Language is something unique only for human beings (language is human) to conduct and regulate their system of communication in the society. According to the Sapir whorf, he describes language as following. People acquire their first language from the point of their birth by using the innate capacity of the brain. Behaviourists say that observing the behavior of the people and the environment, infants begin to acquire their first language. Rejecting this idea, a group of scholars with the priority of Chomsky said that it is not possible to learning a language through mere observation of the behavior of the people and they present the concept “mentalism”.

However with this acquired language from their infancy, children begin to learn languages for different purposes under many circumstances. In this answer script, the main attention is going to discuss about various language learning strategies use by students. To give an explicit idea regarding language learning strategies, I am going to discuss, the difference between learning and teaching, various definitions about language learning strategies, history of learning strategies and types and classification of learning strategies with relevance to language learning strategies.

Difference between learning and teaching

People use the terms “learning” and “teaching” as synonyms in education, because they bring equal value to get information and knowledge. So, before we are going to discuss the factors in deep level, it is better to have a clear identification about learning and teaching. In simple idea, learning is standing for receiving the knowledge of a subject or a skill by study, experience or instruction. According to the idea of Kimble and Garmezy, they define the learning as below.

“Learning is relatively permanent change in a behavioural tendency and is the result of reinforced practice. Learning refers to a persistent change in behavior and is a response to a given stimulus”

With this understanding of learning, now we can understand the “teaching”. While learning is a self-directed activity, teaching stands as an activity that can be accomplished from an outsider. Simply teaching can be defined as showing or helping someone to learn how to do something, providing with knowledge,

Causing to know or to understand. From this simple understanding, we can get an idea about the distinction between learning and teaching, because without that kind of identification, it is not easy to understand the rest of this answer script.

History of language learning strategy

Language learning strategies were first introduced to the literary aspects of the second language learning in 1975, with research on the Good Language Learners. The Good Language Learner studies are a group of academic studies in the area of second language acquisition that deals with the strategies that good language learners exhibit. The first studies in the Good Language learner tradition were made by Joan Rubin and David Stern both of which were completed in 1975. In those days they were thought that studying the habit of good language learners is helpful for others to capture a language than those who have fossilizes. However from that beginning, when it becomes today, language learning strategies have become a great entity in the field of education.

Various definitions on language learning strategies.

Many of the scholarly definitions regarding language learning strategies can be seen as following.

Rubin (1987)

“language learning strategies are set of operations, steps, plans and routines of what learners do to facilitate the obtaining, storage, retrieval and use of information and to regulate learning”

According to Rubin, the language learning strategies are kind of actions and procedures that can conduct by students to get information as very familiar to them and store them easily in their brain.

Wenden and Rubin (1987)

“Language learning strategies refer to what learners do to learn and do to regulate their learning”

Under this definition they hope to explain language learning strategies in very general way. Simply they tell that what students do to learn and to do it in a systematic way. According to Chamot

“ Language learning strategies are techniques, approaches or deliberate actions that students take in order to facilitate learning and recall of both linguistic and content area information”

In addition to these definitions, Naiman (1978) and Tarone (1983)present their definitions regarding language learning strategies as following.

Naiman (1978)

“Language learning strategy is a generally a more or less deliberate approaches to learning”

Taron (1983)

“Language learning strategy is an attempt to develop linguistic and sociolinguistic competence in the target language to incorporate these in to one’s interlanguage competence”

From these above mentioned definitions of language learning strategies, it is very clear that many scholars have given their attention towards the language learning strategies.


  1. Oxford, R.L., 1990: Language Learning Strategies: What Every Teacher Should Know. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
  2. Oxford, R.L., 1996a: Language Learning Strategies Around the World: Cross-cultural Perspectives. Manoa: University of Hawaii Press.
  3. Reid, J., 1987. The learning style preferences of ESL students. TESOL Quarterly, 21, 87 -111.