Original Research

Perception changes over time on the usefulness of language learning strategies

Luis A. Lancho Perea
Literator | Vol 44, No 1 | a1969 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v44i1.1969 | © 2023 Luis A. Lancho Perea | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 October 2022 | Published: 28 April 2023

About the author(s)

Luis A. Lancho Perea, Department of Ancient and Modern Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

This longitudinal study describes and analyses the shifts in students’ perceptions on the usefulness of language learning strategies (LLS) when learning Spanish as a foreign language, and explains the roles that these learning strategies play at various moments in time during students’ language learning journey at the undergraduate level. The richness of this investigation lies in the examination of the changing roles and the perceived usefulness of these strategies over a period of 3 years by using a mixed-method approach. Its main contribution is twofold. On the one hand, it offers practical insights within the linguistic field of language acquisition that can be applied to the learning of foreign languages by students with no previous knowledge of them. On the other hand, its longitudinal design not only goes beyond the traditional quantitative approach that offers a limited snapshot view, but also captures changes in strategy use over time while providing details on why strategies were or were not used in the new language at different proficiency levels. The study found some strategies that were initially perceived as useful and helpful at the beginning of the journey were later perceived as neutral, useless or obstructive by the same group of students who had become more proficient in the foreign language. And, conversely, other strategies that were initially perceived as neutral, unhelpful or frustrating, were later perceived as necessary to improve language proficiency, useful and stimulating by the same cohort of students. In this respect, it was found that the perceived role played by these strategies alternated between essential roles to catalytic roles, imperceptible roles, retarding roles and preventing roles, and vice versa.

Contribution: The main contribution of this study is that it shows that students’ perceptions on the usefulness of certain LLS over time are influenced by their level of proficiency. This in turn influences, and is influenced by, language attitudes and language learning policy, which fall under the scope of this journal.


Keywords

language learning strategies; Spanish as a foreign language; foreign language learning; longitudinal studies; mixed methods

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