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Titulo del proyecto How communicative competence can be improved

through the use of Learning Strategies?

Lider principal responsable del Juan Esteban Isaza

proyecto Susana Cardona Parra
Olga Cardona
Miembros del Proyecto Juan Esteban Isaza
Susana Cardona Parra
Unidad Académica Faculty of Education
Entitdades involucradas Faculty of Education
Place of practice
Fecha de Inicio Febrery the ninth of 2005
Fecha de Finalización May the Eleventh of 2005
Costo Total delm proyecto $ 50.000 (Colombian Pesos)
Montos de contrapartida $80.000 (Colombian Pesos)
Linea de investigación Condiciones de posibilidad para hacer enseñable una
ciencia, una disciplina o un saber desde un modelo
sistémico y cibernético en la básica.


1.) Realizar un resumen del proyecto en máximo media pagina a un espacio.

The etnographical research project builded in this semester, is in the exploratory stage,

however, it pretends to apply the direct learning strategies in the English learning process

among the young population, which are in the intermediate level, coursing between eighth

and ninth grade. All this in order to enhance their English knowledge regarding concepts

they have already studied and learned.


1. Research question:

*How do students use direct learning strategies in order to improve both listening and

speaking skills, and how can students apply such direct learning strategies in order to

suceed in other fields of knowledge?


With this Project, it is expected to create an impact in the students’ population,

inculcating them self-awareness about the benefits that can be obtained with the

implementation of the direct learning strategies in the English cognitive learning process.

In addition, it is can be consider as convenient to create an impact in the teaching

community as well, fomenting the cognizance about direct learning strategies and the

importance of such implementation in their students’ learning processes.


-Sintesis del contexto general (nacional y mundial) en el cual se ubica el tema,

antecedentes, estado actual del conocimiento del problema, contribución a la solución del

problema, oportunidades y relación con trabajos previos.


Across many theories and interpretations about the learning strategies in learning

processes regarding a foreign language learning, it becomes clear the intentions that

all the well-known authors of such subject propose, as they have the same target to

consider the learning language strategies as means that enable students accelerate

and increase their knowledge either outside or inside the classroom. Thus, in this

state of the art , the main conceptions about the learning strategies , considering

aspects such as: effectiveness, feasibility, development etc, will be shown through

both views and concerns of the most relevant authors of this subject: Rebecca

Oxford(1990), Weinstein and Meyer(1986), Rubin(1975), Naiman , Frohlich, Stern, and

Todesco(1975), Salazar y Retamoso(2004), and Brown, (1994) whose researches have

been focused on the individuals´ cognitive stages and levels which every human being

is. However, it is important to focus deeper on Rebecca´s Oxford theories because

her proposals appear to be more clear and better focused to this research process.
A general Schema providing general definitions for Learning strategies and language
learning strategies

The learning strategies have been given many definitions; these definitions have

clearly changed as new studies and advances on the pedagogy field have been pursued,

therefore, It is relevant to show some meanings and considerations that are

meaningful in order to understand the nature of the term ¨the learning strategies”. In

a first instance, the leaning strategies were defined as “behaviors and thoughts that a

learner engages in during learning”(Weinstein and Mayer/1986) ,that somehow,

modify the learning process, but later Mayer became more specific to define the

learning strategies as “behaviours of a learner that are intended to influence the

learner processes information. As matter of fact, these definitions imply that learning

strategies involve a great amount of fields of knowledge, and if the learner becomes

proficient in applying them in any situation, his/her learning process will, undoubtedly,


On the hand, Salazar y Retamozo(2004) suggest that learning strategies are a set of

activities, techniques and means which are planned according to the students´ needs ,

objectives and nature of what they learn, in order to improve the learning process.

Nevertheless, Brandt (1998) explains the importance of learning strategies,

considering these as “ strategies which shift according to study objectives and

previous learning process of the students” , being this, closely related with the

proficiency abilities and limitations of every one

However, the concern of this research project is aimed at the language learning

strategies ,and therefore, the meanings of such topic have to be studied as narrowly

and accurately as possible(But without forgetting that the language strategies is a

catchall term whose implications have a great effect in too many fields of knowledge(

Oxford, 1990). Consequently, a first definition appears as follows: “Learning

strategies are an attempt to develop linguistic and sociolinguistic competence in the

target language – to incorporate these into one´s interlanguage competence” (Tarone,

1983). This definition, gets closer to the main topic of Language Learning Strategies,
as it establishes that such language learning strategies contribute to maximize or

increase the linguistic competence itself, and the oral competence to be able to

interchange knowledge and have fruitful channels of communication in certain

community ( Sociolinguistic competence).

On the other hand, it can be found two more definitions to the term language learning

strategies. “learning strategies are strategies which contribute to the development of

the language system which the learner constructs and affect the learning directly¨

(Rubin/1987), consequently O´Malley and Chamot (1985), came to define learning

strategies as ¨ The special thoughts or behaviours that individuals use to help them

comprehend, learn, or retain new information¨. These definitions have the same aim;

They propose that the learning language strategies, influence directly to the way the

learner learns a foreign language and , therefore, gains communicative competence.

Brown (1994) suggests that the adolescents´ mental capacity “adds intellectual

capacity adds abstract operational thought around the age of twelve. Therefore some

sophisticated intellectual processing is increasingly possible”. Then, a list of aspects

of how the student´s learning process is influenced according to the kind of input, is

presented below:

1. “ Attention spans are lengthening as a result of intellectual maturation, but

once again, with many diversions present in a teenager´s life, those potential

attention spans can be easily shortened

2. Varieties of sensory input are still important, but again increasing capacities

for abstraction lessen the essential nature of appealing to all five senses

3. Complex problems can be solved with logical thinking

4. Factors sorroundind ego, self-image, self-esteem are at the pinnacle. Teens

are ultrasensitive to how others perceive their changing physical and emotional

selves along with their mental capabilities.

5. Secondary school students are of course becoming increasingly adult-like in

their ability to make those occasional diversions from the “here and now”

nature of immediate communicative contexts to dwell on a grammar point or

vocabulary item” (Brown, 1994).

A great display of the nature of the language learning strategies.

All seen above, are both general definitions and reflections about the Language

Learning Strategies within both learning processes and language learning processes,

which provide a global introduction to the extents of both language strategies and

language learning strategies in the learning process itself, however the main approach

linked to the language learning strategies in gaining communicative competence is

presented and developed by Rebecca Oxford (1990). “Language learning strategies are

specific actions, behaviours, steps, or techniques that students (often intentionally)

use to improve their progress in developing second language skills. These strategies

can facilitate the internalization, storage, retrieval, or use of the new language.

Strategies are tools for the self-directed involvement necessary for developing

communicative ability”

Foreign language/second language and learning strategies

In a first instance, it is important to establish the difference between both a second

language and a foreign language Consequently, the first clarification of both second

language and foreign language, resides in the way the language is viewed and studied

according to the kind of environment or context the students are in, therefore, when

the student is attempting to bring a linguistic systemic schema from another country

he is pursuing goals and objectives belonging to a foreign language; And , when the

student is trying to internalize a language within the context in which the language is

spoken, it is considered that the student is trying to learn a second language.

( Oxford, 1990)

Nonetheless these previous aspects, both foreign language and second language,

cannot be stududied, in this case, regardless of whether it is a process of acquisition

or a simple process of learning. Then, the reason of the importance of referring to

those four terms, it is because of the close relationship they have with the way the

students might employ the learning language skills according to their needs in their
learning processes inside the classroom environment; If it is a acquisitions process ,

the learner internalizes a language inductively without being conscious of what he is

learning an how he is learning it. On the other hand, there is the process of learning;

The process of learning is related to the levels of consciousness that most of foreign

language students assume when internalizing a foreign language; This means, the

process is more deductively rather than deductively as the grammar becomes an

important role in building up the general structure of the target language


Direct strategies

Indirect Strategies Affective

Learning Strategies

Oxford, (1990), consider the learning language skills as tools that make “ learning

easier, faster, more enjoyable, more self-directed, more effective, and more

transferable to new situations.” Considering this, these learning strategies can be

divided in two main groups: Direct strategies and indirect strategies. The first ones

are related to the foreign language learning process; They focus on certain tools that

make students become aware of what they are learning through deductive and
abstract procedures that , somehow, require maturity in the overall cognitive process.

The second ones, the direct strategies, deal with the levels of motivation, affectivity

and planning; In other words, they are related to the way students might feel

motivated to learn a language, how to plan the learning process, and finally, how would

be the interaction among such students who have the same goals and objectives when

learning a language.

Nevertheless, the main concern of this project, as seen previously, is to focus on the

direct strategies as they are closer to the foreign language process taking into

account the Colombian context. The direct strategies are divided, according to

Oxford(1990), in three main subdivisions: Memory strategies, cognitive language

strategies and compensation strategies. The memory strategies “ aid in entering

information into long-term memory and retrieving information when needed for

communication”(Oxford,1990); Cognitive language strategies “ are used for forming

and revising internal mental models and receiving and producing messages in the target

language”( Oxford,1990); And finally, the compensation strategies, are the ones that

enable students overcome their own limitations, errors and mistakes when

accomplishing language learning cognitive processes without leading into frustration

and de-motivation.

All the accuracies previously made, lead to the understanding of how to enhance,

develop and increase communicative competence in a foreign language- in this case

English- through the implementation of proper language direct learning skills among

intermediate levels of English of students ranging from fourteen to sixteen years old;

The implementation of such learning strategies has to be included directly in the

process of learning, however, It cannot be put aside the role of the teacher , across

the teaching processes, because he is responsible of whether such strategies are

developed properly or not in the language learning communicative processes.


formulación del objetivo general y minimo 2 especificos. Los objetivos deben mostrar una

relación clara con la descripción del problema.

*MAIN GOAL: To implement direct learning strategies in the English learning process

with eighth and ninth intermediate students.


-To research about theories related to learning strategies in order to construct the

theoretical framework.

- To create a relevant output about learning strategies according to the information


-To accomplished a teaching practice with the project’s theoretical framework .


Firstly, it is considered essential to clarify the stage this project is in. In this moment

this project is being pursued across the exploratory stage, which means, the main goal is

to search all or most of the information written about the learning strategies, and

organize it (the information) in flashcards, so then, a state of the art (theoretical

framework) might be able to constructed.

Secondly, it has been previse the research approach, according to the purposes and goals

we want to achieve. The etnografic research approach deals with a large quantity of

population and consecuently, it can be apply to research projects aimed to observe and

study communities or societies. This project can be categorized with this description, due

the fact it has been aimed to observed and analize large quantity of students, which give

us information of everything they know about the topic.

Lastly, it has been forseen the research procedures that might be use in the future.

It is aforethought to keep follow searching texts written about this topic. However, it is

known the necessity to obtained more precise and accurate the information, so, formal
and informal interviews, observations, fieldnotes and surveys were considered to be the

main sources so on.


with this project it has been expected, not only cause a great impact on the educational

system previously mentioned, but at the same time, carry this project out to the next

level, which is the thesis. This means, this prject is not only the final project in “research

seminar I”, but also, the project we hope to practice in the Medellin’s context and



At this moment, it has been though to create articles aimed based on this project in

magazines frecuently read by the teachers, nevertheless, it has not been clarify any of

this aspects yet.


As it has been mention previously, this project is aimed to intermediate level students

which course between eighth and ninth grade. Nevertheless, it is important to underline

this young population has to be coursing in qualified bilingual schools, due the fact these

schools are much coherent with what they teached, rather than schools which are in the

bilingual process.


*Curriculum Guidelines for English according to the Ministry of Education

MEN. “Estrategias de Aprendizaje.” Serie Lineamientos Curriculares Para el Área de
Idiomas Extranjeros En la Educación Básica y Media. Idiomas Extranjeros. Bogotá: Enlace
Editoriales Ltda,
* H. W Seliger, and, E. Shohamy. “The Preparatory Stage Of Research.” Second Language
Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
*Oxford, Rebecca. “Looking at Language Learning Strategies.” Language Learning
Strategies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.
* Cline, Daniel and Clark, David L. “The Problem Statement.” A Writer's Guide To
Research And Development Proposals. Copyright © 1984-2000
*Kearsley, Greg. “Learning Strategies”. Learning Concepts. Copyright 1994-2004
* Mihaljević Djigunović, Jelena. Are Language Learning Strategies Motivation– specific?.
Orbis Linguarum Vol. 18/2001
*Harmer, Jeremy. “¿Why do people learn languages?” The Practice of English Language
Teaching. London: Longman, 1991.
* Brown, Douglas. “Learner Variables II: Teaching Across Profiency Levels “ Teaching by
Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. New Jersey: Prentice Hall
Regents, 1994.