading test text. He appears to be sifting through the sounds of the unfamiliar words and constantly comparing them to his existing knowledge (‘elaboration’) in a rapid search for cognates: I read it, and I hear the sounds to see if it sounds like English and Spanish, and I just thought what it was, and see if it sounded like any of the languages I know, and then I just wrote it down (our italics). Martelle has developed particularly acute listening skills: When I went to Jamaica, I actually got the accent right, and like with all my cousins, I actually used it because if I spoke English, they wouldn’t understand it. She goes on to explain how she uses ‘substitution’ to ‘infer’ meaning, another well-developed strategy common to these three students: I use the words that I do know, and the words that I don’t, I put the ‘something’ there instead of it. Think of what might go there in the space. Like if I know the first part of the sentence, like if they were saying ‘I work in…’, I would think of what sort of person they are, what their job could be, or I close my eyes, and sort of bring my spirit out, and get myself into that word, what it can mean. The interviews reveal how the bilingual students’ environment fosters the development of these strategies. Since they are regularly faced with unfamiliar words used by their parents and extended family members, they have to develop strategies for working out meanings. For example, when asked how she learned to use the strategy of ‘substitution’ even before it was taught as part of the SBI, Martelle explains how she developed the ability to understand her mother speaking Patois: Well I just picked it up, ‘cos my mum always said to me, if you just think of all the different possibilities it could be, jumble them up, and that’s what I done.

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Similarly, in the pilot study (see Harris, 2004) Yetunde, who is bilingual in English and Yoruba, explains how she developed the strategy of ‘substitution’. Because she understands English better than Yoruba and since her mother frequently code-switches between the two languages within one sentence, Yetunde simply waits until her mother reverts to English and then uses the context to work out the meaning of any unfamiliar Yoruba words. A final advantage of exposure to two languages is that bilingual students become sensitized to the sociolinguistic subtleties of language initially in L1 and L2 and ultimately in L3. Instead of fixed and separate identities, they shift between and ‘syncretise’ linguistic and cultural realities (Rampton, 1995). Thus, Kevin is able to compare the difference between standard and familiar forms of English to the difference between the standard Spanish of mainland Spain and Columbian Spanish. He explains that: I don’t talk like Standard English and I don’t talk Spain Spanish, ‘cos Spain is like Standard Spanish but in my country they don’t talk like that. This heightened awareness that a number of words can be used to express similar meanings enables them to quickly sift through a wide range of possibilities in their minds and thus rapidly to make sense of new words in the L3. This rich linguistic environment is in stark contrast to the monolinguals’ experiences. It appears that by the time they are 12 years old, they are rarely exposed to unfamiliar language in the home, only occasional words on television causing comprehension problems (see Harris, 2008a). They are not faced therefore with the struggle to make sense of them and the need to develop appropriate strategies. In spite of the teachers’ best efforts, the monolingual students did not seem to relate the way they used the context to guess at the meaning of new L1 words in poetry and literature to the potential use of the same strategy in French. One monolingual student explained, ‘when you first go to primary school, you learn about English and secondary school’s French’. Another insisted that ‘we don’t do speaking in English’, and this in a school with a well-established language and learning policy. Indeed, they often experienced considerable anxiety that some even described as ‘panic’, particularly in relation to French listening comprehension. Many students also failed to perceive any link between the problems they encountered in primary school when they were trying to read and write English and the difficulties they were now encountering learning to read and write French. The sharp contrast between the two learning environments may explain why there was no significant difference between the monolinguals’ and the bilingual students’ response to the SBI. The formal learning context may not

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have mirrored that of the ‘natural’ environment to a sufficient degree to be statistically significant in the MRA. Kevin illustrates the difference between developing strategies ‘naturally’ to respond to genuine communicative needs in the home and processing language that is formally taught: I don’t use the same strategies so much for French and English. English and Spanish yeah but not French. I don’t always use the same things.

The role of identity in facilitating or impeding progress These interviews then allowed us not only to compare some of the strategies of monolingual and bilingual students but also the factors underlying their different learning processes. Useful though these insights were, they did not explain why, for example, Cuong made greater progress in reading than Martelle. We would argue that that the answer lies within the Bourdieusian perspective where each values their L1 and L2 differently in social psychological terms; that is, the way they value their innate linguistic capital in comparison to the target one. Both, again, can be understood as the relationship between the individual habitus (sociocultural biography) and field (education-curriculum). The data is highly suggestive of this interpretation. In examining variations in the bilingual students’ progress, it proved helpful to explore whether their attitude towards their home language and culture was ‘convergent’ or ‘divergent’3 as noted above. Kevin seems to have a strong sense of identity with what was his L1 until he left Columbia: ‘I learnt Spanish in my country’ (our italics) and he still uses it to communicate with his mother. Martelle’s sense of identity with Patois is equally strong but the context is somewhat different since: ‘I have English, and I have a back up language as well.’ So, she welcomes opportunities to use it with her grandparents: ‘cos I have a close bond with them and I use the Patois to enhance the bond.’ Here, the use of a home language may be driven more by fostering an emotional link than the need to communicate. In contrast to them both, Cuong showed little sense of pride in his background. Asked at which language he thinks he excels, he answers, ‘I think English. ‘Cos I was born here, I had more time to like read and stuff like that. And I didn’t learn that much Vietnamese, I didn’t understand that much.’ However, this is in a context where, like Kevin, he has to use his home language to communicate with his mother. Cuong’s less positive attitude may explain why he was the least forthcoming during the interviews, seeming almost embarrassed to explore the connections between his languages. His ambition is to go to university, like his brother. It is almost as if the price is losing his bilingual identity, focusing just on the academic skills of reading and writing valued in the education system. This may explain why he makes greater progress in reading than listening.

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Further issues We can now return to the literature on bilingualism and trilingualism to consider its relevance to the findings of our study. Here, the language to be learned was French, rather than English and the students were younger than many of those in existing studies into second and third language acquisition. Nevertheless, our findings can contribute to the evidence of the academic advantages of bilingualism. It seems that bilingual students bring valuable language learner strategies that they have acquired in their home environment, particularly for listening comprehension. We have argued that the restricted nature of ML classroom language in their first year of studying may have been too simple and contrived for them to make the connections to the rich linguistic input in the home environment. It seems likely that it was not until the following year that they started to transfer their ‘natural’ listening strategies to the classroom. One can only surmise that the reason their reading skills were at a similar level to their monolingual peers at the outset is because relatively little reading takes place in the first year of language learning in England. Although we have to be wary of premature conclusions in relation to non-significant trends, it is interesting that in reading, not just in listening, comprehension there is some advantage, albeit more limited, to being bilingual. The likely variation in levels of bi-literacy across the cohort may account for some difference between the benefits of listening as compared to reading skills along with issues in typology, students with a European L1 being at an advantage compared to those with Mandarin Chinese or Urdu. The qualitative data supplied by the interviews appears to support this explanation, since the three bilingual students made more extensive use of oral/aural strategies compared to the monolingual students who often relied on the written form to memorize words. The strategies of listening closely to native speakers such as teachers and saying the words out loud support Cenoz and Gorter’s (2011) suggestion of a constant interaction between the three languages. It is possible that the non-significant trend of 3 per cent+ for reading is due to a degree of transfer between the already well-developed listening strategies to the new skill area. The interviews capture the origins of the development of some of the listening strategies. For example, code-switching in the parental input fosters strategies such as ‘inferencing’ through ‘substitution’. Whereas unfamiliar words provoke ‘panic’ in some monolingual students, Martelle seems to delight in the chance to use her imagination to explore a wide range of possible meanings. Differences between Standard and non-Standard variations (in Spanish, Arabic and Bengali, for example) also contribute to promoting the ‘flexibility’ discussed in TLA studies, enabling bilingual students to tolerate the arbitrary relationship between words and their referents. A willingness

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to tolerate uncertainty, a feature of these three bilingual students, also characterized the more successful monolingual students in Chapter 4, where we saw how such a positive affective strategy allowed them to go backwards and forwards in the text, ‘evaluating comprehension’, as Jiminez, Garcia and Pearson (1995) noted.

School implications Many writers have considered the impact of the home on school achievement and identified the centrality of language in that influence. There is sometimes, as Bernstein (1971) notes, a mismatch between personal and school based codes. For Bourdieu, besides different orders of social capital, the cultural capital asked for by the school may or may not be congruent with home-based culture. Students’ readiness to embrace their home language is certainly influenced both by their parents and by the school ethos. Martelle’s mother, for example, is clearly able to articulate language learning processes and by sharing her metalinguistic knowledge fosters a spirit of imagination and risk-taking in her daughter. However, as Cummins indicates (2005), school ethos can impact either positively or negatively on attitudes in the home. This ethos is created through a wide range of elements, some of which staff and students may be aware of and some they may not. Although highly skilled and committed to the welfare of their students, the busy teachers in the project were unaware that some of the students they had designated as monolingual had in fact a language other than English. There are important issues here for further investigation, not least, for example, the basis on which English schools gather data on bilingual students and inform the teachers. Given the apparent concern expressed by the government in the United Kingdom over the underachievement of students with English as an Additional Language (Department for Education, 2011), it may be essential to sharpen distinctions in the data gathering process. In order to take account of the variation noted even within the three bilingual students, additional information should include L1 and L2 literacy levels, their length of residence in the United Kingdom, social and economic backgrounds and the types of support for the maintenance of their L1 that they have experienced both within the community and any prior school. Cummins has outlined other pedagogical implications if the school ethos is to be as positive as possible. For example, ‘identity texts’ (2006: 60) serve to ‘hold a mirror up to students in which their identities are reflected back in a positive light’. A wide range of library books in non-European languages serves two functions; first by offering opportunities for bilingual students to become bi-literate and second by promoting a positive school ethos through validating their identity. Notices in schools may announce ‘welcome’ in many languages but teachers fail sometimes to make connections that could

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validate the bilingual pupils as well as making their lessons more relevant. For example, at a very simple level, if the topic for the term in a primary school is something like ‘Maps and Discoveries’, it would be a wasted opportunity not to have a world map on the wall with pictures of the pupils and some simple statements in their home language about their or their grandparents’ country of origin.

Implications for the languages classroom and for SBI The focus on the school ethos as a whole should not prevent us from recognizing the vital role of the Modern Language classroom itself. As Jessner argues: multilingual education can only be successful if language teaching in general is restructured and oriented towards multilingual norms. (2008: 15) What would this look like in practice? We should try to nurture the dynamic relationship between teacher and learner in a range of learning situations so that they can constantly make links between their languages (see Van Lier, 2008). For example, many monolingual English pupils struggle to grasp the concept of gender, whereas it exists in many other languages. So, asking bilingual pupils for illustrations in their Home Language (‘is “chair” male or female?’ for example) recognizes their skills as well as gives clear signals to the monolingual students that this is not some silly, idiosyncratic feature of French. However, we should not become overly preoccupied with grammar with these early learners. It appears that listening strategies did not come into play in the initial stages of the bilingual students’ language learning because of the very simple level of the French taught. So, the more the pedagogy adopted by teachers mirrors the communicative contexts familiar to the bilingual students, the more it will facilitate their perception that the strategies they use to make sense of and in their home language can also help them with learning L3. Turning to SBI, it is important for bilingual students to be presented, at each step in the cycle, with opportunities which allow them to draw on their ‘good’ (bilingual) skills, enhancing their performance in learning a third language. In the awareness raising step, monolingual students can learn much from the bilingual students’ feedback to the class on the strategies they use. Martelle, for example, vividly describes during the brainstorm how she works out the meaning of ‘loisirs’ (hobbies): ‘Well umm I reckon like they are talkin’ about music and telly and that and like that ‘loisirs’ word maybe it sounds a bit like ‘leisure’ like the ‘leisure park’.

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Not only did this validate her identity as an ‘expert’, it also probably modelled the strategies in a much more convincing way than if the teacher had tried to explain them. That said, it is important for the teacher to name and practise the strategies once they have been described, and not to assume they will be miraculously acquired by osmosis! In the ‘practice’ step, working on a listening comprehension in a pair with a student like Martelle or Kevin could be very beneficial to a monolingual student with a tendency to panic so that they see the benefits of tolerating uncertainty. Although speaking skills were not included in the project, it is likely that again bilingual students would have much to offer. We should not, however, focus on the bilingual students’ role in helping monolingual students at the expense of their own development. In the ‘Evaluation’ step, and indeed in the ‘goal setting’ step at the very beginning of the process, we should encourage them to identify areas such as writing strategies on which they may need to concentrate. Above all, we should celebrate them as the successful language learners that they are.

In summary… This chapter set out to bridge the gap between three research traditions: bilingualism, TLA and LLSs. Given the paucity of studies in this area with this age group and learning French, we were aware that we could not reach any final conclusions. Rather we sought to begin to identify a research agenda. The quantitative data suggests that bilingual students bring valuable strategies to learning a third language, particularly in terms of listening comprehension. The qualitative data allows us to define some of those strategies and possible factors in the home environment that foster them. However, this is a small study of near-beginner students studying French in two London schools. Since typology and psychotypology emerged as an issue, future research might use cross-school comparisons at a range of levels, languages and skills areas. It is still unclear, for example, just how much prior knowledge is necessary for any multilingual benefits to be deployed. We focused on 12–13-year-olds learning French in England but are there differences in the progress and strategies of monolingual and bilingual 15-year-old students studying Spanish, for example, in France and how do they compare to their 11-year-old peers? And in which skill areas? Such comparisons might also highlight the impact, both positive and negative, of school ethos and the pedagogy adopted by the languages teachers. Finally, our findings underline an essential methodological point: the necessity to go beyond the extrapolation of conclusions based on global

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scores and to unpick the complex factors being played out for bilingual learners on an individual basis. In conclusion, it is only when we understand more of these inter-relationships that we will be able to identify just what strategies bilinguals bring to TLA, where they stem from and how the school can foster them. This chapter has explored the role bilingualism plays in learning a new language. It has looked at the strategies they develop in the home and what enables them to develop. We continue to examine the strategies of young Londoners but the last chapter in Part Two shifts the focus in two respects: the concern is the strategies they need to develop in school rather than those they come across ‘naturally’ in the home, and the language to be learned is not one with a familiar script – it is Mandarin Chinese.

6 Strategies Used to Memorize Mandarin Chinese Written Characters

甜: So, ‘tián’ is sweet, this is kinda like, looks like a sweet wrapper on the right. (STUDENT)

Introduction Why focus on learners of Mandarin Chinese (MC) as a foreign language? As we saw in Part One, recent LLS research has highlighted the importance of the learning context. It has highlighted that not only is each learner different in terms of their motivation, learning style and so on, but also that each task makes different demands on them. Hence, the strategies and combinations of strategies they use will vary from task to task. Yet, we have argued that the ‘context’ should be widened to acknowledge the role of social class and bilingual or monolingual status. Furthermore, until recently, more attention has been given to the learner and the task than to the specific language studied, in other words, whether the nature of the language itself calls for different strategies. Do learners simply transfer common, ‘generic’ strategies from one language to another? And, is this the case even if the language studied uses a completely different script? Or, does a learner whose L1 uses the Roman alphabet need some specific strategies to cope with learning a language with a non-European script, such as MC or Urdu or Korean? And, if they do, there is surely an argument for explicitly teaching them those specific strategies, just as we teach the strategies for learning any language with a Roman script.

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The final reason for our focus in this chapter concerns ourselves as language learners, since this book is also a record of our own journey. Like many language teachers, we are intrigued by languages and our studies into LLS have made us increasingly fascinated by the strategies we ourselves use to communicate in the countries we have visited. Memorization of useful words and phrases has seemed key and we have benefitted from trying out some of the new strategies suggested in the research. To give just one example, using the ‘key word’ principle of associating the new word with an already known word (Oxford, 1990) helped us to remember the Swahili for giraffe (‘twiga’) by thinking that the giraffe’s long legs looked like twigs! However, we also noted our ease in learning new Spanish and German words because there are so many cognates with French or English, compared with a language like Korean or MC where there are so few cognates apart from ‘international’ words like ‘pizza’! It seemed time therefore to consider how pupils coped with learning a language with a different script and so far removed from their own.

From theory to practice: The Mandarin Chinese project What we know already … The emergence of the so-called new economies has led to a growing awareness of the importance for trade purposes of learning non-European languages such as Urdu and MC. According to the Confederation of British Industry, MC is one of the most sought-after languages by British businesses (Moore, 2012). Since 2005, China has responded by rolling out more than 300 Confucius Institutes in 94 countries. In the United States, the number of learners of Chinese as a non-native language has increased by over 18 per cent since 2006 (Furman, Goldberg and Lusin, 2010). Take-up of Chinese in English secondary schools has also increased in recent years following a campaign to ‘diversify’ away from the preponderance of French, German and Spanish in order to respond to a modern multilingual context (see NARIC, 2012). In spite of this, as Zhang and Li (2010) point out, school textbooks in the United Kingdom are often based on French, failing to take account of the specific features of MC or the strategies students need to tackle it. Furthermore, as Wharton (2000) has rightly argued, there is almost a form of ‘cultural imperialism’ in the way LLS research has focused on English and European languages. Not only does English dominate as the language being learned, few investigations have explored the strategies used by learners of 11–15-year-olds. While a small number of studies have explored the strategies of elementary school

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students (e.g. Gu, Hu and Zhang, 2005; Kirsch, 2006), most empirical sources of data have been university students, rather than younger learners. These issues of language and age range informed our decision to carry out a study of students in a London secondary school learning MC. Although initially many learners are keen to study MC, their enthusiasm dwindles as they face the challenges involved. In spite of the fact that they report considerable difficulty in learning to read and write the language (Bo Hu, 2010; Huang, 2000), little is known of how they go about learning the Chinese characters and the strategies they use to memorize them. As Bo Hu (2010) points out: It would greatly benefit Chinese teaching studies for further research to focus on how learners tackle their perceived areas of difficulties and the kinds of learning strategies they apply. (111) It is complex to summarize succinctly what is already known in relation to strategies for learning MC since it covers such a wide range of research fields. We begin the following section on the underpinnings of the study by indicating some of the complications of the MC script itself before moving on to consider what is known in relation to memorization strategies generally. We conclude by describing studies specifically into memorization strategies for MC.

Background The Mandarin Chinese script Whereas English uses only twenty-six alphabetic letters to spell words, there are 3000 commonly used characters in 99 per cent of MC written materials (see Wong et al., 2010). Chinese characters are morphemes, some of which can stand alone, while others have to be combined to make words. Twentyfour basic strokes are linked in a wide range of different ways to form radicals, which are the fundamental components of characters. Radicals do sometimes provide useful clues to meaning since they can indicate the general semantic category of the character (such as water or fire related). For example, the radical for liquid occurs in both 汤 (taˉng) meaning soup and 汗 (hàn) meaning sweat. However, although over 90 per cent of Chinese characters are phonosemantic compounds, their components offer few clues since the meanings and pronunciation have changed over the centuries. An additional complication is that, because many of the characters have the same sound, MC uses four

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tones to differentiate them from each other. Because there is no obvious sound-script correspondence in MC, Pinyin, the system used to transcribe the characters into the Roman script to help pronunciation, is often used with beginners. How does the learner tackle vocabulary learning, given the complexity of both the written and the spoken forms? Gu (2003: 10) reminds us of how difficult vocabulary learning is, even when the script is familiar. He points out the gaps between recognizing words and being able to use them automatically and independently, between memorizing a simple vocabulary list to using the appropriate words in context. How much harder if the script is different? Lee and Kalyuga (2011) explain the challenge novice learners face simply in remembering which strokes and components make up each of the characters. Given the age of our students, we decided that our study should focus just on one stage of the vocabulary learning process: memorizing the meaning and orthography of the written form.

Memorization strategies of vocabulary in Roman script Since 1990, there has been increasing recognition of the importance of vocabulary (Nation, 2001) in developing linguistic proficiency. Learners identify a lack of vocabulary as the main factor holding them back (Gan, Humphreys and Hamp-Lyons, 2004) and a number of books have been devoted to this area (see, for example, Takac, 2008). Vocabulary learning strategies (VLSs) cover a number of sub-tasks ranging from guessing at the meaning of a new word, to looking it up, note-taking and so on (see Gu, 2003 for an overview of the effectiveness of each). Hence, Oxford (1990: 38) initially categorized memorization strategies as a subset of VLS. She defined the latter as ‘an aid in entering information into long-term memory and retrieving information when needed for communication’. Memorization strategies were divided into four groups: 1 ‘Creating mental linkages’, involving reclassifying or placing new words into a context; 2 ‘Applying images and sounds’, including using meaningful visual imagery; 3 Using key words (associating the new word to a familiar word) and semantic mapping; 4 ‘Reviewing and employing actions’, which entails using physical responses (like acting out an action) or using mechanical techniques such as moving vocabulary cards from one stack to another when a word is learned.

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Her taxonomy also relates to dual coding theory (DCT). DCT emphasizes the connection between two independent but interconnected memory codes: imagery codes (such as mental images, actions) and verbal codes (such as definitions and words in context). It is argued that using both codes to encode new words is better than verbal codes alone. Given the focus of our study was beginners tackling the memorization of written forms of characters, it seemed likely that strategies involving imagery codes might predominate. In her more recent taxonomy, Oxford (2011) includes VLSs in the category of ‘cognitive strategies’ rather than as separately, and illustrates how they can develop schema to handle information. For example, the more the learner can group information under meaningful categories (such as ‘all the words about the weather’), the stronger the retrieval cues. This illustration reflects the interest in the wider research field in the difference between mechanical, rote learning techniques, and others requiring greater depth of processing and cognitive involvement, which are more likely to promote learning (see Cohen, 1987; Gu and Johnson, 1996; Nyikos and Fan, 2007). Given these insights into the strategies involved in the memorization process, a consequent question is whether or not students, whose L1 is in a Roman script, simply transfer to MC those VLS already identified for European languages, or do they develop other strategies unique to MC? As we have noted, one of the criticisms of Oxford’s Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) questionnaire (Oxford, 1990) is that it is not sufficiently taskspecific (Cohen and Macaro, 2007). Therefore, if particular strategies are needed to solve particular language tasks, then it seems likely that the learner will need to develop strategies to solve handling an unfamiliar script. There may be important implications here for strategy based instruction since, although some students may develop the necessary MC-specific strategies for themselves, others may need explicit instruction.

Memorization strategies of characters in Mandarin Chinese: The same or different? Although recently there has been an increasing amount of research into the cognitive processing of MC, relatively little of it focuses specifically on identifying the strategies used whether by L1 or L2 learners. Of those that have, Jiang and Cohen (2012) point to the paucity of research that has been conducted with respect to the strategies employed by learners of Chinese as a foreign language (CFL), as compared to those for whom it is a home language. They also explain that studies have either described the strategies according to the researcher’s own empirical research or according to the

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terminology used for European languages. Unsurprising then that studies in the latter category have not drawn attention to MC-specific strategies. In contrast, Jiang and Zhao (2001) identified six groups of strategies for learning MC, covering a wide range from studying correct stroke order to paying attention to the sound and meaning of characters and using characters in writing. They also compared students with a character-based L1 to those from an alphabet-based L1 background. They found that the latter were more likely to use graphic strategies, in other words, those that relied on the physical appearance of a character, as opposed to the phonetic-meaning strategies used by the former group. Given their background, the students in our study seemed likely to adopt a similar approach, although Jiang and Zhao’s study did not focus specifically on memorizing the written form. In general, these and other studies appear to indicate that learners use both generic and MC-specific strategies for learning MC. For example, Tseng (2000) found that students of all levels used fifteen different types of strategy, including creating flashcards – a strategy already noted in existing research into students of alphabet-based languages, as in Oxford’s (1990) ‘employing actions’. On the other hand, the strategies used by college students in McGinnis’s study (1999) included creating their own idiosyncratic stories to remember the shapes of the characters, and 77 per cent of students in Yin’s (2003) study relied on memorizing the character’s radical or phonetic components. Jiang and Cohen (2012) also provide an overview of the small number of studies which have considered the ‘effectiveness’ of learners’ MC strategy use. Useful though they are, some of the descriptions do little more than replicate what we already know in relation to alphabet-based languages in terms of the value of depth of processing and a combination of visual and verbal coding (Kuo and Hooper, 2004). Similarly, we have already seen the importance in European languages of strategies involving active manipulation and this also emerges from Zhao and Jiang’s (2002) study. They found that making use of the characters in conversations or writing, or grouping those with similar graphic features, pronunciation or meaning appeared to be most effective. Such studies raised for us the difficulty of categorizing some strategies. On the one hand, it could be argued that grouping characters with similar graphic features is familiar from existing research studies into alphabet-based scripts, such as Oxford’s category of ‘creating mental linkages’. On the other hand, the complexities of the graphic features of an MC character, composed as it is of so many components, may require learners to develop new or refine existing strategies. It therefore seemed possible that some strategies used by our students may not readily fit into the category of generic strategies or those unique to MC. Rather certain generic strategies may be modified to cope with the challenge of the task in

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hand. Such information is crucial to understanding how Chinese characters are actually processed by non-native learners and may need to be borne in mind for our study. Another reason for our study was that the majority of the investigations above again involve motivated, mature university students, often based in the United States, a very different context from adolescents in inner-city London schools. This is also true of one of the most detailed investigations of MC character learner strategies, conducted by Shen (2005) in her study of 95 non-native students in two US universities. She identified 59 commonly used strategies, grouping them according to frequency of use. Of particular relevance to our study are the strategies Shen’s students used to memorize newly learned characters. These include those that appear ‘generic’, such as ‘classifying the words into different characters according to their meaning’, as well as those more specific to MC: for example, ‘I use my imagination to picture the meaning that the character represents, as if each character is a picture’ (2005: 65). Shen also carried out a factor analysis to explore the processes underlying the strategies, relating the eight factors extracted to the progression she found between beginners and advanced levels. Some of the factors were not particularly relevant to our focus on the written word, for example, using the sound of the character as a cue to making connections to the meaning and shape. Yet, some of the strategies in factor one, ‘orthographic knowledge’, seemed likely to be used by the students in the study. It includes visualizing the graphic structure of a character, and making connections with previously learned similar characters. Other strategies in her study appear more applicable to these motivated, independent university students than the students in our age group; for example, factor 6 includes asking others how they use a particular character in sentences. As Nyikos and Fan (2007) argue, there is hence a need: to broaden research beyond the traditional intermediate and advanced level university students and include younger and underserved language learners. (272) In addition, those strategies in Shen’s study that do apply to the written word appear quite broad and they do not seem to look specifically at how the learner initially tackles even finding a starting point through which to analyse the character for memorization purposes. Indeed, strategies such as Shen’s, ‘I memorise the shape of the character first, then the pronunciation’ (item 32) and ‘I try to visualize the character in my head’ (item 5) seem to presuppose some kind of grasp of the character in the first place. This issue raises the final research of relevance to our students.

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In order to find a ‘way in’ to new characters, learners who are used to rote memorization practices, may begin by copying them as a whole unit, an assemblage of strokes. Rote learning has, in the past, often been a feature of the way children acquire L1 reading and writing skills in countries such as China and India (see, for example, Gu, 2012). Since many British teachers of MC are native speakers, this may have been the way they were taught in their country of origin and use with their students now. However, Scrimgeour (2012) argues against such an approach. In his opinion, just viewing the character as a whole is unhelpful in the long term. Instead, building on Koda’s work (2007), for him, the lower level skills involved in visual information processing (VIP, the sequence of steps that information takes as it flows from visual sensors to cognitive processing) need to be viewed as an area quite separate from the subsequent task of functional awareness (FA). Like Shen and Ke (2007), he stresses the importance of FA in developing students’ metalinguistic awareness in MC, so that they are able to analyse the characters, understand the component forms and study radical functions. It seems likely that most of the strategies of these young school-age learners may reflect VIP rather than FA; all the more so since, from Zhang and Li’s (2010) indication of the problems facing MC teachers in the United Kingdom, it seems unlikely that the students in our study have acquired the ability to analyse systematically the vocabulary to be memorized and to develop the appropriate strategies. They point out the lack of teaching materials based upon research and on an understanding of how L1 English students learn Chinese. By way of illustration, some MC textbooks may provide a general introductory unit on characters but fail to give further systematic support for analysing their component forms and radical functions (see Scrimgeour, 2012). Not only may beginners struggle to understand the component forms of the characters, Hui Li (2014) suggests that they appear to be insensitive even to subtle differences between similarly shaped characters. So, they are far from being in a position to set about memorizing them accurately. Hence, the issue may be, how does the learner tackle initially even finding a starting point through which to unpack the character for memorization purposes? These then were the research questions we set out to explore: 1 What are the memorization strategies used by English CFL adolescent learners of MC in order to recognize and produce characters in written form? 2 To what extent are they generic or unique to CFL? 3 What are the possible factors underlying their use of memorization strategies? Do they help students to find a ‘way in’ to the character? Do some imply a greater depth of processing than others?

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131

Researching student strategies for memorizing Mandarin Chinese characters The Mandarin Chinese project: Schools, students and methodology A full description of the study can be found in Grenfell and Harris (2015). Here, we provide a short summary of the methodology and then focus on the pedagogic implications. Our students attended an inner-city, state school for girls of 11–18-year-olds in North East London. None of them had MC as their first language. From the age of 11 to 14, they study MC for only one hour a week. From age 14, they study it for 5 hours a fortnight. Since they also learn French and Spanish when they are 11, they are used to memorizing foreign language vocabulary both with an alphabetic and with a non-alphabetic script. The study was conducted with the close collaboration and support of two MC teachers in the school, both of whom are native MC speakers. They follow a topic-based approach in line with the public examinations taken at 16 (see Zhang and Li, 2010). The teachers provide oral practice, including of the correct tones, and students then undertake writing activities, including the correct order in which to write characters. The teachers also seek to help their students to recognize some key radicals such as ‘water’, ‘children’ and ‘females’. However, they explained that they felt under considerable pressure to cover everything else needed in the limited time available. The question of the most appropriate means of collecting data about the students’ memorization strategies was problematic. Some studies of languages with non-Roman scripts have adopted Oxford’s widely used strategy inventory questionnaire SILL (Oxford, 1990). Grainger (2005), for example, studied undergraduate learners of Japanese and Ko-Yin Sung (2011) studied 134 learners of MC in US universities. However, both studies reveal the limitations of the SILL in these contexts, Grainger concluding, for example, that the students may have misunderstood items related to literacy. Furthermore, given that SILL was designed for learners of European languages, it is unlikely to capture the complexities of learning a different script and to reveal if some strategies are unique to MC. Nor can it capture the strategies specific to the task in hand. Other studies have used empirical research but the students, albeit beginners, have often been American college students (see Jiang and Cohen for a useful summary). Nor did the studies concentrate just on memorizing the written form of the characters. Thus, as there were no suitable questionnaires for this age group and this task, it was necessary to devise alternative measures.

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The first step was to conduct a think-aloud activity with ten students to gain an initial picture of the strategies used. As we discussed above, although think-aloud protocols raise a number of issues, they have been used extensively in LLSs research since this type of verbal report, where subjects verbalize their thoughts and feelings, allows reasoning processes to be analysed both statistically and interpretively (see Takeuchi, Griffiths and Coyle, 2007). However, it is difficult enough even for adults to articulate their thoughts while engaged in the learning process. So, initial training in thinking aloud took place using the technique of a bag of animal toys described in Chapter 4. The students were then given five minutes to memorize the sound, meaning and written form of five characters (see Appendix 6.1). The choice of the characters and amount of time allotted to learning them was determined in discussion with the teachers. The characters included those related to the current topic or story being read and those with a familiar radical, for example, the radical for liquid. From the outset, it was made clear to the students that the focus was on the strategies they used rather than correct answers, that their performance was not a test and that their teachers would not be informed of the outcomes. As the students started to tackle memorizing the characters, they were asked to verbalize their thoughts. There was the minimum of intervention from the researcher (R.), for example, after a 10-second silence and looking at this character 甜: R: So what are you thinking about now? Student 1: So ‘tián’ is sweet, this is kinda like, looks like a sweet wrapper on the right Immediately after the think-aloud, each student was given the English words and asked to write out the correct MC character. Thus, they not only had to recognize the characters but to produce them in written form for themselves. They were not, however, asked to produce them orally. The interviews were transcribed and a qualitative analysis was carried out (see Faerch and Kasper, 1987). In step two, in order to find out if the strategies the ten students reported were recognized and used by the other students in the school, the memorization strategies were listed in a follow-up questionnaire to 190 students at the end of the academic year. The strategies their teachers had observed them using in class were also included. The questionnaire used a 5-point Likert scale asking students to rate the think-aloud statements about strategy use according to ‘always like me’, ‘usually like me’, ‘sometimes like me’, ‘rarely like me’ or ‘never like me’. Table 6.1 gives examples of the way the questionnaire strategies relate to Shen’s and Oxford’s work in order to make the links apparent.

STRATEGIES TO MEMORIZE MANDARIN CHINESE CHARACTERS

133

TABLE 6.1  Cross comparison of strategies Oxford: main category

Oxford: sub-category

Shen’s questionnaire item

This study’s questionnaire item

Creating mental Placing new words linkages into context

Use the new character orally in a sentence

I try to make up sentences with the new word in it

Applying images and sounds

Using imagery

Visualize the character

I think of pictures to connect the shape to the meaning

Employing action

Using physical response or sensation Using mechanical techniques

Flip through flashcards many times

Making flashcards, writing character in the air

Most students answered the majority of items in the questionnaire, suggesting that they recognized and used the strategies identified in the thinkalouds. Descriptive statistics established the most commonly used strategies and a factor analysis was then conducted to uncover any similarities across apparently different strategies. Principal axis factoring analysis with oblique rotation (direct oblimin with delta = 0) was used (see Grenfell and Harris, 2015).

What we found out…. In this section, we focus first on the results of the questionnaire and then on those of the factor analysis that investigated the possible factors underlying students’ strategies. We conclude by considering what this tells us about how pupils go about memorizing characters.

MC strategies for memorizing and reproducing the written form Table 6.2 lists the strategies in the questionnaire in the order of frequency of use reported by the students. The column ‘cumulative’ is the score for the strategy according to whether students reported either ‘sometimes like me’ (score 3), ‘usually like me’ (4) or ‘always like me’ (5). Each strategy has

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been categorized as MC-specific, or Generic (G). Criteria for the ‘G’ category included if the strategy had already been recorded in relation to languages with an alphabetic background; for example, ‘saying the word aloud’ (q. 25) has been found to be more effective than silent repetition (see Gu, 2003). Criteria for MC were specific to the nature of the language: for example, looking at the direction of the slashes in a character (q. 7) and counting the number of lines in a square (q. 6). It could be argued that tracing over the strokes of a character with a pencil (q. 19) is similar to activities small children carry out when they are unfamiliar with their alphabet and are learning to write their L1 and are therefore Generic. However, as the L2 here involves the complexity of twenty-four strokes, it was felt to be a MC-specific strategy. Yet, in line with the previous discussion, some strategies do appear to cross the ‘G’ and ‘MC’ boundaries since, although they can be used for all languages, they acquire a particular significance for MC. For example, the strategy of ‘trying not to remember too many characters at once’ (q. 17) does relate to early research into the optimum number of words to be studied at one time, as summarized in Gu (2003). However, this research was on words, not characters, and assumed learners were already familiar with the script. Other such ambivalent strategy examples include ‘dictionaries’ (q. 31), which are set out very differently in MC, and ‘breaking a character down’ (q. 4). Such strategies seem to be of a different order and are labelled ‘Mid’ to indicate they are midway on a continuum between Generic and MC-specific. These are obviously not hard and fast categories. Given the stated focus on the written rather than the spoken word, it is unsurprising that many of the strategies relate to visual rather than verbal encoding. It appears that students do indeed need to develop new ways of memorizing the character. Twenty of the thirty-four strategies are MC-specific, only eight are Generic, with six classified as ‘Mid’. Furthermore, over half of the thirteen most frequently used strategies (those over 60 per cent) are MCspecific. Three of the other strategies are Generic suggesting that students also find it helpful to transfer to MC those strategies common to all language learning, such as, ‘keeping the meaning in mind when copying’ (q. 24). Strategy 25, ‘I say the word aloud or in my head while I am copying’ is similar to ‘I say new expressions repeatedly’ in Oxford’s taxonomy (1990: 285). The categorization of two of the ‘Mid’ strategies is more problematic, namely, as we have discussed, q. 17, ‘I don’t try to remember too many characters in one go’ and q. 18, ‘I think about how I will remember the hard bits of a character’. They could be considered Generic as they certainly relate to O’Malley and Chamot’s (1990) taxonomy of metacognitive strategies, implying a way of planning their learning that is perhaps similar to how the students went about preparing for spelling tests in primary school. On the other hand, it could be argued that there is a specific MC dimension. Given

TABLE 6.2  Memorization strategies in order of preference and indicating type Standard deviation

Mean

Cumulative score of frequency use

Generic(G), MC-specific or MID

Over 60% frequency of use I test myself by seeing if I can write the words out without looking

173

1.34

3.61

78.0

G

q. 17

I don’t try to remember too many characters in one go

182

1.28

3.30

73.1

MID

q. 1

I try to spot any characters I already know

176

1.15

2.98

71.6

MC

q. 18

I think about how I will remember the hard bits

172

1.34

3.20

70.3

MID

q. 9

I look for the shapes of the alphabet

186

1.35

3.18

68.3

MC

q. 24

When I am copying, I keep thinking of the meaning

176

1.23

3.05

66.5

G

q. 25

I say the word aloud or in my head while copying

174

1.35

2.96

64.4

G

q. 7

I look at where the slashes in the character go

184

1.26

2.86

63.6

MC

q. 15

I think of pictures to connect the shape to the meaning

188

1.31

3.02

63.3

MC

q. 3

I look at the overall shape of the character

182

1.19

2.88

63.2

MC

q. 22

I write the characters out lots of times with the correct stroke order

169

1.39

2.98

61.5

MC

135

q. 35

STRATEGIES TO MEMORIZE MANDARIN CHINESE CHARACTERS

Strategy

Number of responses

Strategy

Number of responses

Standard deviation

Mean

Cumulative score of frequency use

Generic(G), MC-specific or MID

q. 11

I look out for shapes of English numbers in the character

188

1.36

2.94

61.2

MC

q. 8

I look at the direction of any ‘ticks’ in the character

183

1.32

2.87

60.1

MC

q. 14

I try to relate the sound of the character to an English word

187

1.29

2.89

59.4

G

q. 4

I break the character down and focus on one bit at a time

185

1.33

2.77

58.9

MID

q. 33

I look out for the new word in anything I read or Miss says

168

1.21

2.61

54.8

G

q. 29

I group similar characters into categories

173

1.36

2.62

50.9

MC

q. 21

I do hand gestures or nod my head to remember the tones

177

1.34

2.53

50.3

MC

q. 16

I link the first strokes of the character to the first alphabet letter of the Pinyin word

186

1.29

2.64

50.0

MC

q. 5

I look to see if there is a rectangle or a square in the character

178

1.34

2.60

50.0

MC

q. 2

I look to see if there are any radicals I recognize

179

1.15

2.56

49.2

MC

q. 23

I write the shapes in the air

176

1.40

2.57

48.9

MC

LANGUAGE LEARNER STRATEGIES

Under 60% frequency of use

136

TABLE 6.2  Memorization strategies in order of preference and indicating type (continued)

TABLE 6.2  Memorization strategies in order of preference and indicating type (continued)

I look out for the shapes of Chinese numbers

187

1.25

2.55

47.6

MC

q. 32

I try to make up sentences with the new word in it

170

1.29

2.49

47.6

G

q. 20

I copy out the tricky bit in big writing

179

1.45

2.57

46.4

MC

q. 28

I compare characters to spot similarities and differences in shape

172

1.20

2.53

45.3

MID

q. 27

I close my eyes and try to see the character in my head

168

1.39

2.48

45.2

MID

q. 34

I make the flashcards with the character on one side and the pinyin and the drawing on the other

173

1.36

2.35

41.6

G

q. 19

I trace over the strokes of a character with the tip of a pencil

178

1.31

2.33

41.6

MC

q. 13

I look out for shapes of maths or science symbols

184

1.28

2.17

35.9

MC

q. 6

I count the number of lines in a square or a rectangle

184

1.22

2.16

33.7

MC

q. 26

I make up stories to help me remember the strokes

174

1.27

2.08

33.3

MC

q. 31

I check characters in the online dictionary for other meanings

172

1.23

2.03

31.4

MID

q. 30

I use colour coding

171

1.17

1.93

27.5

G

137

Generic(G), MC-specific or MID

STRATEGIES TO MEMORIZE MANDARIN CHINESE CHARACTERS

Cumulative score of frequency use

q. 12

Strategy

Number of responses

Standard deviation

Mean

138

LANGUAGE LEARNER STRATEGIES

there may be several characters in one word, avoiding trying to remember too many characters is possibly of a different and more complex order than just avoiding trying to remember too many words. Similarly, thinking about how to remember a hard word is not the same as remembering ‘the tricky bit’ within a character. Hence, these two strategies have been categorized as ‘Mid’, although we are very aware that the boundaries are not that clear-cut.

Possible factors underlying the use of memorization strategies The results of the factor analysis can be found in Table 6.3. Three factors were extracted from the thirty-four strategies, the number of factors being determined by parallel analysis. A total of 29.67 per cent of the variance is explained by these three factors. In the discussion below, we use both quantitative data from the factor analysis and qualitative data from the think-alouds to interpret the emerging factors which we term as ‘Factor 1’ (‘Focus on the whole character’), ‘Factor 2’ (‘Focus on strokes’) and ‘Factor 3’ (‘Prior Knowledge’). The focus of the strategies in Factor 1 (‘Focus on the whole character’) is on the character as a whole, rather than their individual components, for example, making up sentences with the new word in it (q. 32), making up stories to ensure the strokes are written in the correct order (q. 26) or visualizing the word. Even ‘copying the tricky bit in big writing’ (q. 20) implies an initial awareness of the character as a whole in order to identify potential difficulties. It could be argued that the focus on the character as a whole is unlikely to be helpful in the long term, since, as Scrimgeour warned, students may resort to memorizing each character simply as a collection of strokes. However, eight out of these thirteen strategies demand some form of physical activity. The time and work involved are indicated in the explanation of visualization offered by one student: Strategy

Example

q. 27: I close my eyes and try to see the character in my head.

‘Because for me if I look at something for a really long time it means like I can see it in my head sometimes….’

The degree of effort and active manipulation involved suggests that such strategies are likely to lead to a greater depth of processing. Indeed, they recall the active manipulation involved in making use of the characters in conversations or writing or grouping those with similar graphic features that Zhao and Jiang (2002) found to be successful. The work involved may explain why only three out of the thirteen most frequently used strategies fall into this

TABLE 6.3  Factor analysis results Factors 1 q. 27 I close my eyes and try to see the character in my head

0.667

q. 31 I check characters in the online dictionary for other meanings

0.601

q. 32 I try to make up sentences with the new word in it

0.559

q. 21 I do hand gestures or nod my head to remember the tones

0.554

q. 33 I look out for the new word in anything I read or Miss says

0.538

q. 34. I make flashcards with the character on one side and the pinyin and the drawing on the other

0.441

q. 23 I write the shapes in the air

0.436

q. 19 I trace over the strokes of a character with the tip of a pencil

0.398

q. 26 I make up stories to help me remember the strokes

0.392

q. 25 I say the word aloud or in my head while copying

0.375

q. 22 I write the characters out lots of times with the correct stroke order

0.363

q. 20 I copy the tricky bit of a character in big writing

0.358

2

3

–0.369

0.357

0.320

STRATEGIES TO MEMORIZE MANDARIN CHINESE CHARACTERS

Strategy

139

140

TABLE 6.3  Factor analysis results (continued) Strategy

Factors 1

q. 29 I group similar characters into categories

2

0.344

0.338 0.714

q. 3 I look at the overall shape of the character, for example, curvy or straight lines

0.594

q. 8 I look at the direction of any ‘ticks’ in the character

0.579

q. 13 I look out for shapes of maths or science symbols in the character like a plus sign +

0.570

q. 5 I look to see if there is a rectangle or square in the character

0.543

q. 4 I break the character down and focus on one bit at a time

0.486

q. 6 I count the number of lines in a square or rectangle

0.468

q. 12 I look out for shapes for shapes of Chinese numbers in a character

0.324

LANGUAGE LEARNER STRATEGIES

q. 7 I look at where the slashes in the character go

q. 30 I use colour-coding, for example, I colour the ‘liquid’ radical in blue in the word ‘soup’

3

0.423 0.352

q. 9 I look out for shapes of alphabet letters in the character

0.573

q. 18 I think about how I will remember the hard bits of the character

0.483

TABLE 6.3  Factor analysis results (continued) Factors 1

2

3

q. 11 I look out for shapes of English numbers in the character

0.470

q. 16 I link the first strokes of the character to the first alphabet letter of the Pinyin word

0.379

q. 1 I try to spot any strokes or characters I already know

0.372

q. 17 I don’t try to remember too many characters in one go

0.369

q. 15 I think of pictures to connect the shape of the characters to the meaning

0.342

q. 28 I compare characters and words to spot differences and similarities in shape

0.341

q. 24 When I am copying the characters, I keep thinking of the meaning q. 35 I test myself by seeing if I can write the words out without looking

0.303

0.338 0.323

q. 14 I try to relate the sound of the character to an English word that will remind me of its meaning q. 2 I look to see if there are radicals I recognize and try to make sense of why they are there Notes: 1 It is not clear why q. 14 and q. 2 did not fall into any of the factors. It is possible that the exclusion of linking the sound to the English (q. 14) reflects the focus in the questionnaire on the written form. However, one might have thought that recognizing radicals (q. 2) would fall readily into factor one or two. Perhaps these beginners’ knowledge of radicals is too limited at this stage. 2 A typing error led to the omission of question 10, so it is absent from the analysis.

STRATEGIES TO MEMORIZE MANDARIN CHINESE CHARACTERS

Strategy

141

142

LANGUAGE LEARNER STRATEGIES

category. Furthermore, in this group of strategies there is, not only the active manipulation noted, but also some attempt at systematic, functional analysis, for example, the attention to ‘meaning when copying words’ (q. 24) and ‘when colour-coding radicals’ (q. 30) and ‘the grouping of similar characters into categories’ (q. 29). This finding, coupled with the depth of processing suggested led us to see these as ‘high value’ strategies. What remains unclear is why strategies 15 (‘thinking of pictures to connect the characters to the meaning’) and 28 (‘comparing characters to spot similarities and differences’) are in factor 3 rather than in this factor, since they also imply a high degree of cognitive processing and a focus on the shape of the character as a whole. We will consider possible explanations when we turn to factor 3. At first sight, the strategies in factor 2 (‘Focus on strokes’) and factor 3 (‘Prior knowledge’) appear similar. There are, however, differences. The main focus of the strategies in factor 2 appears to be attention to the different, individual elements of the character, as in q. 4, ‘I break the character down and focus on one bit at a time’. They involve noticing the direction of ticks in a character (q. 8), counting the lines (q. 6) and recognizing shapes such as squares (q. 5). Strategy

Example

q. 8: I look at the direction of any ticks in the character.

‘And then I … is it that way or that way? Difficult to try and remember… It’s that way, right….’

q. 5: I look to see if there is a rectangle or a square in the character.

‘I’m looking at the top bit, because the bottom bit is easy, it’s just a square…’

The last example illustrates the overlap between strategies in factor 2 and in factor 3. The main focus of the latter factor, however, is not the individual elements. Rather, in this group of strategies, students’ initial response is to draw on their existing understandings – sometimes, but not always – related to physical appearance or individual elements. For example, to help them remember a shape, they relate it to an English number or a letter in the Roman alphabet: Strategy

Example

q. 9: I look for the shapes of the alphabet.

‘It’s just like a “J” with two strokes…’

q. 18: I think about how I will remember the hard bits.

‘I’ve got to remember to put a stick on both parts…’

STRATEGIES TO MEMORIZE MANDARIN CHINESE CHARACTERS

143

They may also make links to other areas of knowledge, for example, spotting any characters they already know (q. 1). In relation to the earlier discussion about q. 28, one explanation of why it falls into factor 3 rather than factor one is because the identification of the individual components relies so heavily on prior knowledge of MC, as the example below suggests:

Strategy

Example

q. 28: I compare characters and words to spot differences and similarities in shape.

‘Yeah, like if a word’s similar, if there’s a similar one, character to it and I’ve learned that character I can then put it into this, that character and just change a few things…’

This strategy of simply spotting the familiar may be a first step towards the strategy Shen identified of making connections with previously learned characters, including perhaps the role of a common radical. Prior knowledge also plays an important role in strategies like using ‘pictures to connect the shape to the meaning’ (q. 15) where students trawl through their verbal and visual knowledge to discover what the character, or part of the character, looks like. The only two metacognitive strategies identified draw on a different type of prior knowledge, namely prior learning experiences. Thinking about ‘how to remember the hard bits of a character’ (q. 18) and ‘not trying to remember too many characters in one go’ (q. 17) are likely to have been learned when starting to read and write L1 in primary school. They were categorized as ‘Mid’ since we felt that reflecting on and planning learning applied both to L1 and MC. Given the earlier discussion about the ability of younger students to deploy metacognitive strategies, it is interesting to note how frequently they were used, possibly because of their very familiarity. Indeed, the highest number of frequently used strategies (seven) fall into the ‘prior knowledge’ factor (as compared to three in factor one and three in factor two) suggesting its importance for these beginner learners.

Implications What then do these findings suggest? First, it appears clear that beginner learners of MC do adopt strategies specific to the language in order to tackle memorizing the vocabulary. Indeed, over half of the most frequently used strategies were unique to that language. It is possible that Shen’s students did not report some of the strategies as they no longer needed them as they were

144

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more mature learners. However, it may also be that the think-alouds produced a greater level of detail than Shen’s questionnaire. Turning to the processes underlying the strategies, it is unsurprising that many of the strategies relate to visual rather than verbal coding since the focus was on the written not the spoken word. Like Jiang and Zhao’s (2001) students, these beginners rely heavily on the physical appearance of a character. The focus on the whole character in the ‘High value’ factor one may not necessarily involve analysing its component parts. However, it seems likely that some strategies in this factor lead to deep level memorization: for example, making up sentences with the new word in it, or stories to help memorize the strokes. We believe that further studies are needed to explore the relationship of this group of strategies to the degree of success of students’ performance. The focus on individual strokes in factor 2 does not seem geared to analysing the characters and radical functions in the way that Scrimgeour discussed. Indeed, the approach appears somewhat unsystematic. However, it may be a necessary preliminary step in coming to grips with the character, so that these beginners can identify a ‘tag’ or ‘handle’ in order to turn shapes that are initially viewed as random into information that can be processed. In order to do so, the students may use strategies in combination, relying heavily on the strategies in factor 3 by sifting through their prior knowledge to find something familiar that will provide a ‘way in’ to the character. Operationalizing the strategies in factors 2 and 3 is demanding and risks resulting in mental overload. Students may not have the cognitive space to use ‘deeper’ level processing strategies, apart from those in factor one and those familiar from learning to read and write their L1. Thus ‘saying the word aloud’ or in their head while copying and ‘writing out the word or character lots of times’ appears to be transferred from primary school across to MC. We have seen how the few examples of metacognitive strategies are also transferred from primary school, although they have to be adapted to meet the demands of MC. The limited number of strategies indicating Scrimgeour’s ‘metalinguistic awareness’ may not only reflect these beginners’ struggle even to find a ‘way in’ to the character, but also the teaching approach adopted in the school, the pedagogical implications of which will be discussed in the next section.

Strategy based instruction for Mandarin Chinese memorization strategies Supported by the Australian government, online resources have been produced by the Learning Federation (Curriculum Corporation, 2007) to improve the quality of the teaching and learning of character-based writing systems. However, Scrimgeour (2012) suggests that further research is needed into

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how teachers can integrate them into the curriculum. It is, indeed, possible that younger students might become disenchanted if lessons are just devoted to the components, which make up the system, and the semantic and phonetic functions that radicals perform in certain positions. How to teach MC is not, however, the focus of this chapter, although Anderson (2011) has made some innovative suggestions. Discussing metalinguistic awareness, Nagy (2007) argues that vocabulary instruction should be about words: their formation, their use and how they can be learned. It is how they can be learned, not how to teach them, that is the focus here. Many MC teachers in the United Kingdom are native speakers. As we pointed out above, we cannot assume, as Krashen (1982) did, that learning the L1 involves the same processes as learning an L2, all the more so if one is in a ‘natural’ and the other a ‘formal’ learning context. Hence, learning a character-based language as their L1 is a different experience for the teachers to those of their students for whom it is an L2 and who already have acquired literacy and in an alphabet-based language. While the teachers in this study were aware of some of the strategies that their students were using, they were understandably surprised by others, since they had not developed them themselves when they were in school. The teachers were, therefore, keen to embrace the potential benefits of SBI as a means of helping all their students, rather than just the ‘good language learners’, to develop a range of strategies for memorizing MC characters effectively. It is unsurprising to find that most SBI studies have been limited to languages with a Roman script. So, in this section, we offer some suggestions for memorizing MC characters, based both on the general principles of SBI and the MC-specific findings of this study. Later, we will discuss SBI in depth including suggestions of how the familiar model we presented in Chapter 2 (see also Cohen, 2011; Grenfell and Harris, 1999; Oxford, 2011) can be integrated with the more ‘bottom-up’, collaborative approach described by Nguyen and Gu (2013) and Butler (2002), for example. Here, however, we will use the familiar model of SBI to illustrate how strategies for memorizing MC can be taught. So, in step one to raise awareness, teachers would begin by discussing with their students how they went about learning the MC vocabulary that was set, for example, as homework. As we have argued, it is often best to link the discussion directly to a task students have just completed so that the strategies they used are at the forefront of their minds. To activate students’ prior knowledge of strategies and encourage them to transfer them to MC, students discuss in groups, which strategies for memorizing L1 words would or would not work for MC characters. They could also share any other MCspecific strategies they use. The sharing of strategies in a class brainstorm is a form of ‘modelling’ in itself. The class could also share difficulties encountered with more complex characters or those with no easy ‘way in’.

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The teacher may still need to model other strategies, for example, by ‘thinking-aloud’ how some of the least frequently used strategies in the study could be used. The importance of strategy chains or clusters may be of particular relevance to the memorization of characters. Rather than discouraging those strategies which only ‘focus on strokes’, they might be a ‘way in’ to comparing differences and similarities between characters, enabling them to examine components in a more systematic way. For example, with the character for ‘soup’,汤, the teacher could model the strategies by thinking aloud that it might help to focus on just one part of the character and see if she could use her prior knowledge. She might suggest that for her the right-hand side of the character looks like a ‘Z’ on top of a ‘J’. She could go on to ask herself if she can spot any radicals, in this case, the radical for ‘liquid’. She could remind herself to pay particular attention to the way that the ‘slashes’ on the radical go in the same direction as the bottom of the letter ‘J’. Modelling ‘high value’ strategies may also be important at this point; the teacher can, for example, invent her own story to remember the meaning of the character or the order of the strokes. Students could then be asked to invent their own stories for the new vocabulary for homework and they could be displayed round the classroom. Practice in strategies that encourage systematization (like colour-coding of radicals, and spotting familiar characters) would need to be extensive. Considerable skill would be needed to provide such practice in a meaningful, interesting way over time and to establish over the course of the lessons the Zones of Proximal Development, so that students gradually moved from needing regular reminders about the strategies to operating them for themselves independently. There is always a danger that teachers might colour-code radicals themselves in presenting vocabulary but fail to make it explicit to the students that this is a strategy that they should subsequently do for themselves. Wang and Leland (2011) found that learners believed that practising characters through cooperative learning was effective. Thus, they might compare which shapes, numbers or letters they perceive in the characters or compare stories to remember the meaning or order of the strokes. For each homework task to memorize vocabulary, they could spend five minutes discussing in groups which strategy chains will help most with which characters. At the end of any subsequent test, they should list the strategies they used. This allows the teacher to provide feedback not only on the final performance but also on the process: for example, ‘don’t forget strategy 7 of looking where the slashes in a character go’. Above all, the research evidence into SBI points to the importance of developing metacognitive strategies (see Cohen, 2011 for overview). Students should be encouraged to plan how they will approach vocabulary memorization tasks and evaluate which strategies work best for them and where else they can use them such as in reading comprehension. Once students have assimilated these strategies, teachers

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could move on to use this approach for other aspects of learning MC. They could share their strategies for memorizing the tones perhaps, or for using the characters independently in the context of their own writing. It is this question of progression, namely ‘is there a logical order to teach strategies from beginner to advanced level?’ that forms a central theme in the next chapter.

In summary…. In an increasingly global world, finding ways of facilitating language learning may become more and more of a priority. With the growth of interest in new economies, there is an urgent need to explore the extent to which findings from research into the learning of languages with a Roman script are applicable to non-European languages. The limitations of the study are clear – for example, it reports on findings from just one London secondary school and the thinkalouds were carried out with only ten students. As Jiang and Cohen (2012) suggest, self-designed inventories need to be administered more widely in order to confirm reliability and validity. Furthermore, the boundaries between the Generic and MC-specific strategies are not particularly clear-cut and the category of ‘Mid’ is particularly ‘fuzzy’. That said, the methodology used in this study, and particularly the think-alouds, appear to be successful in capturing the strategies used by the adolescent students. MC presents a particular challenge for learners since at least Arabic, Urdu and Punjabi all have a script with clear sound/spelling links. Nevertheless, based on a similar methodology, future research might reveal the strategies used to memorize those languages as well. Some of the strategies in these languages might be similar to MC, such as looking out for shapes of the alphabet or for circles and squares, but others may be unique to that specific language. It might also be worthwhile to explore the strategies students with Arabic, Urdu or Korean as their L1 use to learn the Roman alphabet. Our understanding is, for example, that when Urdu speakers encounter the letter ‘a’, they remember it by thinking that it is like the number 5, which looks like an ‘0’ in Arabic, with the addition of a small tail. Similarly the alphabet letter ‘b’ is like the number 9 in Arabic upside down. Finally, it would be helpful to explore development over time from beginner to more advanced learners and in different school contexts since, these are likely to change as learner proficiency itself changes. As Shen states it: further studies are needed if we are to obtain a comprehensive picture of the patterns involved in choosing and using character-learning strategies in classroom learning situations. (2005: 53)

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This is all the more essential given the critique of existing pedagogical approaches discussed earlier. Particular pedagogies are likely to foster or hinder the development of particular strategies. Debates often focus on how to teach MC, neglecting the need to explore the strategies which facilitate how it is learned. Furthermore, findings in LLS research have often been limited to college-age students. This study has attempted to bridge these gaps, to paint a picture of how students in one London school tackle the task of memorizing vocabulary in an unfamiliar script. Understanding what they ‘do’ may provide some insight into how their learning can be further enhanced.

Appendix 6.1: Characters selected for memorization think-aloud ●●

Sweat: 汗 hàn

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Grass: 草 ca˘o

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To marry: 婚 huˉn

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Pig: 猪 zhuˉ

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Period of time: 期 qıˉ

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Conclusion to Part Two These chapters in Part Two represent our long-standing preoccupation to link theory to practice, a concern that initially arose when we discovered that one of the reasons pupils were not able to exploit opportunities to work autonomously was their lack of strategies (Grenfell and Harris, 1994, 1995). Carried out in the last decade, the projects we have just described have continued to address this issue. For us, this has meant a commitment to exploring the implications of LLS research for the adolescent pupils in inner-city schools where we were teaching, or subsequently our student-teachers were training to teach. In reviewing the existing research, we have returned constantly to the lack of comparable data on young learners of ML, rather than university students of English. A further theme has been our interest in the sociocultural and the need to go beyond quantitative data. While acknowledging the limitations of think-alouds, we have found them indispensable in revealing the sources of strategies and the important interaction between what we refer to in Bourdieusian terms as a pupil’s dispositional habitus in terms of linguistic capital and the social fields in which they operate. Bourdieu also writes of the linguistic norm (i.e. what is considered ‘correct’, that is orthodox and thus symbolically valued) and we had recourse to this concept as a way of explaining how it was that some bilingual pupils such as Cuong made greater progress in reading than others, and to discover how the linguistic features of the home environment helped many, like Martelle, to develop vital listening skills (or not, of course). When we realized that there was little apparent difference in strategy use between some of the monolingual case study pupils in the control and experimental classes, we realized we had to reanalyse the data. This allowed us to discover the vital role of what we now call affective strategies. Like the bilingual pupils, the more successful monolingual pupils seemed able to ‘tolerate uncertainty’ and ‘monitor comprehension’. This led us to reflect on the possible relationship between the self-reliance that pupils like Alison had developed as a result of her home background, and her autonomy as a language learner. Issues of identity, language status and language norms have, therefore, pervaded our discussions, and we have referred to these from a Bourdieusian perspective as habitus, linguistic capital and linguistic norm. Furthermore, just as we have argued that the psychological must be integrated with the social, so it is clear that it also necessitates qualitative as well as quantitative data collection. That said, we are very aware of the limitations of all of these studies: the small number of pupils and schools involved, the inherent problems of questionnaires with pupils who may want to please (or displease!) and the

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difficulties of think-alouds. Certainly, studies need to be replicated with larger numbers and across school contexts. However, we must also ask ourselves if the SBI was as effective as it could have been, if the teachers were as well prepared as possible and if the school curriculum allowed them to be as autonomous as they intended their pupils to be. It is to these questions that we turn in Part Three.

PART THREE

Applications Introduction Part Two aimed to address issues of theory and practice by bringing LLS to life with illustrations from UK-based research. Chapter 3 described in some detail the possible impact of strategy based instruction (SBI) in terms of such factors as social class. Chapters 4 and 5 took up the story by using qualitative data to highlight the way affective strategies can influence students’ strategies and how the home environment can foster the development of bilingual students’ strategies. Finally, we have seen how the familiar model of SBI, outlined in Chapter 2, can be adjusted to cater for languages with scripts that are unfamiliar to the learner such as Mandarin Chinese. What we have not explored are the various developments that led to the particular model of SBI our projects adopted in the first place. So, we begin the final part of our book by reviewing the background to the model and then raise some recent issues about it. The reason why is because Part Three sets out to consider how the studies we have discussed so far, both our own and others’, can be translated into practice: practice in the classroom (Chapter 7), the extent to which the curriculum can help or hinder the process (Chapter 8) and practice in preparing teachers for that classroom (Chapter 9).

7 Strategy Based Instruction

It’s OK when the teacher shows us new strategies but when I am on my own I do not know which ones to use. (STUDENT)

Introduction Although we have referred throughout the book to studies into strategy instruction, we also observed in the Introduction to Part Two how there is a remarkable lack of detail in them about the actual interventions themselves. In contrast to the research methodology that these studies describe at length, we often know little about the content of the lessons themselves and how decisions as to which strategies to teach and for how long were reached. Plonsky (2011) points out in his meta-analysis of SBI interventions that investigations should explain exactly what they did and why, if they are to be replicated or compared. It is possible, for example, that the SBI might have been more effective if it had been conducted differently. He argues that the lack of investigations into the relative effects of different methods: has left researchers and practitioners to design studies of SBI based largely on convenience, intuition, and/or some level of idiosyncrasy. (998) This chapter allows us to drill deep into and critically review the issues raised by SBI both in the past and in the present and to make links with other themes integral to the book, most notably autonomy. We begin the chapter by discussing the early debates which informed the familiar model of SBI and the conclusions reached. We then focus on the particular question of ‘progression’: in other words, are some skills, such as reading and listening, more suitable than others as a starting point for SBI and how does the teacher

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move on from there? Throughout the chapter, in order to address the lack of readily available teaching materials, we offer some concrete examples of how progression might be achieved within textbooks and even at primary school level, since a major concern throughout the book has been the gap between theory and practice. The chapter concludes by describing more recent issues about the existing model of SBI and we attempt to explore ways in which they might be resolved by a more autonomous approach to SBI. This returns us to our initial interest in LLS that, as we described in Part One, stemmed from observing pupils’ difficulties in operating in an autonomous classroom without the strategies they so badly needed (see Harris, 1997 for further discussion and example of teaching materials).

What we already know… This section starts by discussing some of the initial issues in SBI and moves on to describe the existing model, both when organized around skill areas and where the strategies to be taught are not skill-specific.

The early SBI model From the outset, the goal of an autonomous learner has always been central to research into LLS, and it informed the debate as to whether the SBI should be a separate course or integrated into lessons. It was evident that SBI should not just be a ‘bolt-on’ addition to language lessons, in the form of general study skills, for example. Instead, Henri Holec, a leading figure in the field of autonomy, explained that by integrating SBI into everyday language lessons students have the opportunity to ‘draw upon, experiment with and immediately apply in his language learning what he has learnt in learning to learn’ (1996: 99 our italics). It also informed whether it should be taught explicitly or just embedded in the teachers’ lessons, since it became clear that if they used strategies themselves to illustrate, for example, how to memorize a certain word, it could not be assumed that the pupils would then understand that they could use such strategies for themselves independently (see Grenfell and Harris, 1999 for further discussion). Whether the SBI should be in the L1 or the target language was , and indeed continues to be, the source of some debate, particularly in relation to beginners or to classrooms where learners do not share the same L1. For beginners from the same linguistic background, the use of the L1 is considered justifiable by many, including ourselves, especially in the ‘awareness raising’

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stage, if it means that the learners can reflect on and discuss in some depth their learning, their strategies, their needs and goals. Checklists and posters, however, can be in the target language (see Grenfell and Harris, 1999: 112 for examples). Our discussion in Chapter 4 of the importance of affective strategies and of promoting positive feelings of self-efficacy makes the judicious use of L1 even more justifiable in our view. Yet, Coyle’s study (2007) has shown how even 11-year-old beginner students of German can start to talk about their learning in the L2. The issue is more complex where there is no shared language. In this case, the teacher may be obliged to make extensive use of visual aids and perhaps accept that their beginners, at least, may not be able to discuss their strategies in depth. A further possibility suggested by Chamot (2016) is to develop computer programmes in the learners’ own L1s to enable them to reflect on the strategies they use and learn what those strategies are called in the language of the classroom. In spite of these initial issues, there was an increasing consensus as to the steps needed for SBI (see Rubin et al., 2007). We have seen that these move from raising awareness of the strategies students already use to modelling new ones. These then need extensive scaffolded practice before students can evaluate their strategy use and explore how strategies can be transferred to other tasks. As Gu (forthcoming) points out, the sequence of steps resonates both with the traditional Presentation, Practice, Production model and with Anderson’s skill acquisition theory discussed in Part One. Drawing on Vygotsky and Donato and McCormick (1994), we have always been eager to stress that the SBI should involve collaborative learning at each stage so that working in pairs or groups students could model their own preferred strategies to each other or practise new strategies together. Using their own words and experiences, students can often explain a strategy in a clearer way than the teacher. For example, a pupil like Sam in Chapter 4 who goes for the overall meaning when reading a text but has a tendency to make wild guesses can be paired with a fellow pupil, like Jenny, who is more careful but gets stuck because they believe they have to understand every word. The value of such peer collaboration has not been fully recognized until recently and will be discussed later in the chapter. One of the few examples of practical teaching materials to support the SBI was the Learning Strategy Handbook (Chamot et al., 1999). This was developed to support learners of English as a Second Language in American schools. Its instructional sequence is based on the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA) model, which combines academic content, learner strategies and academic language skills. The book offers illustrations for each of the steps of SBI, as well as explaining the theoretical background underlying it. The SBI is not organized under skill areas but under overarching

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strategies such as ‘using background knowledge’ and ‘making inferences’. It was felt that this was more likely to lead to the transfer of strategies from one task and one skill area to another. Figure 7.1 is an example from a publication by the National Capital Language Resource Center: ‘Sailing the 5 Cs with

FIGURE 7.1   Overarching strategies

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Learning Strategies’ (2004). It is actually taken from the publication’s Student Guide and reflects the concern not only to support teachers in working with SBI but also to offer advice directly to their students. We will return to this publication when we look at the curriculum in the next chapter. However, many of the other SBI approaches, including our STIR project, taught the strategies associated with particular skill areas, like Macaro’s work (2001) which included materials for teaching writing, listening, speaking and memorization strategies. While focusing on a particular skill area has the benefit of simplicity, it is not without its disadvantages as we shall see below.

The problem of progression This section considers the arguments for a skill-based approach to SBI, which seeks to proceed through a logical order from the easiest strategies for the beginner to the hardest strategies for the advanced learner. After exploring a  possible order in relation to skill areas, it moves on first to describing how textbooks have tackled the problem and then to illustrate curriculum models from primary to secondary schooling. It concludes with examples of teaching materials.

Progression through skill areas and through strategies within skill areas What then were some of the issues to emerge from these first explorations of SBI? One problem of the skill area model outlined above is described by Harris (2007). It concerns ‘progression’; in other words, how do you begin SBI with absolute beginners and is there a logical order through which to proceed in order to enable learners to make the maximum amount of progress? Are some skill areas easier to learn and to teach and some more difficult? Moreover, are some skill areas and lengths of intervention more appropriate for beginners and others for the more advanced learner? A related issue is the choice of strategies within a skill area and how many to introduce; for example, although reading strategies that draw on sophisticated grammatical clues are clearly more suitable for advanced learners, other strategies are less readily categorized (Sarigg, 1987). As Plonsky (2011: 998) notes, ‘One important step in designing a program of SI is deciding which and how many strategies to teach’ and selecting strategies that are level-appropriate. This observation resonates with a comment from one of the STIR students: ‘we have like 20 different strategies and I can’t remember any of them’ (Harris, 2007: 197)! The issue of selecting the most appropriate skill and strategies according to the proficiency of the learner was already evident in the conclusions of

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the systematic EPPI1 review of SBI (Hassan et al., 2005). Their findings highlighted both the diverse lengths of time devoted to SBI and the paucity of studies of school-level learners learning modern languages (ML) in the United Kingdom. They concluded that although evidence for the effectiveness of SBI for adult and higher education learners was emerging, the ability level at which SBI is likely to be effective was less clear, making it hard to match SBI to the learners’ needs, stage and proficiency. Thus, cross-study comparison was rendered problematic. Could an intervention have been more effective if the optimal skill area or number of strategies or period of time had been chosen? The failure to address this gap in understanding had not changed six years later as is evident in Plonsky’s (2011) observation above. While his statement may appear harsh, the fact remains that the lack of research leaves us making the best decisions we can, according to what we know about the learning process in general, rather than on any systematic research. For example, Harris et al. (2001) argued that vocabulary memorization strategies might be the most suitable starting point for beginners in a foreign language context, and this is also implied in Macaro’s (2001) overview. Memorization strategies are easy to learn as they are under conscious control because the learner can decide which strategy they wish to use for which item. For similar reasons, at least in a foreign language setting, reading strategies might be the next logical step since again the reader has time to reflect on what they do and do not understand and which strategies will help overcome the problem. In contrast, listening strategies are harder to operate since the activity itself is fleeting. Hence the STIR project taught reading strategies first before moving on to listening strategies. Our conclusions were born out by the results of questionnaires completed by the project pupils. Forty-six per cent reported finding listening strategies the hardest compared to 13 per cent who found reading hardest (41 per cent reported that there was no difference). Their comments included: ‘It’s hard to use listening strategies because you can’t go back to the words you don’t understand’ and: ‘the people speak too fast to use strategies’. However the order may be different in a second language setting. With constant exposure to the spoken language, listening strategies may be more relevant and easier to operationalize, since there are more opportunities to use them than reading strategies. Arguably, speaking strategies are the hardest of all for the learner in a foreign language context since they have to not only to use strategies to understand the input but also find strategies to overcome gaps in their linguistic repertoire: all in a space of seconds (Cohen, Weaver and Li, 1998). Although Plonsky’s review found that SBI seems to be more effective in reading, vocabulary, pronunciation and writing than listening and grammar, SBI in speaking strategies was also found to be effective. Again, there may be differences according to whether the context is ‘foreign’ or

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second language learning, indeed, he notes the advantage found for SBI in second over foreign language contexts (2011: 1014). Of course, much will depend on how the skill is taught and we have already observed the lack of explanation about the length and nature of the practice phases of the SBI. Furthermore, precise calculations are not possible and teachers have to adapt and be responsive to their students. For example, in the description of the STIR project in the introduction to Part Two, we explained how we had to make the practice step simpler and increase the scaffolding in order to respond to the students’ dwindling enthusiasm. Along with our own work (Grenfell and Harris, 1999; Harris, 1997; Harris et al., 2001), Macaro (2001) and Graham and Macaro (2007) are some of the few researchers to include in their work examples of SBI materials they have used. They are also some of the few to have explored the value of ‘high’ and ‘low’ scaffolding in the practice step (Graham, 2007). We believe that sharing materials as in the recently launched IRIS project, the repository of data collection Instruments for Research into Second language learning and teaching (Marsden, Mackey and Plonsky, 2016), will be particularly valuable for SBI. A range of teaching materials including for affective strategies can be found in Chamot and Harris (forthcoming). In the argument stated above for a starting point where one set of strategies are introduced first, and others left till later, we are, in effect, proposing a pragmatic ‘one size fits all’ approach. This raises the question of differentiation: how to cater for each individual’s different needs, approaches to learning and proficiency levels within one classroom. We will return to this issue when we explore the most recent criticisms of the SBI model. First, however, we turn to the issue of integrating SBI into the textbook for again it raises the issue of progression.

Progression in skill areas: The textbook The SBI in the textbook to which Vee contributed (Dzuilka-Heywood and Kennedy, 2015) is a clear example of the pragmatic approach described by Plonsky (2011). The lack of studies to compare the effectiveness of different designs and lengths of SBI lessons meant that we had to proceed according to a mixture of experience, intuition and the few studies that were available. Vee, along with her colleague Kate Scappaticci, knew that for many teachers textbooks are a useful resource in their teaching and our involvement in a new textbook would provide an opportunity to introduce them to SBI. So, they accepted the brief of writing a series of ‘strategy boxes’ that would be integrated into the pages of the French textbook Allez (2015) to teach pupils the strategies they needed to tackle the various activities in the book. The

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books were to cover the first years of learning French so we were immediately confronted with the lack of relevant research as to which skill areas and which strategies to concentrate on first and how many. Of course, they would link the strategies directly to the tasks in the coursebook but were some types of tasks more suitable for exploitation than others? A number of international publishers of ELT student books have incorporated language learner strategies for EFL college learners in North America, Asia and the Middle East (see, for example, Fragiadakis and Maurer, 2005). There have also been publications for ESL learning (see, for example, Gunning et al., 2002). However, until recently, the inclusion of SBI materials for teaching European languages in a foreign language context was less common in textbooks in England. So, with the Allez textbook, it felt like starting from scratch, since there was a need to identify which tasks to focus on in Book 1 (beginners ages 11–12 years) and which in Book 2 (12–13 years) and there was only to be one focus or ‘box’ on the page for strategy development per unit. Our intent was also to build in opportunities to regularly recycle the strategies since pupils would need carefully scaffolded practice before they could operationalize them and considerable support in transferring them from one activity to another. In line with the earlier discussion, Book One started with memorization strategies and then moved on to what seemed to be the simpler reading strategies such as looking at pictures and skipping unfamiliar words. Although there was no concrete evidence from SBI studies, it was decided to leave prefix and suffix clues to Book Two, since these appeared to us to imply a greater level of knowledge. While some speaking strategies were introduced in Book One, it was only in the final chapters and using the strategies that seemed to us to be the most basic, such as using ‘hesitation devices’ and ‘asking for help’. Book 2 recycled all the strategies in Book One and added under speaking strategies, for example, ‘circumlocution’. The assumption was that pupils at the earlier stage in their learning in Book One would not have a sufficiently large repertoire to be able to describe an object or a person if they did not know the exact word. The final chapters of Book 2 introduced what were termed ‘super strategies’. These were intended to recycle all the strategies introduced so far and to encourage transfer by grouping them into central strategies that cut across skill areas, similar to the overarching strategies in Chamot’s handbook, for example: ‘applying patterns’. On reflection, as we shall discuss later in the chapter, an alternative starting point would have been one of the overarching strategies like ‘use of prior knowledge’ from the Learning Strategy Handbook (Chamot et al., 1999). It should be evident from this description that decisions, although not ‘idiosyncratic’ in Plonksy’s words, nevertheless were based on our understanding of the learning process rather than on concrete research evidence into SBI.

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Similar decisions were faced by the team in Québec working on Progression of Learning English as a Second Language for elementary school children (2009) and Progression of Learning at the Secondary Level: English as a Second Language Core Programs (2010): both published by the Ministry of Education for Education, Leisure and Sport. That is not to imply that these teaching materials, like those in the Allez textbook, are without value – on the contrary. Rather, we have chosen to include examples in Chapter 4 and below both to address the lack of concrete illustrations of teaching materials and to inspire studies that might either confirm or question the decisions made or rather modify them, according to foreign or second language contexts, for example.

Progression in skill areas: From primary to secondary Although initially there was some doubt about whether strategies could be taught to primary school pupils, studies by Gu in Singapore (2007) and Gunning and Oxford (2014) in Canada, for example, suggest that even young children can benefit from SBI. As we saw in Chapter 4 (see Tables 4.1 and 4.2 from the Ministry of Education for Education, Leisure and Sport, 2009, 2010), progression in relation to affective strategies moves from ‘risk taking’ in the earlier cycles simply by using short strings of words and expressions to communicate in English to employing functional language that is frequently used in class by cycle three. Table 7.1 is an extract focusing on Cognitive Strategies from Progression of Learning at the Secondary Level: English as a Second Language Core Programs (2010). Unlike Allez (Dzuilka-Heywood and Kennedy, 2015), the cognitive strategies are mostly grouped under overarching headings rather than skill areas, like those illustrated earlier in the National Capital Language Resource Center’s Learner’s Guide to Using Strategies for a Purpose (2004): for example, ‘use of prior knowledge’. Differences according to level include ‘prediction’ which initially is based just on the topic and pictures and then moves on to considering the title and glancing through the text. We include the extract not only because it shows progression from the elementary school (from 6 to 12 year old and marked as ‘E’) from the elementary school to secondary school. It also shows progression through increasing independence by an arrow indicating that the student may need teacher guidance initially but, by the end of the year, can apply and reinvest the new knowledge. We may or may not agree, for example, that ‘using a newly learned item in a new context’ (1.11) is more complex than ‘semantic mapping’ (1.12) since much depends on the context and the complexity of the language itself. What is important is to open the debate: are there some skills and strategies that are easier than

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TABLE 7.1  Progression in cognitive strategies from elementary to secondary Strategies Secondary

★ Student applies knowledge by the end of the school year. Student reinvests knowledge. E: The letter E indicates this was introduced in Elementary school

Elementary

→ Student constructs knowledge with teacher guidance.

C. Cognitive Strategies  Strategies used to manipulate and interact with the material to be learned.

Cycle One

Cycle Two

1

3

4





2

1. List of cognitive strategies 1.1. Activate prior knowledge a. Links new information to what is already known

E



1.2. Compare a. Notes significant similarities and differences





1.7. Recombine a. Constructs a meaningful sentence by putting together known words and expressions in a new way





1.11. Transfer a. Uses a newly learned item in a new context 1.12. Use semantic mapping a. Groups ideas in meaningful clusters to visually represent relationships between concepts













2. Self-regulation of cognitive strategies a. Uses self-evaluation means to reflect on the effectiveness of a specific cognitive strategy (e.g. self-evaluation grid, class discussion) b. Identifies the strategies c. Selects which ones to use for a given task d. Uses them appropriately e. Analyses their effectiveness f.  Makes necessary adjustments

E

5

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others or does it depend on the task and the context? The progression from teacher guidance to autonomy also raises issues about a further aspect of progression that we wish to explore in the next section, namely progression in independence, with students not only adding new strategies to their repertoire but becoming more and more able to manage an inventory of communication and learning strategies autonomously through self-evaluation of their strategies. Already, we can see how even very young students can be prepared to start engaging with the process of self-assessment through some concrete teaching materials like those in the Handbook on Developing Metacognitive Strategies with First Year Elementary Cycle One ESL Students (2007). Albeit simple, students use smiley faces to evaluate how well they used a particular strategy in a lesson, or how well they think they will use it in the next lesson. The same smiley faces are used for self-evaluation over the period as a whole. We turn now to provide more examples of teaching materials, since many of these are now more readily available than when we were planning the STIR project and we would have very much welcomed the opportunity to adapt them to our pupils.

Progression within teaching materials: From primary school onwards Materials for very young learners Many of the innovative materials for adjusting SBI to young learners’ personality and needs have been developed by Gunning, Lalonde and Watts (2006, 2007) and Gunning et al. (2001, 2002). Simple strategies are presented on flashcards like those in Figure 7.2 for ‘Use what you know’, to help them make the most of their limited linguistic repertoire (Ministry for Education, Leisure and Sport, 2007). Similar posters may be displayed round the classroom and strategies given simpler names: for example, the strategy of ‘Using circumlocution’ is given the name ‘Say it in a different way’. Figure 7.3 shows the ‘strategy wheel’ with these simple names of strategies (from Gunning et al., 2002). Note too how ‘Check my own work’ is already fostering self-assessment. Robbins (2016) used cuddly mascots such as ‘Monitoring Monkey’ and ‘Planning Panda’ to make the strategies more accessible to younger learners. Based on a picture book (Shannon 1999) about a little boy called David who gets into trouble at school, ‘Monitoring Monkey’ advises David to ‘stop and think’ about his behaviour before he acts. The monkey becomes part and parcel of everyday classroom life. Having encountered this experience over a long period of time in relation to behaviour, pupils then quickly adapted to the

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When the teacher displays this flashcard, students should respond by using their personal repertoire of words and short expressions for familiar situations. For example, students should say, “I’m not finished,” or “Thank you,” or “No glue,” as required (C2).

FIGURE 7.2   Flashcard for ‘Use what you know’

FIGURE 7.3   Strategy wheel Source: Gunning et al. (2002).

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idea of monitoring their work. These simple activities can form an invaluable early basis for future SBI.

Materials from primary to secondary Foreign Language Learning Strategy Instruction: A Teachers’ Guide (PsaltouJoycey, 2015) is similarly inventive in adapting SBI to the full age range. Published in 2015, it incorporates recent developments in SBI such as the importance of affective and cultural studies, which, as we saw in Chapter 4, have been somewhat neglected in the past. Part One of the guide provides a clear and concise theoretical background to SBI and Part Two offers a wealth of useful materials from which teacher can choose from primary through to lower secondary levels. A major advantage is that the guide is linked to the main coursebooks in Greece, with references to specific activities on specific pages. This means that the SBI can be fully integrated into everyday lessons and much of it can be conducted in the target language. This is further fostered by useful checklists in the L2, with accompanying visuals and simple materials such as for mind maps. The link to enable teachers to embed SBI in everyday classroom activities is also facilitated by the same headings throughout so that they can readily select the most appropriate activity. For example, each activity has an easy-to-remember title, then the strategies involved (which are sometimes ‘unpacked’) and then move on to the level, timing and the skills, as in the example in Figure 7.4. This introduction is followed by a brief summary of the activity, then the rationale that should be shared with the pupils. The final headings are in line with the steps of the SBI cycle: namely Modelling, Practice, Evaluation and Expansion/Transfer. Figure 7.4 includes an extract from the type of the card used for ‘modelling’ a cultural understanding strategy. Note that before providing the answer to ‘What went wrong?’ the teacher is advised to give learners useful prompts, such as ‘Why are we told….?’ ‘Is it significant or a distraction?’. This ‘noticing’ how people behave (selective attention) and reflecting on the reasons why is a key strategy to develop. Note too how a meaningful reading opportunity is provided by the activity being in the target language. At times there seems to be some overlap between strategies and what might be considered ‘skills’ by some. For example, ‘summarizing’ is certainly a useful skill for ‘understanding and memorizing key points from lessons in different school subjects such as History’ (Psaltou-Joycey, 2015: 138) but may not be directly involved in actually learning a language, other than to show the teacher that a paragraph, chapter or film has been understood. On the other hand, understanding exactly what is involved in the task of creating a

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Strategy name: empathising with others/developing cultural understanding (social) Assisting strategies: making comparisons (cognitive), guessing intelligently by using non-linguistic clues (compensation) Language level: B1 Skills practised: speaking, reading Time of activity: 15 min Yiannis met Hiro at University. They became friends and Hiro invited him to his home in Japan. Yiannis brought 12 white roses for Hiro’s mum and a tie for his dad. The tie was not wrapped; it was in a Duty Free bag. He gave the roses with his left hand and the tie with his right hand. Surprisingly, Hiro’s Mum and Dad seemed displeased and didn’t smile.

What went wrong? http://www.1worldglobalgifts.com/japangiftgivingetiquette.htm Answer: White for the Japanese means death and white flowers are not a good gift. Gifts should be wrapped and given with both hands to show respect.

FIGURE 7.4   Materials for teaching cultural awareness strategies Source: Psaltou-Joycey (2015). This material was created by Zoe Kantaridou and Iris Papadopoulou.

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successful summary can be extremely helpful in enabling students to function autonomously. And, it is here that we turn to the most recent critical analysis of SBI.

Self-regulated learning and SBI Echoing our own longstanding preoccupation with autonomy, Gu (2015, forthcoming) explains that to date much of the focus in LLS research has been on the ‘successful’ learner with their ideal strategies and on the outcomes of SBI in terms of performance. We may therefore have neglected the process: the learner as a communicator, a self-regulated person who can take charge of their own destiny but is also committed to the wellbeing of others. The link to communication has some resonance with our own observations in 1999. We explained that, if the pupil is faced with a native speaker, the teacher cannot know what it is that they will want to say. Nor can they know what their pupils will choose to read. For the learner to truly relish the power and joy of being able to use another language to express themselves, to adopt a different identity, they have to be able to cope with the language on their own. In other words, in order to be an autonomous language user, the learner had to be an autonomous language learner. This preoccupation of our’s lies behind the student quote at the start of the chapter. However hard we had tried and however careful we had been to withdraw the scaffolding gradually, we had not prepared this student to learn and to use the language independently. Gu goes on to contrast the familiar model of SBI with a different to approach to strategy instruction, namely Strategic Content Learning (SCL). The former, he argued, is a top-down approach where the teacher, as expert, determines the strategies on offer and teaches them. SCL is a bottom-up approach where strategies arise directly from each task and where teacher and learner engage in joint problem solving to identify task demands and the most appropriate strategies to meet them. Let us explore the thinking behind this in more detail, not least because it challenges the issue of progression discussed so far.

The Strategic Content Approach, Self-Regulated Learning and SBI As with other developments in the overall field of education, it can take time for the new approaches to be applied to second and foreign language contexts. In her article ‘Individualising Instruction in Self-Regulated Learning’

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(2002), Butler explains how the cross-curriculum approach of SCL is task focused, student-centred and with the central concern of self-regulation. She begins by describing how Nick, a 10th grade student, can feel swamped by the many demands of assignments to be completed across the school curriculum: from history projects to be undertaken to maths homework to be handed in the next day. She discusses how SCL might be able to help him manage his own learning. There are, of course, links here to the CALLA model discussed earlier which also focuses on content, and to Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) which will be explored in the next chapter, but it is worth highlighting what is distinctive about this approach, since it returns us to our goal of learner autonomy described in Chapter 2. It also returns us to the cognitive theory and sociocultural perspective underlying SBI that we discussed at the end of Chapter 2. Butler explains how SCL instructional principles seek to integrate constructivist and sociocultural theories. Using her descriptions, we might at first argue that such an approach already underlies much of our familiar SBI cycle. The constructivist model is evident in its emphasis on integrating students’ prior knowledge with their new experiences and understandings. Hence, in the awareness-raising step, learners construct their understanding of strategies first by directly experiencing the existing strategies they use to tackle a task, and then by reflecting on them and their beliefs about language learning. They are active in integrating information about the new strategies modelled in step two into these understandings and in step three they practise using them for themselves, until finally they have become sufficiently proceduralized to be able to transfer them to new tasks. At first sight, the sociocultural model also appears to be incorporated, for example, through the Vygotskyan emphasis on the gradual withdrawal of the scaffolding. Furthermore, even though other studies have not always implemented it, we have always highlighted (Grenfell and Harris, 1999) the importance of collaborative pair and group work where students make use of their own words and other cultural tools to show each other or the teacher how they use a particular strategy or its value. They thus co-construct a common language for shared experiences. Grounded in the principles of selfregulation, there are, however, four other features of the SCL approach that, although perhaps recognized in principle, need translating into practice. The first is to enable learners to identify their own goals, and we have already referred in Chapter 3 to Holliday’s criticism (2003) that teachers impose an imperialist SBI based on their own values rather than encouraging students to choose strategies appropriate to their own goals and the tasks they face. Related to that, is the second significant feature which is to tie strategies directly to the task in hand. Although, to some extent, this is already evident in a number of criticisms of the use of Oxford’s SILL (Dörnyei, 2005), what

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is new is the emphasis on helping students to identify for themselves the cues that determine the demands of the task and the strategies that may be needed. What is possibly even less familiar is the third aspect: a greater focus on the criteria for successful performance of the task and then, once it is completed, on self-assessment by comparing outcomes to criteria and reflecting on successful and less effective approaches. The fourth and perhaps most important aspect of SCL is that each step allows the students to work together first, getting as far as they can independently and then receiving support and feedback from the teacher. Perhaps one way to sum up the difference is to contrast it with our earlier discussion about progression. Butler stresses (2002: 84) that in SCL: ‘the primary emphasis is not on teaching predefined strategies for completing academic tasks’. Instead: ‘teachers and students work  collaboratively to find “solutions” (i.e. strategies) that meet task demands’. What then can we take from these two approaches? Are they in direct opposition to each other? Can and even should they be integrated? Let’s explore how these features may be translated into a cycle or sequence of steps. In offering some tentative ideas for the way forward, we are not pretending that we have arrived at the ideal model for SBI (if such a thing ever existed). Rather it is in the hopes that others will take up the challenge and develop the ideas further.

Integrating SBI with SCL: An Integrated Strategy Based Instruction (ISBI) model In contrast to Plonsky’s observation about the lack of detail of SBI interventions, we are able to draw on several studies in our attempt to integrate the two approaches. Graham, Harris and Mason (2005) provide a lengthy explanation of their SCL project to support third grade struggling writers, albeit that it took place in an L1 context. Butler (2002) includes practical suggestions for tackling differentiation, since she recognizes the difficulty of supporting each individual learner within their own zone of proximal development in a class of thirty students. Her suggestions range from group discussions, individualized teacher feedback and reflections on student response to that feedback. Indeed she includes a very helpful table showing how SCL general instructional principles can be adapted for individual instruction, small group instruction and whole class interaction. We address the issue of differentiation throughout the rest of the chapter, since catering for individual learning pathways is a ‘characteristic of a learner-centred classroom’ (Chamot 2012: 120). Here, we simply note that by encouraging learners to

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reflect on how they, as an individual, learn and the strategies that do and do not work for them, we are already going some way towards meeting their needs. Our attempt to integrate the two models is also informed by the descriptions of SBI materials for teaching French to be found in Graham and Macaro (2007), and we can find helpful descriptions of SBI in an EFL context in Nguyen’s and Gu’s study (2013) of university students in Vietnam. They found that, as well as improving their ability to plan and evaluate a writing task, taskspecific metacognitive self-regulation improved both learners’ autonomy and their writing ability. We will also draw on the work of Joan Rubin (2015) in our attempt to integrate the approaches. Table 7.2 summarizes the main steps in our model, which we will now describe in some detail.

TABLE 7.2  Summary of ISBI 1 Task purpose/goal setting: Goals of learning a language and/or performing a particular task are : • discussed by students • shared with teacher 2 Task classification and criteria: The nature of the task and the criteria for its successful performance are: • discussed by students • shared with teacher leading to feedback 3 Awareness raising and modelling • Students engage in first attempt at task • Demands of task and possible useful strategies discussed by students • Shared with teacher leading to feedback and modelling of possible additional strategies that might help meet the criteria and/or individual students’ needs • Students may wish to attempt the task again 4 Collaborative practice • With scaffolding • Without scaffolding 5 Evaluation • Self-assessment • Task performance evaluated by students • Teacher feedback may include performance, how to revise ineffective approaches, affective responses 6 Transfer and expansion • Discussed by students • Feedback and extension by teacher

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Task purpose/goal setting Let’s start with the question of goal setting and task analysis, essential elements of self-regulation. Task purpose (‘Why do I want to achieve a particular goal?’) is relevant particularly for the more mature or more motivated student whose reasons for learning a language may be professional, social or personal. In the case of those children who might have no wish to learn the language, it may be vital to provide an opportunity to talk about their reasons, which may well be linked with affective factors arising from poor perception of their own self-efficacy. To show that setting goals is an everyday activity, Rubin (2015) suggests that the teacher give an example of resolving to take a regular physical exercise class since this involves a goal, how to measure it and a time frame. Each of these is relevant not only to general goal setting (whether social or vocational) but also to each specific task, where performance criteria and time frames will also apply. Note that the more autonomously the classroom is set up, the more room there is for negotiating on which task to work and for providing the necessary differentiated activities. For adults and children alike, identifying what they hope to achieve will help them to select the tasks and the strategic approach that is most helpful for them.

Task classification and criteria Clearly the stages overlap. For particular tasks they aim to complete, students can work in pairs or groups to classify the task and understand what counts as successful task completion, as discussed earlier in relation to the ‘summarising’ in the Teachers’ Guide (Psaltou-Joycey, 2015). For a task like a writing assignment, they can ask themselves, ‘what makes for an outstanding narrative or convincing argument?’ or, as we have seen in the case of memorizing vocabulary ‘what does “knowing a word” mean (pronunciation? meaning? gender?)?’ Students can submit to the teacher for feedback their own or their group’s list of criteria for successful task completion or the teacher simply listens carefully, where necessary extending and elaborating the possible criteria. Rubin argues that Task Classification is relevant to all students since it asks them to draw on what they already know: for example, the genre (structure of a newscast compared to an advert), or the characteristics of language used (tenses, type of verbs), or the kinds of vocabulary to be expected in a job interview, for example.

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Awareness raising and modelling Having engaged in task analysis, the students embark on an initial attempt at the task itself, sharing with their peers the strategies they use, the difficulties encountered and trying out alternative strategies if they feel it might help them complete the task. When they feedback to the teacher, s/he may model additional strategies that might help overcome the problems or enable the students to match the task criteria more fully or s/he helps them identify the strategies that they personally need. So, again the task is centre stage. It is possibly for this reason that, in contrast to CALLA, the SCL model offers immediate gratification. Students can see straightaway how the strategies can help them and are therefore more likely to continue experimenting with them. They can then attempt the task again in the light of the new strategies they have learned.

Collaborative practice As with the familiar SBI model, practice can be provided by offering similar tasks and gradually withdrawing the scaffolding. In our ISBI model, however, more of the emphasis is placed on the benefits of collaborative practice so that students share with each other the responsibility for matching task, strategies and successful performance. This frees the teacher up from whole class instruction and provides the ideal context for individual or group support.

Evaluation We have already seen earlier how self-evaluation can be encouraged even with very young pupils through simple methods like ‘smiley faces’. The Assessment for Learning (AfL) approach in England also seeks to enable students to assess their own work. Note, however, the difference between self-assessment and self-evaluation, the latter being on a deeper level as we shall see. In AfL, with practice and guidance, students can assess each other’s work, having first examined a ‘good’ and ‘weak’ assignment and brainstormed the defining features of each with the teacher. Teacher feedback at this stage need not be complex. A simple approach was developed by one of my student teachers. Once the students had agreed on a list of strategies for checking written work and numbered them, she could then indicate next to any errors on their written assignment the number of the relevant strategy. For example, if one of the aims is grammatical accuracy and a word if misspelled, she simply indicated the number for ‘does it look right?’

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Where the error concerned a missing verb, she indicated the number for ‘does it make sense?’ Other strategies might focus on the planning process or the style. SCL goes a step further and describes how learners can assess themselves by comparing their performance against the task criteria they themselves identified, spotting any ‘gaps’ and tackling the problem. For example, Butler (2002) explains a form students completed, where they described the particular assignment in the first column, in the second, they identified the strategies they thought would help them tackle it, in the third they interpreted teacher feedback in the light of the specific criteria and in the fourth how they would improve their next piece of work. Students should receive feedback not only on their performance but also on their self-monitoring. Butler points out that they need to learn to associate their improved performance with purposeful strategy use and above all with a sense of self-efficacy, self-confidence and control over their own learning. We have already illustrated in Chapter 4 the type of personalized feedback on their learning approaches and affective strategies that could help Jenny and Sam. In Table 7.3, we offer a slightly more complex form in which the learner identifies ineffective approaches they took and can direct the teacher to the kind of feedback they would find useful. On a simple level, the teacher can also stop the class mid-task and ask them to feedback on the strategies they are already using and if they are or are not working for them. Without this, we may simply return to the focus on outcome and product rather than the goal of autonomy we have described. We turn now to the final step of ‘transfer’, although there are no rigid rules about the steps of the cycle and at times, the teacher may choose to address it before the evaluation stage so that students are in a better position to appreciate the benefits of any new strategies that they have tried.

TABLE 7.3  Form for self-evaluation and feedback Task

Criteria

Which criteria I have met best and why including strategies that helped me

Which criteria I have met least well and why including strategies that did not help me

The mark/ comments I would give myself

What I would like the teacher’s feedback to help me with including my feelings about my work

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Transfer The final step to encourage transfer is particularly important to avoid the danger that students’ understanding is limited to a particular task, for, as Gu (forthcoming) warns, there is a danger that in focusing so much on a task, opportunities for transfer get overlooked. It again begins with the students themselves identifying other kinds of tasks where the strategies might be useful. Students may initially need support in seeing, for example, that many reading strategies can also be transferred to listening tasks. They may also struggle to see how L2 strategies can be useful for L1 tasks, for example, inferring meaning can be just as useful for a simple L2 text as for understanding a nineteenth-century L1 poem. Again, however, it is the students who lead the process so that they work out their own solution to the problems. Such a task-focused approach has much to recommend it, the constant focus on the learner so that they tackle issues for themselves first before the intervention of the teacher. The way the SBI arises directly out of everyday classroom tasks is more likely to achieve the true integration to which Holec (1996) referred and which allows students to perceive the immediate relevance of the SBI. Given our discussion in Chapter 3 of the value, particularly for boys, of explicit discussion of what and why they are learning and how to approach it and the benefit of developing greater skills of self-regulation (Watkins, 2007), it has much to offer. Yet, we cannot conclude this chapter without returning to our starting point of progression and considering how even within that we can offer differentiated pathways, since we have a commitment to addressing teachers’ realities, especially of young learners in inner-city schools.

The ISBI model and progression To what extent does this ISBI model answer our question about progression? And, how can each learner be led gradually towards increasing autonomy so that they are able to use both the language and appropriate strategies independently? We would argue that, with beginners, there has to be a starting point for any SBI as it simply would not be possible to analyse each task all the time in every lesson. This may be particularly relevant in England where communicative competence does not lie truly at the heart of the curriculum, especially with 11–16-year-old learners. Teachers often follow an unadventurous textbook much of the time and whole class teaching predominates. Based, at best, on the Presentation-Practice-Production model, a one-hour lesson is often broken down into various mini tasks: the oral introduction of some items of vocabulary or a grammar point, a whole class

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listening comprehension, a role-play in pairs to practise the new language and a written exercise. This familiar scenario raises two issues. First, students and teachers might find it difficult and disheartening to keep stopping the lesson to analyse each mini task for the performance criteria and the strategies required. Second, students have little opportunity to work independently or in groups. Of course, in an ideal world, teachers would adopt a less traditional, rigid, pedagogy but they, like their students, may need support in embracing change. A possible solution is to return almost to where we started all those years ago when we thought it might be helpful to establish gradual steps on a continuum to developing an autonomous classroom. Table 7.4 is adapted from Harris (1996), where we drew on various teachers’ experiences of fostering

TABLE 7.4  Steps to autonomous classroom Choice of:

Level 1

Level 4

Goals and outcomes

Teacher determines project topic but pupils can choose creative outcome according to their goals and can discuss possible criteria

Pupils determine what they are going to learn, why and the performance criteria, with some feedback from teacher

Pace and tasks

Pupils have some control over pace and tasks but within time constraint of project. They share possible strategies for the tasks

Pupils identify time scale to meet their goals and appropriate tasks

Materials

Pupils choose from a limited range of differentiated materials supplied by the teacher

Pupils bring in or select from a wide range of materials according to their goals. They decide on how they want to work on the materials

Assessment criteria

Pupils begin to assess outcomes but with teacher support

Pupils evaluate outcomes against their own previously established criteria and own progress and identify the feedback they would like from teacher

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a more autonomous classroom to show how learners could meet Holec’s criteria of autonomy (1996) by shifting from the teacher having control over the choice of aims, outcomes, materials, tasks, pace and homework to the students themselves taking responsibility for such decisions. Interestingly, this is in line Chamot’s proposals for differentiation (2012) which give students choice over content, process and/or product as well as opportunities to reflect on how they learn. The table and the description below represent an initial attempt to integrate SCL principles and activities into our original approach so that teachers can begin at a point where they feel most comfortable. Readers may want to reflect on what might constitute the intermediate levels 2 and 3 in the table. Here we focus just on the first column. At the very simplest end of the continuum, the first step would be to identify a long-term (and hopefully) communicative goal and to break this down into a series of mini tasks. Note how even at this stage, initial lessons could begin with the general Goal Setting described earlier, giving learners the opportunity either to express their personal goals or indeed to share why they are reluctant to learn a new language. This could be followed by a discussion of what it means to communicate in another language and the link to autonomy. Narrowing the focus down even further, the teacher could offer students a choice of either a personal or group creative outcome to be accomplished by the end of several weeks. The outcome, tasks and accompanying materials can be differentiated to offer more or less scaffolding (for a fuller discussion see Chamot, 2012). Their choice could be determined either by the level of difficulty and/or the learners’ needs and interests and groups could be set up accordingly. For example, for the topic of ‘hobbies’, they could create a rap, a cartoon, or a real or imaginary magazine interview with the Queen/a celebrity etc. Even at this stage, students might discuss the criteria for their particular chosen outcome. They could also work together to identify the vocabulary needed, sharing their existing memorization strategies with subsequent feedback from the teacher. Pupils can then move on to reading and listening to similar interviews or cartoons to those they envisage as their project outcome and sharing the strategies for going about such tasks. Here, they could have some say in selecting the materials that fit their needs or interests and finally in assessing the outcomes. Such a first step would give them time to assimilate various groups of strategies a bit at a time (in this case memorisation and reading strategies) and at their own pace. The aim would be that over the course of the year, they would take more and more control over the choice of aims, outcomes and tasks, their increasing repertoire of strategies allowing them to tackle them. While keeping the same steps on the continuum, an alternative to the skillsbased model above offers even greater flexibility because the starting point is one of the overarching strategies: ‘Use of prior knowledge’, for example. The

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advantages here are that it directly validates each individual student’s existing understandings and that they can use the same strategy across a number of skill areas all leading towards their chosen outcome. For example, ‘prior knowledge’ could be used to spot cognates in the vocabulary to be learned. Using these cognates and their existing knowledge of the world could help them complete the reading and listening comprehension activities and when they come to speaking, they could even try saying the word in their L1 but with an L2 accent! Having ensured sufficient practice in this strategy, they might move on to ‘Using your senses’. Here, they could add to their stock of strategies for memorizing vocabulary (e.g. by colouring articles according to gender, and by putting the months of the year to a familiar tune). They could ‘visualise’ whatever is described in the reading or listening comprehension and could use mime and gesture to make themselves understood in a speaking task. Whichever approach is adopted, opportunities need to be provided for learners to work on their own ‘individual agendas’ of tasks (Chamot, 2012: 125) to provide practice in content, language or strategies, either when they have finished a task before their peers or for homework or when the teacher provides class time. We should not conclude this chapter without mentioning Coyle’s study, even though her starting point is somewhat different. She ‘conceptualises strategic behavior as growing out of the learning context’ (2007: 76). A collaborative classroom culture is established where teacher and learners have shared goals, where lessons are conducted in the target language with both the teacher and fellow students scaffolding the learning, and opportunities are fostered for creative and personalized language use. We are again reminded that the key focus should not be to provide a quick fix, bolt-on addition to the classroom, covering a certain number of strategies in a given time. Rather, it should be to develop a more strategic classroom with communication at its heart: one in which the teacher responds to the students’ goals and needs, even at the mundane level of encouraging them throughout every task with comments such as ‘how did you work that out?’ to ‘how could you work that out?’. Such a classroom would be characterized by constant peer collaboration and with the teacher as facilitator rather than ring-master. Strategies are more than a set of ‘tips’ to aid learning. They need to be viewed as both processorientated, and intimately connected with a whole set of individual learner differences. As Griffiths (2013: 166–167) argues: It is not possible to provide a pre-set formula for effective orchestration. Each learner needs to experiment for him/her self to determine the combination which produces the best results given the unique blend of individual, situational and target variables.

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In summary… In this chapter, we have explored the reasons why LLS research developed a model of explicit strategy instruction embedded in everyday classroom lessons. We have identified some of the issues that emerge in relation to progression and some ways in which they are tackled in textbook materials and teachers’ guides including at primary level. We moved on to consider critically the familiar SBI model but offered an exploratory suggestion as to how the new perspectives on strategy instruction could be integrated into it, so that autonomy would be at its very heart. The chapter concluded by returning to the issue of progression, recognizing the realities of working with beginners. What we have suggested throughout the book so far is that the ‘inner voice’ in language learning plays a crucial role in final linguistic achievement. Such a voice is highly individualistic. Overly prescriptive national curricula, and associated initiatives, can be a hindrance rather than a help in the development of such a voice. Time is necessary for students’ voice to be formed, expressed, heard and responded to. Such a commitment is all the more demanding for teachers if located within a national curriculum structure with set targets against which both learning and teaching are evaluated (the latter being used to evaluate teachers’ competence and even set their salary levels). Indeed, this may be one reason why, in England at least, we do not seem to have moved forward a great deal from our earlier discussions in the 1990s about autonomy. We have argued throughout for an approach to SBI, conceptualized less in terms of a training to adopt learning behaviours to maximize short-term achievement, and more as a way of nurturing the learners’ own inner voice, or thinking about their learning. Such an approach raises questions about curricula, syllabuses and teacher education – both pre-service and in-service. It is to these topics now we turn in the final chapters of the book.

8 Shaping Learning: Curricula and Syllabuses

C

learly, what is taught in classrooms and how it is taught are heavily influenced by national curricula and exam syllabuses. In terms of the sociocultural perspective offered by Bourdieu, it is necessary to see what occurs in the classroom as being shaped by local field contexts and, ultimately, the field of power itself through the agencies of government. Hence, this chapter considers the tensions in shaping language learning through policy structure and content, and the necessary rationale and principles enshrined within them. A range of examples is included from different national contexts highlighting the way a strategic view of language teaching complements or clashes with the various policy approaches. The results of this discussion are sometimes surprising. The Key Stage 3 Strategy for Modern Foreign Languages (DfES, 2003a,b) in the United Kingdom is used as an exemplar of both the cognitive approach and language learner strategies being instituted in a formal national curriculum innovation. Both its structure and content are examined in the light of the principles addressed in Part One. The chapter also provides the backdrop for a further aspect of our empirical research, namely the transfer of strategies between L1 and L2. The realities of making this possible in the classroom are discussed in the next chapter. This chapter focuses on policies and syllabuses themselves in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. It concludes by moving beyond European languages and examining curriculum guides for Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Punjabi and Tamil.

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Introduction A key element of this book has been that it is not enough simply to see language learner strategies (LLSs) as a complementary technique: something that can be added to classroom teaching and learning in order to aid pedagogy. Rather LLSs imply a radical approach to language teaching methodology. In terms of definitions, curricula and syllabuses offer a way of shaping what is to be covered, possibly in what sequence, and the range of learning components to be addressed. They thus raise some similar issues to those discussed in relation to progression in SBI in Chapter 7, but here in the wider and often prescriptive context of school, local or government control. In total, they should offer a ‘scaffolding structure’ to learning and teaching. However, curricula and syllabuses should not simply be seen as an arbitrary ‘shopping list’; rather, they enshrine the very principles of language learning to which we subscribe. In this chapter, we first consider just what is a language curriculum or syllabus before offering various examples of them, and examine the ways in which language learner strategies may (or may not) feature. We aim to further underline the importance of viewing a strategic approach as needing to be both holistic and particular, and to caution against taking too narrow a view of the usefulness of LLSs.

The language curriculum It would be fair to say that the terms ‘curriculum’ and ‘syllabus’ are often employed synonymously, and indeed, it is not unusual to see one used in place of the other. Strictly speaking, however, ‘curriculum’ refers to a rather broader set of considerations, which may or may not include language learning per se. In other words, it is the overall learning coverage content and the rationale and principles on which it is based. Should students be learning a second language at all, for example, and how should their overall studies be structured and implemented given the time available? Contemporary writing on curricula in the mid-twentieth century, at a time when education generally was expanding for many national populations, considered the purposes of learning, together with the experiences provided, as well as their organization and subsequent evaluation (see Tyler, 1949). But, it is probably the 1950s and 1960s that saw the whole issue raised of what constitutes a ‘curriculum’ – and now let us call it ‘a syllabus’ since we will be looking specifically at how languages are to be taught. Given the prominence traditionally ascribed to grammar-translation methods at that time, it is perhaps unsurprising that syllabuses were

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structured around it in terms of learning and assessment prescriptions. So they were not just ad hoc or based on humanist considerations. The traditional techniques of applied linguistics-including word families, lexical counts and contrastive analyses – all provided a rationale for what might be included in a syllabus. Indeed, traditional syllabuses represented an uneasy tension between form and meaning – lexis and syntax – often with the latter taking a more salient position in pedagogic contexts. Vocabulary could be selected simply by analysing a number of texts in order to ascertain the words most frequently used. Besides articles, pronouns, and so on, this meant that certain verbs and nouns could be identified as being more useful by dint of the fact of them appearing most frequently. Similarly, grammar would be listed according to traditional metalanguage about grammar: for example Subject verb: The car left Subject-object-verb: We watched television Future tense: I shall leave tomorrow Adverbs: We usually go to town on Saturday. Again, it is worth stressing that what is important here is not so much whether such knowledge is useful or not, but that it is considered as the route to linguistic proficiency, in the belief that understanding of one instantiation of a syntactic form allowed the learner to then reapply it in any number of other contexts. This is the issue underlying the accuracy-fluency debate: Krashen and Seliger (1976) famously arguing that such immediate reapplication was hardly possible. Their position is logical if one is coming from a language acquisition device perspective rather than a lexico-structural one. The extent to which it could occur depends on being able not only to discern structure – both actively and receptively – within a field of contexts but also immediately shift it from declarative to procedural knowledge. When this view is challenged, a different type of syllabus results. We have previously described the ‘communicative revolution’ that took place in the 1960s. Its impact spread to all aspects of sociocultural life, and particularly second language learning and teaching. For syllabus writers, this meant that a different set of considerations had to be taken into account. For example, Yalden (1987) writes of the ‘communicative syllabus’ as being made up of a series of language components: purposes, settings, roles, events, functions, notions, skills, variations, and notions, as well as the traditional grammar and lexical content. By then, a lot of language syllabuses were moving away from a norm-referenced to criterion-referenced system of assessment. The former tended to use assessment in a punitive manner; so, marks were subtracted for lack of accuracy, while in the latter a more positive approach was taken where credit was given for ‘performing’ linguistic tasks,

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for example, ordering a cup of coffee. At that time, Wilkins (1976) had also given us the idea of a notional-functional syllabus, where learning items are expressed in these terms rather than the traditional grammar and vocabulary. For example, communicative functions are speech acts which refer to actions: suggesting, complaining, apologizing, requesting, etc. The point is that many of these can be performed effectively without a deep understanding of the syntactical structures involved. Moreover, to meet the new language learning needs consequent on the increased movement of labour and opportunities for travel in Europe in the second half of the twentieth century, syllabuses could then be drafted according to a range of language uses and experiences: for example as a ‘worker’, ‘host’ or ‘tourist’ rather than strictly in terms of grammar. At a similar time, Van Ek (1975) gave us the Threshold Level, which sets out a number of linguistic functions and notions below which one was deemed as not having a ‘working knowledge’ of the set language, and above which one could operate successfully. Consequently, syllabuses are very much expressed in terms of the needs and the purposes that learners have for learning language rather than simply language knowledge in itself. This conforms with the axiomatic principles expressed in Hymes’s (1967/72) affirmation that ‘there are rules of use without which the rules of grammar would be useless’. Language learning, therefore, becomes less a series of building blocks, of greater and greater difficulty, building a steady incline of ascent towards full linguistic proficiency but rather is designed to make meaning in the world and fulfil specific needs and goals. We might well argue for the need now of a new comprehensive review of the languages curriculum and syllabus under a ‘strategic banner’. Clarke (1987: xii–xiii) lists just what such a remodelling might look like: 1 the review of principles to guide the language teaching/learning process in the light of applied linguistic theory and classroom experience; 2 the reworking of syllabuses embodying aims, objectives, content, and a broad methodology; 3 the review of classroom teaching/learning strategies. [We should note that in our present context teaching and learning strategies are not synonymous. Rather learning strategies are located within the move for learner autonomy and teaching strategies are the classroom activities to achieve this]; 4 the choice, adaptation and creation of resources embodying appropriate learning experiences; 5 the review of assessment designed to monitor, record, report and provide feedback on learner progress;

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6 the review of classroom schemes of work relating all of the above together; 7 the review and creation of strategies designed to assist teachers to evaluate classroom practices and to improve them; 8 the identification of areas of research to determine possible ways forward in any of the above areas; 9 the review or devising of in-service education designed to assist teachers to widen their conceptual and pragmatic base in particular areas, and to find solutions to their own classroom problems. The final three points are particularly relevant for our discussion in the next chapter regarding how to foster teacher autonomy, both in-service and preservice and in the process to promote classroom-based research. To take the UK context, arguably just such a review did occur when a ‘National Curriculum’ (NC) for school education was introduced in England in the early 1990s. This established a common set of rubrics across discipline areas in the hopes of encouraging greater cohesion. In terms of ‘Modern Foreign Languages’ it also allowed for a thorough consideration of syllabuses in the light of the sorts of linguistic research we have been describing here. It is worth addressing the results since it represented a fundamental shift in second language learning and teaching, the so-called communicative revolution which, in turn, impacted on LLSs research. The ‘Initial Advice’ (Department of Education and Science, 1990) took on board the principles of communicative language teaching as a purpose-led rather than grammar-led way of learning languages. It also took account of recent work within second language acquisition research. What resulted was a syllabus design that looked radically different. Instead of a language-accuracy styled syllabus, what was presented was a transactional one. The National Curriculum in Modern Foreign Languages (Department for Education, 1995) was conceived with a view of the learner as ‘host’ or ‘tourist’ as noted earlier, rather than ‘linguist’. The ‘needs’ analysis itself was therefore vastly different and focused on the operational requirements of using second languages in sociocultural exchanges. Syllabus content therefore dealt with ‘Areas of Experience’ within its ‘Programme of Study’, namely Everyday Activities, Personal and Social Life, The World around Us, The World of Work and The International World. Moreover, these were to be experienced across the four language ‘skills’ of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening (Attainment Targets), each of which were given equal weighting in terms of the balance of assessment points. Within each of these, there was an implied gradient of both autonomy and scope across each of the so-called

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levels of attainment. So for speaking at level 1, the learner can only respond briefly with single words or short phrases in familiar situations, but by level 8 is confident in dealing with a range of unpredictable speaking contexts. This approach certainly amounts to a new type of syllabus and, to be fair, was welcomed by the teaching profession when it was first put forward. However, it is still based on a confusion – or at least uncertainty – about the relationship between learning and teaching, and thus the syllabus does not give a clear steer about its own interpretation of linguistic research as existed at that time. For example, it seems to be based very much on the type of inductive approach that was implied by Chomskyan linguistics and the notion of the language acquisition device, which had to be stimulated by lots of ‘comprehensible input’ in Krashenite terms. Actual conscious knowledge about language, as for instance grammar, was played down to a minimum – perhaps a symptom of release after years held within the bounds of the grammar-translation syllabus. However, this also left unclear the whole issue about metacognition, which we have seen as being so important to a strategic approach to language learning. Was it worthwhile to actually talk about and analyse language, and did this give rise to useful knowledge, or was this all peripheral to the learning process? It is worth looking through the component list given in the National Curriculum Programmes of Study in order to see where language learner strategies as we understand them are included: ●●

Listen for gist;

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Ask about meanings/seek clarification or repetition;

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Imitate pronunciation;

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Skim and scan texts;

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Learn by heart;

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Acquire strategies for committing familiar language to memory;

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Use dictionaries;

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Use context clues;

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Develop strategies for dealing with the unpredictable.

As we can see, this is a pretty sparse list, and really only represents a rather impressionistic set of strategies with no real connection as to why they might be significant other than for their instrumental, utilitarian content. Little wonder, therefore, that the new approach to language learning enshrined in the syllabus was both a relative success and relative failure: successful in instilling a new enthusiasm for using languages in real contexts, but failing to

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develop sustainable, generative linguistic proficiency and learner autonomy. By the time we get to the Dobson (1998) report, he is lamenting the fact that many pupils seem to be little more than walking phrase books, unable to manipulate and manage the language away from predictable settings and teacher scaffolding. It is therefore perhaps unsurprising to observe among some teachers a general retreat from the approach enshrined in this syllabus, and a re-assertion of grammar as being a prime vehicle for developing linguistic competence with learners. But, another reaction was to attempt to develop a more fully strategic syllabus – the so-called Key Stage 3 Strategy.

The Key Stage 3 Strategy The Key Stage 3 Strategy for ML was devised by the UK government in 2003 in order to take a more strategic approach to second language learning in response to the sort of disappointments outlined above. It is worth noting that change in syllabus design is again seen in terms of top-down delivery of a centrally deliberated and derived content. Its perspective is, nevertheless, one in which both teachers and learners can begin to reach a greater understanding of language per se and of the language learning process. It included a more strategic view of the student’s learning over the first three years of second language learning which it describes as a series of stages: Foundation, Acceleration and Independence: (autonomy in language use and, somewhat implicitly, learning). The syllabus content is set out according to the following five headings: 1 Words 2 Sentences 3 Texts: Reading and writing 4 Listening and speaking 5 Cultural knowledge and contact/context? These, of course, look quite familiar: they are the attainment targets of the National Curriculum in English, as well as the areas of sociocultural knowledge. However, what is new is a conceptualization of language, not in terms of grammar and vocabulary, but of words, sentences and texts. Incidentally, the reason for such a model is that it is identical with the one used in the National Literacy Strategy (Department for Education and Employment, 1998) in England, which was targeted at improving the literacy levels among British children. We should add that the word-text-sentence model of language is

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notional only and corresponds to no research-based theory of language. However, one should not see this model as somehow incidental or pragmatic, since it puts forward a very distinct model of language and suggests that teachers should use it as a ‘mind map’ in planning their lessons. Indeed, it sets out its beliefs about language, although a key limitation, as we shall see, is that these beliefs are not linked to the strategies they imply. We provide some possible connections here in italics. For example:

Words ●●

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All words have a meaning (perhaps more than one meaning), a spelling and a sound; all three should be learned and practised together. Memorization strategies; Word-for-word translation only works within very narrow limits. Comprehension monitoring;

Sentences ●●

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Words in a sentence in a foreign language may well be in a different order from the English equivalent, but there will be a system behind the order of words: learning that system is to learn the grammar of a language. Analysing; Using even a limited range of language, learners can communicate in a wide variety of situations and generate a large number of sentences. Communication strategies;

Texts ●●

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The gist and sometimes the more precise message of a text can be grasped even if not every word is understood. Inferencing strategies; However, important detail sometimes lurks in very small words so checking is vital. Strategies for checking written work.

In all the five areas of learning set out above there are some 103 Learning Objectives – seventy with respect to the areas of words, sentences and texts. A cursory glance across the individual items reveals that strategy type learning components are implied: for example, ‘How to use knowledge of word forms, patterns and context to identify meanings.’ However, while the framework does perhaps imply a ‘learning to learn’ agenda, it is not set, in any way, within a framework of metacognitive, cognitive and social/

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affective strategies, which is so important in understanding the significance of these individual components. Neither is there much reference to planning, evaluation and monitoring, nor the relationships between individual learners and their language, learning styles and dispositions (habitus), and the pedagogic context (field). Perhaps this is because the framework was designed to dovetail with the National Curriculum proper (indeed, maybe that is its main limitation).

L1/L2 project: Policies for a cross-curricular approach? As we have seen, in England at least, the KS3 strategy was partly built on a model of language which it shared with L1, and thus included similar curricular rubrics about language, in particular, the ‘levels of attainment’. As noted, The National Literacy Strategy was influential in establishing these commonalities. And yet, there often seems little common understanding between L1 and L2 teachers. Indeed, within learner strategies there are seldom connections made between L1 and L2 about their uses. One of the factors impeding the sharing of insights into a common view of language and the significance of a strategic approach is that there seems to exist no readily accessible comparison of L1/L2 strategies, indicating those which appear to be similar and those which are different. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of a commonly agreed taxonomy even of L2 learner strategies, hindering L1 and L2 teachers from knowing what learner strategies are being advocated in each of their respective lessons. Thus, it is hard for them to see how their lessons can complement each other, reinforce explicit reflection on the language learning process and provide the necessary extensive practice in transference of strategies to new tasks. However, a first step can be made in establishing a common agenda by conducting an initial audit comparing strategies in L2 learner strategy taxonomies to those advocated for the teaching of English (representing L1). By means of a brief illustration of the more obvious connections at the basic level of memorization strategies, the following table compares a small sample of the strategies L1 teachers are encouraged to teach, particularly for spelling, to those advocated in the L2 literature. The L1 strategies are taken from the Framework for Teaching English: Years 7, 8 and 9 (2001a) and the NLS Guidance for Key Stage 1 and 2 (DfES, 2001c) and the L2 strategies are drawn from Oxford (1990). Table 8.1 illustrates what a systematic audit of common strategies between first and second language learning would look like, which then might

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TABLE 8.1  Comparison of memorization strategies Strategies advocated for L1

Strategies identified in L2 research

Use mnemonics (2001a: 23)

Use acronyms (68)

Use visual skills (2001b: 33)

Use photographic memory (294)

Recognize words within words (2001b: 22)

Analyse words/expressions (83)

be shared in both L1 and L2 syllabuses (see Harris and Grenfell, 2004 for a full account). The similarity of memorization strategies in L1 and L2 might seem self-evident. Making the links explicit across other skill areas such as reading involves more complex issues and, as with memorization strategies, we find that comparisons operate most effectively when L2 is compared to L1 at Key stages 1 and 2. The aim in Table 8.2 is to identify which strategies are taught when learning to read L1 during the early stages of L1 learning (NLS Guidance for Key Stage 1 and 2 (DfES, 2001c)) and to compare them to those in L2/ML studies. It might be supposed that any positive benefits of SBI directed at helping pupils make the links between L1 and L2 learner strategies are only one way, in other words, that it might improve pupils’ L2 but not L1 reading. It could be argued, however, that strategy instruction in L2 lessons can provide learners a with a fresh, alternative way in to reading in the L1, especially if the predominant pedagogic paradigm seems less effective with them. It might allow them to ‘revisit’ some basic strategies such as looking at pictures for clues. Furthermore, Pomphrey (2000) has argued for the potential value of reflecting on the structure of a second language in illuminating pupils’ understanding of their first. It could be that such benefits

TABLE 8.2  Comparison of reading strategies Reading strategies in the NLS

Reading strategies in L2 language learning strategies research

Use titles, cover pages, pictures (2001b: 25)

Read headings and look at pictures (Young, 1993)

Predict words from preceding words (2001b: 22)

Predicting (Janzen and Stoller, 1998)

Reading strategies to extract particular information (2001a: 24)

Identify key information (Sarig, 1987)

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extend to a heightened metacognitive knowledge of the learning process itself. For example, as we shall argue in the next chapter, a shared focus on key strategies, with opportunities to proceduralize them in both L1 and L2 lessons, has the potential to enhance pupils’ skills in both languages and in other curriculum subjects. That said, the disparity in linguistic levels, particularly in skill areas like listening and speaking, was a key issue to emerge from one aspect of our project in West Green and Moreton Schools, namely to explore the impact of SBI directed towards the transferability of strategies across L1 and L2. We found that such issues were often masked by government rhetoric that implies that no such tensions exist or that time is not needed for ML and English teachers to engage creatively in resolving them (Harris, 2008a). Given that students can neither understand nor speak French, the main aim for ML teachers is to develop students’ ability to communicate in the language along with their cultural awareness. English teachers are not only concerned with the language but also sociolinguistics and language variation, literary analysis and linguistic effects in texts, media concepts and drama. The gap between the two subjects widens in secondary school as the English curriculum moves increasingly away from basic literacy and towards a more complex understanding of literature, style and the media. For example, an English teacher in West Green observes that: they actually struggle to speak and write in different styles: for example year 10 for an advertising presentation may say ‘this target audience will really like this’ rather than using ‘appeal to’. This is, however, a very different order of thinking from ML where students struggle to express their meanings at the most basic level. Thus, while the strategy descriptions in the National Strategy appear similar, the teachers needed to discuss how they were operationalized in the two languages, if they were to make the connections explicit for their students. The English objective: ‘listen for and recall main points of a talk’ (2001a: 24) provides an example. Whereas in ML a possible activity might be to listen to a CD of French students talking about their pets and pick out the main facts, in English, when listening to poems about animals, the aim might be to comment on the effectiveness of the adjectives used. In our studies, both the teachers gained much from the discussions they were able to have, as we shall see in the next chapter. The point here is to delve beneath the surface and acknowledge the difficulties underlying strategy descriptions. There is a further question about the two separate – L1 and L2 – teachers’ relationship to such a syllabus. In their study of L1 and L2 student teachers’

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attitudes and perceptions about knowledge about language, Pomphrey and Moger (1999) found that one of the factors impeding cross-subject syllabus dialogue was the high level of anxiety among the trainee teachers of L1 concerning their own explicit knowledge of language structure. A common theme underlying the various publications discussed is that the teaching of grammar is a key element of success; lists of grammatical objectives, for example, are a major feature of both the Framework for Teaching English (DfES, 2001b) and the Framework for Teaching Modern Languages (DfES, 2003a). This heightened emphasis on explicit grammar teaching is likely to increase the distrust between English and ML teachers as well as the student teachers, since previous studies (Mitchell, Hooper and Brumfit, 1994; Pomphrey and Moger, 1999) already indicate that one of the factors impeding crosscurricular collaboration is the divergent views held on the role of knowledge about grammar. Whereas English teachers did not believe that it could impact positively on students’ proficiency in using the language, most of the ML teachers were committed to a strong connection between competence and knowledge about grammar. Thus, although both sets of teachers were dealing with language, they seemed to be holding, and thus transmitting in their classroom methodologies, divergent messages and approaches. Recalling the Bullock report (1975), Literacy Across the Curriculum (DfES, 2001a) stresses that any literacy learning students undertake in their English lessons should be consolidated in other subject lessons and that there should be a common terminology as well as a common pedagogical approach across the curriculum. With this in mind, we had hoped that further detailed scrutiny of government guidelines would facilitate the task of the cross-curricular planning necessary for the project in Moreton School and West School, designed to enable pupils to see the connections between L1 and L2 strategies. However, we soon found that not only did these include an array of conflicting recommendations but also a lack of detailed knowledge of the two subject areas. For example, Literacy Across the Curriculum (DfES, 2001a: 5) exhorts schools to: ‘focus their energies on a small and memorable number of cross-curricular priorities in each year’. Although the suggested priorities for each year group include learner strategies, they also reveal the Government’s preoccupation with explicit knowledge of grammar. As a result, the priorities are both unconnected to each other and of a very different order. For example, Year 7 (p. 6) does include ‘use appropriate reading strategies to extract particular information’ but this is alongside ‘recognise the cues to start a new paragraph’. Furthermore, no guidance is given as to how the senior management team are to identify which departments will be responsible for which priorities and objectives. An attempt was

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made to address this, following an Ofsted report (2004) that progress in some schools towards developing literacy across the curriculum remained slow and limited. A further publication was subsequently issued in order to develop Literacy and Learning (2004), allocating particular cross-curricular priorities to be addressed by each subject. However, it was not clear how subject teachers were to make connections across those priorities which were meant to be shared, probably due to a lack of understanding in the first place of the role of skill areas within the subjects. For example, Listening is not designated as a cross-curricular focus for ML. Yet it is a key source of input in the acquisition of any new language. The relationship between the various policies, the ‘learning to learn’ agenda and this kind of collaborative classroom-based professional development is also evident in James et al.’s (2007) account of their investigation of over a thousand staff across both primary and secondary schools participating in the Learning How to Learn (LHTL) project. Pedder, James and MacBeath’s (2005) analysis of the staff questionnaires highlights the important role of teachers’ collaboration in enabling them to integrate LHTL effectively into their lessons. They conclude that school support to develop structures and cultures for teachers to work more collaboratively and more experimentally is an essential precondition for the successful implementation of LHTL. Yet, as Gereluk (2005: 8) had already observed in relation to the prescribed subjectbased objectives in the National Curriculum: Collaboration requires time and effort amongst staff and a demanding curricular framework may overwhelm an already overworked teacher. The inflexibility of the curriculum may create a situation whereby teachers do not have time to collaborate or see the need to collaborate when every detail has been laid out. Furthermore, the very cohesion of secondary school subject teams can block opportunities for boundary crossing, preventing teachers from learning from different communities of practice. The high level of prescription in the National Curriculum raises the walls surrounding them, and is perhaps one factor underlying the LHTL finding that pupils and teachers in secondary schools are less likely to change their beliefs about learning than those in primary schools. Chapter 9 will address the gap between government policies and classroom realities: highlighting other difficulties the teachers in our project encountered in seeking to collaborate. In our experience, there are limitations to what can be achieved in pre- and in-service education. The most effective form of teacher development takes place in schools with time to collaborate

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with other teachers and/or researchers to explore new initiatives. And, it is exactly time and professional autonomy that teachers lack. We conclude this chapter, however, by looking at three other more recent approaches to syllabus design.

Other approaches The National Capital Language Resource Centre syllabus We would like to contrast the various policies and syllabuses in England with another approach aimed at establishing a strategic classroom: that developed by the National Capital Language Resource Center (2004) in the United States. It was one of fourteen Language Centers funded by the US Department of Education and is located at George Washington University. Chapter 7 included an extract from the Student Guide of the syllabus to indicate the value of categorizing strategies as ‘overarching’ rather than as skill-based ones. Here we focus on the teacher guidelines.

Sailing the 5 Cs with learning strategies It is worth setting out the structure of this teachers’ resource book: 1 The 5 Cs: Objectives for Foreign Language Instruction. The 5 Cs refer to the standards set by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (2006, 2015: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons and Communities). 2 Defining and Organizing Language Learning Strategies 3 Teaching Learning Strategies in a Learner-Centred Classroom 4 Integrating Learning Strategies into Language Lessons 5 Activities for the Classroom From this, it is easy to see that these instructional guidelines are very ‘process’ versus ‘product’ orientated. Indeed, there is little by way of vocabulary and grammar lists. Each of the ‘5 Cs’ are led through a series of orientations which set strategies against what the teacher and learner do. For example, if the strategy is ‘Use Imagery’, the teacher creates a meaningful context by using figures, information and illustrations, while the learner is asked to associate new information with a mental or printed image. How this might

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look in practice is that an activity is planned where an imaginary 4-course target culture meal is put together and students draw and label each course in order to aid memorization. Similarly, a strategy like ‘Making inferences’ can be based around use of the Internet to plan a journey across a region of the target culture. Inferences can then be made about what goes on there, where and why. These sample lessons are framed by learning objectives with respect to student-centred learning. These take the basic definitions of metacognitive strategies we have identified elsewhere and list the following overarching cognitive strategies.

Cognitive strategies ●●

Strategies That Use What Is Known

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Strategies That Use Imagination

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Strategies That Use Organizational Skills

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Strategies That Use a Variety of Resources

The guide also identifies a range of possible topics: Food, Travel, Family, Personal details and exemplifies them with associated learner strategies as in Figure 8.1 below: Lesson plans are also given which show how these are led through strategy work so that the strategies are not taught as an itemized list of discrete items. Instead, they are embedded in meaningful classroom activities designed to foster collaboration and independence and they broadly follow the steps of the SBI cycle. An extract is provided in Figure 8.2 below: Having introduced and modelled the strategies, practice and expansion activities are then provided as in Figure 8.3. It is worth describing other approaches, which have also sought to develop a framework on the basis of this more strategic process-orientated understanding of language learning, notably the programmes in Québec.

Being a Teen in the New Millennium (France v. America): Read some short biographies of French teenagers. Describe different aspects of teen life in the U.S. and then compare how this is similar of different in France. Use outside sources to extend your information on French teens. LLSs - Organise/ Plan; Graphic Organisers; Make Predictions; Summarise.

FIGURE 8.1   Topic, activities and associated strategies

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Brief description of the activity: Students describe a set of pictures of a family (or families) in the target culture engaged in activities. Then they make inferences about family life in the country, based on the pictures. Procedures: (1) Introduce the content Hold up a picture of a family in the target culture. In pairs, the students describe what they see in the picture (encourage learners to use the vocabulary they learned about family and relationships earlier this year). (2) Introduce and model the learning strategy Show another picture of a family and make an inference about the culture of the people in the picture. For example, “This looks like a family. I see several generations – young children, parents, grandparents. I can infer that family is important, that extended families enjoy spending time together. Everyone is wearing colorful clothes. I can infer that people in this culture like to wear brightly-colored clothes. It is night and I see children playing. I can infer that children stay up late in this culture.” Explain that we can Make Inferences to help us understand better. In this case we are making inferences about culture. We can also make inferences about a reading or listening based on images, titles or headlines and key words. NOTE: Inferences, both yours and those of the students, might or might not be true. Make it clear that it is easy to fall into the trap of making inferences that perpetuate stereotypes. The inferences need to be verified by further investigation and a deeper understanding of the target culture, which is among the goals of foreign language learning.

FIGURE 8.2   Lesson plan

Learn about Puerto Rico’s geography, climate, foods, and customs Use Imagery Remembering mental images you have of other Caribbean islands can help you to understand the description of Puerto Rico’s beaches and tropical fruits. Imagine the kinds of food you know that grow in a warm climate and look in the text for the Spanish names of those foods. Look at the photos in the text as you practice new vocabulary. Make a web page in Spanish about healthy living. Recommend what foods to eat and what exercises are best for different types of people.

FIGURE 8.3   Strategies and activities

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Québec We have already explored in previous chapters some aspects of these programmes to establish progression in learning English from the primary to the secondary level (Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sport, 2009, 2010): in Chapter 4 progression in terms of affective strategies and in Chapter 7 of cognitive strategies. We have not however looked at the curriculum as a whole. Québec’s English as a Second Language Core Syllabus divides language into Culture, Language Repertoire, Strategies, Processes, Texts. From these, it is possible to see how a syllabus can do a lot more than simply list grammar and vocabulary. Culture is conceptualized in terms of its aesthetic, sociological and sociolinguistic aspects. Processes include Response Process, Writing Process, Production Process and there is an emphasis on ‘establishing a personal connection with texts’. Texts are then seen in terms of various levels, namely types, components and features, as a way of enabling learners to look out for textual features in both understanding and making meaning, and how these are signalled by components of style and literary form. We are reminded of the previous chapter when we noted Rubin’s focus on the importance of ‘task analysis’ as the first step in the SBI. Neither does the syllabus have a prescribed model of language. Language repertoire includes language conventions with grammar seen as part of them, as are aspects of intonation and pronunciation, and vocabulary is listed in terms of functions, uses, notions and needs. Strategies are listed in terms of the usual categories of the metacognitive, cognitive and social/affective but separate out ‘Communication Strategies’ – Gesture, Rephrase, Recast, Substitution, Filler Phrases – from other cognitive strategies and highlight, as we have seen, selfregulation – selection, analysis, evaluation and adjustment. Thus, reading and writing strategies are set out under headings which encourage the learner to be aware of the metacognitive processes in dealing with them: for example, strategies to use ‘Before writing, listening, reading, or viewing’, those to use ‘While writing, listening, reading, or viewing’, and those for ‘After writing, listening, reading, or viewing’. We also found it useful to organize the pupils’ checklist of strategies under the same headings in our STIR project. The overall pedagogic principle is that the syllabus should be ‘cyclic’ as based around the different years of learning, so learners get to revisit each of the above areas. The syllabus is conceptualized in terms of a spiral of learning rather than an ascending gradient. Further, as we discussed in the previous chapter, there is a clear progression towards increasing autonomy: the student first ‘constructs knowledge with teacher guidance’; second, ‘applies knowledge’; third, ‘reinvests’ knowledge. There are clearly various ‘dimensions’ rather than ‘components’ to this sort of syllabus, which leaves space for the integration of subject content, language structure and form, and strategic process and metacognitive strategies. In

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this way, lessons become less about ‘teaching something’, invariably lexis or grammar no matter how the teacher disguises it, and more about creating strategic conditions of learning.

Curriculum Guides for Arabic, Chinese, Punjabi and Tamil We have already expressed our commitment to moving beyond European languages and we conclude by referring to the Curriculum Guides for Arabic, Chinese, Punjabi and Tamil (Curriculum Guides, 2007) developed under the project leadership of our colleague Jim Anderson and in close collaboration with teachers of each of the languages. Not intended as a scheme of work, the guides seek to provide a practical resource for teachers to draw on in devising their own schemes. Care was taken to create a structure in line with the topic areas which featured in the government schemes of work and examination specifications for ML at that point in time. However, opportunities are also highlighted for cross-curricular links to other areas such as Art, Geography and PSHE, reflecting OfSTED’s concern for the value of more meaningful content in ML through Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), the value of which we will also discuss in the next chapter. CLIL allows cognitive and metacognitive knowledge in both the language and subject to develop in tandem, so that actual content information (which can include problem solving around aspects of the discipline) builds the requisite linguistic forms to work in and develop such thinking. Thus, the imperative to draw on meaning potential pulls linguistic knowledge in order to express it. It was felt that Heritage Languages could lend themselves particularly well to this approach, given, as we have seen in Chapter 5, some learners are already exposed to the language in the home. The syllabuses are organized under ‘themes and topics’ which include ‘texts’ with related resources for CLIL type cultural awareness activities as well as useful websites for the teachers. The next columns indicate ‘key structures and vocabulary’ and the final columns are for activities to develop ‘Oracy’ and ‘Literacy’ where activities lead from contextualized practice to meaningful use. Reflecting our observations in Chapter 7 about the value of pair and group work, it is stated that the activities are intended to promote active engagement of students in the learning process through collaborative group work and problem solving (Rubin 2007: 11). Although references to related LLSs are not directly included in a final column, there are strategy checklists, which draw on our own work, including from the Mandarin Chinese project discussed above. Furthermore, points are identified within the charts themselves where it may be appropriate to focus on certain strategies. The same is true for the integration of grammar points,

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suggesting that both are essential to achieve learner autonomy. So, again we are moving away from isolated discrete lists of ‘knowledge’ to be acquired and towards a much more holistic approach to learning. While links are made to government policies, there is also a section on key findings from research into bilingualism. Integrating theory and practice will emerge as a key theme in the next chapter when we explore what might be necessary to support teachers in creating a strategic classroom.

In summary… In this chapter, we have looked at the way LLSs feature with respect to curriculum and syllabus design, since ultimately it is these, which shape what teachers teach in the classroom. In Bourdieusian terms, education is a field occupied by teachers with their own particular habitus, both of which are shaped by government policy with respect to language learning and teaching. We saw that both curricula and syllabuses are open to some debate in terms of definition, structure and content. If syllabus is a framework of work, it will invariably have to fit within an over arching curriculum, which will be a statement of current principles and beliefs about learning and teaching, often in a quite doctrinaire way. Indeed, both curricula and syllabuses are frequently the means by which higher authority – whether government departments or exam boards – articulate what they require of teachers and learners, and this is true of both national and international qualifications. There is then a sociocultural and political element at the heart of curricula and syllabuses. We saw the various forms a language syllabus might take, what has been invariably included, and how these reflect a certain view of language teaching and learning. Indeed, any curriculum or syllabus must enshrine powerful axioms of the day, which means that these are seldom uncontroversial. Traditional language syllabuses have confined themselves to listing grammar and vocabulary, which are then used to draft assessment procedures. And, it is worth stating that, challenging though these are, they are still probably easier to set out – in simple terms – than the sort of ‘process syllabus’ which we later advocate. We make the point again that there are available different models of language and of learning and these will be used as guiding principles in language syllabus design, although they may also include hybrid forms – it is not always an either-or choice. We also described the process of curricular renewal, the questions that needed to be asked as part of this, and instanced the example in England of the National Curriculum in Modern Languages. This curriculum is a case in point of the issues we raise above: since it is characterized both by a need to harmonize with a range of other subjects, and

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is also a hybrid form of subject design that attempts to put together a range of language learning models in a pragmatic, if not altogether successful manner. The Key Stage 3 Strategy is an extension of this approach, with its overt model of language learning and its prescribed lists of knowledge about language at a Word, Sentence and Text level. We contrasted these with other syllabuses, which took a more fully strategic line. Indeed, behind these examples lies a fundamental difference: namely, whether one takes an itemized/outcome approach to language learning or a more process-content orientated one. This issue involves other discourses, for example, content and language integrated learning, and the significance of a strategic approach across the curriculum, especially in working at the interface of L1/L2. We offered examples of the sort of common strategies and thinking skills that might be available at this broader level. There are still issues of content and form in language syllabus design, and the examples we quote take very particular lines. However, they place a strategic approach in pole position in exemplifying how pedagogic practice may be operationalized in practice. Clearly, a strategic approach involves more than just teaching learner strategies, but rather an entire distinct concept of ‘the strategic classroom’. In other words, how a strategic perspective may shape whatever goes on, be it teaching, resource deployment or assessment. It also extends beyond individual lessons, or sequences of lessons, which too often take an item-byitem approach of incremental language learning as a series of building blocks. Indeed, it is possible to take a strategic approach to language learning over its entire life course, so there is the possibility of cycles of learning that see the syllabus and curriculum as a spiral rather than a uni-linear straight line. So, the challenge involves a complex understanding of language learner strategies and the way they might shape pedagogy. We have to insist again that strategy instruction which simply gives pupils checklists of strategies to learn may be little different from items of vocabulary or grammar to learn by heart. A truly strategic approach requires both a short- and a long-term view of language learning and the resources and component parts involved. That being said, the instruments of delivery are still teachers themselves and it is to their education that the next chapter now turns.

9 Language Learner Strategies and Teacher Education

Introduction Over the past chapters, we have reflected on language learner strategies in theory and practice. This has involved us in exploring the background to various approaches to language teaching and learning and the place that LLSs now form within it. We have considered the theoretical issues in terms of both teaching and learning, in other words, how a strategic approach to second language learning impacts on what is required of the brain – cognitively – to process information and just what the information might be. We have also presented examples of a strategic pedagogy – how the classroom may be shaped and designed to promote strategic teaching. The empirical case studies included examples of strategy based instruction within a range of contexts, and showed the outcomes and possible factors involved when it is undertaken. We have seen just how significant is the language which is the target of learning and teaching, as well as the importance of the background of the learners – individually and as a group. In the last chapter, we took a look at various curricula, and the principles which may underlie the way we actually structure learning and teaching, and we contrasted traditional approaches to design with those that may enhance strategic practice. And, we briefly outlined how government policies, guidelines and curricula impacted on teachers’ capacity to foster transfer between L1 and L2 strategies. Here, we look at factors over and above direct government policies that shape teachers’ development because teachers are still the critical factor in developing the ‘strategic classroom’, that is, creating a strategic learning environment that will enable their students to acquire effective learner strategies in order to

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progress their linguistic proficiency and their autonomy. The chapter then deals with teacher education. We begin by considering just what we mean by this phrase, which itself involves a series of important issues about what is done with teachers and when in developing their own knowledge about teaching and learning. We look at models of general teacher education – the most salient of recent decades – and also what research tells us about the processes of educating the teachers themselves. This discussion leads to questions about the specificity of language teacher education and the importance of subject knowledge. How this plays out in terms of both L1 and L2 language teaching is a critical factor in understanding the balance of knowledge-bases language teachers are attempting to achieve. This leads us to report on further research and the applications flagged up in previous chapters. Finally, we offer some suggestions which may guide future directions of language teacher education with respect to strategic learning.

Background Language teacher education: Definitions, models and processes ‘Teacher Education’ per se refers to any process that pertains to the training, induction into or updating of teachers with respect to their professional practice. Such includes the initial education of teachers as well in-service updates, instruction and studies undertaken at the same time as teachers are active professionally. How do you do it? The answer to this question is not as obvious as one might think. If we go back into history, it was just assumed that those who knew, could teach what they knew by their own knowledge, resources and methods. Language study anyway was a rather elitist activity only for those with the most noble of upbringings. All this changed in the 1950s and 1960s when the study of both Modern Languages (MLs) and English as a second or foreign language (ESL/EFL) became a much more common experience, not least because the world of EFL/ESL had of course exploded as English became a global lingua franca. Even so, language teacher education, in any noticeable form, did not really get going until the 1970s and, before that, teachers were mostly dependent on the language teaching pedagogy enshrined in whichever course book – and some of these could be pretty slim and monochrome – they chose to adopt, and thus at the mercy of its authors’ own beliefs about language pedagogy. This will not do since there needs to be a relationship between what is taught and what we accept as learning processes if we are

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to maximize pedagogic effectiveness. Ultimately, in a book about language learner strategies, we need to understand the best ways to educate teachers about them, and to enable them to use them in a re-conceptualized strategic language classroom. Actually, there turns out to be four basic approaches to language teacher education, and these share something with all forms of teacher education. Before looking at the specificity of language teacher education, we would like to say a few words about each of the approaches as they do offer us alternative practical paradigms of how to go about teaching teachers about LLSs and SBI. The four basic models, or approaches, to language teacher education are the Craft Approach, the Applied Science Approach, the Reflexive Practitioner Approach and Competence-Based-Teacher-Education (CBTE) (see Wallace, 1991). With the Craft Approach, the would-be teacher does little more than sit in with and next to an experienced teacher. This is why the approach is also called ‘the apprenticeship model’, or ‘sitting with nellie’. The assumption is that competence and expertise can be ‘picked up’ by a form of osmosis simply by being there when good practice occurs. The approach is, therefore, in many ways, informal and implicit – what is learnt amounts to what ‘can’ be learnt by living next to one or more expert craft-persons. This is rather the approach advocated by those who wish to locate ITE in schools with minimal involvement from any so-called training institution. In SBI terms, we might think of it as representing the assumption that if the teacher uses LLS (for example, by pointing out some cognates in a reading text), the pupils will automatically realize that they can use them in their own independent work. In our experience of working with teachers and student teachers (see also Harris et al., 2001 for further discussion), they may struggle to make the distinction between themselves teaching and their pupils learning. The Applied Science Approach mirrors that which we described in terms of language learning theory. Here, in other words, it is assumed that the best way to teach (and learn!) can be discovered from scientific research. All that then needs to happen is for the said scientific discovery to be passed on to those who need it in order for them to be able to direct their actions accordingly. We saw how the audio-lingual/audio-visual approaches were a good example of this ‘applied science’ approach, as they are predicated on a pedagogy that is based on the learning theory of behaviourism – that we learn by and through habit and repetition. Teacher education by the same means then involves inducting the aspiring teacher into the appropriate science as well as the teaching methods that follow as a consequence – hence, the language laboratory. So, student teachers would simply be told about different theories and practices and which were the most effective with little attention paid to

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context. In SBI terms, it would be like telling student teachers why strategies are important and explaining the steps in the cycle but then assuming that they need no help in integrating them into their teaching or adapting them to their particular classroom situations. Just as with language learning generally, these approaches can also be read chronologically: so the Craft Model dominated from the turn of the twentieth century to well into the 1960s, and was then overtaken by the Applied Science model in the wake of the ascent of behaviourism and its implied audio-visual techniques. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the next model also arose in response to the latest theories of learning (and its consequent impact on ideas about teaching): the Reflective Practitioner Model. We have written of a ‘communication revolution’, which began post– Second World War and exploded in the 1960s and 1970s with the incipient expansion of systems of communication, and with it a zeitgeist of sociocultural imperative. The Reflective Practitioner model is not ‘communicative’ per se, but is related since it connects with a sense of ‘self-communication’: to reflect on experience and draw conclusions from it. The term ‘the reflective practitioner’ gained currency after its use in the title of the book of the same name by Donald Schön (1983). It includes both ‘reflection in action’, which is always immediate in responding to the here and now, and ‘reflection on action’, which implies a certain level of backwards looking. Clearly, the time element is a critical feature in whether one and/or the other is possible. Indeed, we might even see reflection on action as sharing with metacognitive strategies the elements of monitoring, evaluation and planning. This is an important point as we have already argued that language learning is nothing special – or shall we say separate – from other human brain activity – just another form of information processing. It is, therefore, to be expected that other forms of information processing – teacher education, for example in this case, follow similar routes involving Declarative and Procedural thinking, and Cognitive and Metacognitive Knowledge. Proponents of this model argued that student teachers must spend time in the university with space to reflect on their experiences in school. In SBI terms, we could see it underlying the constant movement in the steps of the SBI cycle between reflection (awareness raising, evaluation) and action (modelling and practice). For student teachers, this would mean not only having support in trying out the cycle in their particular classroom but also opportunities to reflect on the successes and difficulties afterwards. Hence, these theories have real consequences for subsequent practice with different educational activities implied. The fact that here we are talking about different knowledge types as well as activities is underlined by the final model for language teacher education – CBTE, or Competence-Based-Teacher-Education. Any form of ‘competence-

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based’ education needs to be understood as a form of ‘exemplification’, that is where a list of apposite skills, techniques and activities are listed in a prescribed manner as the items that make up the required function. So, driving a car is a good example, as it is necessary to show competence in the various car-control and road-use functions. Really, any evaluation of whether any particular competence is achieved or not is based on observable data: can the individual do such-and-such? It is, therefore, very behaviourist. And any competence list can have items added to or subtracted from it at any stage as a way of offering a composite of the required skill area. Arguably the implication for SBI here is that if a pupil can show they are using the desired list of strategies, they must be a competent user and independent learner of the language. And, all that is required is for the student teacher to demonstrate they are teaching the required strategies. But, before we explore such limitations in more detail, let us turn to considering the competence list for language teacher education generally.

Subject knowledge and the individual teacher In this section, we look at the sorts of knowledge bases that we may include as part of language teacher thinking and action. We then draw out the implications for language learner strategies and the ‘strategic classroom’. Firstly, it is important to note the distinction between language and teacher: so, for example, some attributes of a good teacher may not connect directly with their language knowledge per se. At the same time, someone with a good deal of language knowledge may not necessarily make a good teacher. And, between these two, there may be some sort of continuum, in other words, the extent to which one influences the other. Clearly, this is not once and for all but highly context dependent. Nevertheless, it is necessary to keep this distinction in mind as a grounding or generative structure to issues about just what sort of knowledge we are referring to with respect to teacher thinking as a part of their education. One common framework lists ‘Teacher Competences’ under a series of headings to which we have added some examples of typical descriptors: ●●

●●

●●

Professional values and attributes (PA): for example, reliable, organized and proactive, acts on advice; Professional knowledge and understanding (PKU): for example, knowledge of the curriculum and how to plan and assess it as well as reflecting on observations of their teachers; Professional skills (PS): these include detailed lesson plans, clear instructions, constructive marking.

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The descriptors can also indicate a lower level of teacher competence such as: ●●

●●

Consistently finds it difficult to manage behaviour or is resistant to accept and act upon advice. Little evidence of ability to learn from evaluation and feedback.

However, this approach can be seen to be highly behaviourist: what is directed and even measured here is the surface level of understanding which is seen as synonymous with action. But, that might not be true at all. At its extreme, the approach led to debates as to how many times a student teacher needed to challenge a racist comment to be able to ‘tick the box’ that they were committed to promoting equality. One of the disadvantages of CBTE is, therefore, that it does not get at the underlying thinking, which implies processes, of teacher education. In LLS terms, it might be like a teacher who goes through the motions of SBI without any real understanding of and long-term commitment to fostering their pupils’ autonomy. This model has subsequently been overtaken by a suite of ‘Professional Standards’ for teachers, covering different stages of their career from student to experienced teacher and beyond. There have been various iterations of these standards, which arguably overcome some of the limitations of competences (Education and Training Foundation, 2014). Related to this is another less instrumental approach to teacher education, one which takes a more research-based line since it arises from actual empirical data of teacher interviews in order to offer a topography of teacher’s professional knowledge in pedagogic action and thought (see Shulman, 1990). It covers Pedagogical Content Knowledge, for example the knowledge that arises from teachers’ ‘reframing’ of their subject knowledge within a pedagogical context. It also includes Knowledge of Educational Ends: that is to say familiarity with the values and purposes of teaching, as well as the historical and philosophical antecedents of teaching and learning. Behind Shulman’s knowledge bases, there exists an issue we have referred to more than once in the course of this book, namely the individual and their environment, which implies the connection between cognition (psychological) and the social. In other words, both teachers and their surroundings exist in relation to each other. Indeed, we can refer back to our discussion of Bourdieu in order to understand these two in terms of habitus and field, and the way symbolic thoughts and action – capital – mediate between the two. So, individuals come with their own dispositional background, which will shape how they respond to what they are confronted with in terms of elective affinities and dis-affinities. The content of this confrontational object is the particularity of field structures in terms of what

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is valued within and across it. To exemplify this in terms of language teachers per se, it is critically important that we understand just where they are coming from in terms of their own background proficiency – both pedagogic and linguistic habitus. Are they native speakers? Did they learn the L2 in a communicative way or were they heavily instructed in grammar-translation methods? Their former learning experience is especially significant in terms of its interface with what they encounter in the field of language teaching, since it will converge with or diverge from what they find in teacher education courses, curricula and syllabuses, teaching materials and classrooms (see Grenfell, 1998, 2007). The affinities – and dis-affinities – which they set up consequently are partly formed from the interactions between their own backgrounds and experiences, and the actuality of the teaching situation and predominant pedagogy, and this in its turn may differ between the school and the university. A student taught using traditional methods may, for example, feel more comfortable with the grammar-based approach practised in their school than the communicative one advocated in the university. Hence, it is particularly important to get the mix between theory and practice ‘right’. As teachers, it is easy to revert to the way we were taught or the way that suited us; for example, we may or may not prefer to see the written word when we encounter new vocabulary or we may or may not like to have grammatical rules made explicit. Without weighing up the theories behind these activities, we are operating on personal instinct rather than professional judgement. Language proficiency is not, therefore, sufficient in itself for understanding what teachers do in classroom pedagogy and why, since that proficiency implies a certain relationship to language, which might be, for example, grammar-based, or behaviourist, or acquisition-based, or cognitive. These points are significant when it comes to what teacher educators do with teachers and student teachers in order to form, shape and take forward their thinking and action. We turn now to The European Profile for Language Teacher Education (see Kelly and Grenfell, 2004) because it sets out many of the general issues discussed earlier within a language-specific teacher education framework, listed under four sub-headings. Some examples of each are given below. We have highlighted in italics the elements which are most pertinent for our curriculum context – and, in particular, actual understanding and application of language teaching as an understanding and use of language itself. This is included in item 14, which refers to ‘state of the art’ language teaching. Such ‘art’ would include a full repertoire of teaching techniques – simulations, computer-assisted learning, authentic reading material, writing tasks, presentation methods, realia, DVDs, etc. It is items 24 and 26, which are especially important to us in the present context.

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Structure of the curriculum 1. A curriculum that integrates academic study and the practical experience of teaching. 7. A period of work or study in a country or countries where the trainee’s foreign language is spoken as native. 8. The opportunity to observe or participate in teaching in more than one country. 10. Continuous improvement of teaching skills as part of in-service education.

Knowledge and understanding 14.  Training in language teaching methodologies, and in state-of-the-art classroom techniques and activities. 15. Training in the development of a critical and enquiring approach to teaching and learning. 20. Training in the critical evaluation of nationally or regionally adopted curricula in terms of aims, objectives and outcomes.

Strategies and skills 23. Training in the critical evaluation, development and practical application of teaching materials and resources. 24. Training in methods of learning to learn. 25. Training in the development of reflective practice and self-evaluation. 26. Training in the development of independent language learner strategies. 27. Training in ways of maintaining and enhancing ongoing personal language competence. 31. Training in action research. 32. Training in incorporating research into teaching. 33. Training in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL).

Values 35. Training in social and cultural values. 36. Training in the diversity of languages and cultures. 39. Training in team-working, collaboration and networking, inside and outside the immediate school context. 40. Training in the importance of life-long learning.

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Clearly, most of this list could be fitted into, or around, the types of knowledge bases we used above, and includes elements of both the context and the individual in language teacher education. It is also predicated on the notion of the European language teacher, and implies a certain set of related values, for example, recognition of the value of a diversity of languages and cultures. It is intended that these are used developmentally and as a point of reflection, not as a set of prescriptions. How are we to ‘educate’ teachers in this approach to language learning and teaching?

Teacher education for a strategic classroom Above, we have outlined various approaches to language teacher education, and what the content of such might be in terms of content and process. It is to note that subject knowledge – language in this case – is often underplayed in many teacher education syllabuses. By not addressing both proficiency and subject pedagogy in relational terms, many teacher education frameworks veer towards the instrumental – like the CBTE approach to professional development rather than one embedded in what we might call the student teachers’ own dispositional pedagogic habitus (see Grenfell, 1998). In other words, what we are looking for is pedagogy that stems from a deep understanding of the form and process of language, not just a useful list of latest trendy techniques. Again, we assert that such an approach will only come about when educators themselves understand the various models of language learning available, and the different ways of organizing language teacher education – and, importantly, the issues involved in each. It is not only that we feel one model of approach might be better than another, and this is never exclusively true (there is always a need to mix and match), but that in understanding preferences we bring to light important issues about processes and the relationships which they display. We have argued quite strongly for a ‘cognitive’ view of language learning, and it is this approach, which most directly underpins our advocacy of language learner strategies. It is also the approach implied by the two items above from the European Profile for Language Teacher Education. Indeed, in 2006 the European Parliament and the Education Council adopted a recommendation to foster the lifelong skill of ‘learning to learn’ (Education Council, 2006). They saw the benefits of ‘learning to learn’ extending beyond economic to social productivity: a positive sense of self and social identity, building family and community cohesion. Returning us to a key theme in the book, Hautamäki et al. (2002: 39) imply in their definition of learning to learn,

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that self-regulation is essential in order to orchestrate both metacognitive and affective dimensions effectively. This involves: The ability and willingness to adapt to novel tasks, activating one’s commitment to thinking and the perspective of hope by means of maintaining one’s cognitive and affective self-regulation in and of learning action. Yet, it is to note that there are only two items in the profile related to autonomy among the forty listed: Training in methods of learning to learn and Training in the development of independent language learning strategies. Elsewhere, cognitive theory and strategy work are hardly mentioned if at all. So, how might such training occur? How might we foster a classroom where the teacher is more concerned with managing, organizing and supporting learning which essentially then occurs through the auspices of the learners’ own actions and behaviours? Clearly, autonomy is an enormous subject as discussed earlier in this book. It is important to emphasize the ways that an ‘autonomous’ classroom might differ from a conventional one: in the former, as we saw in Chapter7, learners will have increasing choice over all aspects of their learning – aims, outcomes, timings and pace, activity, assessment, content and process, while in the latter, the teacher is ‘in charge’ of each. The answer to the question of training students to foster an autonomous classroom involves returning to our understanding of LLSs and Cognitive Theory itself. We have placed cognitive theory within a context of language teaching and indeed language teacher education with all that it implies in terms of individual dispositions (habitus) and socio-pedagogic environment (field), exploring the way that social changes, which have come about postwar and through the development of the EU and increasing globalization, have impacted on educational thinking. We now need to remain true to this understanding of thinking and action and the way language mediates between the two, by extending the same approach to educating teachers in language learner strategies; in this way, the circle is closed with common epistemological precepts, so that it is not one theory for one and another for another. To give one example, just as it is not enough to tell pupils about strategies and expect them to use them, so teachers and student teachers need to be engaged in the process of discovering their own strategies and exploring new ones. We will first describe a framework for ‘one-off’ sessions for both pre- and in-service teachers, including some specific ways in which more extended pre-service training can integrate LLS work. We move on to discussing why such sessions are incomplete both in terms of recent criticisms in relation to the familiar model of SBI and also the lack of time both to reflect and to act. We thus highlight the importance of substantial school-based collaborative

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experience and research, which allows for innovative approaches to be tried out, studied and critically reviewed so that there is a constant interaction between theory and contextualized practice. We conclude by identifying some of the difficulties in establishing such an experience.

From theory to practice A framework for individual pre- and in-service sessions Both pre-service training in college and in-service training in schools and local teachers’ centres may often include one or at best two sessions on LLS and SBI. The content of our own sessions and their evaluation by teachers and student teachers have been described in detail in Harris et al. (2001) so here we simply outline its main features. We follow the same steps for training teachers as we do for SBI with pupils, since the sequence of steps is based on the same views about language learning and indeed learning itself. As noted earlier, the steps also constantly move between reflecting in action and reflecting on action.

Step 1. Awareness-raising: The value of activities in a language no one knows We have found an experiential approach to be invaluable, whether in pre- or in-service education. In other words, in order to ‘infuse’ teachers with the necessary understanding and confidence to take up SBI in their teaching, they need to ‘feel’ for themselves what strategies are and why and how they work. This is all the more important as one of the problems with good language teachers is that they are good language learners. So, because they have unconsciously internalized a wide range of strategies, they often experience considerable difficulty in ‘bringing them to the surface’ so they can reflect on their value. So, rather than a lengthy theoretical rationale for the value of SBI, we offer teachers an immediate practical experience of what learner strategies are and why they are useful. Successful activities we have tried include presenting them with a child’s poem in Dutch to translate and then to share in pairs how they managed it, which invariably means they start to think about strategies such as looking at the picture for clues, identifying cognates and using knowledge of text type (see our discussion of task analysis in Chapter 7). Alternatively, we show teachers a picture labelled with ten words in Turkish to memorize, for example, and warn them they will be tested in five minutes. Before the test, while it is still fresh in their minds, they share the strategies they have just used to memorize the words. As in the SBI cycle with pupils, this brainstorming moves immediately into the second step.

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Step 2. Modelling: The value of learning from each other We noted earlier the dangers of the Craft approach. Similarly Chamot et al. (1999: 175) report that: One of the greatest challenges for teachers was shifting away from implicitly applying strategies in activities to explicitly teaching students to apply strategies for themselves. Often, when we ask teachers to make a list of what they did to learn their vocabulary when they were pupils, what they do is start talking about how they go about teaching vocabulary, and what games they use. This may be part and parcel of their reluctance to ‘let go’, to help their pupils learn independently rather than spoon feeding them. Again, this points towards the importance of an experiential approach, this time in terms of discovering from other colleagues the vocabulary learning strategies that they themselves have not used before. In this way, they realize at first hand that their pupils may not have been using them either. By showing them new strategies, we are modelling how they could also model it to their learners and making a direct link to them as learners, in other words, that this was a useful strategy they themselves lacked and that pupils could learn from their peers. The ‘think aloud’ technique can be used in a similar way. The instructor models the strategies they use to tackle a reading task and then invites teachers in pairs to read aloud a very simple text in the unfamiliar language, but one where there are plenty of cognates and/or picture clues. When they encounter a word they do not understand, they have to think aloud how they are trying to work it out. This again allows them to experience at first hand that their partner may have strategies that they lack and vice versa.

Step 3. Practice: The value of concrete materials to integrate strategy instruction into the scheme of work Having spent some time reflecting on their strategies, it is now time to shift into action. Learners need more practice than we anticipated. The same is true for teachers. Chamot et al. (1999: 175) report that: Another critical shift was from teaching strategies as a separate entity to integrating strategies into the language curriculum. Teachers also struggled with determining an appropriate scope and sequence of strategies to teach at various levels. Similarly, a student teacher in evaluating the LLS component of one of our preservice teacher training courses reported:

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We did not get enough practical examples. I thought I had understood it at university but in the end I was not confident enough about how to do it in the classroom. This view has important implications for the shift from ‘knowing’ to ‘doing’. Having engaged in the first stages of the cycle, teachers need some concrete examples of teaching materials to use in the practice phase. We usually focus on just one skill area, for example, reading. So, we might do the awareness raising step with the Dutch poem, model some less familiar strategies using ‘think aloud’ and then show them some reading materials and ideas for the practice stage. Finally though, just like with the pupils, the participants will need direct practice of creating materials for themselves, rather than just suggestions from us. To give an example from another skill, we might focus on strategies for ‘checking written work’ in the awareness raising and modelling steps and then progress through the two activities below, which move from providing some scaffolding to encouraging teachers to devise their own materials and ideas in collaboration with another colleague. Teachers first read through a list of activities and match them to ‘checking written work’ strategies, such as ‘does it look right?’, ‘does it sound right?’, and to the appropriate stages in the cycle. Thus, the first activity is to raise awareness and the second belongs in the practice phase and helps pupils develop the strategy of ‘does it look right?’ Finally, the teachers are asked to collaborate with a colleague to develop their own activities perhaps at a different level or with reduced scaffolding. Feedback from each pair often leads to a question and answer session, which allows us to address concerns such as the time SBI may take in an already overcrowded curriculum or the use of the target language discussed in Chapter 7. For example: 1 Class given homework over holidays of writing an essay on ‘An interesting/disastrous weekend’. Lesson begins by asking pupils to spend five minutes checking their essay, then to check their friend’s. Class then brainstorms how they go about checking their written work. 2 Pairs of learners given list of words and asked to circle correct version e.g.

je m’appelle

je m’apple



campange

campagne

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Step 4. Evaluation and transfer: The value of reflecting on their own context To model the way learners should identify the strategies they need to work on to address their own particular problem, we end the session by suggesting that the teachers too might want to think about a particular class that they want to work with and a particular skill area that they will focus on. We may, for example, ask them to discuss with a partner: ●●

what can I do in the classroom next week?

●●

what can I do after some preparation, perhaps over the holidays?

●●

what can only be done after a discussion with the rest of the department?

Some degree of autonomy is then present as the teachers decide which skill area to focus on, which strategies, which students, and plan their own scheme of work for approaching ‘learning to learn’ through LLSs with their learners. This inductive approach is critically important and it underlines an essential principle that links language learning, teaching and teacher education. It is this: any declarative knowledge is always likely to be problematic for the reasons outlined earlier. For example, there is often a divorce between such knowledge and procedural knowledge: this is the ‘to know’ but ‘not to do’ issue. Or, there is simply insufficient short-term memory to operate declarative knowledge, or insufficient time. In this respect, it little matters whether such knowledge is linguistic, or entails pedagogic principles, or a list of strategies. They are unlikely to be adopted in practice if they are not linked to actual experience which will proceduralize them. In teacher education, therefore, LLSs do indeed need to be presented and explained, but it helps if this is done in a way in which teachers’ own identities and field experiences are used as a lens for seeing into the strategic approach. And, autonomy is brought to bear on the process in selecting and planning strategic pedagogic activity with students. Nevertheless, there are two limitations to the above. Firstly, the suggestions are based on the familiar model of SBI. We must stress that research is needed to develop a model of teacher education that is more in line with the more ‘bottom up’ model in Chapter 7. This might include for example, activities to help teachers engage in task analysis by giving them a recipe or a letter and asking them to reflect on the genre, style, and vocabulary (see Rubin, 2015). To shift them away from a preoccupation with skill areas and a prescribed list of strategies, they might also be asked to select one or more of the ‘overarching strategies’ like ‘Use what you know’ and identify in which everyday classroom activities it could be used. This might be particularly useful for activities in the limited model of autonomy we offered towards the end of Chapter 7. It is likely

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that ‘letting go’ so that pupils first work in pairs on each activity in the cycle before the teacher’s input may be particularly challenging for some teachers. Again, this will need to be modelled by the leader of the session providing such opportunities before giving any input themselves. They might also ask teachers to use an adapted version of the form in Chapter 7 to direct them to where the teachers would most like feedback on any of the activities they have created. The second limitation of the ‘one off’ session is the same as a ‘oneoff’ SBI lesson to pupils. From our evaluations of our sessions, however carefully designed, it seems that teachers, just like their pupils, want more than a brief introduction to strategy instruction. They not only need longer sessions. They need the opportunity to share ideas with other colleagues in the same school, and for this to be followed up with further sessions where difficulties encountered can be addressed. This need to share successes and disappointments probably applies to any initiative in language teaching. We will find the same theme emerging in relation to pre-service training. Additionally, here students reported the need to feel settled and established as a teacher before feeling ‘safe’ enough to take on strategy instruction.

Pre-service training There are of course important differences in how each country trains its teachers. In our case, the course was a typical full time, one year course for students intending to be teachers, who already had a degree in a foreign language. While the student teachers may have had a good grasp of one foreign language, they also needed to develop a second, since most English schools require competence in two languages from their teachers, even if the second language is only at a sufficient level to be able to teach it to beginners. Given that the student teachers spend 24 out of 36 weeks in school, the main emphasis of the course had to be pedagogy, yet they also needed support in working independently on their second foreign language. Strategy instruction allowed us, within the limited time available, not only to provide such support but also to model for them how to implement SBI in the classroom. For example, in addition to the sessions described above, a booklet invited them to reflect on the strategies they already used to learn their second language and to try out and evaluate new ones. We thus again exemplified the steps in the cycle. Aware, however, that students needed to transfer their knowledge to the classroom and carry out SBI for themselves, a focus for the final teaching practice in school was provided by the Curriculum Development Projects. Here, students could choose from a number of topics, including

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Learner Strategies. The projects involved them in planning and teaching SBI lessons, in evaluating pupils’ responses, and in writing up their experiences in a coherent, reflective account. At the end of the year, the student teachers were asked to complete a questionnaire commenting not only on whether learner strategies had helped their second foreign language learning but also on whether they had incorporated strategy instruction into their teaching. The findings were revealing about their own and their pupils’ responses. Even within tightly controlled SBI (rather than the more ‘bottom up’ model outlined in Chapter 7), pupils ‘tend to be puzzled at first at the new direction their lessons are taking’, to rely too heavily on the teachers and to be reluctant to take responsibility for their own learning. As one student teacher commented: The pupils didn’t realise that they needed to put in effort too. They felt like we were teaching them a new skill but didn’t realise they needed to work for themselves at taking the new strategies on board. Independence is hard to get! Of the students who did not try out any strategy instruction, the main reasons were also revealing since they reflected similar concerns to those expressed in our sessions by practising teachers: 1 taking time away from helping classes to do well in exams; 2 fitting strategy instruction into the crowded scheme of work; 3 lack of support in school; 4 lack of opportunities to share problems, successes, materials with colleagues. We concluded that the support student teachers receive in their school placements is crucial. Yet, often school mentors may lack the time or the expertise to offer it. At first sight, it may seem that if teachers are lacking in confidence about SBI it is impossible for them to encourage their student teachers to undertake it. An alternative way forward, however, is for mentors and student teachers to collaborate in exploring how to make it possible in their particular school context. They could share the workload involved in preparing the materials, evaluate the lessons together and support each other through the disappointments as well as celebrating the successes. In terms of LLS research, we can also work alongside the teachers and trainee teachers in school, reflecting together on what did or did not work and why, as we did in our project. Indeed, addressing the international move towards more school-based teacher education, Burn and Mutton (2013) argue for models of

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‘research-informed clinical practice’. There is then this congruence between strategic pedagogy and strategic pedagogic education, all the more important since the school is the most immediate context for ongoing professional development. As Wilson and Demetriou (2007) point out, in the current competitive climate, schools are increasingly reluctant to release teachers to engage in the more traditional routes of professional development through external courses. It was partly with this in mind that we decided as part of the project in West and Moreton schools to work with L1 as well as L2 practising teachers, although we were aware of the various constraints noted in Chapter 8. For example, the demands of government policy for each subject area can in fact create boundaries preventing teachers from learning from different communities of practice (James, 2005). Chapter 8 however also began to explore commonalities that perhaps to date have not been perceived but which could prove to be a fertile ground for collaboration. We will discuss these before describing some outcomes of the cross-curricular aspect of the project. Authentic content remains a kind of ‘holy grail’ of language teaching and learning as we acknowledge the motivational and pedagogic worth of what has

TABLE 9.1  CLIL strategies LEARNER STRATEGY Ordering information Sequencing Classifying Brain-storming Decision making Planning Generating options Making predictions Testing Drawing conclusions Generating ideas Formulating views Problem solving

Subject

Language

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been called ‘meaning potential’. Learners learn when they really are actively engaged in the subject content of their learning – whether that is transactional, interactional, fictional or real. As we saw in the preceding chapter in relation to the curriculum guides for languages such as Arabic, authentic content is most strongly expressed in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), where a curriculum area – mathematics, science, sport, art – is used as the medium for second language instruction (Grenfell, 2002: 206). So, for example, art may be taught through French in the United Kingdom, or sport through English in Spain. Part of the planning stage for teachers is to draw up a list of the broad strategies that could be developed both in the subject topic area and in relation to the language, as in the table below: It would be interesting to reflect on the extent to which these more global ‘thinking skills’ reflect some of the ‘overarching’ strategies discussed earlier. At the time of the project, however, our concern was specifically on teachers’ perceptions of the possible transference of skills based strategies. Why?

The relationship between first and second language teacher education As we have already outlined, there seem to be divergent views and practices between L1 and L2 teachers. We saw how one of the factors impeding crosscurricular collaboration was the divergent views held on the role of knowledge about grammar. Pomphrey and Moger (1999: 224) also point out that, although both ‘are to a certain extent now addressing “knowledge about language”, any systematic planning of this process seems to occur within rather than across subject boundaries’. They further suggest that one way of developing better communication between the two curriculum areas is to rethink the direction of language transfer. They review various studies exploring transfer between L1 and L2, concluding that ‘while language transfer from the L1 to the L2 is more likely to be implicit, unconscious and difficult to track, there is scope for the transfer of explicit knowledge about language from L2/FL to the L1’ (Pomphrey, 2000: 278). We have already argued how SBI in L2 reading strategies might help those pupils who struggle with their L1 literacy. In addition, because the process of learning a new language involves standing back from implicit language use, it allows learners to look more objectively at the forms of their first language. Insights gained from the study of a foreign language can therefore be used to reflect on the structure of the mother tongue, and vice versa. The previous chapter explored how and where links can be made between L1 and L2 strategies in terms of syllabus; the next section focuses on activities within the L1 and L2 classrooms themselves, so that the knowledge and understanding of language teachers in both arenas can be extended.

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L1, just like L2, has a history of strategic thinking about language. For example, the roots of L1 strategy research lay in the 60s and 70s in the development of cognitive psychology through the work of Bruner, Olver and Greenfield (1966) and Flavell (1976) and others. Both L1 and L2 studies draw the same distinction between direct processing of the language – cognition – and thinking about these processes – metacognition. Thus, for both language areas, a key aspects of metacognitive strategies is their ability to facilitate transfer and promote greater learner autonomy. Studies in both L1 and L2 learning have consequently placed increasing emphasis on developing metacognitive understanding rather than simply teaching discrete cognitive strategies. For example, Harrison, in his Key Stage 3 English: Roots and Research study (2002: 28) summarizes the research evidence underpinning the Key Stage 3 Strategy, through which the National Literacy Strategy of England has been extended to secondary schools.1 In relation to metacognition, he suggests: learners who have a conscious awareness of and conscious control over their learning strategies can apply that knowledge in new learning contexts and learn more than those who have not been taught any strategies, or have simply been given new learning strategies without guidance in knowing how to apply them. Strategy instruction in both L1 and L2 also highlights the value of collaborative activities in developing pupils’ understanding of how to learn. In L1, Harrison (2002) argues that collaborative pair and group work is a valuable, scaffolding, middle step in shifting from the teacher as ‘expert’ during the ‘modelling’ phase to the point at which learners are able to use the strategies independently. Similarly, the importance of a social community, in which meanings are constructed together and approaches shared, is also underlined in L2 studies by Donato and McCormick (1994) and Lehtonen (2000). If pupils are being invited to reflect on and share approaches to their language learning in both their mother tongue and their foreign language classes, then it seemed to us to be a wasted opportunity not to facilitate the transference of new understandings between both arenas by developing a common understanding and approach to teaching how to learn. There is a final argument for collaboration between L1 and L2 teachers: this time not so much in terms of explicit, conscious, planned processes but more within the unconscious, implicit and automatic, namely, the ‘practice’ and scaffolded learning advocated in step 3 of the SBI. Within L1 learning, Harrison (2002) warns against dismantling ‘scaffolded pupil application of new learning’ too early, stressing that it should be withdrawn gradually, since it takes time, and much practice, for the pupil to apply new understandings to unfamiliar contexts independently. Similarly, within L2 learning, McDonough (1999), in

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reviewing studies into the impact of SBI, suggests that one of the reasons why initial studies may have yielded conflicting or unconvincing evidence was inadequate practice to operationalize the strategies. Thus, alongside the need for explicit knowledge about how to learn, there is the requirement for extensive practice in order to proceduralize the new strategies. If it is essential to provide extensive practice in the deployment of new approaches to the learning task, it seems probable that having two contexts rather than one in which to use these approaches can only be beneficial.

Classroom realities – benefits and problems of a cross-curricular approach The potential of cross-curricular collaboration, not only to foster a common approach to SBI but also to enhance both the L1 and L2 teachers’ professional development, emerges from field research carried out during our project (see, for example, Harris, 2008a). One ML SBI lesson, required students to read a letter written in French by a First World War soldier and to identify particularly powerful expressions. The focus on relevant, meaningful content and tasks such as those offered by English colleagues was clearly of value both to the ML teacher and her students. The benefits are mutual, one English teacher commenting, for example, in relation to a speaking strategy suggested by her ML colleague: That would be brilliant. That’s a fantastic one for English. Some kids they just clam up. We don’t teach them those speaking strategies but we should. However, the lack of protected time for the English teachers to be released from their timetable made it difficult for the ML and the English teachers to engage in the more detailed discussions that would have enabled them to convert their shared beliefs in the pedagogic value of SBI into the necessarily detailed complementary classroom practice. Instead, although explicit reference to the transferability of the strategies was sometimes included in English lessons, inevitably it was done on an ad hoc basis rather than the lessons running concurrently, mutually reinforcing each strategy taught. Schools purport to have well-established cross-curricular language policies. Yet, regular timetabled opportunities for teachers to engage in extended dialogue with their colleagues are rarely available. One teacher commented: the Senior Management Team are not really interested in cross-curricular collaboration for educational reasons but because it ‘ticks the right boxes’

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for DfES and Training School funding. We need proper senior management support, not just lip service, in order to give proper release time. Students’ resistance is unlikely to be challenged without a more consistent approach to SBI across both the ML and the English lessons to make the connections between the languages explicit and immediate so that the same strategies are being reinforced at the same time. Students claimed, for example, that ‘we already know English’. Hence, they felt that transferring strategies from ML was unnecessary. As we saw in Chapter 5, one of the monolingual pupils even stated, ‘we don’t do speaking in English’ – this in a school with a well-established Language and Learning policy. Similarly, disappointing results were at first experienced in a project in Québec designed to foster transference of strategies between L1 and L2. However, the follow up project (Gunning, White and Busque, 2016), which was built around common teaching formats and tables showing equivalent terminology and taking place over a longer period of time, was much more successful. They conclude that, in order for teachers to collaborate, they need time, materials and administrative support. There is then the potential to develop a transferable pedagogic knowledge – both cognitive and metacognitive – across language discipline areas. Raising awareness about a strategic approach to language learning across L1 and L2 teachers allows for greater autonomy and consistency between them. Such awareness in turn has a knock-on effect on learners’ own autonomy and strategic knowledge about language. However, from the school management point of view, ‘generic’, ‘stand alone’ study skills lessons are easier to build in and do not disrupt the scheme of work, even though students may struggle to see their relevance. Such study skills lessons do not disturb the tight departmental consistency necessary to ‘deliver’ government policies. Conversely, full integration of transferable LLS into the scheme of work, while likely to be more motivating, may entail altering the order in which topics are covered, so that the SBI can be matched across the two languages. Recent government guidelines appear to mask the inherent tensions in the aims and pedagogical approaches of the two languages that we have described in these final chapters, tensions exacerbated by the current preoccupation with performance measures. These differences are unlikely to be resolved without a supportive school culture that provides adequate release time for teachers to engage in extensive cross-curricular dialogue. Above all, teachers need the freedom to take risks, to adapt schemes of work and to evaluate its impact with a view to further refining their practice. The current educational climate may be unlikely to foster a sense in which teachers feel free to exert such judgements autonomously.

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In summary… In this chapter, we have considered aspects of language teacher education with respect to language learner strategies. We outlined various approaches to teacher education generally and specifically to language teacher education and where LLS might fit in. This involved a consideration of both language learning and language teacher education as a cognitive process, which was susceptible to influences from both the individual (habitus) and (field) context, and their inter-relationship. How to approach SBI with teachers and student teachers was also discussed including the suggestion that future studies might explore how best to prepare teachers for the ‘bottom up’ model of SBI discussed in Chapter 7. Finally, we opened out the discussion to see a strategic approach as being pertinent to both first and second language learning, and addressed the commonalities in pedagogic approach between the two. This led to a more collaborative model for language learning and teaching. Beneath apparent similarities we explored some areas of divergence between the two subjects and the extent to which both government policy and school structures support or impede cross-curricular collaboration. Although dealing with only two curriculum subjects, it is hoped that the lessons learned may be of value in revealing the complexity of classroom-based collaboration across other subject areas.

Conclusion

W

e have shaped this book to give an integrated account of language learner strategy (LLS) research at a global level and our own particular engagement with it through a series of theoretical and empirical enquiries. It is, therefore, both a summative statement and somewhat of a state-of-the-art account of this now highly developed area of applied linguistics as it unfolds within a particular sociocultural context. As we explained at the outset, we have adopted a reflexive mode in looking back at a generation of LLS research and our own particular track through it as language learners, teachers, teacher trainers and researchers. Yet, the book is also very much forward looking, we believe, in setting an agenda for future work into language learner strategies and their applications in teaching and learning. What is that agenda? What are the pressing issues that still need to be addressed? What do we still not know? There was perhaps an over-simplicity in the early stages of LLS research with its preoccupation to list discrete, good language learner learning traits and to disseminate them to the less successful. We know now that such knowledge, although useful in itself, may not be any more useful to a language learner than a grammar or phrase book. We also know that some sort of theoretical underpinning must support what we understand such strategies to be, if this approach is to be seen in anything other than utilitarian terms. As with language generally, furthermore, strategies arise in situations, which are unique, the characteristics of which necessarily impact on what does and does not happen. Finally, there is the question of what can be made from this research and understanding in practical terms. These themes, and others, underpin the following, which we offer as a concluding statement of ‘where are we now?’ in terms of language learner strategy research and practice. Firstly, is the question of definition. As noted in the introduction, early research studies took ‘learning strategies’ and ‘learner strategies’ to be fairly

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synonymous, even including ‘communication strategies’. We saw the variety and range of strategies listed in initial publications. Since then, there has been a recognition that different ‘types’ of strategy exist and, even if the same theoretical base is applied to them, they still need to be seen as distinct in terms of their operationalization. An informal agreement does exist, therefore, that the term ‘learner strategies’ is more about the individual cognition, while ‘learning strategies’ pertain to the actual activities. However, this is still to condone a separation, which can be problematic, where it is best to consider the two as one. A further critical issue is the question of the extent to which language learner strategies need to be seen as conscious, only, and goaldirected at that. Again, much current research goes along with this definition as the ruling orthodoxy. However, as we have argued in this book, our own definition runs counter to it: and must be as we see language learning itself as being ‘problematic’ and therefore ‘strategic’; indeed, such is predicated by cognitive theory which covers both the conscious and unconscious. ‘Goaldirected activity’, in defining LLSs as behaviours, tricks, and tactics, therefore also has to be seen as explicit and tacit. For example, we may have automatized a strategy to the point that we are no longer aware that we are using it. Secondly, therefore, is the need for further theoretical refinement; otherwise, it seems that any other topic can be grafted onto the LLSs agenda – it then becomes all things to all (wo)men. In our own research, we have drawn heavily upon the ACT model of John Anderson, which was also used extensively in the seminal book by O’Malley and Chamot. This book, and with it the cognitive theory, has since formed a backdrop to LLS research. However, a lot more could and should be done in analysing the actual workings of various strategies employing the ‘IF….THEN…’ knowledge structures posited by Anderson, in particular, with respect to other sociocultural factors which may impact on strategy deployment. Such might standardize and order strategies as particular skill activities, the types of knowledge used and the interaction between long- and short-term memory. Thirdly, and closely connected with the above, is the issue of taxonomy. We referred to various taxonomies, as found in publications by the likes of Oxford, Rubin and Wong-Fillmore. Again, the taxonomy of O’Malley and Chamot – Metacognitive, Cognitive and Social/ Affective – has been particularly influential, and it remains a useful framework in approaching LLSs. Yet, even a cursory glance at the strategies listed under each of these, makes it obvious that the line between each is not clear cut, and some may seem to involve more than one, even overlap. Moreover, strategies, we now know, do not necessarily exist as discrete items but ‘bunch’, ‘cluster’ or ‘chain’ with one another according to task, and stage of execution. Furthermore, this taxonomy does little to classify and understand strategies within particular skill areas – reading, writing, speaking, listening – where they are invariably actualized.

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Others have modified and refined original strategy taxonomies, but such an endeavour will be little more than hypothetical – for example, whether we need to refer to learning words by heart as a memorization strategy, or a vocabulary learning strategy – unless it is based on a clearly defined theoretical model. Our fourth point again follows on from the above and involves the dichotomy of the social and psychological. LLS research locates itself within an academic discipline, which has emphasized the psychological, which has been the dominant paradigm of applied linguistics since its inception. Much LLS research has also been preoccupied with the psychological, the micro aspects of language learning, as a way to understand the operations of the human brain as a universal. And, where the social is acknowledged, it is done so in a partial or unsatisfactory way. For example, O’Malley and Chamot’s taxonomy sets the social and affective off as separate and stand-alone. We would argue that one critical strand running through our own work has been to integrate the psychological with the social; indeed, most of our empirical investigations are predicated on understanding the impact these have on each other in strategy use. If we are here speaking of context, this also implies differences between formal and informal learning situations. Furthermore, individual and group learner characteristics similarly need to be taken into account, for example, age, motivation, gender, intelligence, cognitive style, proficiency level, aptitude and linguistic background. The latter pertains to both first and second languages: social class, for example, in the first, and bilingualism in the second. What Bourdieu calls individual linguistic capital can have a determinate effect on strategic action in language learning as set within particular sociocultural contexts. Fifthly, we must cite strategy based instruction (SBI) as a major topic for further research. We have seen again how early presumptions about passing strategies emerging from research onto learners has given way to a much more developed, cyclic approach to strategy training, one that involves stages of ‘awareness raising’, ‘modelling’, ‘practice’ (‘action planning’, ‘goal setting’, ‘monitoring’) and ‘evaluation’. However, within this broadly agreed sequence, there lies an enormous difference with respect to actual practice. How exactly does SBI occur? How long does it take? What materials are used? What activities are included in each of the stages? All these questions require further research, as does SBI deployment with respect to the variations and differences listed above. In brief, SBI is often seen as self-evidently obvious, when it is not. Furthermore, we have critically reviewed the familiar traditional model and offered a revised cycle of steps which seeks to integrate SBI with strategic content learning and calls for a more ‘bottom up’, collaborative approach. The ‘Why?’ behind the approach leads us to our next question and the ‘How?’ and ‘Does it work?’ lead us into our last.

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Sixthly, is autonomy and independent learning. LLS research did not arise from the autonomy movement, which is perhaps best considered as a generation of communicative language teaching (CLT) (although it did for one of the current authors). We have previously argued that an individual cannot be considered to be a successful language learner and not be an autonomous language user, and that CLT could be built around strategies for autonomous learning. But, we have further shown how autonomy necessarily involves possessing the appropriate language learner strategies. The integration of LLSs within autonomous language learning contexts is therefore also an area needing further research. And, these days, as well as the individual variables listed above, we might add self-access and computer-based language learning to the situations where LLSs are a necessary pre-requisite. Seventh are pedagogy and methodology themselves. In other words, how might LLSs be used in actual classroom practice? We have argued that it is not enough to see them as an adjunct to what normally goes on in the classroom, as a complement or aid to teaching/ learning. And, yet, that is precisely the way they are often used, as thinking skills, or aids to learning. This situation is evident in various syllabuses and curricula, which continue with traditional lists of lexis and grammar, and note possible strategies en passant. An alternative is to conceive of and construct an entire ‘strategic classroom’, where everything is seen as adding to the type of language learning we have envisioned here. From the curricula and syllabuses we have worked with, some of which we quote in the book, it is clear that such a strategic approach is still in its infancy. As we saw with the notional-functional syllabuses, alternative approaches are often slow to catch on or, as in the case of the KS3 strategy, prove to be too complex to operationalize in practice. A strategic approach requires further research on curriculum design and policy implementation for second language learning and teaching, including assessment criteria and rubrics – such necessitates an inflected understanding of LLSs, in theory and in practice. Eighth, and finally, is teacher education, which has its own extensive research traditions and literature. LLSs as a topic of enquiry is a perfect example of the tension between theory and practice, and indeed research and practice. How do we get teachers of language to engage with and implement the findings of language learner strategy research and, indeed, to try out new models of SBI? The answers to these questions need to be set within the various approaches to language teacher education, and what they each tell us about teacher thinking and practice, including differences at various stages of professional practice (pre-service and in-service, for example), as well as context and level of expertise. We have argued that teachers need time to take on board such innovations, and time to plan and implement them. But, there also needs to be the commitment on the part of those in charge of their professional practice to understand and utilize what is available from LLS

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research studies. Enquiry in this area also needs to go beyond simple action research and case study evaluations to large-scale, longitudinal studies that explore the best means to influence and develop teachers’ commitment to such curricular change. As noted above, we have cast this book very much as a personal odyssey or journey through various avenues of second language learning and teaching, and with a concern to connect, theory, research and practice, this with a central preoccupation to improve and make more effective not just the actual development of language proficiency but also the learner’s sense of self-efficacy and their enjoyment of the learning process. We have stressed our own personal contexts and locales, which focus on non-adult learners of languages other than English. Our work clearly has implications for classroom methodology and curricular design and implementation. However, ultimately, we need to see the LLS research field as contributing to second language acquisition and indeed applied linguistics as a whole. Too often, and for various reasons referred to in our text, strategy research has been seen as peripheral to both. We even have heard of LLS researchers being called ‘a cult’. This is a great pity since, among all the areas of applied linguistics, it is one of the few that has an obvious direct application to the practical world of teaching and learning. Therefore, concerned as we are with learners and classroom practice, and given the sort of issues highlighted above, we believe that LLS does offer the possibility of a genuine paradigm shift in the way we think and act with respect to second language learning and teaching. We do not have all of the answers, but we do know a lot about a lot of them, and the further questions they raise. We therefore know what else needs to be done. Language learner strategies raise some uncomfortable questions for applied linguists, as well as teachers and policy writers. If the outcome of research and innovation in the past has not quite had the anticipated impact, it is because these questions have been passed over. We offer this book in the hope that this will no longer be the case, and that it marks a step on the way to the realization of a genuinely new gaze on what it is to learn languages and how.

Notes Introduction 1 In the early days of this research tradition, the terms ‘learner’ and ‘learning’ were used fairly synonymously with respect to strategies. However, in later periods, an unofficial consensus arose which saw ‘language learner strategies’ as dealing with internal cognition, and ‘language learning strategies’ pertaining more to social and classroom activities. In this book, we do not draw a tight distinction and will make clear which we intend when critically relevant.

Chapter 3 1 Explicit reference to strategies is unusual in textbooks at this level in England. Rather both textbooks and teachers see reading and listening activities essentially as testing rather than teaching opportunities. 2 The EPPI-Centre was established to develop a systematic approach to the organization and review of evidence-based work. Its work and publications engage health and education policymakers and practitioners in discussions about how researchers can make their work more relevant and how to use research findings. 3 The General Certificate of Secondary Education is a qualification awarded in a particular discipline area and is usually taken in a number of subjects by pupils in secondary schooling, often at age 15–16. 4 Multiple regression comparison can be misleading if factors correlate with each other (Tabachnick and Fidell, 2007). It can be useful, as in Table 3.1, if studies indicate both the squared simple correlation, otherwise known as the zero-order correlation (representing each factor’s total contribution to the outcome), and the squared semi-partial correlation (representing its unique contribution). An unusual complication that occurs in some studies is that the semi-partial correlation can be higher than the zero-order correlation, or even pull in opposite directions, if other variables in the analysis are acting as ‘suppressor’ variables, that is, if they remove variance from that predictor which is unrelated to the outcome (Tabachnick and Fidell, 2007).

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5 With the exception of ‘school’, representing socioeconomic background, the semi-partial correlations indicate a similar relative weighting of the factors. The other exception is that only the semi-partial correlations suggest that students with a more positive attitude from the outset make greater progress.

Chapter 4 1 Elementary students have one hour per week of English instruction and very little exposure to English outside the classroom. In secondary school, they get seventy-five minutes of English three times per nine day cycle. There are Intensive English programmes in elementary schools in which students have five months of English instruction but this is less than 20 per cent of the school system. 2 In the think-aloud extracts, ‘S.’ stands for student and ‘T.’ stands for teacher researcher. We have printed in bold those statements that we think are most relevant to their strategy deployment and affective approach. 3 The public examinations taken in England, Wales and Northern Ireland at the end of compulsory schooling.

Chapter 5 1 In this commonly used categorization system in the United Kingdom, stage 1 represents the competence of a student who is largely silent in the classroom and needs considerable support, whereas a stage 5 student has the same level of competence as a student for whom English is an L1. A stage 4 student’s oral English is developing well, allowing successful engagement in activities across the curriculum. Written English may lack complexity and contain occasional evidence of errors in structure. They may need support to access subtle nuances of meaning, to refine English usage, and to develop abstract vocabulary. 2 These tests were at that time the most widely used tests of reasoning ability in the United Kingdom, allowing teachers to compare their pupils’ results with the national average. The tests measure three principal areas of reasoning – verbal, non-verbal and numerical – as well as an element of spatial ability. Students’ verbal test scores are considered the most reliable predictor of MFL performance in the national exams at 16 (see NferNelson, 2003). 3 ‘Convergence’ and ‘divergence’ are common terms in social psychology and refer to the affective responses of speakers of one language with regard to another, either as positively or negatively disposed (see, for example, Hamers and Blanc, 2000).

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Chapter 7 1 The EPPI-Centre (Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Coordinating Centre) was established to develop a systematic approach to the organization and review of evidence-based work. Its work and publications engage health and education policymakers and practitioners in discussions about how researchers can make their work more relevant and how to use research findings.

Chapter 9 1 The National Literacy Strategy was a Key Stage 1 and 2 development, which was extended to Key Stage 3. This continuation was implemented through the Key Stage 3 English framework and the Language Across the Curriculum (DfES, 2001a,b) initiative.

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Curriculum Guides Dr Jim Anderson (Goldsmiths, University of London) was project director and coauthor/editor for the following series of curriculum guides: Ali, K. and Syed, H. (2007) Curriculum Guide for Urdu. London: CILT, The National Centre for Languages Bhatt, A. and Kant, J. (2009) Curriculum Guide for Gujarati. CILT, The National Centre for Languages. Brook, C., Lee, E. and Li, K. (2009) Curriculum Guide for Chinese (Cantonese). London: CILT, The National Centre for Languages.

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Chandla, N. and Grewal, P. (2007) Curriculum Guide for Panjabi. London: CILT, The National Centre for Languages. Farah, Y. and Mohamud, A. (2009) Curriculum Guide for Somali. London: CILT, The National Centre for Languages Oyetade, A. and Oke, Y. (2009) Curriculum Guide for Yoruba. CILT, The National Centre for Languages. Pillai, S. and Nithiya, K. (2007) Curriculum Guide for Tamil. London: CILT, The National Centre for Languages.

Index locators followed by n refer to notes ability 89 academic language skills 155 accuracy-fluency debate 181 acquisition 31 active metacognitive knowledge, capacity and scope of 33 active task approach 28 actualization 33, 41 of language procedures 35 advanced learner 80, 81, 147, 157 affective approaches case studies 91–4 contrasts in 85 affective demands, management of 28 affective strategies 79, 80, 89 learners 84–5 for primary school learners 82–3 progression in 80 researching 80–4 for secondary school learners 83 studies into 80 Allez (2015) 159–61 Allport, D. A. 30 alternative strategies 172 Anderson, John 32–3 on actualization 33 skill acquisition theory 155 ANOVAs 64 applied linguistics 2, 3, 38 applied science approach 201 Arabic 103, 105, 106, 117, 147 curriculum guides for 196–7 Assessment for Learning (AfL) 172 associated strategies 193 attainment 60–3 attitude change by group 71 impact of 74–5

levels of 183–4 prior 65 targets 17–18 attitude, change by group 68–9, 71 attribution theory 4, 58, 92, 95, 203 audio-lingual/audio-visual approaches 201 classroom 16 method 12–13, 16 programmes 17 techniques 202 auditory monitoring 34 authenticity of language 15, 21, 215 autonomous classroom 175–6 autonomous learner 154, 167 autonomy 153, 173, 176 Holec’s criteria of 176 in language 185 awareness raising 154–5 Bandura, A. 81, 92 behaviourism 12–13, 22, 202 learning theory of 201 beginner learner/near beginner learner 120, 143 Bernstein, Basil 118 ‘beyond cognition’ 32 bilinguals/bilingualism 59–60, 103–4, 107 academic advantages of 102–3, 117 academic benefits of 102 definition of 102–3 educational benefits of 106 home and school background 107–8 impact of 74 individual differences between students 112–13 intellectual rewards of 103

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learner strategies of 101–2 learners 4, 46, 101, 108–11 for learning third language 103–4 linguistic background, academic benefits and strategy use 105–7 literature on 102, 117 research 102, 104, 107, 197 role of identity 116 secondary school students 103 status 110 in STIR project 105 strategy use 113–16 students’ feelings about 108 students’ progress 111–12 Bourdieu, Pierre 3, 41, 55, 118 context of work 108 and language 41–3 boys’ underachievement 57, 59 Bown, J. 81 Bullock, A. 190 CALLA model. See Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA) model Canale, M. 22, 37 capital. See also specific types forms of 43 CAT. See Cognitive Ability Test (CAT) Catalan/Spanish bilinguals 104 CBTE. See Competence-BasedTeacher-Education (CBTE) Cenoz, J. 108, 117 CFL. See Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) Chamot, A. U. 34, 80 proposals for differentiation 176 strategy taxonomy 113 character-based writing systems 144–5 characters Chinese 125 choice of 132 fundamental components of 125 memorization of 146 physical appearance of 128 semantic category of 125 checking written work 172, 186, 211 ‘childhood’ bilinguals 110 Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) 127

Chinese characters 125 Chinese curriculum guide 196–7 Chinese teaching studies 125 Chomskyan linguistics 39, 184 Chomsky, Noam 13–14, 39 concept of competence 22 revolution 1 CILT 15 circumlocution 160 clarification, language 28 classroom 9, 38, 154, 171, 179 audio-visual 16 autonomous 175–6 environment 21 realities 218–19 teaching/learning activities for 10 teaching/learning strategies 182 CLIL. See Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) CLT. See communicative language teaching (CLT) cognition definition of 23 and metacognition 32 Cognitive Ability Test (CAT) 110 verbal score 84 Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA) 155, 168, 172 Cognitive and Metacognitive Knowledge 202 cognitive behaviour 33 cognitive strategies 80, 89, 161, 193 category of 127 cognitive theoretical approach 36 advantages of 30 cognitive theory 3, 23–4, 27, 45 revisited 30–1 Cohen, A. D. 81, 128 collaborative learning 155 collaborative practice 172 Common European Framework 37 communication characteristics of 15 language as means of 28 revolution 202 strategies 29, 163, 186 systems of 202 communicative attitude 28 communicative competence 22, 23, 27

INDEX Communicative Competence model 37 communicative language teaching 37 principles of 183 communicative language teaching (CLT) 13–14, 17, 18 autonomy branch of 24 communicative tenets of 15 interpretation and application of 19 communicative revolution 181, 183 communicative syllabus 181 competence 22, 203. See also specific types Chomskyan concept of 22 linguistic 185 notion of 27 stable system of 28 competence-based education 202–3 Competence-Based-Teacher-Education (CBTE) 201–3 comprehension monitoring 86, 186 concept domains 30, 32 conditional knowledge of strategies 35 conscious planning 40 Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) 196 context, differences of 38 convergence 42, 227 n.3 correction of errors 92 Council of Europe 37 coursebooks 165 Coyle, D. 62, 85 study by 155, 177 Craft approach 201, 210 Craft Model 202 cross-curricular approach 215 benefits and problems of 218–19 policies for 187–91 cultural awareness 18 cultural capital 43, 118 cultural imperialism 124 cultural understanding strategy 165 Cummins, J. 103, 118 curricula/curriculum 5, 46, 174 contemporary writing on 180 definition 180 guides for Arabic, Chinese, Punjabi and Tamil 196–7 models from primary to secondary schooling 157 structure of 206

247

DCT. See dual coding theory (DCT) Declarative and Procedural thinking 202 declarative knowledge 23–4, 31, 35, 40, 44, 181 de Saussure, Ferdinand 11 descriptive statistics 133 dichotomies in language learning 22, 36 dichotomizing language 22 differentiation 159, 169, 176 linguistic S social 41 discourse competence 22 distributed memory 30, 32 distributed procedural concepts 33 divergence 42, 227 n.3 Dobson, A. 184 domains concept 30 Donato, R. 155 Dörnyei, Z. 37 dual coding theory (DCT) 127 EAL. See English as an Additional Language (EAL) economic capital 43 elementary students 227 n.1 Ender, A. 104 English 200 bilingual learners of 108 English as an Additional Language (EAL) 109 English as a second or foreign language (ESL/EFL) 90, 160, 163, 200 learners 90 support learners of 155 EPPI. See Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and CoOrdinating (EPPI) ESL/EFL. See English as a second or foreign language (ESL/EFL) European languages learners of 131 strategies of 128 evaluation 32, 45, 172–3, 202 Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-Ordinating (EPPI) 56, 157–8 exemplification, form of 203

248

INDEX

FA. See functional awareness (FA) Fan, M. 129 feedback 173 form for 173 on strategies 173 field 105, 116, 187 foreign language contexts 159 ‘formal’ learning context 145 fossilization 20 Franceschini, R. 103 Frawley, W. 37 functional ability, element of 13 functional awareness (FA) 130 Garcia, G. E. 107 gender 59 ‘differences’ 48, 55, 56, 57, 62, 65, 68, 69, 74, 97 impact of 74 General Certificate of Secondary Education 226 n.3 generative language competence 19 generic 50, 123, 128, 129, 130, 137–7, 147, 219 Giles, H. 42 GLL, behaviours 29 global communications 15 goal setting 120, 171, 176, 223 good language learner 27–30 Good Language Learner practices 28 Gorter, D. 117 Graham, S. 169 grammar 1, 17 knowledge 22, 35, 37 teaching 190 traditional meta-language 181 grammar-translation approach 11–12, 16 grammar-translation method 12, 20, 180–1 characteristics of 12 of language teaching 12 grammar-translation syllabus 184 Grenfell, M. 19, 21, 41, 44, 84, 85, 91, 92, 95, 101, 131, 133, 145, 149 guessing 28 habitus 43, 45–6, 105, 116, 187 Harris, V. 84, 85, 91, 92, 95, 110, 115, 131, 133, 145

Hawthorne effect 72 hesitation devices 160 hobbies 119 Holec, H. 154, 174 criteria of autonomy 176 home environment 113–16 home language 118 and culture 116 use of 116 Hufeisen, B. 104 Hymes, D. 15, 22, 182 identity texts 118 idiosyncrasy 153 ‘IF ... THEN’ systems 33 imagery codes 127 implementation to cycle 17, 213 impression management 29 independent language knowledge 33 individual agendas of tasks 177 individual learner/learning 169, 177 individual teacher 203–5 inductive inferencing 28 inferencing strategies 186 informal teaching 102 information forms of 30 knowledge as 30 linguistic 31 information processing activities 36 form of 202 mental system of 36 in-service sessions 209 integrated strategy based instruction (ISBI) model 169–70 model and progression 174–7 summary of 170 integration of cycle 224 intention to mean 33 interconnected memory codes 127 ISBI model. See integrated strategy based instruction (ISBI) model Jessner, U. 119 Jiang, X. 128, 138, 144 Jiminez, R. T. 107 Jones, G. 74 Jones, J. 74

INDEX KAL. See knowledge about language (KAL) Kalyuga, S. 126 Key Stage 3 Strategy 179, 185–7, 198, 217 knowing, forms of 37 knowledge 114 cognitive strategies 34 declarative 23–4, 31, 35, 40, 44, 181 forms of 35 grammar 36 as information 30 and language 18, 37, 41 metacognitive learning strategies 34 procedural 23–4, 31, 35, 40, 44, 181 social and affective strategies 35 strategic 107 and understanding 206 working 182 knowledge about language (KAL) 37 knowledge-bases language teachers 200 Krashen, S. 14, 181 LAD. See language acquisition device (LAD) language adolescent learners of 2 Bourdieu and 41–3 classroom, implications for 119–20 classroom, successes and failures in 15–17 cognitive and affective dimensions to 45–6 competent user 203 conceptualization of 185 features of 14, 42 forms of 15 generic strategies from 123 independent learner of 203 interaction between 117 knowledge 21–3, 41 L1 vs.L2 32 nature of 123 procedures, actualization of 35 proficiency 11

249

research-based theory of 185–6 skills 18, 19 socio-linguistic subtleties of 117 spoken 105, 109 teachers 10 use, valued distinction in 42 word-text-sentence model of 185–6 language-accuracy styled syllabus 183 language acquisition device (LAD) 1, 14, 37, 184 language as means of communication 28 language classroom 35–6 language curriculum 181–5 Key Stage 3 Strategy 185–8 sentences 186 texts 186–7 words 186 language innateness theory 13–14 language knowledge automatic 36 controlled 36 independent 33 language learner strategies (LLSs) 1, 4, 23–4, 35–8, 43, 44, 101, 163, 180, 182, 196, 201 affective aspect of 79 applications of 5 cognitive view of 30 conscious vs. unconscious 37 contribution of 104–5 developments in 3 English 2 5 Cs with 192–3 framework of 34 principal paradigm underpinning 27 psychological approach to 43 rationale and exploration of 4–5 research 1, 3, 4, 27, 29, 36–8, 81, 102, 106, 124, 132, 177, 183 sessions on 209 ‘social’ side of 38 sociocultural dimension of 79–80 studies 107 theoretical and practical aspects of 46 theoretical background of 37 in theory and practice 199

250

INDEX

understanding of 30 unified nature of 79 usefulness of 180 view of 43 language learning 37, 39, 49, 56, 104, 182 applicability to 23 approach to 10, 184 autonomy and self-access in 3 cognitive approach to 24 description of 9 in England 117 goal-orientated aspects of 35 methods 9–11 nature of 1, 39 persistence and independence in 89 practice 3 principles of 180 product of 10 research 2 skills 4, 18, 21 sociocultural and individual differences in 58–63 strategic approach to 38, 42, 184 theories 1–3, 18, 201 language skills 29–30 stages of 33 language teacher education approaches to 201 first vs. second 216–18 forms of 201 model for 202–3 specificity of 200, 201 language teachers/teaching 21, 37, 124 materials 20 methods 10–11 pedagogy 200 problems in 21–2 Lantolf, J. 37 learners/learning activities, pedagogic dimension to 36 background of 199 context, ‘formal’ 145 development 40 languages, process of 104 learning 21 linguistic competence with 185 materials for 163–4

personalized style of 19 processes of 24 psychology of 3 scaffolding structure to 180 strategic conditions of 196 techniques 35 theory of 13, 201, 202 tips to aid 177 Learning How To Learn (LHTL) project 191 Learning Strategy Handbook 160 ‘learning to learn’ agenda 3 Lee, C. H. 126 Leland, C. H. 146 lesson plan 194 linguistic capital 42, 43, 46, 116 features of 42 linguistic competence with learners 185 linguistic consumption process 14 linguistic destinies 28 linguistic information 31 linguistic knowledge 29–30 aspects of 33 linguistic market 105 linguistic processing 40 linguistic proficiency, provenance and actualization of 41 linguistic profile 42 linguistic research, interpretation of 184 linguistic ‘threshold’ 87 listening 111 comprehension 49, 52, 73 questionnaires 52, 64 listening skills 114 development of 74 ‘top down’ and ‘bottom-up’ 50 listening strategies 74, 117 instruction 72 selection of 50 literacy 190–1, 196 L1 language 33 strategies 199 teaching 200 L2 language linguistic forms of 33 strategies 199 teaching 200 LLSs. See language learner strategies (LLSs)

INDEX long term memory (LTM) 31 ‘embedded’ in 31 LTM. See long term memory (LTM) Macaro, E. 81, 170 management of affective demands 28 Mandarin Chinese (MC) 4, 123–4 beginner learners of 143 British teachers of 130 character learner strategies 129 collaboration and support of 131 factors underlying use of memorization strategies 138–43 generic strategies 128 implications 143–4 memorization strategies 125–33, 144–7 project 124–5 script 125–6 strategies 128, 133–8 materials from primary to secondary 165–7 for teaching cultural awareness strategies 166 for young learners 163–4 MC. See Mandarin Chinese (MC) McCormick, C. 155, 217 McGinnis, S. 128 memorization 28, 124, 144–5, 158, 160, 176, 186 character for 129, 146 comparison of 187–8 factor analysis results 139–41 L1/L2 project 187–9 practices 130 process 127 purposes 130 strategies 125, 126, 131, 132–6 vocabulary 146, 158 memory distributed 30 types of 31 meta-affective strategies 84 metacognition 32 cognition and 32 cognitive processing 32 metacognitive awareness 88 metacognitive behaviour 33

251

metacognitive strategies 80, 81, 195–6, 202 importance of 146 ML. See modern language (ML) modelling 44 Modern Foreign Languages 183 modern language (ML) 55, 200 classroom language 117 cohorts of 52 Key Stage 3 Strategy for 185–6 research for 81 school-level learners learning 158 social class and 56 teaching methodologies 30 test score 84 work and examination specifications for 196 Modern Language classroom 119 monitoring 28, 32 elements of 202 monolingual/bilingual status 111–12 monolinguals 4, 103, 115 status 110 strategies of 116 students 115 MRA. See multiple regression analysis (MRA) multicompetence 103 multilingual education 119 multiple regression 64, 226 n.4 multiple regression analysis (MRA) 65 results 66–7 Nagy, W. 145 Naiman, N. 28 National Capital Language Resource Center 156–7, 192 cognitive strategies 193 5 Cs with learning strategies 192–3 National Curriculum (NC) 17, 49, 184 in English 185 objectives in 191 for school education 183 National Curriculum Programmes of Study 184 National Literacy Strategy 185 NC. See National Curriculum (NC) neurological processes, view of 30 new strategies, willingness to adopt 95

252

INDEX

‘non-European’ languages 2 Norton, B. 40 context of work 108 relationship between identity and language learning 101 notional-functional syllabus 182 Nyikos, M. 129 O’Malley, M. 34, 80 on social strategies 38 strategy taxonomy 113 taxonomy of metacognitive strategies 134 oracy 196 oral/aural memorization strategies 113–14 organisational competence 22 orthographic knowledge 129 overarching strategies 156–7, 160, 176 Oxford, R. 29, 80, 93 meta-affective strategies 84, 91 ‘Planning for affect’ 92 positive self talk 90 taxonomy 90, 91, 134 PA. See professional values (PA) Pearson, P. D. 107 peer support 117, 155 performance 22 personal codes 118 personalization 15, 19, 173, 177 pinyin 126, 136 planning 32, 202 Plonsky, L. 153, 157 observation 158 pragmatic approach 159 SBI interventions 169 Powesland, P. E. 42 practical teaching materials 155 practice 1–5, 10, 11, 13, 14, 19, 20, 22, 23, 25, 28, 36, 39, 43, 44, 46, 48, 49, 56–63, 80, 102, 108, 119, 120, 124–5, 130, 131, 146, 151, 154, 155, 159, 165, 168, 170, 172, 174, 177, 183, 187, 191–3, 196–8, 199, 202, 205 pragmatic competence 22 prediction 14, 36, 161 Presentation-Practice-Production model 174

pre-service training 209, 213–16 primary schooling, models from 157 prior knowledge 176–7 procedural knowledge 23–4, 31, 35, 40, 44, 181 professional knowledge and understanding (PKU) 203 professional practice 200 professional skills (PS) 203 professional values (PA) 203 progression 153 in cognitive strategies 162 in skill areas 161–3 within teaching materials 163–7 PS. See professional skills (PS) psychology 38, 41 of learning 3 psychotypology 103 Punjabi, curriculum guides for 197–8 Québec 195–6 curriculum proposals 91 Québec Ministry of Education 90 questioning 107 raising awareness 44 reading, academic skills of 116 reading strategies 50 comparison of 188 explicit instruction in 74–5 realization of language system 28 reflection in action 202 reflective practitioner metaphor 32 Reflective Practitioner Model 202 Reflexive Practitioner Approach 201 reminders, practice and fading of 44 re-reading 107 research/researchers 36, 81, 127, 132, 153, 159 bilinguals/bilingualism 102, 104, 107, 197 language learner strategies (LLSs) 1, 3, 4, 27, 29, 36–8, 81, 102, 106, 124, 132, 177, 183 language learning 2 measures, sociocultural factors 64–5 modern language (ML) 81 strategy based instruction (SBI) 160

INDEX studies, SLA 102, 104 teacher/teaching 10 third language acquisition (TLA) 102, 103 Rubin, J. 171 identification of learning processes 28 Sanz, C. 104 SBI. See strategy based instruction (SBI) scaffolding, practice 155, 160 Schön, Donald 32, 202 school education, ‘National Curriculum’ (NC) for 183 schools 49–52 based codes 118 environment 113–16 SCL. See strategic content learning (SCL) Scrimgeour, A. 130 metalinguistic awareness 144 secondary schooling 161 models from 157 secondary teaching curriculum 80 second language acquisition (SLA) 2, 14, 23, 101, 183 factors and issues involved in 4 research studies 102, 104 second language learning 1, 9, 15, 17, 33, 79 challenge of teaching and learning 5 proficiency in 16 rationales 1–2 strategic approach to 107–8, 199 and teaching 3, 181 self-assessment 169, 172 process of 163 self-communication 202 self-confidence 173 self-efficacy 80, 89, 94, 155, 171, 173 levels of 81 sense of 75 self-evaluation 172 form for 173 of strategies 163 self-monitoring 173 self-regulation 39, 45, 80 learning 167–9 skills of 174

253

self-reliance 86, 87, 89 Seliger, L. 181 semantic mapping 161 semi-structured interviews 52 short term memory (STM) 31, 33 SILL. See Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) Skehan, P. 37, 39 skepticism 29 skill acquisition theory 155 skill-based tasks 33 skills 157–8 language 29–30 of self-regulation 174 speaking 120 strategies and 206–7 SLA. See second language acquisition (SLA) social capital 43, 118 social characteristics 46 social class 58–9 impact of 73–4 social conditions of language 45 social contact 40 social fields 105 social hierarchy 42 reproduction of 42 social microcosm 43 social psycholinguistics 42 social space 43, 46 social strategies 38 social understanding of language 41 socio-cognitive relationships 41 sociocultural 15, 20, 21, 44, 45, 55, 72, 105, 107, 116 approach to learner strategies 56–7 role of 58–63 sociocultural factors 63–76 attainment 71–2, 74–5 bilinguals 70–1 changes in attitude 68–9 gender 70, 74 impact of social class 73–4 implications 72, 75 in modern language learning 55 research measures 64–5 role of social class in progress 69–70 SBI 64–8, 72–3 sociocultural model 168

254

INDEX

socio-economic background 49, 58, 62, 64, 69, 71, 112 sociolinguistic competence 22 sociology of language 41 sophisticated grammatical clues 157 speaking skills 120 special educational needs (SEN) 49 speech 39–40, 182 Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) 65 Stern 28 STIR project 49–52, 55, 82, 105, 157, 158, 163 description of 159 language learning progress 58–63 sociocultural approach to learner strategies 56–7 strategic approach 45 strategic banner 182 strategic classroom 27, 199 strategic competence 22, 44 strategic content approach 167–9 strategic content learning (SCL) 167, 172 cross-curriculum approach of 168 general instructional principles 169 instructional principles 168 integrating 169–70 model 172 principles and activities 176 strategic knowledge 107 strategic language classroom 201 learning, factors in 43 strategic pedagogy 199 strategic practice 199 Strategic Self-Regulation model 81 strategic teaching 199 strategies 157–8 and activities 194 affective 89 alternative 172 associated 193 chains, importance of 146 for checking written work 186 cluster of 52 cognitive 89, 193 combinations of 90, 123 communication 163 cross comparison of 133

‘cycle’ of 47 definition of 29–30 explicit reference to 226 n.1 feedback on 173 inferencing 186 learning 163, 194 for memorizing vocabulary 177 monitoring use of 94 overarching 156–7, 176 reading 50, 74–5, 188 repertoire of 176 selection of 50 seminal taxonomy of 80 and skills 206–7 wheel 163, 164 strategy based instruction (SBI) 4, 27, 43, 44–5, 119, 144–7, 201, 202 activity 51 in affective strategies 80 autonomous approach to 154 concrete research evidence into 160 critical analysis of 167 criticisms of 159 description of 153–4, 169 effectiveness of 56, 158 evaluation 45 ideal model for 169 impact of 64, 72–3 implication for 119–20, 203 initial issues in 154 integrated strategy based instruction (ISBI) model 169–70 ISBI model and progression 174–7 lessons 159 listening 50, 72 materials 159 meta-analysis of 153 model 154–7 modelling 44 notion of 3 outcomes of 167 pedagogical implications 75 potential benefits of 145 practical teaching materials 155 practice 44 practice phases of 159 problem of progression 157–9 progression in skill areas 159–63 progression within teaching materials 163–7

INDEX raising awareness 44 reading 72 recent developments in 165 review of 157–8 role of 73, 101 self-regulated learning and 167–9 sessions on 209 skill-based approach to 158 and sociocultural factors 63–75 in speaking strategies 158 studies of 46, 160 task purpose/goal setting (see task purpose/goal setting, strategy based instruction) transfer 45 strategy deployment 29, 85 flexibility in 89 Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) 127 limitations of 131 structural constructivism 45 structural linguistics 11–12, 21–2 structural relationships 41–2 students 11, 16–19, 21, 46, 48–52, 56, 57–76, 80, 84, 85, 89–94, 96, 101, 102, 105–7, 145–7 bilingual 108–16, 119 elementary 227 n.1 monolingual 108–9, 119, 120, 125–7 scaffolding 177 strategies for memorizing 131–3 subject knowledge 203–5 importance of 200 substitution, strategy of 88, 115 Sung, Ko-Yin 131 super strategies 160 Swain, M. 37 syllabus/syllabuses 5, 46, 182–5, 188–95 definition 180 traditional 181 symbolic value 104–5 symbolic violence, form of 42 syntactical competence 24 systematization 146 Tajfel, H. 42 Tamil, curriculum guides for 196–7 target language, communicating in 17–18

255

task-focused approach 174 task purpose/goal setting, strategy based instruction 170 awareness raising and modelling 172 classification and criteria 171 collaborative practice 172 evaluation 172–3 transfer 173–4 tasks, ‘individual agendas’ of 177 teacher education 46, 200 awareness-raising of 209 evaluation and transfer 212–13 first vs. second language 216–18 modelling 210 models of 200 for strategic classroom 207–9 transfer 45 teacher/teaching 21, 31, 174 competence level 204 curriculum, secondary 80 education 5 grammar 190 informal 102 vs. learner 119 materials, concrete illustrations of 161 methodologies 1, 13, 16 rationales 1–2 scaffolding 20, 180, 184 second language learning and 181 steps for training 209 techniques 9 trainers and researchers 10 think aloud 52, 64, 80, 84–9, 91, 95, 113, 132, 138, 144, 149–50, 210 third language acquisition (TLA) 101 research 102, 103 studies 104, 107, 116 threshold level 61, 74, 103, 182 TLA. See third language acquisition (TLA) Toohey, K. 40 traditional syllabuses 181 training institution 201 transactional language 19 transfer 45 translation 17 trilingualism, literature on 102, 117 Tseng, J. J. 128

256

UK, foreign languages in 17 universal grammar 13–14, 22 use of prior knowledge 161, 176–7 Valencia, J. F. 108 verbal behaviour 13 visual aids, extensive use of 155 visual monitoring 113, 114 visualization, explanation of 138 VLSs. See vocabulary learning strategies (VLSs) vocabulary learning 1, 126 vocabulary learning strategies (VLSs) 126–7 vocabulary memorization 126–7, 146, 158 Vygotsky, Lev 39, 155 individual learner 41

INDEX psycholinguistics 39 view of language concerns 40 Wang, J. 146 Wesche, M. B. 29 Wharton, G. 104, 107, 124 White, C. 81 Wilkins, D. 182 Wong-Fillmore, L. 29 working knowledge 182 writing, academic skills of 116 Yin, J. H. 128 young learners, materials for 163–7 Zhao, G. 128, 138, 144 Zobl, H. 104 Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) 40