When learning a second or foreign language, students deal with questions, doubts, and uncertainty. Some learners tend to ask teachers how to do a task, a specific drill, and they even look for constant approval. Other students reveal that learning the target language might be difficult in specific areas like grammar or writing, while some learners find reading analysis and task completion challenging. It means that students have specific necessities and mechanisms to understand content and to learn it. Based on these needs, teaching learning strategies represents a duty for educators.
Learning strategies have been taught and studied during years for different purposes. They can help students to be independent and learn to analyze learning itself, not just the learning of a second language, so students can learn for life. Moreover, learning strategies have been researched and categorized into various classes. Oxford (2003) separates strategies into direct strategies, which involve the target language like practicing, and indirect strategies, which provide support for language learning like planning.
Direct strategies “require mental processing of the language” (Oxford, 2003, p. 12) and indirect strategies “support and manage language learning without involving the target language” (Cano de Arauz, 2009, p. 401). They consist of memory, cognitive, and compensation strategies, while indirect strategies embroil metacognitive, affective, and social strategies.
Oxford (2003) proposes some metacognitive strategies to develop, and each one has a different purpose and precise activities that enhance their use and application: planning for an L2 task, gathering and organizing materials, arranging a study space and a schedule, monitoring mistakes and evaluating task success, and evaluating the success of any type of learning strategy.
Oxford (2013) propose the following steps in order to teach strategies founded on a Metacognitive Teaching Framework (MTF). First, introduce, explain, and define the strategy components for students. Second, apply the strategy components while you read aloud. Third, have students figure out which strategy component you are using. Finally, clarify the purpose of the strategy or a specific strategy component for students.
In sum, teaching learning strategies enriches the learning process. In fact, if educators teach metacognitive strategies, they will provide learners with the possibility to think about what they are learning and the chance to monitor their performance. Students will become more active participants because they are going to evaluate their learning process. Thus, they will be more autonomous, responsible, and hopefully motivated.
Ms. Karen González.
English teacher / 4th grade.
Cano de Arauz, O. (2009). Language Learning Strategies and its Implications for Second
Language Teaching. Revista de Lenguas Modernas, N° 11. Retrieved December 7, 2016, from http://revistas.ucr.ac.cr/index.php/rlm/article/viewFile/9454/8904
Oxford, R. (2003). Language Learning Styles and Strategies. Retrieved October 20, 2016,