An Investigation of the Relationship of Learning and Communication Strategies, Gender, and Reading Proficiency in English as a Foreign Language

Ghazi Ghaith, Samar Harkouss-Rihan


The present study investigates the relationship between the types of learning and communications strategies used by male and female college learners and their achieved levels of proficiency in reading English as second language. In addition, the study looked into the question of whether low and high proficient EFL readers differ in their use of the six categories of strategies as measured by the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning, SILL, Oxford (1990). A total of 86 participants completed the 50 Likert-type items of SILL and include 6 types of strategies (metacognitive, social, compensatory, cognitive, memory, and affective). In addition, a 50-multiple choice question TOEFL test was administered to all participants in the study as a measure of reading proficiency. Descriptive statistics (means and Standard Deviations) and simple Pearson correlation coefficients were computed between the scores of the sub-scales of the SILL instrument and the participants reading scores on the TOEFL test. In addition, a two-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) test was used to address the questions raised in the study regarding whether gender and proficiency level (high versus low) have had effect on the use of the SILL six categories of strategies. The results showed no statistically significant relationship between proficiency and memory, compensation, and metacognitive strategies. However, the data showed that reading proficiency is positively related to cognitive strategies and negatively related to social strategies. The results also revealed no statistically significant difference between males and females in their overall use of strategies. Yet, although the results of the univariate analysis revealed no statistically significant differences across gender with regard to the use of memory, cognitive, compensatory, affective strategies, and social strategies, there was a statistically significant difference in the level of the use of metacognitive strategies in favor of the females. The results also revealed a statistically significant difference between high and low proficiency students in their overall use of strategies and the results of the univariate analysis showed that the low proficiency students use more memory and affective strategies more than their high proficiency counterparts. Conversely, the high proficiency students use more cognitive strategies. Finally, the results showed no statistically significant differences across the levels of proficiency with regard to the use of compensatory and matacognitive strategies. The Results are discussed in light of previous research findings and recommendations for further research are discussed.

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