of reading strategies and the purpose of reading have not been the issue. (Zare, 2013)
Reading strategies assist the reader not to pay much attention to details but to get the overall message which is in fact the main purpose of the reading comprehension; in addition, many research findings have already demonstrated that strategy use will lead into improved language proficiency generally or in a specific skill area. Therefore, it is of great importance for language educators to pay attention to their students and train them to employ strategies as frequently as possible. (Zare, 2013)
All those who have experienced Iran EFL context will presumably assert that reading strategies instruction is a neglected point in English teaching and learning. (Zare & Davoudi Mobarake, 2011)
Since the pioneering work carried out in the mid-seventies (for instance by Rubin, 1975; Stern, 1975) there has been an awareness that language learning strategies have the potential to be “an extremely powerful learning tool” (O’Malley, Chamot, Stewner-Manzanares, Kupper, and Russo, 1985, p.43). In spite of this awareness, and in spite of much useful and interesting work having been carried out in the intervening years (nearly a quarter of a century), the language learning strategy field continues to be characterized by “confusion” and “no consensus” (O’Malley et al, 1985, p.22) while Ellis (1994) comments that the language learning strategy concept remains “fuzzy” (p.529).
Raising students’ awareness regarding the learning strategies might make them not only more prepared for learning but also more logical about the learning strategies they use. Reid (1995) states that developing an understanding of learning environments “will enable students to take control of their learning and to maximize their potential for learning” (p.25). In this regard, it is expected that the findings of the current study bring this major issue into a better and clearer stage and help language learners and instructors improve teaching and learning process and achieve their goals.
The results of the present study are significant since through understanding the scenario of students’ strategy use, teachers can help students distinguish effective strategies from ineffective ones. Furthermore, Iranian instructors can apply these findings to develop more effective instructional methods for students in order to assist them cope with difficulty in reading English authentic expository texts and achieve higher levels of reading comprehension of those texts. Findings of this study may also be useful for the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education, textbook developers, policy makers, syllabus designers, curriculum planners, and test constructors.
The researcher hopes that the outcomes of this research might be advantageous to understand the processes involved in reading. It might also suggest strategies for EFL teachers who are in search of the best methods to heal their teaching procedure, techniques, and resources in order to help their students develop habits of effective reading.
1.7 Limitations and Delimitations
Like any other research project, this study suffers from some limitations and delimitations which may pose inevitable restrictions on the interpretation and generalization of its outcomes.
1. Because of the rules and regulations of the Safir language school female teachers can only teach female classes. Therefore only female students were selected as participants in the study.
2. The researcher did not administer the questionnaires and the PET test in different sessions due to practicality problem and the high probability of losing some of the participants due to their absence in different sessions. Hence, doing the test and questionnaires consecutively might have influenced the participants’ responses to the questionnaires and PET test.
3. Since the participants under this study were all female adults with the age range of 25-42 and regarding the fact that different age groups have different motivations, attitudes, backgrounds, and personality features, findings of this study may not apply to younger or older learners.
1. The researcher narrowed down the focus of this study to students at Safir language school.
2. The participants of this study were deliberately selected from among upper-intermediate students at Safir language school, on the assumption that they have developed a variety of reading strategies and are aware of the type and the frequency of their use, as one of the main purposes of the study. There is no chance, however to bring senior students into the study as there was no possibility for the researcher to use their class time for the purpose of the study.
REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE
In order to meet the essential requirements of this research, the review of literature will be allocated to the study of the following three general topics: “Language Learning Strategies”, “Reading Strategies”, and “Reading Comprehension”.
2.2 Language Learning Strategies
Although there has been a great deal of research on language learning strategies defining those strategies is not clear-cut. While there is not great agreement between scholars’ definition, as stated in Griffiths (2004) “Skehan (1989, p.285) entitles strategies as “explosion of activity”, Wenden and Rubin (1987, p.7) state “the elusive nature of the term”, Ellis (1994, p.529) mentions it as “fuzzy”; and O’Malley , Chamot, Stewner-Manzanares, Kupper, & Russo (1985) believe that “there is considerable confusion about definitions of specific strategies and about the hierarchic relationship among strategies””.
Cohen (1998) claims language learning strategies are those processes which are consciously selected by learners and which may result in action taken to enhance the learning or use of a second or foreign language, through the storage, retention, recall, and application of information about that language. Generally, language learning strategies are beneficial because they make students autonomous, that is, students can be responsible for their own learning (Nation, 2001, p.222).
As mentioned in National Reading Panel’s report (2000) there are three fundamental themes within the arena of reading:
“First, reading is a complex cognitive process in which vocabulary development and instruction play a key role. Second, comprehension is an active thoughtful process often involving prior knowledge, and third, teachers need to better equip students with strategies that are linked to reading success” (Lawrence, 2007, p. 55).
Some scholars believe the choice of various learning strategies in learners is interrelated with their “cultural background, educational experiences, language learning goals, motivation, attitude, age, and gender variability” (Fewel, 2010, p. 160).
2.2.1 Categories of Language Learning Strategies
Considerable effort has gone into classifying the strategies that learners use. Two of the most commonly cited classifications are O’Malley and Chamot’s (1990) and Oxford’s (1990). The former is based on a three-way distinction between cognitive, metacognitive, and socio-affective learning strategies, whereas the latter is hierarchical, with a general distinction made between direct and indirect strategies, each of which is then broken down into a number of subcategories. Moreover, Oxford (1990) has developed versions of the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) to measure learners’ self-reported strategy use in both second and foreign language settings. Oxford classified strategies into two major categories: direct and indirect strategies.
“The indirect strategies are those strategies limited to a supportive role without being directly related to the interaction of the language itself involving actions or processes which learners regulate, manage, and self-direct in learning. Strategies categorized within this group include metacognitive, affective, and social” (Fewel, 2010, p. 161).
• Metacognitive strategies are techniques used for organizing, planning, focusing, and evaluating one’s own learning (e.g., linking new information with an already-known one, seeking practice opportunities, and self-monitoring).
• Affective strategies are used for handling feelings, attitudes and motivation (e.g., lowering anxiety by the use of music, encouraging oneself, and discussing feelings with others).
• Social strategies are used for facilitating interaction by asking questions and cooperating with others in the learning process (e.g., asking for clarification, cooperating with others, and developing cultural understanding).
However, there are strategies that directly implicate learning the target language containing memory, cognitive, and compensation (Fewel, 2010). “Direct strategies directly involve the target language learners in the sense that they acquire mental processing of the language” (Oxford, 1990, p. 37).Oxford classified direct learning strategies into three main groups. Each of these groups approach language differently with various functions:
1. Memory strategies are used for entering new information into memory storage and for retrieving it when needed for communication (e.g., grouping, representing sounds in memory, structured reviewing and using physical responses).
2. Cognitive strategies are used for linking new information with existing schemata and for analyzing and classifying it. Cognitive strategies are responsible for deep processing, forming and revising