Strategic considerations for improving ESL (English as a Second Language) learning outcomes among college students in Taiwan : a case study

  • Telan Teresa Pan

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    There is considerable variation among individuals in the ability to learn a second language. Learning strategy research and learning style research, as two main areas of individual difference research, seek to help learners to 'learn how to learn, and ultimately become autonomous and independent learners. Learning strategy theory postulates that successful learning strategies can be used to good effect by less effective learners, and that teachers can promote good learning strategy usage through classroom instruction. At the same time, for there to be effective instruction to second language learners as to the most efficient learning strategy usage, there must be a research effort that looks not just at the strategies per se, but also gives attention to the cultural background of the students themselves. However, there has been little research into the ways in which low-achieving ESL learners can develop effective learning strategies in a non-western context. The historical, political, social and economic aspects of Taiwan make this small island a fascinating place for researchers interested in exploring how English is taught and learned in a relatively monolingual society (in the sense that Chinese Mandarin is the only official language and is predominately used all over Taiwan). Therefore, this study explores the ESL learning strategies and learning styles of 462 adult learners in Taiwan, making use of Oxford's Strategy Inventory for Language Learning and Kolb's Learning Style Inventory. Similarities and differences between the learning strategy usage of the high-achieving and low achieving groups are also investigated. The results show that there was no statistically significant relationship between the learner's English proficiency level and their individual learning style. In sharp contrast, it was discovered that there was a highly significant relationship between the learner's English proficiency level and their choice and use of various learning strategies. It was also found that the higher the English proficiency level, the greater the variety of learning strategies adopted, and the more frequently those strategies were used. This study aims to shed some light on the principles that underlie successful language learning, particularly in regards to the utilisation and accommodation of learning strategies and styles. The results of such a study could thus contribute to the field of second language learning in a number of ways: for the learner, the teacher, the school policy maker, and the researcher.
    Date of Award2005
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorCarole Anne Kayrooz (Supervisor), Jeremy Jones (Supervisor) & Deborah Hill (Supervisor)

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