Strategies in Learning and Using a Second Language (Anglais) Broché – 2 février 1998
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The introduction to the book sets out the main theoretical issues, distinguishing language learning from language use strategies, and describing the main research methods for their investigation. The author presents innovative research linking the use of task-specific strategies with language performance. The volume then presents empirical research investigating the languages multilinguals select for their verbalized thoughts during language learning and language use. Finally, the author presents empirical research focusing on the strategies learners use in language test-taking contexts.
The volume is intended primarily for language teachers and researchers, as well as for administrators of second language programs. It is also highly suitable for undergraduate and postgraduate students of applied linguistics and will be of interest to foreign language students, stimulating them to reflect on their strategies for learning and using a second language. The chapters present questions and raise areas for further discussion and study, making the book suitable for those new to the field. At the same time, the provision of important new research will appeal to those with more advanced knowledge in the field.
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The book is divided into five main sections: (a) discussion of terminology describing second language (L2) learning and use strategies; (b) a review of research methods available for assessing L2 strategies; (c) strategy training and the effects of strategies-based instruction; (d) strategies of choosing the language of thought for cognitive processing; (e) strategy use in testing situations.
Overall, the author has aimed at a balance between theory, research and practical pedagogical implications, but one of the most positive aspects of the book is that it has devoted extensive time to discussions of terminology and research methods. Since L2 learning and use strategies are generally internal mental processes, it is quite a challenge to design a study that can be sure of collecting adequate data on learners¡¦ strategy use. I especially like the way that Cohen presents an in-depth analysis of six different approaches to assessing language learner strategies: learning strategy interviews and written questionnaires, observation, verbal report, diaries and dialog journals, recollective studies, and computer tracking. His thorough discussion of research methods will certainly help prospective researchers to determine their research topics and choose the means of investigation, and eventually benefit the fledgling field of language learning strategies. This book will also be particularly useful for teachers who want to be of greater support to their students in their learning efforts. The position Cohen has taken is that ¡§strategies-based instruction provides the most efficient way for learner awareness to be heightened¡¨ (p.265). A variety of approaches to provide student-directed language learning and use strategy instruction as well as the possible roles that the teacher can play are discussed. A research project on the effects of strategies-based instruction conducted at the University of Minnesota is also reported. Nonetheless, the implications for teaching strategies in the classroom are generally written in the form of principles or suggestions. Therefore, this book may not meet the needs of teachers who are searching for classroom-ready strategies-based instruction activities, exercises, and curriculum. It is also interesting to note that Cohen addresses two more specialized and often neglected areas in strategy use: strategies for choosing the language of thought and test-taking strategies. This book should provide a foundation for researchers to further explore such studies.
In summary, this book creates a fine introduction to the field of L2 learning and use strategies. It is highly recommended for both researches and teachers of second and foreign language programs.