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Applied Linguistics Review

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Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings

Nathan ThomasORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3245-8572 / Heath RoseORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6434-6663 / Punjaporn PojanapunyaORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0694-200X
Published Online: 2019-04-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2019-0033


This article provides an overview of the field of language learning strategies, focusing on definitional and conceptual issues as they relate to strategy use in formal education settings. The article first provides evidence of the conflation of language learning strategies with concepts related to self-directedness. It provides evidence via a corpus-based analysis of published papers over time to illustrate that the field has moved away from instructed settings and towards a view of learner agency and self-regulation. We argue that this is a dangerous trend for language education researchers, as current definitions minimize the role of the teacher and classroom contexts in influencing strategic behavior in their students. A conceptualization and subsequent definition that does not stigmatize or exclude learners who are not self-directed, for whatever reason(s), is crucial to advance the field. As a solution, we propose that self-regulation be defined as a dynamic characteristic of learning strategies in order to allow for other-regulated strategies in research. Theorizing the interplay of the self and strategies on a continuum helps to emphasize the dynamic processes of strategic development, and the roles teachers and students in instructed settings can play in this process.

Keywords: language learning strategies; self-/other-regulation; self-directedness


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About the article

Published Online: 2019-04-30

Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2019-0033.

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