Past its expiry date? The SILL in modern mixed-methods strategy research

Main Article Content

Carmen M. Amerstorfer

Abstract

Has the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) passed its expiry date? The SILL (Oxford, 1990) was designed as a self-evaluation tool to measure the frequency of language learning strategies used by foreign and second language (L2) learners. With simple mathematics, learners can analyze their strategy preferences overall and in six categories (i.e., memory, cognitive, compensation, metacognitive, affective, and social strategies). Diverging from its original purpose, the SILL became the most popular instrument in LLS research, which brought widespread acclaim but also criticism. This article explains what makes the SILL an extraordinary tool for learners, teachers, and researchers and how it can be adapted to suit specific contexts and the demands of a modern world. An example of how the SILL can be integrated into mixed-methods research demonstrates how the instrument can fulfil additional purposes to those originally intended. Despite its naturally quantitative orientation, the SILL contributed to the acquisition of rich qualitative information, which enabled a holistic view of five individual L2 learners. In addition to new insights about strategic L2 learning, the study attests that the SILL has not expired yet, but perhaps needs a modern touch, for instance, in the form of adaptation or combination with other research methods and the inclusion of strategies for learning language with technology.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

Section
Articles
Author Biography

Carmen M. Amerstorfer, University of Klagenfurt

carmen.amerstorfer@aau.at

Carmen M. Amerstorfer is Senior Scientist at the Department of English at Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt (AAU), Austria. She has a long-standing and intense curiosity about strategic foreign and second language learning, nurtured by her experience as an L2 learner and teacher in Austria, the UK, the Netherlands, and China. She currently teaches methodology courses in the English teacher education program at AAU and develops problem-oriented teaching materials to encourage students’ self-regulation and teamwork. In 2015, she organized the first international conference on language learning strategies entitled “Situating strategy use: Language learning strategies and individual learner characteristics” (SSU1), which is continued biennially.

References

  1. Amerstorfer, C. M. (2016). Situated strategy use in cooperative learning: A descriptive case study of five learners of English as a foreign language. Doctoral dissertation, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Austria.
  2. Amerstorfer, C. M. (2018). Mixing methods: Investigating self-regulated strategies in a cooperative EFL learning environment. In R. L. Oxford & C. M. Amerstorfer (Eds.), Language learning strategies and individual learner characteristics: Situating strategy use in diverse contexts (pp. 123-140). London: Bloomsbury.
  3. Ardasheva, Y., & Tretter, T. R. (2013). Strategy inventory for language learning – ELL student form: Testing for factorial validity. Modern Language Journal, 97(2), 474-489.
  4. Berkil, G. (2009). A closer look at pronunciation learning strategies. Saarbrücken: VDM Publishing.
  5. Bielak, J., & Mystkowska-Wiertelak, A. (2018). Investigating English majors’ affective strategy use, test anxiety and strategy instruction: Contextual influences. In R. L. Oxford & C. M. Amerstorfer (Eds.), Language learning strategies and individual learner characteristics: Situating strategy use in diverse contexts (pp. 237-260). London: Bloomsbury.
  6. Chamot, A. U. (2018). Preparing language teachers: New teachers become ready to teach learning strategies in diverse classrooms. In R. L. Oxford & C. M. Amerstorfer (Eds.), Language learning strategies and individual learner characteristics: Situating strategy use in diverse contexts (pp. 213-235). London: Bloomsbury.
  7. Cohen, A. D. (2007). Coming to terms with language learner strategies: Surveying the experts. In A. D. Cohen & E. Macaro (Eds.), Language learner strategies: Thirty years of research and practice (pp. 29-45). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  8. Cohen, A. D. (2012). Strategies: The interface of styles, strategies, and motivation on tasks. In S. Mercer, S. Ryan, & M. Williams (Eds.), Psychology for language learning: Insights from research, theory and practice (pp. 136-150). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  9. Cohen, A. D. (2014). Strategies in learning and using a second language (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.
  10. Cohen, A. D. (2018). Moving from theory to practice: A closer look at language learner strategies. In R. L. Oxford & C. M. Amerstorfer (Eds.), Language learning strategies and individual learner characteristics: Situating strategy use in diverse contexts (pp. 31-53). London: Bloomsbury.
  11. Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The psychology of the language learner: Individual differences in second language acquisition. New York: Routledge.
  12. Dörnyei, Z., & Skehan P. (2003). Individual differences in second language learning. In C. J. Doughty, & M. H. Long (Eds.), The handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 589-630). Oxford: Blackwell.
  13. Dörnyei, Z., & Ryan, S. (2015). The psychology of the language learner revisited. New York: Routledge.
  14. Gao, X. (2010). Strategic language learning: The roles of agency and context. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  15. Gavriilidou, Z., & Mitits, L. (2016). Adaptation of the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) for students aged 12-15 into Greek: Developing an adaptation protocol. International Symposium on Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (ISTAL), 21, 588-601.
  16. Gavriilidou Z., & Psaltou-Joycey, A. (2018). Language learning strategies in Greek primary and secondary school learners: How individual characteristics affect strategy use. In R. L. Oxford & C. M. Amerstorfer (Eds.), Language learning strategies and individual learner characteristics: Situating strategy use in diverse contexts (pp. 167-187). London: Bloomsbury.
  17. Grenfell, M., & Macaro, E. (2007). Claims and critiques. In A. D. Cohen & E. Macaro (Eds.), Language learner strategies: Thirty years of research and practice (pp. 9-28). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  18. Griffiths, C., & Oxford, R. L. (2014). The twenty-first century landscape of language learning strategies: Introduction to this special issue. System, 43, 1-10.
  19. Gu, P. Y. (2007). Strategy-based instruction. In T. Yashima & T. Nabei (Eds.), Proceedings of the international symposium on English education in Japan: Exploring frontiers (pp. 21-38). Osaka: Yubunsha.
  20. Gunning, P. (1997). The learning strategies of beginning ESL learners at the primary level. MA thesis, Concordia University, Montréal, Québec. Retrieved from http://spectrum.library.concordia.ca/517/
  21. Gunning, P., & Oxford, R. L. (2014). Children’s learning strategy use and the effects of strategy instruction on success in learning ESL in Canada. System, 43, 82-100.
  22. Gunning, P., & Turner, C. E. (2018). Young language learners in classroom contexts: The development of strategy assessment methods and tools. In R. L. Oxford & C. M. Amerstorfer (Eds.), Language learning strategies and individual learner characteristics: Situating strategy use in diverse contexts (pp. 259-286). London: Bloomsbury.
  23. Hambleton, R. K., & Patsula, L. (1998). Adapting tests for use in multiple languages and cultures. Social Indicators Research, 45(1), 153-171.
  24. Hsaio, T. Y., & Oxford, R. L. (2002). Comparing theories of language learning strategies: A confirmatory factor analysis. Modern Language Journal, 86(3), 369-383.
  25. Khalil, A. (2005). Assessment of language learning strategies used by Palestinian EFL learners. Foreign Language Annals, 38(1), 108-119.
  26. Lan, R., & Oxford, R. L. (2003). Language learning strategy profiles of elementary school students in Taiwan. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 41, 339-379.
  27. Larson-Freeman, D., & Cameron, L. (2008). Research methodology in language development from a complex systems perspective. Modern Language Journal, 92(2), 200-213.
  28. LoCastro, V. (1994). Learning strategies and learning environments. TESOL Quarterly, 28(2), 409-414.
  29. MacIntyre, P. D., & Gregersen, T. (2012). Affect: The role of language anxiety and other emotions in language learning. In S. Mercer, S. Ryan, & M. Williams (Eds.), Psychology for language learning: Insights from research, theory and practice (pp. 103-118). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  30. Magogwe, J. M., & Oliver, R. (2007). The relationship between language learning strategies, proficiency, age, and self-efficacy beliefs: A study of language learners in Botswana. System, 35, 338-352.
  31. Mercer, S. (2012). The self from a complexity perspective. In S. Mercer, S. Ryan, & M. Williams (Eds.), Psychology for language learning: Insights from research, theory and practice (pp. 160-176). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  32. Mercer, S., Ryan, S., & Williams, M. (Eds.). (2012). Psychology for language learning: Insights from research, theory and practice. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  33. Mercer, S., & Williams, M. (Eds.). (2014). Multiple perspectives on the self in SLA. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  34. Mizumoto, A., & Takeuchi, O. (2018). Modelling a prototypical use of language learning strategies: Decision tree-based methods in multiple contexts. In R. L. Oxford & C. M. Amerstorfer (Eds.), Language learning strategies and individual learner characteristics: Situating strategy use in diverse contexts (pp. 99-122). London: Bloomsbury.
  35. Nakatani, Y. (2006). Developing and oral communication strategy inventory. Modern Language Journal, 90(2), 151-168.
  36. Nakatani, Y. (2010). Identifying strategies that facilitate EFL learners’ oral communication: A classroom study using multiple data collection procedures. Modern Language Journal, 94(1), 116-136.
  37. O’Malley, J. M., & Chamot, A. U. (1990). Learning strategies in second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  38. Oxford, R. L. (1990). Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
  39. Oxford, R. L. (1999). Learning strategies. In B. Spolsky & R. E. Asher (Eds.), Concise encyclopedia of educational linguistics (pp. 215-522). New York: Elsevier.
  40. Oxford, R. L. (2011). Teaching and researching language learning strategies. Harlow, UK: Pearson Longman.
  41. Oxford, R. L. (2017). Teaching and researching language learning strategies: Self-regulation in context. New York: Routledge.
  42. Oxford, R. L. & Amerstorfer, C. M. (2018). Introduction: The state of the art in language learning strategies and individual learner characteristics. In R. L. Oxford & C. M. Amerstorfer (Eds.), Language learning strategies and individual learner characteristics: Situating strategy use in diverse contexts (pp. xxiii-xxxiv). London: Bloomsbury.
  43. Oxford, R. L., & Burry-Stock, J. (1995). Assessing the use of language learning strategies worldwide with the ESL/EFL version of the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning. System, 23(1), 1-23.
  44. Oxford, R. L., Lavine, R. Z., & Amerstorfer, C. M. (2018). Understanding language learning strategies in context: An innovative, complexity-based approach. In R. L. Oxford & C. M. Amerstorfer (Eds.), Language learning strategies and individual learner characteristics: Situating strategy use in diverse contexts (pp. 5-29). London: Bloomsbury.
  45. Rubin, J. (1975). What the “good language learner” can teach us. TESOL Quarterly, 9(1), 41-51.
  46. Teh, K. S. M., Embi, M. A., Yusoff, N. M. R. N., & Mahamod, Z. (2009). A closer look at gender and Arabic language learning strategies use. European Journal of Social Sciences, 9(3), 399-407.
  47. Tseng, W.-T., Dörnyei, Z., & Schmitt, N. (2006). A new approach to assessing strategic learning: The case of self-regulation in vocabulary acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 27, 78-102.
  48. Vandergrift, L., Goh, C., Mareschal, C., & Tafaghodtari, M. H. (2006). The Metacognitive Awareness Listening Questionnaire (MALQ): Development and validation. Language Learning, 56, 431-462.
  49. Wang, K. H. (2018). Learning vocabulary strategically in a study abroad context. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  50. White, C., & Schramm, K., Chamot, A. U. (2007). Research methods in strategy research: Re-examining the toolbox. In A. D. Cohen & E. Macaro (Eds.), Language learner strategies: Thirty years of research and practice (pp. 93-116). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  51. Williams, M., Mercer, S., & Ryan, S. (2015). Exploring psychology in language learning and teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  52. Wittwer, H. (2017, July). Introduction. Impulszentrum für cooperatives offenes lernen. Retrieved from http://cooltrainers.at/index.php?id=150&L=1
  53. Woodrow, L. (2005). The challenges of measuring language learning strategies. Foreign Language Annals, 38(1), 90-98.