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Learning Strategies


Learning strategies are skills that can be applied to learning situations, and as you improve in using them, the better the learner you will be.

There are 2 types of learning strategies : Cognitive strategies and Metacognitive strategies.

Cognitive Strategies are the ones that are used while you do a learning task, such as skimming and scanning a reading text.

Skimming - to quickly read a text without pausing to think about unknown words or concepts.

The main point of skimming a text is to get the main idea of the text and to prepare yourself for a second, more

detailed reading.


Scanning - to read a text very carefully in order to find specific information. Here it maybe necessary to understand the

difficult parts of the text. If you you don't know them, you can use other strategies such as guessing what

the word is from the context .

Reading and listening also involve 2 processes called Top-Down and Bottom-up Processes.


In Reading

Top-Down processes deal with understanding the meaning of a text and how ideas are interrelated

It involves :

- recognition of coherence and consistency in a text

- knowledge of the text structure

-inferences (guesses from context) and background knowldege about the content of a text


Bottom-Up Processes involve decoding letters, words and sounds to create words and sentences.

It involves :

- identifying the meaning of a word

- recognising the correspondence of the letters and pronunciations


In Listening

Top-Down Processes use contextual knowledge to fill in gaps when a word is not undertstood -this is called 'inferencing'

- use knowledge of the topic to choose the correct meaning of ambiguous words.

Bottom-up Processes involve using linguistic knowledge in utterance comprehension

-identifying individual phonemes (sounds) in a stream of speech

- recognsing words on the basis of the phonemes recognised

- analysing the words in a sentence in order to identify its grammatical features - 'parsing'



Metacognitve Strategies

If cognitive strategies are those that are used while practicing a skill, metacognitive strategies are those that are used to plan and organise learning.

For example, this might be deciding what to read and what is considered important information in a text.


Some of the main metacognitive strategies in reading and listening are :

- paying attention

- searching for practise opportunities

- planning for language tasks

- self- evaluating one's process

- monitoring error

- problem identification

- selective attention (looking or listening for something specific)

Another metacognitive strategy is note-taking .

Taking notes are very useful and might involve :

-underlining notes

-using headings

-using abbreviations

-using colour

-using diagrams

-concept maps

-paraphrasing and summarising


Remember, your goals as a language learner should be to become the best learner possible.


Good learners :

- ask questions

- make inferences

- use deduction

-seek clarification, verification and negotiation of meaning

-use memory efficiently

- pracrtice and self/evaluate to achieve accuracy and fluency

- organise their learning by preferred learning techniques

- choose prioritise and plan their learning

-are active participants in the learning process



Try to think about how you might use the various strategies to help you become a better learner !


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