Foreign Language Learning Colloquium Speaker Series Talk Entitled: Fluctuation in Language Strategy Functions

Dr. Andrew Cohen, Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota


The presentation will report on a qualitative study with Chinese learners of English doing a vocabulary task (i.e., making fine-tuned semantic distinctions) as a vehicle for exploring the extent that individual strategies – whether used alone, in sequences, or in clusters – take on more than one function and fluctuate from function to function while the strategy is being used. The results demonstrate that the use of functions (whether metacognitive, cognitive, affective, or social) may fluctuate not only during the use of one strategy but also when learners switch from one strategy to another (and back again), given the sequential and clustering nature of strategies. In addition, there is not a one-way, linear progression from one function to another (i.e., from a metacognitive function to a cognitive function, and so forth), but rather a pattern of micro-fluctuations. Perhaps most interestingly, there are likely to be more occurrences of the affective function than tends to be the case in traditional language learner strategy research.


*The Washington University Foreign Language Learning Colloquium Speaker Series is sponsored by the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures; the Department of Psychology; the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures; the Department of Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures; the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Department of Education, and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.