The importance of strategies of social language learning and cooperative learning in the process of teaching Turkish as a foreign language
The importance of strategies of social language learning and cooperative learning in the process of teaching Turkish as a foreign languageFull Length Research Paper
The importance of strategies of social language
learning and cooperative learning in the process of
teaching Turkish as a foreign language
Mehmet Celal VARIŞOĞLU
Department of Turkish Language and Literature, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Gaziantep University, Turkey.
Received 3 January, 2016; Accepted 16 May, 2016
In order to implement the teaching of a foreign language at a desired level and quality, and to offer
some practical arrangements, which stand for to the best use of time, efforts, and cost, there is a need
for a road map. The road map in teaching is a learning strategy. This article shows how strategies of
social language learning and cooperative learning can be used in teaching of Turkish as a foreign
language. The article uses the framework of the research made on learning strategies and is based on
qualitative research methods. It evaluates the strategies which are connected to the social language
learning and the principles of cooperative learning and puts a particular emphasis on the issues which
are connected to the process of teaching Turkish as a foreign language by bringing into a discussion
such questions as which principles should the learning activities be prepared and what are the roles of
students and a teacher. In addition, the article gives some suggestions on how to detect learning
strategies of every student and to accomplish their internalization by the students - achieving thus
success in teaching Turkish as a foreign language.
Key words: Teaching Turkish as a foreign language, strategies of social language learning, cooperative
Aim of the research
Teaching and learning a foreign language is a difficult
and complex process both for students and for teachers.
In order to complete this process in the most productive
and effective way, one must use all kinds of methods. For
the same reason, there is a need for a learning guidance,
which would provide the process of learning is realized
within the shortest time and in the most efficient way.
Due to recent growth in the number of foreign students
learning Turkish, the subject of teaching Turkish to
foreigners started to gain a larger popularity. The
situation demands that teaching Turkish is made
according to modern approaches and methods and with
the use of effective teaching materials. In order to make
teaching Turkish more systematic within one particular
programme, there is also a need to study different
problems which can occur in the process of teaching and
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982 Educ. Res. Rev.
as well as to suggest some solutions. The problems
originate from educational environments, from teachers,
and students. Therefore, it is important to divide the
problems into the dimensions of teaching and learning,
afterwards to split them into smaller topics and to offer
proper solutions. Consequently, there is a need for
research, which will focus on the student experience, by
taking into the light how the students learn the material in
the easiest way and by bringing into the study the use of
In this respect, this article will shed some light on such
issues as how the strategies of social language learning
and cooperative learning influence the process of
language learning and how it is possible to benefit from
them in teaching of Turkish as a foreign language.
What is a language learning strategy?
In a general way, the term „strategy‟ can be defined as a
road, which is followed in order to reach a certain aim. “It
comprises also such connotations as making a decision,
overcoming obstacles, setting proper conditions, trying
the most suitable ways, and showing similar manners in
every condition/situation” (Saydı, 2007:7). A strategy
“expresses an establishment of a long-term goal and
general aims of an action, a start of the action, and the
choice and use of proper sources which will bring to the
aim” (Köksal and Varışoğlu, 2012:82). When a foreign
language is concerned, a language learning strategy can
be defined as a set of techniques which are used by the
students to bring his/her to the aim of his/her learning
faster, and to give the process of learning a more
enjoyable and enthusiastic character.
The strategies of language learning can be also defined
as “conscious actions made by the student in order to
acquire knowledge, memorize, remember the memorized
information, and use this information as well as certain
activities, actions, and techniques which are used by the
student to develop his/her skills in the learning of a
foreign language” (Oxford, 1996; Oxford et al., 2004)
The most important known characteristic of the learning
strategies is the fact that it influences the process of
learning directly and can be taught (Oxford et al., 2008).
The other feature is that it is connected to individual
differences of the students; therefore, every student has
his/her own learning strategy.
The learning strategies provide planning and evaluation
of the studies, control over the studied material, making
decisions connected with the learning process and
identification of the issues in which occur difficulties
(Chamot, 2004). With the use of the learning strategies,
the student learns how to organize himself/herself, how to
remember the material and how to think (Özkal and
Çetingöz, 2006). In addition, it is quite frequent that the
strategies used by the student consciously while learning
a foreign language, will help him/her during his/her future
The classification of the strategies of language
The language learning strategies, “which started to be
first studied in the 1970s in the frames of the research of
the characteristics of those who success in language
learning” (Cesur and Fer, 2007), were classified
differently by researchers (O‟Malley et al., 1985;
Weinstein and Mayer, 1986; Rubin, 1987; Gagné and
Driscoll, 1988; Chamot and Kupper, 1989; Oxford, 1990;
Öztürk, 1995). The classification made by Oxford is
shown in the following:
1. Direct strategies:
(a) Memory strategies
(b) Cognitive strategies
(c) Compensation strategies
2. Indirect strategies:
(a) Metacognitive strategies
(b) Affective strategies
(c) Social strategies
This paper will explain how the social strategies which
belong to the classification made by Oxford (1990) can
be employed in teaching of Turkish as a foreign
In this study, qualitative research method has been used. According
to Yıldırım and Şimşek (2006) this method is a research type
through which the receptions and the events are manifested in a
realistic and total manner in their natural environment. In this study,
the instructions acquired by means of the analyses of documents
and observations have been reported. For this reason, the research
process of the research is appropriate to the qualitative research
THE STRATEGIES OF SOCIAL LANGUAGE
LEARNING AND THE PRINCIPLES OF THEIR USE IN
One of the most important functions of the strategies of
social language learning in the teaching of a foreign
language is to encourage the students to establish
communication with people who speak the target
language. Among the functions of the social strategies
there are such as asking questions in a foreign language,
receiving answers, correcting mistakes, establishing
cooperation, trying to study feelings and thoughts of
people of the targeted culture (Lan and Oxford, 2003).
In order to make communication in a foreign language
effective, there is a need to develop the oral
communication skills. The biggest contribution of the
social strategies into the language learning process is the
emphasis on the importance of social environment and
The learning and teaching environment is a social
environment. In this environment, the teacher plays a
very big role to establish communication among the
students. The students‟ perception of their self-esteem
plays an important role in the process of achieving
success in language teaching as well as in the students‟
adaptation with the language which they learn. Besides, it
is possible to develop the skills of cooperation between
the students. The students can learn in the easier way
when they share their knowledge with a teacher and
Some of the social strategies which can be used to
learn a foreign language are the following (Saydı,
1. Reaching clarity: Explanation and giving a definition of
information that is not understood or not completely
understood in the process of language learning.
2. Confirmation of knowledge: Correction, giving a
definition - with the help of different sources - of
situations, in which the students are not sure and make
3. Establishing cooperation: Making cooperation in order
to bring the targeted language into the part of the
students‟ life during the process of language learning; the
cooperation is established with people who have enough
knowledge and skills in the target language.
4. Cultural sensitivity: The attempts of the students to
learn in the process of language learning the feelings and
thoughts of their friends who belong to different cultures.
COOPERATIVE LEARNING AND THE PRINCIPLES OF
Learning is a both individual and social process. For this
reason, it has been expressed that there is a growth in
social skills of those students who work in cooperation
(Dollman et al., 2007:44). In a classroom, in which a
foreign language is taught, the use of cooperative
learning makes dialogues among the students more
In teaching, the general aim of cooperative learning is
the establishment of social relationships among the
students and with the teachers. With the help of these
relationships, the responsibility for learning is left to the
students themselves and the students is encouraged to
manage in the learning environment which is based on
their communication. (Varışoğlu, 2013:36). Because of
this, cooperative learning has a great importance in such
language learning processes as the application of a
team-work, discussion groups, activities of asking and
answering questions, problem solving, as well as in the
development of social and cognitive skills of the students.
The process of cooperative learning is a process of
group learning. The groups are composed with the aim of
the establishment of partner learning, which provides that
all the students benefit from successful learning. The
members of the group encourage each other to
understand the subject of learning and to learn it more.
Therefore, all group members gain more success by
learning from each other than they could learn by having
an individual work (Slavin, 1999).
Johnson et al. (2000) state that the cooperative
learning is needed for intellectual, social, and
psychomotor development. To reach success,
cooperation is compulsory. During cooperative language
learning, each student in the group has to work together
with other students in his or her group as well as with the
students in the other groups. Throughout the teamwork
practice, the students gain new standpoints and develop
the communication skills and friendly relations (Panitz,
In the process of foreign language learning,
cooperative learning develops social connections and
increases motivation among the students. Social
connections belong to a process of the establishing of
positive bonds between the members of the group. This
bond brings the increase of conformity within the class
and encourages the students for participation. According
to Saban (2004:28), the lack of social connections among
the members of the group lays the grounds for the
students‟ independent work and the lack of any
interaction among them.
Cooperation plays an important role in the development
of communication in a foreign language, as well as in the
increase of the richness of meanings. Language learning
activities which are based on cooperation and social
learning theories guarantee that a contribution is made in
the development of the students‟ language vocabulary.
Activities of cooperative learning reflect richness of the
language used by both the teachers and the students.
Such activities increase the variety of words used while
speaking a foreign language, making thus the study of
the functions of the language more efficient. Along with
the contribution that the student makes into the
development of his language skills via his/her individual
efforts, he/she contributes also into the inter-class
communication. As it is put forward by Slavin (1988),
cooperative learning provides the contribution into the
concepts of successful language learning.
Language learning environment which is based on the
cooperative learning influences the students to become
more open to the outside world develops their abilities of
listening and activates the skills of understanding of
others. At the same time, cooperation is the principle
984 Educ. Res. Rev.
foundation of a social motivation (Johnson and Johnson,
1999). A student following the strategy based on
cooperative learning is aware of the development of
his/her learning and of the learning of the members of
his/her team. As a result, we see that the teacher steps
out of the role of the only person who transfers
knowledge during the process of learning.
The social environment which becomes established
alongside with the cooperative learning helps to transfer
the language into different aspects and spheres (Jacobs,
2006). The learning activities do not belong only to the
classroom; they become to be spread into different
spheres of social life. Therefore, the student has an
opportunity to transfer his/her experiences into a real life
and the living language.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE APPLICATION OF THE
STRATEGIES OF SOCIAL LANGUAGE LEARNING
AND COOPERATIVE LEARNING INTO THE
TEACHING OF TURKISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
People try to develop the ways of communication
because of different social reasons, such as travelling,
studying, participation in art and sport activities, etc.
Nowadays, due to different reasons, the increase in the
number of Turkish language learners is seen.
Consequently, it is expected that students of Turkish
acquire functional and communicational language skills.
The strategies of a foreign language learning and
cooperative learning are implemented along such
organization of the study process which takes the student
into a central position. In teaching of Turkish as a foreign
language, the use of the strategies of social language
learning and cooperative learning is needed to provide
social interaction between the teacher and the students
and to create a bond between them for the time of the
study. The process of learning can be made easier if the
planning of teaching activities is made according to the
social strategies and cooperative learning and is based
on the use of suitable methods, techniques and
materials. In order to be able to find practical solutions to
the problems which students will face during the process
of learning and to establish an efficient learning process,
it is important to know which learning strategies the
students have and if they like cooperative learning or not.
The strategies of social language learning and
cooperative learning are not limited to in-class activities.
From this point of view, there is an increase in the
students‟ active use of language and opportunities to
practice of the language, there is a positive development
in their performance.
According to social language learning and the
principles of cooperative learning, every student is
responsible for the learning of his/her classmates at the
same level as he/she is responsible for his/her own
learning activities. Success in the individual learning and
the strategies which bring the student to it form also an
efficient tool in the social learning performance. However,
in most cases, the students may be not totally aware of
the efficient learning strategies which lay behind their
learning success. It is needed to teach them the ways to
learning success and to do this, it is important to draw the
learning strategies. There is a need to make every
student to notice what the social strategies that he/she
develops are and to encourage him/her to share these
strategies with the students and the teacher during the
Another issue - which is connected with the strategies
of social language learning and cooperative learning and
which the teachers who teach Turkish and the students
who learn Turkish as a foreign language has to keep in
mind - is how the used strategies and the activities of
cooperative learning correspond with Turkish culture and
the circumstances of language practice. There is a need
to keep the students who learn Turkish active throughout
the process of language learning and practicing. It is also
important to notice whether the strategies which are
going to be used suit the process of teaching as well as
the methods and techniques of learning and teaching.
It is important to try to make the student to use Turkish
in a communication-based environment; therefore there
is a need to include activities which will build up the
students‟ readiness for social interaction. In the class of
Turkish, there is a need to strengthen the skills of the
students for a teamwork performance and to choose
activities which are based on cooperative learning. The
teacher must know the reason behind the students‟ wish
to learn Turkish and increase their motivation for learning
with the help of a proper planning.
There is a need to establish the profiles of the students
learning Turkish, to know what foreign languages they
know and to make an effort to harmonize their previous
skills with the learning skills in Turkish. It is the
responsibility of the teacher to develop in the students a
resistance against a cultural shock and situations of
misunderstanding and to provide that they are active in
CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONS
In teaching Turkish as a foreign language, the effective
methods will be those which are arranged according to
the strategies of social learning and the principles of
cooperative learning. Despite of a rather theoretical
character of this particular paper, the practical accuracy
of this conclusion can be proved by works which evaluate
the level of success of the English and German language
learners (Özkal ve Çetingöz, 2006; Baykan et al., 2007;
Oflaz, 2008; Cesur and Fer, 2011). Making a reference to
these works, it is possible to conclude that the strategies
of language learning will be also efficient in teaching
Turkish as a foreign language. Similarly, those teaching
activities, which are prepared in accordance with the
mentioned strategies of language learning, will offer a
contribution to answer the student-centred problems
which he/she may face during his/her studies of Turkish
as a foreign language. To obtain success, there is a need
to support socialization attempts of every student. It is
impossible to learn a foreign language at the level of the
mother tongue, fully and perfectly, and to use it
completely without mistakes. However, the students can
achieve the active use of language in social environment
and within the process based on cooperative learning.
Therefore, in the teaching of Turkish as a foreign
language, it is very important that the teacher includes
such activities which will bring the student to the opening
of his/her language skills and which will keep him/her in a
tight communication both with the teacher and the
students. The process of learning of Turkish by the
students, their abilities to use its functionally, making
acquaintance with Turkish culture and the efforts to
develop communication skills are tightly connected with
the abilities to establish social relations and cooperation.
In order to reach absolute success in teaching and
learning Turkish as a foreign language, both the teachers
and the students have to make an active use of the social
strategies and cooperative learning.
Conflict of Interests
The authors have not declared any conflict of interests.
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