Spanish Language Learning Strategy 01 — Xmas 2021

I've spent much of the last 24 hours trying to get started on the task of developing a strategy to re-learn Spanish, as efficiently as possible.

Most of my time was wasted on YouTube and Google clickbait, but about 2 hours ago I stumbled over Oxford, R.L. 2003. Language Learning Styles and Strategies: An Overview

It gave me the hook I needed to get going — 6 categories of language learning strategy, with concrete examples.

Oxford's summary of research findings on the importance, diffusion, and relative success of the various strategies was interesting — and useful, to the extent that it confirmed my own observations over 40+ years teaching and 60+ years learning.

See my notes below — with apologies for any excess brevity. Their initial value to me lay in the mental focus required to extract and organise the salient points. But I'm hoping they'll contribute significantly to planning and executing the 21-day learning sprint that I have in mind for Christmas and New Year.

  1. Direct Memory strategies — Mnemonics. Not widely used by language students. Only work with 'meaning' and review, e.g.
    • Acronyms
    • Rhyme
    • Image
    • Sound+image (keyword)
    • Body movement
    • Mechanical (flash cards)
    • Location, on page, whiteboard, ec.
  2. Direct Cognitive strategies — understand and produce new language in many different ways — considered essential in language learning, popular with learners, e.g.
    • Reasoning
    • Analysis
    • Note-taking
    • Summarizing
    • Synthesizing
    • Outlining
    • Reorganizing information to develop stronger schemas (knowledge structures)
    • Practicing in naturalistic settings
    • Practicing structures and sounds formally
  3. Direct Compensatory strategies — workaround gaps in grammar & esp. vocab — less-stressed, high performers don't use dictionaries, e.g.
    • Guessing from the context (listen/reading)
    • Synonyms for missing word (speaking/writing)
    • Gestures / pause words (speaking-only)
  4. Indirect Metacognitive strategies — students control/coordinate their own learning process guided by preferences and needs — considered critical by pedagogues, few students use them, esp. not self monitoring and evaluation.e.g.
    • Identifying own learning style, preferences, needs
    • Planning for an L2 task
    • Gathering & organizing materials
    • Arranging a study space and schedule
    • Monitoring mistakes
    • Evaluating task success
    • Evaluating success of diff. strategies
  5. Indirect Affective strategies — regulate emotions, motivations, attitudes, values — arguably, biggest influence on initial success/failure and retention — used by 1/20 students
    • Self-encouragement strategies
    • Tolerance for ambiguity
    • Managing setbacks — not mentioned by Oxford, but a biggie for me
  6. Indirect Social strategies — learn through interaction, understanding target culture — powerfully motivational, not much demanded by students e.g.
    • Asking questions to verify
    • Asking for clarification
    • Asking for help with a language task
    • Talking with a native-speaking conversation partner
    • Exploring socio-cultural norms

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