Language Learning Strategy Use in an American IEP: Implications for EFL

| September 3, 2014


Language Learning Strategy Use in an American IEP: Implications for EFL

Keywords: language learning strategies, metacognitive strategies, social strategies, ESL vs. EFL, intensive English programs


Jianzhong Luo
Northwest A & F University
Yangling, China

Nolan Weil
Utah State University, USA

Jianzhong Luo earned his master’s degree at Northwest A & F University, in Yangling, China and is currently a lecturer there in the Department of Foreign Languages. His primary responsibility is teaching English to non-majors. He is keenly interested in language learner strategies, learner autonomy, teaching in higher education, and translation studies.

Nolan Weil is Associate Professor of ESL in the Intensive English Language Institute at Utah State University, where he teaches English for academic purposes. His current scholarship revolves around issues in the teaching of reading and writing, including evaluation of materials, the role of teachers, and the uses of text.


This study employed the Strategy Inventory for Language Learners (SILL) to investigate the frequency and types of language learning strategies used by 65 students studying English as a Second Language (ESL) in a university Intensive English Program (IEP) in the western United States. Students came from 15 different countries and represented three instructional levels within the program. Results indicated that frequency of strategy use increased from the lower intermediate to the upper intermediate level and also from the upper intermediate to the advanced level. However, only differences between the lower intermediate and the advanced level were statistically significant. IEP students reported most frequent use of social and metacognitive strategies. The study supports observations from other studies indicating that learners in ESL environments use social strategies more frequently than do learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL). The researchers, an experienced EFL teacher in China and a veteran ESL teacher in an American IEP, highlight the differential use of social strategies as a prominent feature that may distinguish ESL and EFL learning contexts.The authors finish with a brief discussion of the implications of this observation for teachers of EFL. 

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