This research is logged in the field of language acquisition, focusing on Spanish as a foreign language learnt at university level. It investigates how learning strategies are used by students to develop proficiency in Spanish over a three-year period (from the first year to the third year). Adopting a cognitive lens that places special attention to how linguistic knowledge is constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed, this study focuses on the language learning process, specifically on what the students do to learn a language.
Taking into account that the learning of foreign language poses particular and distinctive challenges – as opposed to the learning of a second language – and using a multiphase design that combines sequential strands encompassing quantitative and qualitative techniques, this study finds that those who successfully complete all the Spanish courses are the ones who report significantly more use of metacognitive strategies in the first year.
The study concludes by proposing a framework that helps to classify the role that the use of strategies play in learning a foreign language from a student’s perspective. This framework adds a new dimension and provides valuable information to similar types of studies.
Considering the above-mentioned findings, the study recommends introducing first-year students to the potential value of using metacognitive strategies in foreign language learning, and suggests that lecturers should recommend more activities for students to engage in the language outside the classroom.