n be accomplished privately on one’s own velocity. Reading skill is far more momentous for EFL learners. It is crucial to a student’s success in school, and further, to becoming a lifelong learner.
Reading is also a complex cognitive process of decoding symbols in order to construct or derive meaning (reading comprehension). Reading is a necessary tool for language acquisition, communication, and sharing information and ideas. It includes a complex interaction between the text and the reader which is affected by the reader’s prior knowledge, experiences, attitudes, and language community in cultural and social situations.
Effective reading is not a process that every individual can achieve (Nunan, 1999). Rather, it is difficult to learn, especially for those who want to read texts in a second or foreign language. When learning a foreign language, reading is an essential skill to acquire in order to increase knowledge and exchange information (Chien, 2000; Dlugosz, 2000; Salinger, 2003; Huang, 2005). However, most English instructors still concentrate on correcting the learners’ grammatical mistakes or increasing their vocabulary. To improve learners’ reading abilities, the instructors must wisely consider effective strategies and supportive tools. In contrary, the instructors seldom teach learners how to effectively use learning strategies to improve their reading comprehension; consequently, learners cannot master the language skills effectively (Berkowitz 1986; Carnine and Carnine 2004; Chi, 1997; Griffiths, 2008; Rivard and Yore 1992; Tsao, 2004).
Strategies are defined as specific actions, behaviors, steps, or techniques that students (often deliberately) use to improve their progress in developing L2 skills. These strategies can facilitate the internalization, storage, retrieval, or use of the new language. They are also tools for the self-directed involvement, which is necessary to develop language skills (Oxford, 1990).
Learner strategies, as one of the most important categories of strategies, are specific attacks that learners make on different problems when receiving input or producing output. One type of strategies used by language learners is learning strategies.
Park (1995) defines learning strategies as “the mental activities that people use when they study to help themselves acquire, organize, or remember incoming knowledge more efficiently” (p. 35).
Also, it is generally accepted that among the strategies, reading strategies are one of the most beneficial ones that any reader can use for ensuring success in reading (Afflerbach, Pearson, and Paris, 2008). They are of interest for what they reveal about the way readers manage their interactions with written text, and how these strategies are related to reading comprehension (Carrell, Pharis, &Liberto, 1989). Emphasizing on the key role of reading strategies, Afflerbach, Pearson, and Paris (2008) characterize them as “deliberate, goal directed attempts to control and modify the reader’s efforts to decode text, understand word, and construct meanings out of text” (p. 15). These strategies range from simple fix-up strategies such as simply rereading difficult segments and guessing the meaning of an unknown word from context, to more comprehensive strategies such as summarizing and relating what is being read to the reader’s background knowledge (Janzen, 1996).
Taking the role of all mentioned strategies into consideration, each of these could be just as a piece of the puzzle. The correlation between reading comprehension as a target and any of these strategies on the one hand and the relationships between each pair of them on the other hand can provide us a more holistic yet precise approach toward reading.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Learning has different ways, and in the arena of learning there are strong learners and weak learners. It has been proved that good learners use more strategies more often and they monitor their process more; otherwise, it has been proved that weak learners do not use strategies or rarely use them (Hamdan, Ghafar, Johari Sihes, & Binti Atan, 2010).
According to Shang (2011):
“good EFL/ESL readers know how to use a variety of appropriate strategies to reach their learning goals in both retrospective and productive tasks, while less effective readers not only use strategies less frequently, but often do not choose the appropriate strategies for the tasks” (p. 20)
Many researches show poor reading may be a problem for EFL students, but it is not a hopeless one (Rubin, 1975 and Stern, 1975 cited in Griffiths, 2004; Fewel, 2010; Cohen, 1998). Like other skills, EFL students’ ability to read English rapidly and accurately depends upon careful instruction and purposeful practice, none the less, understanding what is written is a complex task for the learners, not knowing how to extract the meaning out of the words.
According to Sweet and Snow (2002), there are multiple springs of variance in the reading comprehension process and outcomes which is intensely affected by difference in reader capabilities. Among these variables, reading strategies are of great importance. However, Brantmeier (2002) stated “because of the wide variety of participants, tasks, and reading materials employed in studies that examine L2 reading strategies, it is difficult to compare results across studies” (p. 2). Furthermore, several readers still do not know how to use strategies to assist their understanding of a text (Lau & Chan, 2003).
In line with the discussion presented so far, this study seeks to investigate the relationship among EFL learners’ Use of Learning Strategies, Reading Strategies and Reading Comprehension.
1.3 Statement of the Research Questions
To fulfill the objective of the present study, the following research questions are proposed:
Q1. Is there any significant relationship between EFL learners’ reading strategies and reading comprehension?
Q2. Is there any significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of language learning strategies and reading comprehension?
Q3. Is there any significant relationship between EFL learners’ reading strategies and use of language learning strategies?
1.4 Statement of the Research Hypotheses
Based on the above-mentioned questions, the following null hypotheses were stated:
H01. There is no significant relationship between EFL learners’ reading strategies and reading comprehension.
H02. There is no significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of language learning strategies and reading comprehension.
H03. There is no significant relationship between EFL learners’ reading strategies and use of language learning strategies.
1.5 Definition of key Terms
1.5.1 Learning Strategies
According to Oxford (1989) Learning strategies are defined as “Steps or operations used by learners to learn more effectively, that is, to facilitate acquisition, storage, retrieval and use of information” (p.251).
In this study, Learning Strategies are operationally defined as the scores candidates obtained on the Persian version of Oxford’s “Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL)” questionnaire. It is a Likert-Scale questionnaire (ranged from always=4, usually=3, sometimes=2, and never=1) with 50 questions. The range of acceptable scores is from 1.5 to 3.8 the time needed to answer the questionnaire was 40 minutes.
1.5.2 Reading Comprehension
Reading comprehension is a “process of simultaneously extracting and constructing meaning through interaction and involvement with written language” (RAND Reading Study Group, 2002, P. 11). Reading comprehension is operationally defined in the study as the participants’ obtained score of a test excerpted from reading comprehension parts of PET Practice Tests developed by Quintana (2003). The test consists of six reading comprehension passages followed by four or five multiple-choice reading comprehension questions on each, lasting 30 minutes to answer. Regarding 30 questions in total, and one point for each correct answer, the maximum achievement score could be 30.
1.5.3 Reading Strategies
Reading strategies are defined as the behavior that a reader engages in at the time of reading and that is related to some goals. In other words, “They are ways of accessing text meaning which are employed flexibly and selectively in the course of reading” (Carter & Nunan, 2001, p. 225). In the present study, reading strategies are operationally defined as the participants’ yielded scores on the Persian version of 30-item questionnaire of the Survey of Reading Strategies (SORS), developed by Mokhtari and Sheorey (2002) in a Likert-scale, where the candidates’ responses to the questionnaire were scored by counting 1 for “never” to 5 for “always”. The allocated time to this questionnaire was 30 minutes.
1.6 Significance of the Study
Corresponding to plenty of studies, the researcher’s main focus is on three variables, namely reading comprehension, reading strategies and learning strategies. Novelty and importance of the topic were the main impetus of the researcher to delve into this arena to see if there is any relationship between these variables in Iranian EFL learner’s context.
Although many studies have focused on reading comprehension strategies and revealed how significant these strategies are in developing reading comprehension, it seems that in Iran’s EFL context this issue has not received enough attention. A few studies have been conducted concentrating on the importance of language learning strategies among EFL language learners but the significance