Document Type

Dissertation

Department

Adult Education

Advisor's Name

Tonette Rocco

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Dawn Addy

Advisor's Name

Hilary Landorf

Advisor's Name

Aixa Perez-Prado

Advisor's Name

Thomas Reio

Keywords

adult learners, English as a second language, Colombians, language learning strategies, metacognition, phenomenology

Date of Defense

6-22-2010

Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe how Colombian adult English language learners (ELL) select and use language learning strategies (LLS). This study used Oxford’s (1990a) taxonomy for LLS as its theoretical framework. Semi-structured interviews and a focus group interview, were conducted, transcribed, and analyzed for 12 Colombian adult ELL. A communicative activity known as strip story (Gibson, 1975) was used to elicit participants’ use of LLS. This activity preceded the focus group session. Additionally, participants’ reflective journals were collected and analyzed. Data were analyzed using inductive, deductive, and comparative analyses. Four themes emerged from the inductive analysis of the data: (a) learning conditions, (b) problem-solving resources, (c) information processing, and (d) target language practice. Oxford’s classification of LLS was used as a guide in deductively analyzing data concerning the participants’ experiences. The deductive analysis revealed that participants do not use certain strategies included in Oxford’s taxonomy at the third level. For example, semantic mapping, or physical response or sensation was not reported by participants. The findings from the inductive and deductive analyses were then compared to look for patterns and answers to the research questions. The comparative analysis revealed that participants used additional LLS that are not included in Oxford’s taxonomy. Some examples of these strategies are: using sound transcription in native language and help from children. The study was conducted at the MDC InterAmerican campus in South Florida, one of the largest Hispanic-influenced communities in the U. S. Based on the findings from this study, the researcher proposed a framework to study LLS that includes both external (i.e., learning context, community) and internal (i.e., culture, prior education) factors that influence the selection and use of LLS. The findings from this study imply that given the importance of the both external and internal factors in learners’ use of LLS, these factors should be considered for inclusion in any study of language learner strategies use by adult learners. Implications for teaching and learning as well as recommendations for further research are provided.

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