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Variation in individuals’ success in learning a foreign/second language is often attributed to a host of cognitive, psychological and socio-cultural factors. Learners’ language learning strategies and preconceived beliefs have been explored as possible factors contributing to this variation. Research suggests that successful language learners usually utilize, whether consciously or subconsciously, more effective strategies than less proficient learners (Chamot, 2004). Similarly, learners’ beliefs are thought to shape the course of their linguistic development and their whole language learning experience (Debreli, 2012). Thus, any mistaken beliefs could have prolonged detrimental and negative effects on the learners’ learning experience (Peacock, 2001). Hence, this paper investigates the intricate relationship between learners’ beliefs and their strategic preferences. The study uses two questionnaires to collect data from 173 students in the English Department at SQU, Oman. Inferential statistical analysis shows an overall medium use of learning strategies, with metacognitive strategies occupying a top position. The results about learners’ beliefs reveal that learners’ motivation and expectations are the strongest set of beliefs held by language learners. Learners seem to accord less significance to the traditional role of grammar and vocabulary in language learning. As for the relationship between strategies and beliefs, the findings show that students’ beliefs intricately correlate with different categories of strategies. In specific, foreign language aptitude and learners’ motivation and expectations strongly correlate with almost all sets of strategies. From a pedagogical perspective, the findings of this investigation are of a great significance for both learners and instructors. To ensure a successful language learning experience, instructors need to give special attention to helping learners overcome any preconceived negative beliefs and providing them with proper training on how to use appropriate strategies.
Keywords: beliefs, strategies, correlation, metacognition, strategy training.
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