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Volume 5 Number 3, Autumn 2008, Pages 1-223   

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Task-based Strategy Assessment: The Effect of Task Difficulty on Listening Strategy Use of Advanced EFL Learners

    Mahmood Reza Atai and Seyyed Mohammad Reza Hashemi

Recently there has been heated debate on the nature of strategy assessment in task-absent situations where it might lead to learners' over- or underreporting of the strategies they actually use. More specifically, it is argued that that learners need to be involved in the real process of completing a language task just before they are asked to report the strategies they use. The present study, thus, was aimed at investigating the effect of presence of tasks and task difficulty on advanced students' reports of their listening strategy use. Results from the analysis of the data measured by the Listening Strategy Questionnaire and collected from 62 Advanced students, in three task conditions, indicated that (1) task condition (No Task, Easy Task, Difficult Task) has an effect on advanced EFL learners' listening strategy use, and (2) considering each strategy subcategory under study, the subjects reported different frequencies of strategy use across the above task conditions. This was especially true for cognitive and memory strategies, whereas for compensation strategies the difference in frequency of strategy use across the three conditions was not statistically significant. The findings promise some implications for developing context-specific task design frameworks, and task-based strategy instruction and evaluation.

Keywords: task-based, strategy assessment, memory strategies, cognitive strategies, compensation strategies