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The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher 20:3 (2011), pp.


Factors Involved in the Use of Language Learning

Strategies and Oral Proficiency Among Taiwanese
Students in Taiwan and in the Philippines
Carlo Magno*, Jennifer Ann L. Lajom
De La Salle University, Philippines
Moiss Kirk de Carvalho Filho
Kyoto University, Japan

The study investigated several factors (level of exposure to English language, metacognitive awareness, and
country) that affect the use of language learning strategies among Taiwanese students who live in Taiwan and
in the Philippines and who speak English. The language learning strategies were also studied as predictors of
oral proficiency (measured using the Test for Spoken English). The participants were 80 Taiwanese students
studying in the Philippines and 66 Taiwanese studying in Taiwan. It was found in the study that English
exposure and country of residence were significant predictors of language learning strategy. Students living
and studying in the Philippines with high English exposure had higher oral proficiency than the Taiwanese in
Taiwan sample. All language learning strategies when taken together significantly predicted oral proficiency
(R=.58, p<.05). Only memory (B=-2.03), compensation (B=1.31), metacognition (B=1.54), and affect (B=2.73) of the six strategies, significantly predicted oral proficiency.
Keywords: Language learning strategies, oral proficiency, metacognitive knowledge awareness, English

In second language acquisition, the effective

use of learning strategies is often associated with
increased language proficiency. Previous studies
show that people differ in their use of learning
strategies according to some personal as well as
environmental characteristics (Bremner, 1999;
Hsiao & Oxford, 2002; OMalley, Chamot, StewnerManzanares, Kupper, & Russo, 1985; Peacock &
Ho, 2003). Among the personal characteristics that
may influence individuals use of learning strategies
are motivation (Kim & Margolis, 2000; Macleod, P.,
2002) as well as cognitive and metacognitive abilities
(Peacock & Ho, 2003). Environmental factors include,
among other things, the level of exposure that an
individual has to the second language, contextual, and
cultural variables (Ji, Zhang, & Nisbett, 2004; Kim &
Margolis, 2000).

The present study is based on the social cognitive

approach to learning (Bandura, 1986), according
to which human functioning is seen as reciprocal
interactions between behaviors, environmental
variables, cognition, and other personal factors.
By using this conceptual focus, this study aims to
investigate the effects of individuals metacognitive
knowledge awareness and level of English language
exposure on their use of different learning strategies in
acquiring the second language as well as the resulting
oral proficiency.
Exposure in English
Among the environmental factors that can affect
individuals acquisition of a second language is the
degree to which they are exposed to that language.

Copyright 2011 De La Salle University, Philippines



Previous investigations on levels of language

exposure show that there has been no clear definition
as to what exposure is, whether it is a matter of time,
frequency, type of materials, or amount of materials
read (Jia, 2003; Ji, Zhang, & Nisbett, 2004; Kim
& Margolis, 2000). Given these critical attributes
of exposure to a second language, it is necessary
for a second language learner to have sufficient
amount of time to acquire a new language; Lessaux
and Siegel (2003) demonstrate this in a study in
which non-English speaking participants acquired
adequate proficiency after two years of exposure to
the reading, spelling, phonological processes, and
memory of the English language. This shows that
an individual needs time to monitor and evaluate his
own progress in learning a new language (Victori &
Lockhart, 1995).
Magno, de Carvalho, Lajom, Regodon, and
Bunagan (2009) defined exposure as the total
amount of time by which an individual has contact
with a second language, whether it be verbal or
written, formal or informal or active or passive
communication. Adopting this definition, exposure
to a second language occurs whenever individuals
engage in conversations with family members,
friends, classmates, and colleagues using the
second language. Other instances include reading
(books, magazines, newspapers, etc.), encountering
information being disseminated in different
multimedia sources, or even passively listening
in any situation in which the second language is
being spoken. The study provides evidence that
exposure is a matter of context. It was found that
Taiwanese students in the Philippines significantly
have higher English exposure than Taiwanese
students in Taiwan. Thus, exposure is defined in the
present study as contact with a second language,
where exposure levels vary depending on the level
of second language use in a particular context.
Several studies (Holmes & Brown, 1977; Kim
& Margolis, 2000) claim that in second language
learning, the level of exposure that an individual has to
the second language is one of the factors that is directly
related to proficiency in that language. Results from
previous studies on exposure and language proficiency
are mixed. Some studies found that Chinese people
who immigrated to English-speaking countries and
have been exposed to English, were still found to
commit grammatical errors (Flege, MacKay, &
Meador, 1999). Although a high degree of exposure

VOL. 20 NO. 3

to a second language offers invaluable opportunities

that may help them in acquiring not only the linguistic
rules of the language and its functional and discourse
competences but also the sociolinguistic competence
(i.e., skills at using a language in social context)
required for more effective communication (Jia,
2003; Jia, Aaronson, & Wu, 2002; Flege, YeniKomshian & Liu, 1999). Despite the inconsistent
results, the majority of studies still credit exposure
as the primary factor affecting English language
proficiency and attributes variation in proficiency
to individual differences (Cazden, 1968; Jia, 2003;
Mervis & Johnson, 1991).
Another way in which exposure to the second
language can have an effect on language acquisition
is by affecting students motivation to learn the second
language. Kim and Margolis (2000) assessed different
kinds of language exposure (exposure via instruction
vs. via multimedia vs. via travel to English speaking
countries) and correlated them with students levels
of motivation to learn English as a second language.
Their results presented a positive correlation between
motivation to learn English and learning the English
language from native English-speaking instructors.
Moreover, students who watched a greater amount
of English material on television were found to be
highly motivated. More specifically, high exposure
to a second language may provide opportunities and
context that can help individuals enhance the ways
in which they acquire that language. Given that
English learners become more proficient through
the amount of time in contact with the language and
the socialization process where English is used, it is
hypothesized in the study that exposure in the English
language helps to acquire the necessary linguistic
competencies to effectively communicate in a second
Metacognitive Knowledge Awareness
However, it is important to bear in mind that
individuals think, learn, and regulate their learning
behaviors in different ways. Personal factors such as
cognitive and metacognitive differences are among
the determinants of how effectively people acquire
and use their knowledge. Individuals awareness of
their own knowledge, of their learning preferences,
styles, strengths, and limitations as well as awareness
of how to use this knowledge can determine how much
they can profit from circumstantial and environmental
factors (e.g., levels of exposure). This awareness of


ones own knowledge was first studied by Flavell

(1971) under the label of metacognition. Knowledge
of cognition is made specific in the study as applied
to learning English.
Several studies on metacognitive knowledge
assessing individuals in different domains (Corno,
1986; Cross & Paris, 1988; Schoenfeld, 1987;
Schraw, 1997; Swanson, 1990) have shown that
individuals who are more aware of their strengths,
limitations, and ways of monitoring and regulating
their knowledge perform better in cognitive tasks and
transfer knowledge more efficiently from one situation
to another. However, these metacognitive skills are not
innate in individuals but rather are improved through
teaching and training, hence learners rely heavily on
the cognitive strategies that are taught to them (Victori
& Lockhart, 1995). Thus, there are individuals who
are not aware of using metacognitive knowledge but
are able to learn and acquire a second language.
There are also a limited number of studies
explaining specifically the application of metacognitive
knowledge awareness (MKAI) on language. Previous
studies predominantly discuss learning strategies that
explain language learning (Turner, 1989; Wenden,
1993). It was only recently when metacognitive
knowledge was used to facilitate learning in general.
These studies, however, were not specifically designed
to assess second language learning in the context of
strategy use and oral proficiency. In the present study,
it is also being hypothesized that individuals with
higher metacognitive knowledge will consequently
have better oral proficiency.
Language Learning Strategies
It has been shown in previous studies that the use
of different learning strategies plays an important role
in the acquisition of a second language. Strategies of
learning a second language consist of techniques that
learners use to help them retain and retrieve newly
acquired information (Shmais, 2003). Oxford (as
cited in Hsiao & Oxford, 2002; Lee, 2003) defines
second language learning strategies as specific actions,
behaviors, steps or techniques used intentionally
for improvement in utilizing a new language.
These learning strategies reflect students cognitive,
metacognitive, and socio-affective styles of learning
(OMalley et al., 1985).
The most comprehensive and widely used
categorization of second language learning strategies
is the one done by Oxford (1989). Oxfords Strategy



Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) classified

fifty strategies in learning English into six specific
categories: Memory, cognitive, compensation,
metacognitive, affective, and social strategies. These
language learning strategies differ with metacognitive
knowledge awareness. The factors of SILL are
cognitive in nature, while MKAI refers specifically to
metacognition. The SILL as cognitive skills refers to
processing of information while metacognition such as
the MKAI refers to the awareness in processing such
information. An individual can have metacognitive
knowledge of their language strategy use (see Magno,
2010 for further distinction between cognitive and
metacognitive skills).
Previous studies have observed differences in
the amount and type of learning strategies utilized
according to students gender (Peacock & Ho, 2003)
and learning levels (Shmais, 2003). The results of these
studies suggest that individuals with distinct personal
characteristics are likely to use different strategies and
that, in turn, those strategies may aid their language
proficiency in different ways. Choice of strategies
appears to be influenced by individual differences
brought about by the interaction of specific personal
and situational factors (Macleod, 2002). For instance,
metacognitive, cognitive, and compensation strategies
consistently emerge as the ones most commonly used
by second language learners in studies done in various
contexts (Bremner, 1999; Magno, 2008; Peacock &
Ho, 2003). Second language learning strategies shown
by university students in Thailand, Puerto Rico, and
China (countries where English is learned as a second
language) coincide with the aforementioned findings
(Bedel & Oxford, 1996, as cited in Peacock & Ho,
2003; Green & Oxford, 1995, as cited in Peacock &
Ho, 2003; Mullins, 1992, as cited in Peacock & Ho,
2003). For instance, Ku (1997, as cited in Peacock
& Ho, 2003) suggested that Taiwanese students are
likely to use compensation strategies more frequently
in learning the English language; however, the
results of her study were not conclusive. Considering
both levels of exposure to the second language and
individuals level of metacognitive knowledge, it is
being hypothesized that individuals with high exposure
to the second language and high metacognitive
knowledge will use more language learning strategies
and have better oral proficiency than individuals
with low exposure to the second language and low
metacognitive knowledge.



The Present Study

The present study directly assesses the issue of
what learning strategies Taiwanese students are more
likely to use and whether or not the use of those
strategies is related to the level of exposure that they
have had to the English language.
The Philippines and Taiwan provide different
levels of English exposure that can affect the learning
of English as a second language. In the Philippines,
exposure to the English language began with American
colonization. Gradually, English started to be utilized
in the Philippine municipalities through the public
elementary school system and eventually, in 1901,
the Department of Education made English the sole
medium of instruction in the Philippines (Gonzalez,
1997; Martin, 1999). Even after gaining independence
from the Americans, English remained widely used in
the country (Bautista, 2000; Garcia, 1997; Gonzales,
1997; Social Weather Stations as cited in Gonzales,
1997; Villacorta, 1999). Later on English has been
declared as one of the official languages of the
In countries such as Taiwan and China, on the other
hand, English is considered a second language as its
utilization in daily life, in its educational system, as
well as in official matters is limited (Bautista, 2000).
However, there are some efforts by the Taiwanese
government to promote the learning and use of English
in Taiwan. For instance, the Taiwanese government
recently issued a mandate to enforce the study of
English as early as third grade in response to the
concerns of Taiwanese parents that their children may
be left behind if they are not taught English in the
early years of schooling (Fanchiang, 2004). Despite
these attempts to promote increased English language
use in addition to the expanded use of the language in
business and daily life, the great majority of Taiwanese
people speak only the official languages of the country,
which are Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese
(Min), or other Hakka dialects. Considering these
facts, Taiwanese students living in the Philippines
are assumed to be considerably more exposed to the
English language than those living in Taiwan since
exposure to English in the latter context is described
to be a yet expanding circle (Bautista, 2000).
This study contrasted the usage of second language
learning strategies among Taiwanese college students
living and studying in Taiwan and in the Philippines,
and assessed its relationship with oral proficiency in

VOL. 20 NO. 3

The relationship between the usage of second

language learning strategies and the level of language
proficiency has been investigated and a positive
association between these variables has been
established (Lee, 2003; Peacock & Ho, 2003). This
relationship was also observed in Bremners (1999)
study in which students who present frequent usage of
strategies had higher language proficiency. Mokhtari
and Reichar (2002) defined language proficiency as the
ability to use language accurately and appropriately
in its oral and written forms in a variety of settings.
Its domains include receptive skills (listening and
reading) and expressive skills (speaking and writing).
Language proficiency is multidimensional and it does
not always develop at the same rate in all domains.
For instance, receptive skills typically develop
ahead of expressive skills and oral language usually
develops earlier both in formal and informal settings
(Spolsky, 1985). This study focused on assessing oral
proficiency, both receptive and expressive, which
includes the listening and speaking domains of the
second language.
In the present study, it is also being hypothesized
that individuals with more use of second language
learning strategies will consequently have better oral
proficiency. Considering both levels of exposure
to the second language and individuals level of
metacognitive knowledge, it is being hypothesized that
individuals with high exposure to the second language
(specifically those living in the Philippines) and high
metacognitive knowledge will use more language
learning strategies and have better oral proficiency than
individuals with low exposure to the second language
and low metacognitive knowledge. Moreover,
individuals highly exposed to the second language
but with low metacognitive knowledge, as well as
those with low exposure but with high metacognitive
knowledge, are expected to be in between the other
two groups both in the number of learning strategies
used and in oral performance.
The main objective of the present study is to
gather empirical data to answer the following research
questions: (1) Can the level of exposure to the English
language and metacognitive awareness predict the use
of L2 learning strategies and English oral proficiency
among Taiwanese students living and studying in
Taiwan and in the Philippines? (2) What are the
differences in strategy use among Taiwanese students
living and studying Taiwan and in the Philippines? (3)
What among the L2 learning strategies are the best


predictors of Taiwanese students oral proficiency in

To study the relationship between second language
exposure and metacognitive knowledge awareness,
Taiwanese college students living and studying in
Taiwan and in the Philippines were requested to
respond to a scale about their use of learning strategies
in acquiring a second language and undergo an oral
English language proficiency test. They were then
assigned to one of two metacognitive knowledge
groups (high vs. low) according to their scores in a
metacognitive assessment.
Participants were 146 Taiwanese college students.
Sixty-six are students living and studying in
Taiwanese universities (M age = 17.2, SD = 2.1),
while 80 are Taiwanese students living and studying
in the Philippines (M age = 18.4, SD = 3.8). The
two Taiwanese samples are all college students
who started to take English as part of their school
curriculum in 2001. They belong to the middle and
upper class. The Taiwanese students studying in the
Philippines were born and raised in Taiwan but are
currently spending 2 to 3 years in the Philippines to
study various preservice education course. These 80
students came to the Philippines as college freshmen.
Differences in their interaction and use of English
were assessed in the Checklist for English Language
Exposure (CELE). A significant difference between
these two groups English Language Exposure
was found, p<.05. Participation in the study was
voluntary and no extra course credits were given to
the students.
Checklist for English Language Exposure
(CELE). The CELE was administered to the
students in Taiwan and in the Philippines. The survey
checklist is composed of 23 items that assesses
various situations (at home, with friends, at school
and in the media) in which individuals are exposed to
the English language. These items depict situations
where individuals listen to or are required to speak
the English language (see Appendix A). Participants
answered the survey checklist by marking the option
that best corresponds to the frequency with which
they experience that particular situation on a five-



point scale (always, often, sometimes, rarely, never).

The items were reviewed by two English professors
and two psychologists who specialize in language
research. The checklist was pilot tested with a sample
of students taking general psychology courses from
two different universities in the Philippines. Results
of this analysis yielded an alpha coefficient value of
.87, indicating high reliability. In the current study with
146 respondents an alpha coefficient value of .89 was
obtained which indicates higher reliability. Construct
validity of the instrument was determined in two ways.
First, evidence of divergent validity was tested where
the mean scores of the CELE among the Taiwanese in
the Philippines was significantly higher than the mean
scores of the Taiwanese in Taiwan. Second, the factor
structure of the CELE was tested where a one-factor
structure was compared to a four-factor structure
(exposure at home, with friends, in schools, and with
media) measurement model using Confirmatory Factor
Analysis (CFA). A one-factor structure of the CELE
was supported where the fit was better (2=590.53,
df=170, AIC=4.62, SBC=5.44, BCCVI=4.72) than the
four factor structure (2=658.47, df=224, AIC=5.26,
SBC=6.33, BCCVI=5.40). A single score for CELE
was used as a predictor in the present study.
Metacognitive Knowledge Awareness Inventory
(MKAI). The MKAI was used to measure metacognitive
awareness in speaking English. It is composed of 17
items assessing the degree of awareness of ones own
knowledge of strengths and weaknesses in learning
(Schraw & Dennison, 1994). It includes three subprocesses that facilitate the reflective aspect of
metacognitive knowledge awareness: declarative
knowledge, procedural knowledge, and conditional
knowledge. The instructions in answering the
questionnaire were contextualized in learning English
as a second language. Schraw and Dennison (1994)
reported that in a factor replication analysis, the
coefficient alpha derived for knowledge of cognition
scale reached .88. In the study, the obtained coefficient
alpha is .90 which also indicates high reliability. The
construct validity of the MKAI measure was tested in
the present study by determining its factor structure.
A one-factor structure was compared with a threefactor structure (declarative knowledge, procedural
knowledge, and conditional knowledge) measurement
model using CFA. The sample in the study favors
a one-factor model (2=451.19, df=119, AIC=3.58,
SBC=4.28, BCCVI=3.65) as compared to a two-factor



model (2=490.17, df=116, AIC=4.62, SBC=5.38,

BCCVI=4.69). A single factor for MKAI was used in
the succeeding analysis.
Strategy Inventory for Language Learning
(SILL). The SILL was used to determine the degree
to which different language learning strategies are
used by the participants (Oxford, 1989). The SILL is
a self-report questionnaire with 50 items that is used
to collect and analyze information composed of six
factors: Memory strategy (I use new English words in
a sentence so I can remember them), cognitive strategy
(I practice the sounds of English), compensation
strategy (I make up new words if I do not know the
right ones in English), metacognitive strategy (I pay
attention when someone is speaking English), affective
strategy (I try to relax whenever I feel afraid of using
English), and social strategy (I ask English speakers
to correct me when I talk) (Peacock & Ho, 2003).
The participants were asked to report on how often
they use each of the six learning strategies, using a
five-point Likert scale (ranging from never or almost
never to always or almost always). Different studies
on the SILL have shown high content, predictive,
and construct validity. Various reliability studies have
also yielded high internal consistency obtaining a
Cronbachs alpha of above .90 (Oxford & Burry-Stock,
1995). In the present study, the internal consistencies
of the scales are .74, .82, .65, .84, .62, and .78 for
memory strategy, cognitive strategy, compensation
strategy, metacognitive strategy, affective strategy,
and social strategy, respectively. The six factors of
the SILL were tested in a measurement model using
CFA. All the items were significant for each respective
factor and the goodness of fit was adequate for a sixfactor structure (2=2020.69, df=1112, RMSEA=.07,
PGI=.90, and GFI=.91).
Test of Spoken English (TSE). The TSE which
is part of the Test of English as a Foreign Language
(TOEFL) was used to determine the oral proficiency
of participants. The primary purpose of the TSE is to
measure the ability of nonnative speakers of English
to communicate orally in an English context. The TSE
consists of 12 pre-recorded items to which participants
listen and respond while using a computer. These items
require participants to perform and record particular
speech samples, including narration, recommendation,
persuasion, expression, and support of opinions.
The TSE has undergone construct validation and

VOL. 20 NO. 3

has been reviewed according to the degree of

congruence between the tests theoretical basis and
test specifications (Douglas & Smith, 1997; Hudson,
1994). The instrument has obtained a high degree of
concordance with interrater reliability ranging from
0.91 to 0.92, test form reliability ranging from 0.97
to 0.98, and test score reliability ranging from 0.89 to
0.90. In the present study, the TSE obtained an alpha
coefficient of .90 indicating high reliability of the
scale. In the present study, two raters were used to
assess the recorded responses of the participants in the
TSE. The coefficient of concordance of the two raters
is .72 for the Taiwanese students in Taiwan sample
and .67 for the Taiwanese students in the Philippines
The data was gathered in the Philippines and in
Taiwan. The participants answered three scales:
CELE, MKAI, and SILL. Partial counterbalancing
of the order of instruments presentation was done.
One possible order of presentation was: first, the
Checklist for English Language Exposure (CELE)
was administered to the participants followed by the
MKAI and SILL. The participants were instructed
to read each statement and check their answer to
each of the items. The participants were requested
to make sure that they have answered all items in
the scales.
After administering the three scales, the students
underwent the Test of Spoken English (TSE). The
participants were informed that the test would last for
about 20 minutes. They listened to an audio-recording
of the TSE while reading the same items in a test
booklet. They were then asked to respond to all the
items in English. The time allotted for each response
ranged from 30 to 90 seconds. First, the participants
were given 30 seconds to study a map and were
asked to answer three questions about it. Next, the
participants were asked to look at a sequence of
pictures and tell the story that the pictures showed.
The participants then discussed a topic of general
interest and described information presented in a
simple graph. Finally, the participants were asked to
present information from a revised schedule. They
were told to speak as though they were presenting
the information to a group of people. Their responses
were recorded on compact discs. Upon completion of
all these tasks, the participants were debriefed about
the purpose of the study.



Data Analysis
The responses on the TSE were scored by two raters
who are English teachers and who were trained using
the guidelines outlined in the Speak Score Users
Guide of the TSE. They were instructed to listen and
rate each participants speech sample based on the
guidelines provided by the Speak Score User Guide.
All responses on the TSE were scored independently
by the two raters. Raters individually assessed
each item response and assigned a score level
using descriptors of communicative effectiveness
delineated by the TSE rating scale. Evaluators were
provided with one rating sheet for each participants
speech sample. The coefficient of concordance of
the two raters on the TSE was determined using
Kendalls .
Three sets of multiple regression analyses
were conducted. The first set determined whether
exposure, country, and metacognitive knowledge
awareness significantly predicts second language
learning strategies. The second set investigated
the interaction of the predictors mentioned in the
first set to predict oral proficiency. The third set
investigated the factors of second language learning
strategies as predictors of oral proficiency. To
meet the assumptions of using multiple regression
in the analysis, the normality of the distribution
of scores were assessed using the Kolmogorov
Smirnov. The linearity was tested by comparing the
eta coefficients with the correlation coefficients. The
scores were transformed into logarithms and entered
as predictors in the analysis.
Three sets of multiple regression analysis were
conducted: (a) One where each language learning
strategy is predicted by country, MKAI, and CELE;
(b) oral proficiency is predicted by country, MKAI,


CELE, and their interactions; and (c) oral proficiency

is predicted by the six language learning strategies.
All the factors were also tested for their significant
relationship (see Appendix B). Most of the correlations
showed to be significant. The MKAI did not
significantly correlate with some factors of the SILL
and TSE.
The data on country is categorical which do not
produce a linear function and it necessitates the
transformation of the predictors into logarithm scales.
The data used as predictors were all transformed into
logarithms in order to treat the aptness of the model
and consequently meet the assumptions of performing
a multiple regression (see Hardy & Reynolds, 2005;
Jaccard & Dodge, 2005; Long & Cheng, 2005).
In the first multiple regression analysis, country
(Taiwanese students in the Philippines and Taiwanese
students in Taiwan), metacognitive knowledge
awareness (MKAI), and English exposure (CELE)
were used to predict each of the subscales of the
The overall multiple regression coefficient (R)
of country, MKAI, and CELE in predicting each
language strategy use was significant, p<.05. Country
was a significant predictor for most language learning
strategies except for compensation and metacognitve.
MKAI consistently failed to predict significantly
any of the language learning strategies. The CELE
remained as a significant predictor for all language
learning strategies, p<.05.
In the next regression analysis, oral proficiency
(TSE) is predicted by country, MKAI, CELE, and their
interactions. Country is coded dichotomously (1 and
2) and the values are converted to logarithm functions
together with MKAI and CELE. The interaction terms
are multiplicative terms of logarithm functions. This
procedure allows linear transformation of main and
interaction effects (see Long & Cheng, 2005). The

Table 1
Country, MKAI, and CELE Predicting SILL Subscales
SILL Subscales









Note. Reported regression coefficients are standardized










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Table 2
Predicting Oral Proficiency

CELE x country
MKAI x country



p value



p value



Note. R=.819; R2=.670; Adjusted R2=.656; SE=11.35

*p < .05
Table 3
SILL Factors as Predictors of Oral Proficiency




Note. R=.576, R2=.332, Adjusted R2=.303, SE=16.15

*p < .05

interaction effects between CELE and MKAI, and

CELE and country determines if level of CELE can
moderate the relationship between MKAI and oral
proficiency, and country and proficiency. Country of
origin was also used as moderator between and MKAI
and oral proficiency.
The overall relationship of country, MKAI,
CELE, and their interactions combined to predict
oral proficiency was significant as indicated by
F(6, 139)=47.108, p<.05. With other variables held
constant, oral proficiency scores were related to the
interaction between CELE and country, decreasing
by 43.096 for every extra point of the interaction
between CELE and country. The effect of this
predictor was found to be significant t(139)=3.300,
with p<.05. In this case, country moderated the
relationship between CELE and English proficiency.
The moderation showed that high exposure to English
increases with TSE scores among the Taiwanese
students in the Philippines, but exposure did not
increase TSE scores among the Taiwanese students
in Taiwan (see Figure 1).

In the next regression analysis, the relative

potencies of the factors of the SILL were examined
as independent predictors in a multiple regression
analysis where oral proficiency served as a criterion
The subscales of the SILL when taken together
to predict TSE were significant as indicated by F(6,
139)=11.158, p<.05. With other variables held constant,
oral proficiency scores were negatively related to
memory and affective strategy scores and positively
related to compensation and metacognitive strategy,
decreasing by 1.081 for every extra point of memory,
by 1.310 for every extra point of compensation, by
1.535 for every extra point of metacognitive strategy,
and by 2.728 for every extra point of affective strategy.
The effects of these four predictors were found to be
significant t(139)=-2.785, t(139)=2.993, t(139)=3.629,
t(139)=-5.848, respectively, with all p<.05.
It was found that the Taiwanese students in the
Philippines (country) predicted an increased use of


memory, cognitive, affective, and social language

learning strategies. High exposure to the English
language likewise increases the use of all six language
learning strategies.
The Taiwanese students living and studying in
the Philippines were more likely to use the language
learning strategies compared to those in Taiwan (as
indicated by the negative regression coefficients)
because they have many opportunities to use the
strategies such as communicating to others and reading
reference materials in English. It is necessary for the
Taiwanese students staying in the Philippines to use
the language learning strategies in order to adapt in
the country since English is a medium through which
they can communicate. When they are in an English
speaking country, there is less opportunity for them
to speak in their native language (Chinese), especially
if they interact with others. The language learning
strategies become more functional in a place where
they are most required.
The result where the learners country of residence
significantly predicted the use of language learning
strategies is explained by the cultural context that
influences strategy use (Bremner, 1999; Yang,
2007). Given ones cultural orientation, the specific
strategies might be interpreted and used in a different
way. It cannot be assumed that one strategy will be
effective across different cultures. For instance, in
some contexts where asking questions is considered
disrespectful and disruptive, strategies of such a
nature (e.g., I ask questions in English) would
be less frequently used. In the results, country
of residence did not significantly predict the
compensation and metacognitive strategy. This
indicates that not all of the language learning
strategies can be useful in learning a second language.
The use of other language learning strategies is more
effective depending on the place of residence. In
the case of the Taiwanese students in Taiwan and in
the Philippines, metacognitive strategies were not
predicted because these strategies require sufficient
ability and expertise in making them work effectively.
Likewise, compensation strategies were not predicted
because the context might not facilitate strategies such
as guessing due to limited grammatical and vocabulary
The results point to the important contribution not
only of place of residence but also to the exposure to
a language and its role in using the language learning
strategies. Being exposed to a language involves
a socialization process that aids in competency in



second language learning (Bremner, 1999; Ku,

1997). Exposure to a language serves as an important
opportunity for utilizing and mastering learning
strategies. Specifically, when a learner is exposed to
English materials, they start to use different language
learning strategies in acquiring that language. When
learners are constantly confronted with the English
language, there is an opportunity for them to make
use of a variety of strategies in learning that language.
Students who are highly exposed to English are more
likely to apply language learning strategies. It can
be noted in the results that exposure significantly
increases the use of all language learning strategies
and this is highly achieved in a setting where English
is used often like in the case of the Philippines.
This shows that the six learning strategies become
functional when a learner has already had a high
exposure to the English language. The exposure to
English serves as a prior experience that activates the
use of the strategies. When the exposure to English
becomes sufficient, all six learning strategies will be
required. This means that when learners are exposed
to a wide array of English materials and other forms
of English communication, the use of all six language
learning strategies will be essential.
No effects were observed regarding metacognitive
awareness on language learning strategies. The choice
of strategy relies primarily on the learners exposure to
the second language and country of residence where
English is highly used.
Existing theories and studies commonly use
language learning strategies as antecedent conditions to
any measures of language proficiency and performance
given the premise that using the strategies facilitates
better performance. However, there is a need to identify
certain variables that would strengthen the impact of
the strategies on the outcome. Having identified that
exposure and country of residence strengthen the use
of the language learning strategies, this result further
opens theorizing on different variables that make the
use of language learning strategies effective.
The result of the present study showed that high
exposure to English and country of residence suggest
the use of language learning strategies will be used
frequently. These results were further supported in
the second regression analysis where the interaction
between CELE and country resulted in a significant
prediction of oral proficiency as measured by the
TSE. It is imperative to analyze the interaction of
the predictors especially between CELE and country
of residence since they were significant in the first



analysis and putting them in an interaction term would

further prove their effects. The significant interaction
between CELE and country in predicting TSE
strengthens the claim that higher exposure to English
in an English speaking country (like the Philippines)
results in better proficiency of the learner. This shows
that high exposure to English, which in turn increases
English proficiency, is possible in a context where
English is a primary medium of communication.
The two-way interaction also showed that even if
exposure to English is increased among the Taiwanese
students in Taiwan, there is not much increase in
their English proficiency level (see Figure 1). The
country of residence defines the quality of language
exposure as shown by the interaction. An interaction
between exposure and country of residence further
enhances oral proficiency in English. The fact that the
Philippines is generally an English-speaking country,
the quality of high exposure to English is better. For
that reason, exposure predicts oral proficiency better
in the Philippines setting. The high exposure and oral
proficiency in English of the Taiwanese students in
the Philippines supports previous findings (Holmes
& Brown, 1977; Jia, Aaronson, & Wu, 2002; Kim
& Margolis, 2000; Magno et al., 2009; Reber, 1985)
where the English learner within an English-speaking
context is more exposed to English and is thus enabled
to imbibe and internalize the English language
through communication. Specifically, the quality of
English exposure brought about by a context with an
extensive use of English allows the Taiwanese students
to enhance their proficiency in spoken English.
The Philippines provides a good venue for English
exposure among foreign students because English is
used as a medium of instruction in the educational
system. In the Philippines, English has been used in
the schools since the early 1900s during the period of
American colonization. In Taiwan, however, it was
only introduced in 2001 (Butler, 2004). Because
of this scenario, the Taiwanese students in the
Philippines have become more proficient in English
as a result of being immersed in a context where
English is used predominantly for instruction and
communication (Bautista, 2000). The country of
residence and exposure provides a venue where the
language used results in the learners socio-linguistic
competency (Brown, 1994). With this prior premise,
it is not only linguistic competency that improves but
the use of strategy in learning the language as well (as
indicated in the first regression result). The interaction
between exposure and country of residence further

VOL. 20 NO. 3

extends explanations on achieving oral proficiency

in English. Previous studies commonly identify ways
to explain oral proficiency but the present study
shows a condition to strengthen its relationship with
exposure by introducing the condition of country of

Figure 1. Plot of the two-way interaction of CELE and

country on TSE.
Note: TSE=Test of Spoken English, CELE=Checklist for English
Language Exposure

The findings of the study show that metacognitive

knowledge awareness did not significantly predict
English oral proficiency. This was also the case in the
first regression analysis where it did not predict any
of the six language learning strategies. This indicates
that metacognitive knowledge awareness seems to
have a different function when it comes to language
proficiency as compared to previous studies. For
instance, the study of McCleod (2002) demonstrated
that successful second language learners need to be
actively aware of their language learning (knowledge
of cognition) and at the same time know what needs to
be done to facilitate the learning process (regulation of
cognition). Likewise, Kaspers (1997) study showed
that successful students in ESL (English as Second
Language) writing reflected metacognitive growth
in both knowledge and regulation of cognition. An
individual may become aware of his intellectual
resources and abilities but it does not necessarily
follow that their performance is parallel with this
knowledge. These previous studies used regulation of
cognition in conjunction with knowledge awareness
as sufficient predictors of their hypothesized effect.
Metacognitive knowledge awareness is only a matter


of reflection and it may not be powerful enough

to affect change in ones actual performance. The
results indicate that both metacognitive knowledge
and regulation are imperative when it comes to
successful second language learning. Given these
findings, metacognitive knowledge awareness can
now be understood better in terms of its function in
three different areas. First, in terms of its impact, it
works better in other domain specific variables such
as academic performance, reading, mathematics,
memory, and problem solving but the case is different
for language proficiency in English especially if the
learners are still in a status struggling to learn English
as in the case of the participants in the study. Second,
in terms of its components, knowledge awareness is
usually studied together with regulation of cognition
and not knowledge of cognition alone. The isolation
of knowledge of cognition as a single predictor of
English proficiency has less impact because a learner
needs a procedural component (like the regulation
of cognition) to make metacognition per se to work.
Knowledge of cognition is only limited as the
declarative and reflective aspect of metacognition. The
control aspect of metacognition is needed in order to
carry out this component better. Third, in terms of the
ability of the learner, metacognition works best among
expert type of learners (Ertmer & Newby, 1996). This
means that metacognition among language learners
who are not yet that highly proficient in speaking
English would be difficult to implement. A leaner
must possess the necessary ability in order to make
metacognition work effectively.
When the language learning strategies were used to
predict oral proficiency in English, it was found that not
all of them were significant. Cognition, metacognition,
memory, and affective strategies were significant
while compensation and metacognitive strategies
were not significant predictors of oral proficiency. It
was also shown in the results that the use of memory
and affective strategies decrease oral proficiency. The
strategies are ways that is meant to help a learner carry
out a task successfully when speaking a language
(Hsiao & Oxford, 2002; Lee, 2003). But the use of
these strategies needs to be effectively carried out to
result in better oral proficiency.
Compensation and metacognitive strategies which
are not significant predictors did not support previous
findings but they were consistently found to influence
oral proficiency in studies using samples from China,
Hong Kong, and Taiwan (Bremner, 1999; Goh &
Foong, 1997, Rong, 1999).



The present study finds that memory and affective

strategies, when used, decrease oral proficiency. This
indicates that there is no guarantee that students learning
a second language are using the strategies effectively.
Vann and Abraham (1990) explain that successful
and unsuccessful L2 learners generally use the same
strategies but the difference lies in the degree of
adaptability in choosing the strategies as well as how the
strategies are applied in a given situation. In the case of
memory strategies, learning through rote memorization
of English words and phrases was found to not be
sufficient predictors of oral proficiency (Goh & Foong,
1997). Language learning requires deeper appreciation,
comprehension, and application of grammar and
pragmatics in order to be spoken fluently. Furthermore,
it is possible that certain situations require different
types of memory strategies. Memory strategy might not
be effective for language learning but it can be for other
tasks. In the case of affective strategies, apprehensive
states work effectively for Asian learners.
The findings of the present study further extend
theory in the use of language learning strategies in two
ways. First, the context that triggers the heavy use
of language learning strategies was identified. This
was shown where sufficient exposure to the English
language facilitates the use of the six language learning
strategies enumerated by Oxford (1989). A context
where English is widely used also increases the use of
the strategies among learners who undertake English
as a second language. Second, the strategies need to be
used appropriately in order for them to work effectively
for the learner. The results showed varied significance
among the predictors and thus they were not shown to
consistently increase oral proficiency. These variations
in predicting oral proficiency indicate that Asian learners
have a different way of using the strategies.

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VOL. 20 NO. 3

Appendix A

Items of the Checklist for English Language Exposure

1. My parents talk in English.
2. English is spoken at home.
3. I converse in English among my family.
4. I engage in activities where English is used.
5. My friends speak in English.
6. I attend social gatherings where English is spoken.
7. I talk with my friends in English.
8. My teachers speak in English.
9. The activities in my school are conducted in English.
10. My classmates speak in English.
11. My school encourages students to speak in English.
12. The medium of instruction used in the classroom is English.
13. I chat online in English.
14. I send text messages in English.
15. I receive text messages in English.
16. I browse webpages that are written in English.
17. I listen to songs in English.
18. I watch movies in English.
19. I watch TV shows in English.
20. I read magazines written in English.
21. I read newspapers written in English.
22. I read books written in English.
23. The information I read around is in English.

Correlation Matrix of the Factors

1 Memory
--2 Cognitive
--3 Compensation
4 Metacognitive
5 Affective
6 Social
* p < .05. ** p < .001.

Appendix B