HomeNEXOvol. 1 no. 1 (2015)

Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency of Colegio de San Juan de Letran Calamba College Students

Zandra N. Maningas

Discipline: Education



For students, cognitive academic language is their second language. Their first language is their “social language” or the “everyday conversational language” of the community, of the media, and at home. While students are exposed to social language in various settings, their exposure to cognitive academic language acquisition is generally limited in the classroom. To them, this second language is full of new words, figurative expressions, and grammatical structures. Zweirs (2004) asserted that many learners, even those with developed social language, struggle to master the complex language of school.

This study assessed the cognitive academic language proficiency of Letran Calamba college students by using a written test. The overall learning styles of students and teaching methodologies of faculty members were also presented. In addition, the paper identified the language learning strategies of students through the use of Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL). A total of 365 students and 73 faculty members were tested across all departments and in all year levels. The study was conducted in Colegio de San Juan de Letran, a private Dominican educational institution, located in the City of Calamba, Laguna.

Letran Calamba college students had difficulty with intricate or theoretical academic language. When grouped according to departments, the scaled scores showed that only the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) and School of Business, Management, and Accountancy (SBMA) had reached elementary academic language proficiency level. The School of Nursing (SN) students excelled in vocabulary and reading comprehension, while SAS and SBMA students were better in writing than those from the other departments.


When grouped according to year levels, the third year students scored better in vocabulary than those students from other year levels. In reading comprehension, the fifth year students scored poorer than those students from other year levels. In writing, there were no significant differences at α = 0.05.

When grouped according to gender, male students performed more poorly than the female students in vocabulary and reading comprehension. In writing, students’ scores did not differ from one another.

Overall, the students were using auditory, kinesthetic, and visual learning styles. Colegio’s teachers, on the other hand, were using group, individual, and visual learning styles. The extent of practice of the different language learning strategies did not vary with the students’ gender, year level, and department, except for the metacognitive and cognitive language learning strategies which varied with the students’ department.

It was, thus, recommended that instruction should be cognitively challenging requiring students to use higher-order thinking abilities rather than low-level memorization and application skills. A re-visit of instructional strategies and curricular content should be done to address the proficiency problem.