Understanding foreign language learning strategies: A validation study

Elsa Tragant, Marilyn Thompson, Mia Victori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present work aims to contribute to our understanding of the underlying dimensions of language learning strategies in foreign language contexts. The study analyzes alternative factor structures underlying a recently developed instrument (Tragant and Victori, 2012) and it includes the age factor in the examination of its construct validity. The target population consists of middle- and upper-grade learners of English distributed in two samples (n1 = 550 and n2 = 1425). Exploratory factor analysis and item analysis were initially conducted to be followed by confirmatory factor analyses and multiple-groups factor analysis. The instrument is a 55-item questionnaire based on a 6-point Likert-type scale measuring students' reported frequency of strategy use. Results support a correlated two-factor structure with a shortened scale of 17 items reflecting 'skills-based deep processing strategies' and 'language study strategies,' offering empirical evidence for the distinction between deep and surface clusters of strategies. Multiple-groups factor analysis showed that this model held for both middle- and upper-grade students, and upper-grade students were more likely to use the more advanced skills-based deep processing strategies and less inclined to use language study strategies than middle-grade students. The brevity of the scale and parsimonious factor structure enhance the questionnaire's utility for research and classroom evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-108
Number of pages14
JournalSystem
Volume41
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013

Keywords

  • Age effects
  • Confirmatory factor analysis
  • Deep learning strategies
  • Exploratory factor analysis
  • Foreign language learning
  • Language learning strategies
  • Measurement invariance
  • Questionnaire
  • Surface learning strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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