Affect and strategy use in independent language learning

Hurd, Stella (2008). Affect and strategy use in independent language learning. In: Hurd, Stella and Lewis, Tim eds. Language Learning Strategies in Independent Settings. Second Language Acquisition. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters, pp. 218–236.



Affect is about emotions and feelings, moods and attitudes, anxiety, tolerance of ambiguity and motivation. For some it is also connected with dispositions and preferences (Oatley & Jenkins, 1996). It is generally accepted that the affective domain encompasses a wide range of elements which reflect the human side of being, and play a part in conditioning behaviour and influencing learning. We are becoming more knowledgeable about the importance of attention to affective factors, but there is still a huge gap in terms of our knowledge of the affective strategies that students use or could use to promote more effective language learning. Moreover, the research that has been carried out into affect over several years has largely concentrated on language learning in the classroom (Arnold, 1999; Ehrman, 1996; MacIntyre, 1999; Young, 1999) with very few studies devoted to independent learning settings. Independent language learners, whether learning through self-access, distance or other modes, are a fast-growing group, and we need to know more about them, in particular the ways in which their affective needs differ from those of classroom learners (Harris, 2003; Hurd, 2002; White, 2003).

This chapter investigates affect and strategy use in independent settings. It looks first at the concept of affect and its interrelationships with other domains, continues with an exploration of strategy definitions and classification schemes in relation to affect, and concludes with a study carried out with a small group of distance language learners using think-aloud verbal protocols.

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