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Psycholinguistics

Four Language Learning Strategies:

Comparing the Lower to the Higher Students

Written by Herri Mulyono

Background

In monitoring theory, Krashen establishes two terms of language acquisition and language learning. The term language acquisition concerns to process of acquiring language which is mostly exploited in natural ways. This process of language acquisition is established by unconscious ways on how an individual acquires his language. The other language learning in Krashen’s theory deals with individual consciousness whereas an individual is on his awareness in achieving the target language.

Instead Krashen’s two ways in achieving language handle two different areas of learners’ unconsciousness and consciousness, those two areas are correlated each other and take account in learner’s effort in acquiring the target language. Within practices of the theory, Krashen points out that the language learning must be devised to monitor the language acquisition in keeping the target language acquired properly.

In acquiring the target language, learners are mostly assisted by strategy in language learning that undergo to improve the knowledge of target language.[1] This language learning strategy play greater roles as it interferes learners’ previous knowledge to establish new information. On other words, learners afford to achieve the target language (new language) by using their previous interlanguage knowledge (or first language). In this context, four terms are emerged in relation with their uses as strategies in language learning; namely transfer, interference, generalization and simplification.

This article is intended to discuss the practice of transfer, interference, generalization and simplification as learner’s language learning strategy. The discussion firstly will bring out to surface the understanding of those four terms and how they would be practiced in language learning activities. Furthermore, the practice of the four ways in language learning strategy would compare between the lower and higher students on how they perform the strategies to acquire the target language. This comparison then will be examined that from such examination conclusion will be made to give overview on the language learning strategies and their practices in language learning classroom.

The Understanding Four Learning Strategies

In general, as shown by Dewey (1910) learning strategies refers to human attempts in recognizing problem by employing the presence cognitive structure, formulate hypothesis testing by recalling established knowledge in order to achieve comprehensive solution.[2] In relation with language learning, strategy is understood as learners’ efforts to achieve certain learning goals. Ellis, as quoted by Chen, notes down that language learning strategy could be explained on “how learners improve specific skills” (within language).[3] Both understanding carried out by Dewey and Ellis bring out similar view that both explain alternatives one might endure in obtaining certain purpose of learning. The endurance covers up two similar things; cognitive structure and the existence of prior knowledge as basis for further achievement.

Suparman in his slide points out four terminologies in learning strategies; they are transfer, interference, generalization and simplification. He explains the term transfer as employing previous experiences to succeed further learning. On other words, transfer could be seen using the existence of information to acquire new information. In learning foreign language, transfer means utilizing learners’ first language knowledge (in this article refer to Bahasa Indonesia) to learn the target language (English). The transfer might be brought out by common features between the two languages either vocabulary, meaning, or basic language structure.

However, the process of transfer might not always benefit the learning new language (English) that previous knowledge (or existing experience of mother language) would always be different in their language properties. This may reason failure of certain aspects from second or foreign language learning in some extent is led by learners’ knowledge of their first language. On other words, learners’ prior experience of their first language does not seem to facilitate their second language learning. This negative effect of transfer is recognized by term interference.

In addition, Suparman explains that interference occurs as sequence of generalization and simplification.[4] Generalization is a general thing established from specific cases or categories and polarized by two thinking ways; inductive and deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning takes place when particular instances move to general things while the other deductive does the contrast.The other simplification is defined as process of uncomplicating of reducing events to a common denominator, to as parts of features as possible.[5]

Methodology

This study was proposed to compare students’ learning strategy between lower group students and the higher ones. In comparing the four learning strategies between lower group of students and the higher ones, this study uses descriptive analysis under qualitative design. The study was carried out at SMA Negeri 92 North Jakarta (Senior high school of 92 North Jakarta) using web-base instruction. Although it was expected for total of 39 students from social class students, the study only covered 12 out of 39 which were chosen purposefully from low achieved and high achieved students. It was due to time limitation in conducting this study.

For the purpose of this study, the 12 students represent 6 groups that each group comprised of two students. 3 groups were taken from lower student while the other 3 groups were from higher students.

In addition, this study analyzed students’ writing activities in English learning forum at www.learningcenter.in/forum where students pointed out certain topic of discussion and wrote some argumentative comment toward of it. Students’ comments were mostly in form of simple sentence. The comments were written in one until four sentences for each. For this study, those comments would be undertaken as data to analyze using concept of language learning strategies; transfer, interference, generalization and simplification.

Technique of data analysis is conducted by coding. Coding will be carried out firstly by translating the sentence into Bahasa Indonesia. Each group of words then would be numbered and analyzed in previewing the occurrence of transfer, interference, generalization and simplification.

(continued..)


[1] Andrew D. Cohen. July 1996. SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING AND USE STRATEGIES: CLARIFYING THE ISSUES.A revised version of a paper originally prepared for presentation at the Symposium on Strategies of Language Learning and Use, Seville, Spain, December 13-16, 1994. P. 2-3.

[2] Suparman, Drs. M.A. Ph.D. 2009. Cognitive Domain of Human Learning. Lecturing Slide of Psycholinguistics. Jakarta: Graduate School of UHAMKA. P.8-11.

[3] Yiching Chen. March 2005. Barriers to Acquiring Listening Strategies for ESL Learners and Their Pedagogical Implication. TESL-EJ Journal. Vol. 8. No. 4. A-2.

[4] Suparman. Op.Cit.

[5] Ibid

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