Turkish university EFL students' metacognitive strategies and beliefs about language learning
Yüzbaşıoğlu, Z. Tülin
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In recent years focus in second language acquisition has shifted to the characteristics learners bring to the learning situation. One set of these characteristics comprises "learning strategies", or the collection of behaviors used by learners to enhance their learning. It is presumed that strategies can help learners attain greater proficiency by making the learning process easier, more efficient, and more selfdirected. In this framework, the purposes of the present study were: a) to summarize existing research on learning strategies in the fields of cognitive psychology and second language acquisition; b) to investigate a particular group of learning strategies, "metacognitive strategies", in relation to learners' beliefs about language learning and thus attain a better understanding of the second language acquisition process; c) to gain insights into the subjects* beliefs about language learning and metacognitive strategies; and d) to offer pedagogical suggestions for the problems indicated by the findings. The starting hypothesis of the study was that there is a systematic relationship between metacognitive strategies and learners' beliefs about language learning. Metacognitive strategies are higher order executive skills that govern when and how to deploy strategies, and beliefs about language learning refer to preconceived ideas about language learning. The few studies into the topic indicate a possible relationship between such beliefs and strategy use. If it can be shown that beliefs determine certain learner approaches to language learning, support can be provided to change counter-productive beliefs into effective ones. In order to investigate the starting hypothesis, a group of twenty university students learning English for Academic Purposes were administered a questionnaire assessing beliefs about language learning. The students were then interviewed individually about their metacognitive strategies. Responses to the questionnaire were compared with the interview data to test the hypothesized relationship between metacognitive strategies and beliefs about language learning. Findings gave detailed insight into the subjects* beliefs and metacognitive strategies, and indicated that metacognitive strategies were indeed affected by learners* beliefs. It was observed that the subjects in the study had problems with selfdirecting their learning, partly due to deficiencies in their metacognitive knowledge. Suggestions were made for solving these problems, and implications were provided for future research into the topic.