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LiBRI: The Relationship Between Metacognitive Strategy Use, Good Language Learner, and Iranian Learner’s Willingness to Communicate

The explanation of the relationship between metacognitive strategies, learner characteristics and willingness to communicate is a highly important aspect when speaking about foreign language teaching and learning processes. Considering this, Gholam-Reza Abbasian and Bahareh Hoodin Shad, carried out a study concerning the interaction between these elements and their possible influence in teaching and learning English as a foreign language.

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First to be discussed are the learning strategies as they are placed at the basis of a successful learning and, according to O’Malley and Chamot they are divided into three main categories: cognitive, metacognitive and social/affective. Ridley, et al. insist on metacognitive development as it allows students to control their own learning, to select strategies, to monitor the progress of learning, to correct errors or to change learning behaviours.

The authors offer a short description and the functioning of some of the elements to be used within their study. First, a good language learner (GLL) has, logically, a significant role within the learning process because of the eagerness to communicate or to learn from a communication. Second, the willingness to communicate (WTC) represents the foundation of the cognitive conversation process, taking into consideration the fact that, as MacIntyre, et. al. state, modern pedagogy puts a strong emphasis on authentic communication.

Moreover, cognitive communication determines and leads to language proficiency, critical thinking, reading task performance and autonomy. At a more specific level, namely in the case of Iranian students, the authors identify a gap between the three main elements of an efficient language learning: metacogntive strategies, GLL and WTC. This problem determined the two authors start their research by establishing three hypothesis, questioning the existence of a relationship between metacognitive strategies and learner’s willingness to communicate; between willingness to communicate and good language learners; and between metacognitive strategies and good language learners.

With respect to the methodology chosen, there were selected 125 junior, senior and post graduate EFL learners from South Tehran Branh of Azad Islamic University. The authors used the following instruments for their research with their implied procedure: the TOEFL, the Metacognitive Strategies Questionnaire Item Type (MSQIT) with Cronbach Alpha reliability, the 20-items Good Language Learner Questionnaire (GLLQ), the Willingness to Communicate retrieved from Macintyre and Charos, and a semi-structured interview run by 10 randomly selected participants.

Testing the first null hypothesis, the results showed that there is no significant relationship between metacognitive strategies and learner’s WTC, meaning that the data failed to reject the first hypothesis. The second null hypotheses was rejected because the results showed that there is no significant statistical relationship between WTC and GLL. The third one was also rejected according to the final results.

Some authors and researchers in this field already confirmed that there is a positive relationship between metacognitive strategy and language performance, while others (Barraclongh, Knutson and Simic and Tanaka) consider learner’s WTC to be more situational than trait-alike, varying across different contexts and receivers. In what concerns the relationship between the components of metacognitive strategies and learner’s WTC, the study of Yang revealed that successful listeners are better at all components of metacognitive strategies but monitoring. As for the second and third hypotheses, their rejection proves Rubin’s statement that GLL acknowledge the importance of cognitive communication.

All in all, Gholam-Reza Abbasian and Bahareh Hoodin Shad successfully found evidence that learner’s WTC require both motivation and context so as to gain proficiency of EFL. They wisely conclude that strategic instruction, contextual consideration, and, very important, the affective sphere should be included in each and every EFL educational program. That being said, it is clear that this research may be of great use not only for teachers, but also for scholars, learners or syllabus designers.

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Iuliana-Alexandra Fleșcan-Lovin-Arseni