First Advisor

Kim Brown

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Teaching English as a Second Language




English language -- Study and teaching -- Malaya -- Foreign speakers, Second language acquisition -- Malaya



Physical Description

1 online resource (4, vi, 154 p.)


In the past, the process by which language acquisition took place was largely ignored. Learning strategies were found to reveal much of the processes that occurred in a learner. In recent years, however, there was a greater emphasis in discovering learner's strategies because of the important role it played in helping the learner control his learning. Most researchers (e.g., Rubin 1975, Stern 1974, O'Malley 1985) emphasize not only the importance of learner strategies in helping the student direct his own learning, but they also emphasize the usefulness of transferring strategies used by successful learners to less successful learners. In order to discover the number and type of strategies that Malaysian learners actually use, it was necessary to distinguish first the successful and unsuccessful learners as well as to distinguish the three different ethnic groups (Malays, Chinese, and Indians) that live in Malaysia. This study examines an aspect of learner strategies in a multi-cultural environment, and attempts to answer research questions regarding the following: 1 . The kind of strategies used by successful and unsuccessful learners within each ethnic group. 2. The number of strategies used by successful and unsuccessful learners within each ethnic group. 3. The kind of strategies used by successful learners among the three groups. 4. The number of strategies used by successful and unsuccessful learners among the three groups. To examine these questions, Oxford's Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) was employed on ninety-eight Malaysian subjects. The inventory consisted of 50 questions consisting of six major strategy groups (memory, cognitive, compensation, metacognitive, affective, and social). The data from the questionnaires was statistically analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis and the Mann-Whitney U test. It was discovered that successful and unsuccessful Malaysian learners in general did not use strategies very differently from each other. The only strategy that seemed to be used differently was memory and effective strategies. The number of strategies used did not also· differ very significantly from each other. Their close mean scores indicated that the difference in the number of strategies used was minimal. Also, the most frequently used strategies appeared to be metacognitive and compensation strategies for all three ethnic groups. It would seem surprising that given the multi-cultural environment, and the differences in the Malaysian learners background, the type and number of strategies did not appear to differ very much from each other. The reason could lie in Oxford's inventory which seemed to be more Western-based than Easternbased, or it could be that something else was happening here, and Malaysian learners were using a whole different set of strategies not listed in Oxford's SILL. Nevertheless, the differences in findings among different countries may reveal to us that findings in one country are greatly linked to their cultural backgrounds, and thus one should be cautious in trying to generalize it for other countries.


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