This study was conducted in order to investigate the effective language learning strategies employed by Cambodian students -studying English as a second language or as a foreign language. According to research documents from other sources, most well-known Oxford, Chamot, O’Malley, Stern and Rubin are interested in researching “Language Learning Strategies”. In reality, the conceptual framework of my research was selected from the Oxford’s theory customized into direct strategies consisting of memory strategies, cognitive strategies and compensation strategies and indirect strategies including metacognitive strategies, affective strategies and social strategies. Sample of the research is about 100 students – studying advance level in one English private school -who score of proficiency test from 80 upwards.
All of selected participants first are required to answer the questionnaires about the learning strategies which have done in two languages both English and Khmer. Secondly, the researcher will interview some of the students in order to ensure what they have already answered in the Oxford’s SILL questionnaires (1990) is very accurate and trustful; moreover, the researcher also need to do the interview with 10 teachers who are responsible for holding advance classes in order to ensure that data of those students from different classes are knowledgeable and reliable. All data obtained will be analyzed by using SPSS and then put into EXCEL to find the mean and standard deviation.
After analyzing the data, the researcher can see that the majority of Cambodian outstanding students preferred working with the first choice of compensatory strategies and the second is cognitive strategies. Furthermore, it is anticipated that after the research project students can work well with English language through employing new learning strategies which are effective and reliable.
Key words: Language Learning Strategies, Successful Language Learners, EFL, English as Foreign Language (EFL) Learners
1.1 Background of the Study
English has been considered as the predominant and common global language for people living in developing countries in the beginning of twenty-first century because it is very essential tool -which is for tracking the universal information and for global communication -that can help them find a well-paid job in locally and internationally standardized company or enterprise. In Cambodia, as elsewhere in the globalized world, English has gained a crucial role in different areas of life over the last decades. This is evident by the increasing number of English schools from children to adults in Cambodia. At the moment, the market for learning and teaching English in Cambodia is so vast. In fact, over the past decades, McLaren (2000) illustrated that Cambodian people have inspired themselves to study English because learning English is very worthy for them to have a better lifestyle (as cited in Koji Igawa, 2008). As a result, English is currently popular language used for international business and education in Cambodia (Igawa, 2008). Igawa. K (2010) English now is most interesting and popular language in Cambodia and it is also regarded as a bridge to receive a high-paid work and to continue scholarship abroad. In addition, futurists Naisbitt and Aburdence (1990) mentioned the prospects of English in glowing color:
The dramatic increase of development of a single global lifestyle is because of the proliferation of English language and culture transmission. It is now about 1 billion and is probably to exceed to 1.5 billion English speakers in the world by 2000. Language has been taught around the world; English is not replacing the original language but it is supplementing the others (as cited in Koji Igawa).
Similarly, English is now important communication means in every area of life, including science, business, aviation, entertainment, TV, internet and diplomacy in the world. Most kinds of published documents or materials written into English language are available in the world. Montgogomery (2004), 80 to 90 percent of documents, journal or (Graddol, 1999) information stored in the internet is written or dominated by English language (as cited in Aslan & Oktay, 2009). In the same time, Crystal (2003) mentioned that native English speakers are about 400 million when non-native English speakers -who used English as Second Language (ESL) and Foreign Language (EFL) – are more than 430 million and latter is around 730 million. Hence, the surprising figure of English language speakers peak up to one and half billion worldwide (as cited in Aslan.O, 2009).
According to what researcher mentioned above, it is extremely clear that most parts of the world are studying English language in order to have a better living standard. However, up until now, learning English is tough for not just Cambodian people but also other non-native English speakers whose language has much difference from English. Apart from this, Cambodia is; for example, not an English speaking country; therefore, English communicative competence is hard to acquire. In this case, language learning strategies can greatly assist language learners in Cambodia to learn English in more effective and efficient ways. According to Cohen (2005) mentioned that Language Learning Strategies (LLS) are very essential for “language learning and teaching” for two main reasons: “(a) researcher can identify the metacognitive, cognitive, social and affective process involved in language learning by investigating the strategy use of second language learners, (b) less successful language learners can be assisted to be better language learners through effective strategy instruction. The second reason is more necessary for classroom pedagogy and some researchers (O’Malley & Chamlot, 1990; Ozeki, 2002; Ikeda & Takeuchi, 2003) have claimed language learners can improve their language performance by using instructed learning strategy” (as cited in Kusumi, 2007).
1.2 Problem Statement
Having been working as an EFL teacher for ages in public institute English is likely to use as support language, researcher has observed that the majority of Cambodian students studying English there are facing the obstacles of learning English because they are living in non-native English speaking country whose language is Khmer; therefore, they don’t have much chance sharpening and strengthening their English. Although the students change every year, their learning attitude remains the same. Most of them do not have successful educational history and numbers of them are unaware of language learning strategies according to what the researcher’s observation. Furthermore, Cambodian English learners and teachers have shortage of effective language learning and teaching strategies.
1.3 Aim and Objective of the Study
The purpose of this study is to investigate the effective language learning strategies used by the learners, with specific emphasize on the great numbers of strategies and the domain differences and to indicate the link between strategy use and success level. What’s more, researcher is willing to find out how well the learning strategies helped Cambodian students learn English. According to Brown (1987) illustrates the interaction of “what is learning and what is teaching”. After researching the effective language learning strategies, the students can employ these learning strategies to master their learning the language. Also, academic director can conduct a workshop on the subject matter of how to learn the language fruitfully and successfully; moreover, teachers can clearly understand the approaches to build up students’ ability and needs.
1.4 Research Question
What are the language learning strategies that contribute to successful EFL learners?
1.5 Rationale of the Study
Cambodia is now moving towards the “process of globalization” along with membership of ASEAN community (Igawa, 2008). Therefore, the findings on language learning strategies towards successful EFL learners will be beneficial for learners to reinforce their learning strategies or styles more and more effective and for educators to create more effective teaching methodology in order to fulfill students’ needs. Furthermore, working as a successful, standard and professional educator, it is very essential to transparently and deeply understand the ways to educate the students or children both mental awareness and academic abilities. In addition, school principal or director will be able to update the study program to match the job market. Consequently, researcher sincerely hopes that this study would assist all school principal or manager, educators and EFL learners to apply in teaching or studying respectively.
2.1 The Definition of Language Learning Strategies (LLS)
Educators and learners have now paid much attention on not only ‘what to learn’ but also ‘how to learn’. In order to completely achieve language learning, the focus is placed on the development of the learning strategies generally -the educators ought to be aware the varieties of techniques in transferring their English knowledge to learners. For instance, with good language learning strategies, teachers can instruct the students well enough. However, the first step to realization of this approach is to know what learning strategies are about.
Speaking about language learning strategies, most of researchers mainly highlight on how to deal with language learning strategies more easily and more effectively and introduce useful help for language learners. Therefore, language learning strategies are broadly defined by many researchers of second and foreign language learning depending on the subject areas including pedagogy, psychology, linguistic.
According to the linguist, LLS is generally defined as ways the learners to acquire and to use English language effectively and correctly (Richards & Schmidt, 2002). Moreover, Tsan. (2008), LLS refers to action or technique the language students use in order develop their language learning progress; for example, questions during teaching and feedbacks after reading.
Rubin (1975) defined “successful language learners” by just looking at their strategies and their learning performance. Also, Parrot defined a learning strategy as “a measure that the learner actively employs to assist or advance learning” (1993: 57).
Aslan. O (as cited in Rigny, 1985 & Oxford, 1990) defined that “language learning strategies” were as “operations employed by learner to aid the acquisition, storage, retrieval, and use of information”. Scarcella & Oxford (1992, p.63) defined that learning strategies are “steps, behaviors, specific actions or techniques” such as making conversation, solving tough problem in language learning. Learning strategies or learner strategies are steps adopted by learners to achieve their learning and develop their language acquisition (Chamot & O’Malley, 1996; Nunan, 1996; Oxford, 1996; Lessard-Clouston, 1997).
In the meantime, Cohen (2007) agreed with Oxford’s ideas defined that the purpose of language learning strategies is to develop learning, to work with specific tasks, to cope with specific problems, to make learning easier, faster, and more enjoyable and to compensate for a deficit in learning.
English as Foreign Language (EFL): is defined as “English language learning occurs in a nonnative English environment where the native language is spoken” (Tanveer. M &Yang. M, 2010)
Even though language learning strategies are not simply defined, they all depend on to one common thing which helps learners make their language learning easier and acquire language more effectively and successfully.
2.2. Importance of language learning strategies
The language learning strategies are special ways to help people to realize, to learn, and to memorize new knowledge. As an old Chinese saying goes “Teaching a man how to fish is better than giving him a fish.” Teachers cannot always teach him by his side throughout his life, so these strategies play an important role in developing learner autonomy. Learners can make the best use of these strategies to establish the ability of self-directed learning. If people use these strategies efficiently, they can learn by themselves and self-examine their own progress. Gradually, they can set up their self-confidence. Therefore, having proper learning strategies can improve learners and enhance their abilities of language.
2.3 Taxonomy of Language Learning Strategies
According to the early studies on language learning strategies, the professional researchers involved in language learning have had different concepts of classification of learning strategies. The researchers (Cohen, 2002; Ellis, 1997; O’Malley, 1985) indicate similar learning strategies categorized into metacognitive, cognitive, social and communication. Obviously, there are three main types of learning strategies consisting of “metacognitive, cognitive and social strategies” (Ghani as cited in O’Malley and Chamot, 1990). Another researcher stated that three types of language learning strategies have been classified such as; “learning strategies, communication strategies and social strategies” (Zare as cited in Rubin, 1987). Referring to Oxford’s classification, the professional and expertize researcher has divided the language learning strategies into two main categories; direct strategies and indirect strategies which are subdivided into total of six groups (Zare as cited in Oxford, 1990). Whereas, researcher (Stern, 1992) stated that there have been five types of language learning strategies such as; (1) management and planning strategies (2) cognitive strategies (3) communicative -experiential strategies (4) interpersonal strategies (5) affective strategies.
In researcher’s opinion, researcher would prefer to follow the Oxford’s taxonomy rather than the others’ views because its taxonomy clearly stated the procedures and steps of language learning strategies divided into two major parts named direct strategies and indirect strategies. Remarkably, these two strategies are not apart from each other but they are relatively interconnected. Most interestingly, a few main subdivisions for each strategy are also closely interrelated and help one another.
2.4 Conceptual framework of LLS
According Oxford (1990), LLS is categorized into two major groups such as; direct strategies and indirect strategies. The first one was the activities which directly effect on the learning process including “memory, cognitive, and compensation strategies that help learners achieve the target language in communication gaps. The latter is the indirect activities which have influence on leaning process. It consists of “metacognitive, affective and social strategies”. The conceptual framework that informed this study will use this classification so as to explore language learning strategies for successful EFL learners.
Figure 2.1 Interrelationships between Direct and Indirect Strategies and Among the Six Strategy Groups (Oxford, 1990)
2.4.1 Direct strategies
The direct strategies play very important role because they help learners store and recover the information easily and produce the language. According to Oxford (1990), direct strategies are the learning strategies involved in target language -the metal processing of the language; for example, remembering the information and practicing the target language while the other three subdivisions of direct strategies activate this process normally. In reality, Oxford (1990) classified direct strategies into three categories such as; memory strategies, cognitive strategies and compensation strategies. These categories are stated as:
“Memory strategies, such as grouping or using imagery, have a highly specific function: helping students store and retrieve new information. Cognitive strategies, such as summarizing or reasoning deductively, enable learners to understand and produce new language by many different means. Compensation strategies, like guessing or using synonyms, allow learners to use the language despite their often large gaps in knowledge”(Oxford, 1990; p.37).
188.8.131.52 Memory strategies
Memory strategies are defined as the learning strategies used for storing, entering and retrieving the information. Memory strategies help learners to connect one L2 concept to another but it is not sophisticated. Additionally, memory strategies help learners learn and organize things in order; however, with other strategies, language learners create learning and retrieving through “sounds, images, the combination of sounds and images, body movement, mechanical means or a location” (Aslan as cited in Oxford, 1990). Stevick (1982), McCathy (1990), Holden (1999), and Cohen (2002) mentioned the similar method to remember the vocabulary and structures easily for fresh language learners. “Memory strategies can contribute powerfully to language learning” (Aslan, 2009).
Oxford (1990) distinguishes memory strategies into another set of four: creating mental linkages, applying images and sounds, reviewing well and employing action. Here is the diagram of the memory strategies.
Creating Mental Linkages
Placing new words into a context
Appling all images and sounds
Representing sounds in Memory
Using physical response or sensation
Using mechanical techniques
Figure: 2.2: Diagram of the memory strategies (Oxord, 1990, p.18)
184.108.40.206 Cognitive strategies
Cognitive strategies are very essential strategies to enhance students’ ability in critical thinking and enable the learners to manipulate or change the target language because of the above-mentioned reasons, cognitive strategies are very useful for learning a new language (Aslan, 2009). Cognitive strategies refer to the strategies which learners employ to think critically, analyzing the information professionally, note-taking and summarizing and so on (Oxford. L. R, 1990). Chamot (1989) stated that learners acquire the target language and complete the tasks directly by themselves. According to the previous studies, the cognitive strategies are prominently connected with L2 proficiency (Kato, 1996; Oxford & Ehrman, 1995; Oxford, Judd, and Giesen, 1998; and Park, 1994). Moreover, cognitive strategies popularize for language learners due to one study conducted by Oxford (1989, 1990).
Oxford (1990) illustrated that cognitive strategies have four sets such as; “practicing, receiving and sending messages, analyzing and reasoning and creating structure for input and output. Here is the cluster of cognitive strategies.
Formally practicing with sounds & writing system
Recognizing and using formula and patterns
Receiving and sending messages
Getting the idea quickly
Using resources for receiving and sending messages
Analyzing and reasoning
Analyzing contrastively (across languages)
Creating structure for input and output
Figure: 2.3: Diagram of the memory strategies (Oxford, 1990, p.18-19)
220.127.116.11 Compensation strategies
Compensatory refers to the reduction of bad effects of something according Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. Oxford (1990, p.47) compensatory strategies are strategies that learners use new language for either comprehension or production despite limitations in information; moreover, these strategies are willing to make up for an insufficient repertoire of grammar and, especially, of vocabulary. Due to applied linguistic dictionary (2002) defined the compensatory strategies as strategies which help learners -children who lack language experience enable to comprehend the missing the information. For example, learners cannot read the text or understand the text easily and efficiently because of a few difficult vocabularies. Nijmegen & Kasper (1983) stated that compensatory strategies refer to strategies which language learners use so as to overcome the intended meaning during verbal communication.
As above mention, these strategies assist learners to produce spoken and written expressions in the target language even though they have inadequate knowledge. Aslan. O (2009) mentioned that “compensatory strategies for production serve as helper in carrying on employing language. Apart from these, some of these strategies help learners become more fluent in their prior knowledge”.
Oxford classified compensatory strategies in ten sub-strategies which are under the two main strategies. Ten of these strategies are guessing by linguistic clues, guessing by other clues, switching to the mother tongue, getting help, using mime or gesture, avoiding communication partially or totally, selecting the topic, adjusting or approximating the message, coining words, and using circumlocution or synonym. Below is the diagram of compensatory strategies taken from Oxford’s theory.
Overcoming limitations in speaking and writing
Switching to the mother tongue
Using mime or gesture
Avoiding communication partially or totally
Selecting the topics
Adjusting or approximating the message
Using a circumlocution or synonym
Using linguistic clues
Using other clues
Figure: 2.4: Diagram of the compensatory strategies (Oxford, 1990, p.18-19)
2.4.2 Indirect strategies
According to Oxford (1990), indirect strategies can be classified as meta-cognitive, affective, and social strategies. She added that all of the strategies are indirect, since they help the language learning without directly connected with the target language. Also, she stated as the following:
“Metacognitive strategies enable language learners to manage their own cognition- that is, to coordinate the learning process by using functions such as centering, arranging, planning the organization either written and spoken discourse, and evaluating the comprehension of receptive language and language production. Affective strategies help to regulate emotions, motivations, and attitude. Social strategies help students learn through interaction with others using either interpersonal or intrapersonal communication” (p.135).
Similarly, Kozmonová (2008) agreed with Oxford’s that indirect strategies are not the same as direct strategies, for they are not directly related to the “target language”. Indirect strategies connected with language learning management such as; “planning and organizing time for learning, evaluating learners’ progress, paying attention to emotions, learning with other people, and others”.
More significantly, Oxford (1990) and Filiz (2005) claimed that direct strategies and indirect strategies are interconnected and are beneficial in all language learning circumstances and helping language learners to improve and strengthen all four macro skills such as listening, reading, speaking, and writing.
18.104.22.168 Metacognitive strategies
Tsan (2008) indicated that meta-cognitive strategies referred to overall learning process management. In addition, Al-Buainain (2010) showed that metacognitive strategies are involved in one’s language learning by planning, organizing, monitoring and evaluating and they help learners to “gain control over their emotions and motivations related to language learning through self-monitoring”. According to Oxford’s clarification (1990), metacognitive strategies are absolutely vital methods which the successful language learners need to employ to integrate the process of language learning. For instance, students who are unfamiliar with vocabulary and confusing the grammar rules and so on so forth need these strategies.
Cohen (2002, p.3) accurately describes metacognitive strategies as those which “[…] deal with pre-assessment and pre-planning, on-line planning and evaluation, and post-evaluation of language learning activities and of language use events”. Researcher, Ellis (1997, p.77) asserted that “metacognitive strategies are those involved in planning, monitoring and evaluating learning. Additionally, O’ Malley and Chamot mentioned that these strategies involve in planning and thinking about learning, such as planning one’s learning, monitoring one’s own speech or writing, and evaluating how successful a particular strategy is (1990, p.44).
According to what above mention, research finding of metacognitive strategies has common strategies which refer to learners’ planning, organizing, and evaluating of their learning. Hence, students can regain their focus by using metacognitive strategies and utilize the strategies for making use of other necessary learning strategies for a successful outcome.
Metacognitive strategies consist of eleven sub divisions such as: centering your learning, arranging and planning your learning and evaluating your learning (Oxford, 1990). Here is the diagram of meta-cognitive strategies.
Centering your learning
Overviewing & linking with already known material
Delaying speech production to focus on listening
Arranging and planning your learning
Finding out about language learning
Setting goals and objectives
Identifying the purpose of a language task
Planning for language task
Seeking practice opportunities
Evaluating your learning
Figure: 2.5: Diagram of the metacognitive strategies (Oxford, 1990, p. 20)
22.214.171.124 Affective strategies
“Affective” refers to the emotions, attitudes, motivations and values by Oxford (1990 & Cohen, 2002, p.3). Tsan (2008) defined affective strategy as procedure that identified one’s mood and anxiety level. Apparently, in language learning process, good language learners employ different types of affective strategies. Sometimes, it can be frustrating to learn another language. It can arouse feeling of unfamiliarity and confusion. In some other cases, learners might not have a positive perspective towards native speakers. On the other hand, good language learners are relatively aware of these emotions, and they try to build positive feelings towards the foreign language and its speakers as well as the learning activities. Positive feelings will result in better performance in language learning. To a great deal, training can be of assistance to the students to face these controversial feelings and to overcome them by drawing attention to the possible frustrations or mentioning them as they come up (Chamot, 1992). As other famous researchers coping with affective strategies, Ellis and Sinclair (1989) put affective strategies into metacognitive ones, whereas Ellis (1997) includes them in social ones.
Therefore, while learning a new language, learners can gain control over factors which are relevant with emotions, attitudes, emotions and values through the use of affective strategies.
According to Oxford (1990), affective strategies cover a few sub strategies including “lowing your anxiety, encouraging yourself and taking your emotional temperature. Here is the diagram of affective strategies.
Lowering your anxiety
Using progressive relaxation, deep breathing and meditation
Making positive statements
Taking risks wisely
Taking your emotional temperature
Listening to your body
Using a checklist
Writing a language learning diary
Discussing your feelings with someone else
Figure: 2.6: Diagram of the affective strategies (Oxford, 1990, p. 20)
126.96.36.199 Social strategies
Social strategies are indirect strategies which refer to communication held with other learners or native speakers. Social strategies are the activities in which the language learners can practice their existing knowledge of language through interaction (Zare as cited in Rubin, 1987). Rubin (1975) finalized that successful language learners are eagerly inspired to have a strong drive to communicate and to learn from communication […]. In fact, if you contact others, then you are employing these strategies. Our relationship between people is important, and the relationship can help us to do something that we can’t finish it by ourselves.
Therefore, social strategies support the learners to work with others and understand the culture as well as the language, as Aslan (as cited in Oxford, 1990) states “language is a form of social behavior.” Finally, social strategies play very crucial role in communicative language either second or foreign learners.
Six skills listed under three sets of social strategies are “asking questions, cooperating with others and empathizing with others owing to Oxford (1990). Here is the diagram of the social strategies.
Asking for clarification or verification
Asking for correction
Cooperating with Others
Cooperating with peers
Cooperating with proficient users of the new language
C. Empathizing with others
Developing cultural understanding
Becoming aware of others’ thoughts and feelings
Figure: 2.7: Diagram of the social strategies (Oxford, 1990, p. 21)
This study mainly focuses on the language learning strategies used by Cambodian students. Survey questionnaire and an interview will be used to find out about the effective strategies employed in learning English as a second language (ESL) or foreign language (EFL). In fact, the participants of the study are students and home class teachers studying and teaching in one English private school in Takhmau town, Kandal province. The researcher will choose this English school to conduct the research because it is close to the researcher’s accommodation; therefore, it is convenient to travel and get the rich information. The researcher will conduct a research at one private school -same programs for full-time and part-time -which has offered different levels of English education including beginner (level 1-3), elementary (level 4-6), pre-intermediate (level 7-9), upper-intermediate (level 10-12) and advance (level 13-15). According to school information collected from school principal, this school has 120 from beginner class; 250 from both full-time and part-time elementary class; 200 from pre-intermediate class; 200 from upper-intermediate class and 170 from advance class. Totally, this school has 820 students -450 students from basic level, 200 from pre-intermediate up and 170 from advance level. Hence, the sample size of this study is 170 students who are from advance level. With appropriate and logical reason, the researcher selected those students to do the research because those of whom have better English rather than the other levels mentioned above.
The researcher will collect the data for the study via two ways: firstly, a research questionnaire administered with the students of selected students from advance level; secondly and interviews with selected students and with the selected teachers.
3.2 Sample and Sampling
This research study will be conducted in one English private school in Takhmau town, Kandal province. Moreover, approvals from school principal and other participants in the school will be needed before the study will be conducted. Only 100 students from various levels whose score of proficiency test is around 80 upwards will be invited as participants in the survey questionnaire following Oxford’s SILL (1990) required for this study and the rest of students will not be invited because they are not qualified enough. Moreover, Of 20 students numbered consecutively will be randomly selected to participate in structured interviewed as well as 10 home class teachers.
With school principal’s approval of conducting research in his school and agreement from home class teachers, a questionnaire will be given to selected students from advance level to complete during their study time in order to find out the ways of their learning English language smoothly and effectively. In the questionnaire, there are plenty of closed-ended questions needed the participants to accurately put number (1-5) a circle so that the researcher could clearly see that what effective language learning strategies employed through those outstanding participants are.
After questionnaires completion, because of time constraint, 20 students who are randomly selected from 100 will be invited to take part in structured interview -face-to-face interview in one assigned class. Interviewing with selected students, the researcher would like to ensure that their responses are absolutely true and reliable comparing to whatever closed-ended questions they answered in the questionnaire.
Additionally, in order to make data more and more reliable and trustworthy, the researcher will conduct structured interview -face-to-face -with 10 home class teachers. In fact, the researcher interviews them because they can provide the trustful answers about their students’ academic performance. Students’ answers alone are not accurate so that the researcher needs to get those teachers to participate in this research study.
3.3 Research Design
Approvals from school principal, teachers and students are very significant for this study because data collection will be needed for the research topic of this study. Without their permission, the study will not be successfully completed. I will write a letter, along with a letter from Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), to the school principal to ask for approval to do a research at his school. The letter will also mention the detailed information of the research, the aim and objectives of the study, and the rationale of the study related to my research topic.
Teachers and students will be invited to participate in the research study. Therefore, the researcher needs to formally write and send one permission letter enclosed to 10 relevant home class teachers and another one for selected students. Clearly, those students will get the rich information about participating in this research study from their home class teacher. In the letter, the researcher will state the detailed information of the research, the aim and objectives of the research and the rationale of the study which are relevant to my research topic.
After those selected students agreed on this research study, questionnaire will be sent to home class teacher to deliver to their students participated in the research to answer at the end of the time around 20 before leaving class and the rest of the students will be asked to leave earlier. Before completing the questionnaire, the class teachers explained them what they are supposed to do in this questionnaire. After completing the questionnaires, the students need to return their questionnaire to their class teacher. Then, the relevant teachers dropped students’ answers at help desk enclosed with A4 envelop.
3.3.1 Pilot Testing
To avoid any unexpected mistakes in collecting data for the study, the researcher prepared a pilot test study which will be used to discover any misunderstandings or unintentional mistakes prior to the research questionnaire delivered to the participants. Furthermore, pilot testing necessarily needs to be carried out around one week before the real interview begins to guarantee the validity and reliability of questionnaire and the structured interview questions as well. From this pilot testing, it can help improve questions contents and its prospective score results.
The SILL will be translated into Khmer language to avoid any problems participants might encounter in understanding the items and response scales. The SILL translation process will go through four stages: Translation, assessment, editing, pretesting. First the researcher will translate the SILL into Khmer, keeping as much as possible the referential meaning of the words. Second, the Khmer-translated version will be assessed again by the source version by an English-Khmer translator, who will be requested to assess the textual quality of the translation in terms of appropriate translational equivalency. Third, the revised version will then be checked by a Khmer linguist for naturalness, clarity, and smooth reading. Finally the revised version will be pretested by asking some advance learners to complete the survey. Upon completion of the SILL, the respondents will be invited to make any comments on the wording and clarity of the items and the response scales. In general, they will express satisfaction.
Similarly, the structured interview questions for teachers and students were prepared and translated with the help from a person who is skillful for translation so as to avoid some mistakes in translation from English into Khmer. The questions used in the interviews with the teachers and the students were also tested before the real ones in order to avoid unexpected mistakes. After the questions prepared and translated, the researcher interviewed a few teachers and selected students to find out about some errors with the questions which would make those teachers and students doubtful, or confused.
More importantly, after pilot testing, the researcher made some changes on misunderstanding and confused aspects including the phrases, sentences and other points that participants are not clear. One again, the researcher doubled check the translation between English and Khmer language with the help from expert skillful in translating.
Remarkably, this pilot test was conducted with teachers and students; therefore, while doing the real ones, the participants are clear. To sum up, after checking and editing the questions, the interview will be held smartly and comfortably.
3.3.2 Quantitative and Qualitative Methods
Quantitative and qualitative methods were employed to collect the reliable and trustful data. In this study, quantitative method was used with selected students to complete the questionnaire through putting the numbers (1-5) a circle in order to find out their language learning strategies. Also, face-to-face interview was conducted with some selected students so as to ensure that their answers in the questionnaire were true and reliable; moreover, the researcher interviewed with some teachers followed the qualitative method. During the interview, the researcher asked permission from participants to audio-record their answers and also took notes so that he was able to analyze their responses for data collection.
3.4 Research Instrument
In order to work with this research well, researcher will design some useful tools including Oxford’s SILL (Strategy Inventory Language Learning) questionnaire to get the rich information from successful EFL learners studying advance level. In addition, various types of questions were developed in this questionnaire. Obviously, Oxford’s SILL (1990) consists of 50 items that represent the six categories of strategies mentioned above. First, memory strategies help learners to remember and retrieve information through creating mental linkages, applying images and sounds, reviewing well, and employing action. Second, cognitive strategies help learners to understand and produce new language through practicing, receiving and sending information, analyzing and reasoning, and creating structure for input and output. Third, compensatory strategies enable learners to use the language despite gaps in their language knowledge through guessing intelligently, and overcoming limitation in speaking and writing. Fourth, metacognitive strategies allow learners to control their own learning through organizing, planning, and evaluating their learning. Fifth, affective strategies help learners to gain control over their emotions, attitudes, and motivations through lowering their anxiety, encouraging themselves, and taking their emotional temperatures. Six, and finally, social strategies help learners to interact with others through asking questions, and cooperating with others and empathizing with them.
Additionally, structured interview questions will be developed to be better and better. Also, structured interviews with purposeful questions will be also used for collecting information from both students and teachers in order to ensure the data collection are transparent and trustful.
3.5 Data Collection Procedure
The process of data collection will be described as the following. Here are the descriptions of data collection procedure.
3.5.1 Questionnaire completion
Selected students will be asked to complete the questions given through home class teachers at the end of teaching hour around 20 minutes left before leaving class. Before completing the survey questionnaire, the researcher will ask target home class teachers to inform their students the date of doing the survey and time-consuming needed. Also, teachers will ask them not to be absent on that day. After finishing the questionnaire completion, the participants will hand in the questionnaire to home class teacher to keep it and store it at help desk ground floor where it is easy to access. The questionnaire will be kept secretly in enclosed envelops from different classes.
3.5.2 Face-to-face interview
Besides completing the questionnaire, interview with some selected students will be likely to take around 15-20 minutes. Noticeably, the researcher has the selected participants’ phone numbers; therefore, before the interview, the researcher will contact and make on-phoned agreement with selected participants about the condition of research. Especially, inform them about the record of the interview. After getting permission from the students, the researcher assigned suitable time to meet and interview them face to face. It will be clearly informed that all the recorded answers will be kept confidential and destroyed sometime later after the study finished.
Similarly, other ten teachers will also be informed about the interview which will take no more than 20-25 minutes because they will be very busy with their teaching. Before the interview, researcher will read the research information for teachers, and the consent form to ensure that they will understand clearly about the purpose of the interview, and then they are supposed to sign the consent form to show their agreements. It will be clearly informed that all the recorded answers will be kept confidential and destroyed sometime later after the study finished.
3.5.3 Purpose of data collection
The purpose of this data collection was to gather rich information from varied sources so that the researcher would be able to get clear reports that would lead to highlight some of effective language learning strategies. The researcher sought to obtain a fully informed view from the different categories of participants concerning the exploratory of language learning strategies. In order to obtain a truly informed answer, the researcher used both Oxford’s SILL (Strategy Inventory Language Learning) questionnaires with selected students, as well as elaborated answers from interviews with the students and the teachers.
3.6 Limitation of Research
The scope of this study is targeted to the EFL students in one private school conducting in English language with English-speaking environment located in Takhmau Town, Kandal Province. It was mainly held with small numbers of 115 top students studying in different levels -granted into pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper-intermediate and advance levels. With effective language learning strategies, those of who can produce outputs of four-macro skills well with other conversationalists both native speakers and non-native speakers such as: Cambodian, Vietnamese, Chinese and so on. However, the purpose of this study is not to provide the broad generalization for the study because this research was just mainly highlighted on one English private school; hence, the numbers of participants were small comparing students studying English as a second or foreign language in nationwide. Additionally, the researcher was just willing to explore what effective language learning strategies are.
3.7 Ethical Consideration
In order to get successful in conducting the research, the researcher is required to take into consideration about some safeguards. A letter of introduction from the M. Ed program of Royal University of Phnom Penh will be sent to find the approval from school principal about the research study.
The consent and information forms are very essential information which explains about the aim and objective of the study and my personal background. The researcher introduced himself to all selected participants and purpose of the study; he also asked those of whom to participate in doing the research study. After seeing the consent form, the relevant participants could make a decision whether to voluntarily take part in the study or not. It was clearly stated that the participation is not compulsory. What’s more, during the interview, the interview will be based on the participants’ time; therefore, the researcher is flexible due to the participants.
Confidentiality is very important. All questionnaires and interview documents will be stored in a safe place out of reaching from other people. The researcher will use code number rather than specific names of selected participants. Apparently, these research documents will be destroyed whenever the researcher completes his research study.
In addition, the volunteers getting involved in helping conduct the research successfully will be asked to keep confidentiality about whatever questions they answered. The pressure will not be put on the respondents. After the interview, they will just record the data and destroy it sometime later after the study finished.
DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
4.1 Data Analysis
To analyze the data reliably, the researcher will use the code number of each answer responded to the questionnaires provided by selected participants and it will be entered into the program SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Science) based on descriptive statistics in order to find the “mean” and “standard deviation”. Moreover, the qualitative data analysis which will be obtained from interviewing with selected language learners and few numbers of teachers’ will be based on themes and emerging patterns from the participants’ responses.
4.2 Results of the study
According to the previous study on the title of language learning strategies of other countries, the researcher has learnt that some successful language learners employed the same strategies; whereas, the others are different. As a result, Shu Chuan Tsan’s study (January-December, 2008) critically analyzed language learning strategies based on descriptive statistics in order to find “mean (M) and standard deviation (SD)” and this researcher found that the strategies the second or foreign language learners preferred to use most frequently to the least are compensatory strategy, cognitive strategy, meta-cognitive strategy, social strategy and affective strategy. Another research study Al-Buainain, H (December, 2010) revealed that language students were likely to utilize metacognitive strategies most (75.3%), cognitive (70.9%), compensation (68.2%) and social (65%); while memory and affective strategies were used the least (58.6%).
Furthermore, regarding to the third research study of learning strategies, it was shown that students often chronologically used social strategies and meta-cognitive strategies, “compensation and cognitive in middle-range”; whereas, learners rarely employed the affective and social strategies (Griffiths, C and M.Parr, J, July, 2001).
Thus, according to my exploratory study, the result of the research answers my research question “what are language learning strategies contribute to successful EFL learners in Cambodia?” Owing to this exploratory study, the researcher will conclude the result as the following.
Finally, after seeing the results of language learning strategies of other countries, the researcher will analyze that the learning strategies will be utilized differently following their learning preferences. According article of “Principles of Integrated Language Teaching and Learning”, language learners use a variety of language and learning strategies to expand learning beyond the classroom and become independent, lifelong learners. Ghani. M (2004) successful language learners tends to employ learning strategies that match to the “materials, the tasks, and to their own objective, needs and stage of learning”. (as cited in Skehan, 1989; Oxford, 1989; Oxford & Crockall, 1989) Additionally, Ghani continued clearly stated that “good language learners” pay much attention and efforts to language learning. Also, the finding of language learning strategies in Spain indicated that the strategies were used in term of their native language such translating (Pineda. E. J, November, 2010). To sum up, the majority of Cambodian language learners will use compensatory strategies and cognitive strategies rather than other strategies.
5.1 Introduction of research study
In the fulfillment of the Master of Education program, all students are required to find a topic for their research work. I feel very interested in doing research because I would really like to know something new and updated; I also can grab some further new information in order to make my workplace more productive. In fact, after a long process of writing research report, I did learn a lot about how to do research well.
The research study is a long process of task revision and development. Each part needs to be linked smartly and smoothly in order to synchronize it into single and common ideas. If one part is updated or changed, it will affect other parts of the research automatically; hence, good preparation and time management are very crucial to achieve the tasks successfully and effectively. What’s more, the research work is required the student to put lots of efforts to pool the ideas together because it is independent task needed to use in-depth understanding to analyze the work and to build up critical thinking skill.
5.2 Literature Review Discussion
Reviewing the literature review is the hardest work and it provided me lots of learning experiences because I have been through numbers of texts, articles, published proposals and relevant books. Furthermore, finding relevant sources and good desired information is a time-consuming job and need to pay much attention and great effort to seek out in the library and to be on the internet. Necessarily, if researcher doesn’t know the relevant key word to search on the internet, it is much difficult to find the productive and lucrative sources which are relevant with the proposed topic since key words are useful tool to gather the advantageous information. According to attending this master course, I have learnt some good website and well-known scholars which are really reliable and trustworthy; therefore, I can get good sources from the internet. In reality, if researcher has poor-quality information, the researcher will result in poor research work. As a result, limited and inadequate sources are really problematic that seriously affects the quality of the research. Moreover, the process of finding sources has helped me understand more when seeking for information from one particular place. I know more and more about the real working environment and society and how to get the data. To sum up, developing a research report is very expensive task for me because I have learnt lots of tasks.
Through these sources, it shows the researchers that lots of well-known scholars are interested in doing research related to the language learning strategies which are useful for second language learners or non-native speakers to catch up with English language easily. Doing the research mainly focuses on proposed topic, the researcher has found out the Oxford’s Language Learning Strategies categorized into two integral part such as; Direct Strategies and Indirect Strategies which are subscribed into sub-parts.
5.3 Methodology Discussion
Having been through this section, I have clearly learnt both qualitative and quantitative research methodology. In my research report, I have employed the quantitative method which make me understood clearly how to conduct quantitative research. Also, I have learnt how to make and prepare the questionnaires for collecting the data in an accurate and purposeful way with no harm to selected participants. Data collection must be trustful, so if the researcher doesn’t know to get along with the participants, the researcher cannot get clear and trustful information or data. Additionally, it also taught me how to find weakness and strengths of the data collection, proposed me to consider the connection with school principals and the target participants needed.
Furthermore, while conducting individual interview, I myself need to ensure that it is not accused of crime or political intimidation. My researcher report mainly highlighted on only one area of the language learning strategies; therefore, it doesn’t reflect other learning perceptions.
Based on the findings synthesize from previous research study on the title of language learning strategies applied by successful ESL or EFL leaners, it is found that there are two main types of learning strategies such as direct strategies consisting of memory, compensatory and cognitive strategies and indirect strategies including meta-cognitive, social and affective strategies. These strategies were excerpted from Oxford’s theory which is specialized in language learning strategies. Successful language learners used these strategies differently owing to their preferences, own learning styles and objectives. For example, some of those learners frequently prefer compensatory strategies rather than other strategies, while the others are most likely to employ social and meta-cognitive strategies among the others as the result shown in the previous chapter.
The results of this proposed research would be limited in one private school; therefore, it is not general for all stakeholders elsewhere. Through the process of my research development, I can realize that my study doesn’t sound much better to be applied by language learners yet; therefore, the followings are my personal critic and recommendation on the research topic of language learning strategies.
According to the study, it is mainly highlighted to explore language learning strategies used by successful ESL or EFL learners. If next researcher conducts a research whose topic is similar to mine, I would like that researcher to continue conducting the research with public high school grade 10-12 in order to see the gap of differences between strategies used in private and public sector. Otherwise, the next researcher ought to study it on other English private schools. Doing so, the researcher might clearly see that the data analysis is more and more accurate and reliable. In addition to, it is good if the next researcher conduct the study with public or private universities with vast numbers of participants so as to find out the learning strategies used in higher education.
Moreover, the participants in this study were limited to only students and teachers from one English private school, and the number of students was only about a hundred with only ten teachers. Consequently, it should be conducted with a larger number of English language learners and teachers from different settings, bearing in mind other possible strategies that were found to be effective in language learning in previous research, and with various forms of research means, so as to be able to better understand the language learning strategies on achievement in the target language.