ERG SES D 02, Interactive Poster Session
The principle of equal opportunities of education belongs among basic principles of the European Union (EU). According to this principle, every citizen of the EU should have equal access to education. To fulfil the principle, there are several programmes supporting disadvantaged people, such as national minorities and the handicapped. Also, the European Commission introduced an action plan to promote language learning and linguistic diversity in (2003), one of the main objectives of which is developing language learning for persons with special needs. According to WHO, the number of people with visual handicap is 180 mil. worldwide. Because numbers of visually handicapped students in common schools are growing, teaching this specific group of students should stand in the centre of our attention.
Learning strategies are grounded in constructivist theory of learning, which has its roots in constructivism. Cognitive constructivism is tightly connected to Jean Piaget’s genetic epistemology and American cognitive constructivism. Piaget claimed that knowledge is not passively absorbed from the environment, but is constructed via interactions between mental structures and the environment (Labinowitz E., 1980). ‚Children do not apply general cognitive structures on tasks and school education materials, but they construct structures specific for certain context to organize their activities for each task or learning situation in which they are.‘ (Bidell T. R. & Fischer K. W., 1992)
Language learning strategies (LLS) are complex cognitive skills that are based on one’s cognitive style. Cognitive style is ‘a characteristic way in which people perceive, remember information, think, solve problems and make decisions’ (Tennant, 1998) and is a determinant for one’s learning style. Dörnyei and Skehan define learning style as ‘a typical preference for approaching learning in general’ (2003). A person’s preferred learning style has an impact on the way he learns, in other words, learning styles define learning strategies. LLS are ‘steps taken by the learner to make language learning more successful, self-directed, and enjoyable‘(Oxford, 1990). Oxford says that ‚Language learning styles and strategies are among the main factors that help determine how – and how well – our students learn a second or foreign language.‘ (2003). Numerous researches in LLS have been conducted since the concept of learning strategies emerged in 1960’s (Rubin, 1975, Stern, 1975, Naiman, 1978, Oxford, 1990, Vlčková, 2007, Tragant & Victori, 2012). However, limited number of studies focused on learning strategies in visually impaired learners (Hoz & Alon, 1999, D’Allura, 2002). Having found the lack of knowledge in that scientific field and seeing the need of deeper understanding, we have designed a research that will bring us closer to comprehension of this issue.
The main objective of our research is to identify LLS used by blind university students according to Oxford’s classification of LLS. Secondary goals are to find out what is the influence of visual impairment on LLS choice and usage and suggest application of our findings in teaching practice of visually impaired students of English as a foreign language.
According to the research objectives, we formulated following research questions:
The main research question: Which language learning strategies are used by blind university students learning English language as a foreign language?
1.) Do congenitally blind learners use different LLS to learners blind due to a vision loss?
2.) Are there any LLS that are not used by the blind at all? Which ones?
3.) What are the reasons for not using some of the LLS?
4.) Are there any LLS used by blind learners that were not defined by Oxford and are not included in her classification? Which ones?
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