DISERTASI dan TESIS Program Pascasarjana UM, 2019

Ukuran Huruf:  Kecil  Sedang  Besar

Language Learning Strategies: A Case Study of a Good English Learner of Indigenous Papuan

Seli Marlina Radja Leba


Language Learning Strategies: A Case Study of a Good English Learner of Indigenous Papuan


UniversitasNegeri Malang, UniversitasMusamusMerauke, Indonesia



UniversitasNegeri Malang, Indonesia


M. Adnan Latief

UniversitasNegeri Malang, Indonesia


Ekaning D. Laksmi

UniversitasNegeri Malang, Indonesia




This study reveals Daniela’s unique traits as a good English learner. Despite the difficult conditions of remote Papua, Daniela’s self-awareness in learning English is quite exemplary. Therefore, this study attempted to reveal the learning strategies employed by Daniela to develop her skills in English. Daniela was able to recognize her own learning strategies. Daniela has employed direct and indirect strategies to solve her learning problems. Daniela’s direct strategies deal with memory, cognition, and compensation, while her indirect strategies include metacognitive, affective, and social strategies. Based on the results of the study, it can be concluded that the language learner capable of using a wide variety of language learning strategies appropriately can improve her language skill in a better way.

Keywords: learning strategies, good language learner, indigenous Papua



Penelitian ini mengungkap karakter unik seorang pelajar berprestasi bernama Daniela dan keberhasilannya dalam belajar bahasa inggris. Meskipun ia tinggal di pedalaman papua, kesadarannya untuk belajar bahasa Inggris patut dijadikan contoh. Karenanya, penelitian ini diadakan untuk mengetahui strategi belajar yang dilaksanakan Daniela untuk mengembangkan kemampuan berbahasa inggrisnya. Daniela menerapkan strategi langsung dan tidak langsung untuk mengatasi masalah belajarnya. Strategi langsung Daniela berkaitan dengan memori, kognisi, dan kompensasi. Sedangkan strategi tidak langsungnya meliputi metakognitif, afektif, dan strategi sosial. Berdasarkan hasil penelitian, dapat disimpulkan bahwa Daniela bisa menggunakan berbagai macam strategi belajar dengan tepat dan ia bisa meningkatkan kemampuan bahasa inggrisnya dengan lebih baik.

Kata kunci: strategi belajar, pelajar berprestasi, pedalaman Papua



Language learning strategies (LLS) show new alternatives in terms of language learning and self-study. The primary purpose of LLS is that students develop ways to organize their language learning process, establish an authentic, effective communication and effectively interact with each other. students have to find out on their own strategies, which can contribute to their language development. In fact, successful language learners are required to be autonomous. They need to develop their own language learning strategies and apply them in the classroom. The use of effective learning strategies offers a boundless impact on the success of learning English. Brown (2008) argues that the success in mastering a second language much depends on a learner's own individual ways of investing time, struggle, and attention to learn the target language.

Learning strategies refer to “specific action or process of doing something taken by the students to make learning easier or not difficult to do, faster, more pleasant, more self-directed, more effective and more transferable to the new situation” (Oxford, 1990, 2011, 2013). Furthermore, Embi (2000) states that learning strategies are the action applied by students themselves to maximize the process of language learning and to facilitate different language skills. Language learning strategies are conscious activities learners take to manage their own learning (O'Malley, 1985; Chamot, 1987; Ehrman, 1990).Griffiths, (2013: 15). There are a variety of learning strategies that can be employed by an English learner, including direct strategies-memory, cognitive, compensation or indirect strategies-metacognitive, affective, and social strategies (Oxford, 1990, 2011, 2013). Different students adopt different behaviors or strategies to learn a new language.

Most of the research pertaining to language learning strategies focus on good language learners (e.g., Naiman et, al, 1975, Mohamed Amin Embi, 1996;2000). Although a lot of studies have discussed successful language learners, not much is known about good language learners in remote area school contexts, such as no research done in this field. There is a bias that indigenous students keep on being underachievement students (Herzog & Pittman, 1995; Zaini, 2010). The indigenous students are more at risk of disengaging from school because they live in remote areas. However, not all indigenous students are of underachievement. Daniela is an indigenous girl who lives in Sota, Papua.She has some distinctive characteristics, such as a good social background, a good relationship with the teacher, has positive experiences with school, is free from racism, has a good self-perception of academic ability, has a positive attitude toward English, and this time the research was carried out she  has been living in a boarding house (positive environment), work as tour guide in border area, and is going to a remote vocational school. Daniela’s positive traits had made her an exception. Therefore, she was selected as the subject of the present case study.


Research question

Generated from the background of the study, a relevant research question can be specified as “What learning strategies does a good English language learner from indigenous Papua employ in learning English?


Theoretical underpinnings

The good language learners take charge; do what they think is the best, take responsibility for their own learning targets. In other words, good language learners do not wait to be taught (Harmer, 2001). Harmer (2001) found that good language learners were able to listen, ask questions, find and do experiments, and think about how to get the knowledge.

Naiman et al., (1978) identified the characteristics of agoodlanguage learner based on the study conducted by Rubin (1975) who did her work based on classroom observation. She suggested Good Language Learners (GLL) strategies. First, she guesses willingly and accurately. Second, she voluntarily communicates with others and learns from communication. Third, she is bare to take a risk and take a positiveview of errors as a useful medium for learning. Next, she focuses or pays particular attention not only on form but also meaning. Then, she utilizes every chance to practice. Finally, she also monitors her own way of speech and that of others.


Language Learning Strategy Proposed by Oxford

Oxford (1990) proposed the most comprehensive, practical, and theoretical grounding of language learning strategies; there are six strategy groups labeled which are employed by learners in learning a language namely: memory, cognitive, compensation, metacognitive, affective, and social. The first three groups are called "direct" strategies, because these strategies directly involve the subject matter, in this case, the target language to be learned; the last three groups are called "indirect" strategies, because these do not directly involve the subject matter itself, but it is essential to language learning nonetheless.

Direct strategies are further divided into memory strategies, cognitive strategies, and compensation strategies. Memory strategies consist of four sets of strategy, namely: creating mental linkages, applying images and sounds, reviewing well, and employing actions. Cognitive strategies, which are the most basic and necessary for learning a new language, consist of four sets of strategy as well. They are practicing, receiving and sending messages, analyzing and reasoning, and creating a feature for input and output. Compensation strategies, which give the abilityto the students to use the new language for either comprehension or production despite limitations in knowledge, contain two sets: guessing strategies, sometimes called “inference’’, and overcominglimitations in speaking and writing. Indirect strategies help learners through focusing, planning, evaluating, seeking opportunities, controlling anxiety, cooperation and empathy, and other means. Indirect strategiesconsist of three categories: metacognitive, social, and affective.


Research Design

A case study was the appropriate design applied in this studydue to the fact that the purposes of the studywereto investigate and to reflect on the learning process that had been carried out by the subject. Therefore, in this study, the form of a qualitative case study was selected to approach the data. Learning strategies used bythe subjectwere viewed in her life context, and thus, all the related aspects that influenced her learning process were taken into consideration.

This present studyfocused on the subject learning experience in carrying out some preferred learning strategies before she came up as a good English language learner. In this study,  the main point of this study was the actions of the subject in selecting the proper learning strategies.In-depth, the researcher’s attempt to come close to the subject under investigation ended with first-hand data on how the subject learned English. In this case,it focused on how she made use of the learning strategies and made them fit and fruitful, leading her to become a good language learner.

This study was conducted at SMK PertanianSota. Almost all the students come from remote areas which are far from the city. The school was choosen for this study because it is situated in border areas , some of the learners come from Papua New Guinea. It benefits Daniela since it give a chance for her to practice her English with them.The school also categorizes as a sekolahterdepanterluardantertinggal. Therefore, they have many difficulties in finding relevant materials or resources to learn.

However, this situation cannot make the subject of this studyfeel hopeless. Since thelack of study materials on theschool,the subject has to find other facilities for practising her English outside the class by playing vocabulary card, playing guessing words, and working as a tour guide. She also tries to find other materials from her friends from other places.  By doing so she got a lot of benefit from her friends from PNG sometimes she got chance to practice her English with people from PNG who come to sell their goods, and also the tourist visits the border areas, she is mostly getting the highest score in the class.


Source of data

The subject of this study is Daniela. She was born in December 1999. She is an eighteen-year-old-female student from indigenous Papuan who is studying at avocational school in a remote area. She is a student of SMK Pertanian in SotaMerauke academic year 2016. She was in grade XII when this research was conducted.She has the highest rank in her class from the first year semester to last year semester. Daniela’s academic record is satisfying, and she is an excellent student with good competence in speaking and other skills.She has high self-confidence and is also highly motivated by means of doing everything possible to learn English. This reflects a good English language learner when she likes to use her language for communication and interaction, and she can manage her affective difficulties to achieve a language learning goal (Oxford 2003; Griffiths, 2015). 

Another source of data was written documents that were obtained from the teacher and the subject that is used to prove the quality of the subject. The documents were in the form of a record of the subject score and her academic achievement. The researcher obtained and studied the documents to decide the success of the subject.


Data Collection

The data were collected through some steps. The main data were evoked using two series of interview. The in-depthinterview was then executed on the basis of the agreed schedules. Successively, interview one, two, and three were executed on, 15-16thJanuary 2018, 7th March 2018 at the subject’s boarding house in Sota,Merauke. The additional interviewwas done at the subject’s boardinghouseon 22nd January 2018. These face to face interviews were recorded using a tape recorder under her permission.

  Data in the form of sentences and fieldnotes have been transcribed. The main data were obtained through a sequence of interviews. Each interview lasted 90  in average minutes. The main data were the results of the interview between the researcher and the case, the main source of data. The interview was carried out to obtain connected information regarding the case’s learning strategies in studying English.

In detail, there were two interviews held in this study.The first interview study was aimed to gather general information about the subject, from her personal details including her identity, learning belief, motivation, and her general learning strategies and to establish the context of the subjects’ experience. Thus,the second interview was aimed to collect more specific information about the learning strategies that were imposed along the process of learning and also allowed the subject to reconstruct the details of her experience within the context in which it occurred. The context, in this case, was framed within the strategies that have been so far selected and employed by the subject. The data were considered enough when they had reached the point where the information became redundant; otherwise, before reaching data saturation, the processes of data collection keep progressing.

Another source of data was written documents that were obtained from the subjects used to reaffirm the quality of the subject. The documents were in the form of the record of the subjects scores and their academic attainment.

All the interview sessions statements clarification and transcription process occurred during 3 months (January to March 2018).The entire processes of in-depth interviews were recorded by using an audio recording device. The subject was interviewed for one hour. Additionally, in order to check the trustworthiness of the data, the researcher sent strategies checklist to fulfill the data triangulation.



From the observation and the results from the interview show that Daniela has employed a wide variety of strategies for reading, writing, speaking, and listening. She always gets together with her friends to study or just for having fun.  Seek every opportunity in her daily activities to practicing English using various strategies, starting with; reading and English story books she gets from her foreigner friends regularly or the text given by the teacher; writing down on her words list and speaking aloud what she has learned from the story and the text.  Daniela’s learning strategy is summarized below.

Direct Strategies  Indirect Strategies

Memory Strategies  Metacognitive strategies

The use of reviewing well  Mechanical technique  Putting words in context  The use of Centering Learning  Planning learning

• She reads the text many times.

• She re-listens to materials from past exams.

• She silently mimics in her room, read the sentences loudly, pronounce the difficult words  much time.

• She plays words guessing with her friends

• Using a mini-dictionary. When playing word guessing game, the punishment is reading the sentences aloud so  that they know the context

• She employs high concentration and listening carefully in a test She employed learning strategies properties of the three specific learning strategies such as directed attention, selective attention, and self management.

Cognitive Strategies Affective Strategies

The use of Practicing  Receiving and Sending Messages  Self- encourage

ment strategies                Assessing the feelings and attitude about learning

• Reading many times to mend with the characters

• Trying out new vocabulary  in actual conversation

• Identifying the types of questions and reading the questions first when given a reading task.

• Imitating the pronunciation of singers.

 When she found short stories was difficult, she decided to stop for a while and she promised to complete the reading. Minimizing pressure by taking a break. After she finds herself in a good mood she is ready to solve the problem.

Compensation Strategies Social strategies

The use of guessing intelligently               Overcoming difficulties in speaking and writing The use of asking questions Cooperating with others

She knows the lexical meaning of the word so that she knows how to guess the close meaning of a difficult word from the context                She asks her friends’ help to assist her when talking with foreigners, or asking the speaker to slow down or to repeat words she does not understand. Asking her friend’s help to explain about a story by translating it to Bahasa Indonesia.

• She adopted learning strategies namely asking peers, confirmation, discussion, and asking the teacher.

• By working as a part-time visitor guide, she has the opportunity to meet and talk with native speakers.

In learning English as a foreign language, Daniela applied most of the strategy proposed by Oxford (1990), except one strategy of learning, i.e. evaluation as part of metacognitive strategies



Memory Strategies

In the area of memory strategies discussions, from the interview, it was revealed that there are three types of memory strategies that the subjectemployed when she had to deal with retrieving and storing the input in learning English. Those strategies are memory, cognitive, and compensation strategies. The set of memory strategies employed by the subject are: reviewing well, using the mechanical technique, and putting the words in context. While in cognitive strategy, the subjectemployed practicing, receiving and sending a message. In the compensation strategy, the subjectemployedovercoming limitations in speaking, writing, and guessing intelligently.


The use of reviewing well

The subject admitted that she did not intend to memorize things directly in her learning, but practically, she could not completely leave this strategy. It is apparent that by making use of a strategy for reviewing well, she actually attempted to store new input in her memory. The type of memory strategy she employed is by spent many times to read the same text until she understood and remembered the expression in which she eventually stored new vocabulary explicitly stated on those sentences or new expression from the text.

From the interview, it can be inferred that memorizing new words does not only mean that a learner is assigned to memorize the list of words. However, memorizing can be done in a more fun and enjoyable way that the subject herself never realizes that what he is doing is actually an attempt to use memory strategy.


The use of the mechanical technique

This subject has a tricky way to keep the new words in her mindbymeans of a fun game like the card and guessing words from a dictionary. These games are able to initiate vocabulary storage that results increasing in vocabulary size kept in her memory. Forusing the mechanical technique, the learner uses a fun way to learn words and meaning like, playing vocabulary card, guessing the meaning of the words from the dictionary, and reading words out loud many times. It is clearly shownthat she made her learning enjoyable and fun but still from that she inputted new words into her memory. Making learning more enjoyable, learn while playing is the good points for Daniela to become a good English language learner.


The use of putting words into context.

Using a word or phrase in a meaningful conversation in order to remember is another way she chooses to memorize the new words that she attempted to get autonomously from the vocabulary card they play. Such a strategy might not be worked well or effectively employed without a comfortable feeling. Thus, by linking memory and affectivestrategies, high possibility of success really occurs. Memory strategies should not be limited only to memorizing some list of words, but the learner can create many ways that are aimed to keep something in her mind and at any time she needs the input can be retrievedeasily.

From the interview result, a good English language learner tried to avoid the memorization strategy by using their own way to enlarge her vocabulary. In other words, she did a lot to add the number of her vocabularies. By directly using the new words into the real context of language use; she actuallytries to make the new words stay longer in her memory. Thus, memory strategies should not be limited only to memorizing some lists of words, but the learner can create many ways that are aimed to keep something in mind.         


The use of practicing

Practicing is a natural part of the learning process is highly beneficial and has a special value for the learner. Without practicing, nothing can be properly learned and remembered and thus practicing belongs to the most important strategies in learning English. More practicing are commonly accepted among the most important cognitive strategies and usually needed to become proficient in the target language because, the more you practice, the more skillful will be. Practicing strategy involves repeating, formally practicing with sounds and writing systems, recognizing and using formulas and patterns, recombining, and practicing naturalistically (Watson, 2013; Skinner, 2014). Shepreferred to saying or doing something repeatedly, rehearsing, practicing sounds and written versions  of the target language in a variety of ways; being aware of and using routine structures and patterns, like’’ let’s go’’  until meet again’’, etc., combining known elements in new ways to produce longer sentences and practicing the new language in realistic natural settings.


The use of receiving and sending messages

Strategies for receiving and sending a message are also a required element for language learning. They have two strategies: getting the idea quickly and using resources for receiving and sending messages. The first one refers to using skimming to determine the main ideas and scanning to find specific details. This strategyhelps the learner pick up what they have heard or read instantly. The second strategy includes using print or nonprint resources in order to understand received messages or produce a response message (Oxford 2011). Ur (1991) states that the strategy of getting the idea quickly is related to reading and listening skills and used for finding out certain information given in a text or speech. This strategy is based on two techniques called skimming and scanning. Skimming isan identification of some general topic or information, and scanning is an identification of certain limited information.


Compensation Strategies

This strategy is important not only for beginners, but also for more skillful language users, who hardly do not know an expression, which unsuccessfulin hearing something clearly, or who are faced with a situation in which the meaning is only implicitly. This set of strategy is comprisedof the strategy of guessing intelligently and prevail over the limitation in speaking and writing.


The use of guessing intelligently

The strategy comes in useful when the learneris supposed to listen to or read certain information and includes strategies of using linguistic clues and using other clues. This strategy is about linguistic and nonlinguistic clues to compensate for the missing information. It is related to seeking and using language based and nonlanguage based clues to guess the meaning of what is read or heard in the target language, in the absence of the complete knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and other language elements.

This is an important part of the learning process for them. If she read or listens to something in English and comes across a word that she is not familiar with, she will take a chance to guess, using contextual even though her guess is not really to the real answer. Only if the word is used repeatedly and she still has no idea, she will short out again using a dictionary. If someone is speaking to her in English and she is having difficulty in understanding a good part of it, she will often try to guess by paying attention to the meaning. It is in line with whatHeinel (2017) statesthata good language learner is a good guesser that is she gathers and stores information in an efficient manner so it can easily be retrieved. She may listen to a phrase, pick out the words she understands, and infer the rest. She may actively look for clues to meaning in the topic, setting, or attitude of the speakers. Her guessing strategy may be stratified from the more general to the more specific so that she gets the most information from each question or sentences.


The use of overcoming the limitation in speaking and writing

For Daniela getting her friend’s help can be inferred as one of the types of compensation strategy due to the objective of asking help is not for clarification, but it is to compensate her missing model of good pronunciation as well as a good model of reading.

 Another way of getting help from someone speaking is by asking him/her to slow down or to repeat once more the part that she does not understand. Open and honest communication helps builddeeper and stronger relationships among people. Students saw the teacher as a facilitator and the best resource, one who is there to provide help for her with the learning process and not in a dictating role. According to Ahmed (2018), getting help strategy is based on asking for help when a learner cannot retrieve a certain word or expression in the target language. Not knowing a word does not mean the end of the conversation.  This strategy for her was very effective because it stipulates for her to learn the language and lastly can get a good model of pronunciation and how to read the short story alone.

Using mime or gesture is another strategy of a compensation strategy that can be used as a technique for overcoming limitations in speaking and writing.  According to her, this strategy was quite helpful so the communication could be sustained. Although using gesture sometimes can lead to the misperception, this strategy is still the easiest way to describe what we wanted to say. When this subject used this strategy with the foreigner, her gesture tried to help her to make this person understood. Though not always effective, she confesses that she often used this strategy to sustain her communication with others, especially the speaker of English.  It means Daniela gesturing is only appropriate for those whose English quality is still not very well progress.

Another way to solve the limitations in speaking and writing is by selecting the topic. According to the Daniela, it is wise if the teachers give some options to choose when giving the students tasks. By selecting the topics, the students can choose the most familiar topic so that it will be easier for the students to do the task.


Indirect Strategies

Metacognitive strategies

The present findings show that both metacognitive and social strategies can be integrated during language learning, especially during a writing lesson. This is concurrent with the research done by Griffiths (2013), who further claims that good language learners show capability in making a decision and solve a complex problem and are self-directed learners. This study is concurrent with the study conducted by Nazri, Yunus and Nazri (2016) who put forth that good English language learner possess the drive to work out matters with positivity, allocate sufficient time to settle various task, utilize active mind, discovered necessary information through different resources and understanding individual needs. All these strategies are done to make sense of their own learning in successful language learners.

Based on the result, it was found that good English language learner employed and favored more indirect strategies (metacognitive, affective social) over direct strategies (memory, cognitive, and compensation). This can be inferred that a good English language learner of an indigenous Papuan student prefer to use strategies that utilize the learner’s cognitive ability. Daniela also not encouraged memorizing on grammatical terms as they are required to apply higher order thinking skills when answering her English papers. Since most of the students use the target language in constructing sentences in written form, and mingle around with the learners of the first language, the student does not rely on memory strategy as shepicks up effectively when she applies the metacognitive and social strategy.


The use of centering learning

For the subject, paying careful attention is a fixed price that she has to pay in learning the language. She relies highly on her hearing sense and understanding of what she listens to exclusively depends on her concentration.

The subject understands herself very well, so she knows exactly whatshe is supposed to learn. By making rely optimally onher hearing ability to help her learn, she selectsto listen very carefully as a way to get the knowledge. Then, in order toeffectively understand what she listens, her maximum attention becomes eventually important.

Strategies about centering your learning help learners on directing and centering their conscious attention on certain language tasks, activities or materials. Using such strategies provides learners with a focus on language learning. Overviewing and linking with already known material, paying attention, and delaying speech production to focus on listening are the skills of centering yourlearning. They are related to overviewing a concept or principle thoroughly and associating it with already known material; making up your mind to pay attention to language material or instruction and ignoring distracters, and deciding to delay speech production partially or totally until listening skills are better developed(Oxford 2011,2013).


The use of arranging and planning to learn

The findings indicate that, in fact,  a good English learner employed learning strategies properties of the three specific learning strategies, such as directed attention, selective attention, and self-management. This set of strategieshelp the learner organizes and plan to be able to make the best language learning. These strategies are interrelated with findings out about language learning, organizing, setting goals and objectives, identifying the purpose of a language task, planning for a language task and seeking practice opportunities (Ahour&Mohseni, 2014).  She adopts the same learning strategies properties attributed to each of the three aforementioned specific learning strategies in her learning English. She shared learning strategies properties in use are as follows: task completion, attending to selected topics, studying English rules, reading a text repeatedly, listing unfamiliar words, memorization, quick reading for specific information, answering questions, and resourcing.

One of the capacities engaged by the subject is her ability to force her own learning process. It seems that she wants her pronunciation to be good. By integrating her hobbies, listening music from the radio and watching movies, she could find ways to make use of the communication made by the singer and movie stars as the model for refining as well as rising good pronunciation. In this case, the subjectmakes use of listening to the radio or music and watching film playing games,as the effective ways to improve her listening skills and also her pronunciation(Hugo & Horn,2013).This strategy has been persisted since she was in junior high school when she started to know the language from the classroom learning process. She started mimicking the teacher that was easy for her at that time to follow.

Her consciousness to uphold using the language has made her find appropriate ways to make the language stay alive in which to get in touch with native speakers of English becomes very expensive and high-priced. She looks for a job by which she could actively use the language. Her job not only helps her to raise some funds but at the same time also her language talent is kept continued.


Affective Strategies

There are two language learning properties of affective strategies that can be applied to various language competencies. Affective strategies that are employed by the subject creating self-encouragement strategies and paying more attention to what the learner wants to say.


Self-Encouragement Strategies

Self-encouragement that is in use by the subject is by making herself relaxed and dropping her anxiety. When she feels tense, she is even not able to think clearly. Therefore, if anxiety approaches her sometimes, she will try to get rid of such emotion by lying down and taking some deep breath or take a walk for a while to cool down. Then, she continues toaccomplish the task after relaxing.      

Difficulties and barriers seem incapable to make a good English learner gives up, yet difficulties are things that she will accomplish through making her emotion well controlled. Mentally, the inner for