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Second Language Acquisition (SLA)

Second Language Acquisition (SLA)



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Published by man_dainese
Learning Styles and Strategies, Field Independence, Left- and Right-Brain Functioning, Ambiguity Tolerance, Reflectivity and Impulsivity, Visual and Auditory Styles, Communicative Strategies, Cultural Stereotypes and etc
Learning Styles and Strategies, Field Independence, Left- and Right-Brain Functioning, Ambiguity Tolerance, Reflectivity and Impulsivity, Visual and Auditory Styles, Communicative Strategies, Cultural Stereotypes and etc

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Published by: man_dainese on Feb 18, 2009
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6. What are learning styles and strategies and how do they affect second languagelearning?Brown (1994) defines
as “rather enduring tendencies or preferences within anindividual”. He also explains, “
are specific methods of approaching aproblem or task, modes of operation for achieving a particular end, planned designsfor controlling and manipulating certain information.”
 The way people learn things and solve the problems that they face while theirlearning is different from one another. It depends on their cognitive style, which is arather amorphous link between their personality and cognition. When the cognitivestyle is related to an educational context, we call it
learning styles
. People get theirown learning style while they internalize their total environment, and theinternalizing process is affected by physical, affective, and cognitive factors.According to Keef (1979),
learning styles
are “cognitive, affective, and physiologicaltraits that are relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with,and respond to the learning environment.” Skehan (1991) more simply says that
learning style
is “a general predisposition, voluntary or not, toward processinginformation in a particular way.” (Skehan 1991) There are
some dimensions of learning style 
1) Field Independence
learning style means the tendency to perceive a particular,proper item or factor in a “field” of confusing items. Field-independent style enablesthe learner to distinguish parts from a whole, to concentrate on something, toanalyze separate variables without confusion with other neighboring variables.However, too much field independence makes the learner only see the parts and failto see the whole picture. On the other hand,
learning style is thetendency to be dependent on the field. In this case, the learner gets the clearpicture of the whole field but has difficulty in perceiving the parts in the field.In reference to second language learning, field independence is related to classroomlearning such as analyzing, focusing on details, mastering of exercises and drills. Onthe other hand, field dependence is connected with learning communicative aspects
of second language. According to Abraham (1985), second language learners whoare field independent perform better in deductive lessons, while those who are fielddependent perform better in inductive lessons. Since the two different learningstyles are needed for different kinds of language learning – classroom activities andnatural, face-to-face communication -, both learning styles are important forlanguage learning.
2) Left- and Right-Brain Functioning
As a child’s brain matures, his or her brain is laternalized into a left and a righthemisphere and the brain functions are also laternalized into the two hemispheres. The
left hemisphere
is related to logical, analytical thought, with mathematical andlinear processing of information. On the other hand,
the right hemisphere
perceivesand remembers visual, tactile, and auditory images. It’s related to processingholistic, integrative, and emotional information. The two hemispheres work togetheras a team to solve problems, and the best solutions to the problems are thoseoptimalized by the two different hemispheres.In reference to second language learning, Krashen, Seliger, and Hartnett (1974) saythat
left-brain-dominant learners
of second language prefer a deductive style of teaching while
right-brain-dominant learners
are more successful in inductiveclassroom activities. Stevick (1982) say that left-brian-dominent second languagelearners are better at producing separate words, gathering the specifics of language, dealing with abstractions, classification, labeling, reorganizations, etc. Healso explains that right-brain-dominant learners are better with whole images,generalizations, metaphors, and emotional reactions and artistic expressions. Thislearning style seems to be parallel with field independence-independence.
3) Ambiguity Tolerance
People have different degree of 
tolerance of ambiguity 
. Some people are relativelygood at accepting ideologies, events, and facts that contradict their own views.Others are more close-minded to accept items that are contradictory to theirexisting system. The person who is tolerant of ambiguity is willing to enjoy lots of innovative and creative possibilities and is not disturbed by ambiguity anduncertainty.In terms of language learning, the learners need to be tolerant of ambiguity whiletheir learning: for example, the contradiction between their native language and the
second language, some exceptions in the rule of second language, the culturaldifferences between their native culture and the target culture, and so on.According to Chapelle and Robers (1986),
learners with a high tolerance foambiguity 
are slightly more successful in certain language tasks. Clearly intolerancecan prevent the learners being creative in using the target language because of theworries about ambiguity. However,
too much tolerance of ambiguity 
can also have anegative effect on their language learning. In this case, the learners cannoteffectively make the second language rules integrated with the whole languagesystem but they just use meaningless chunks learned by rote.
4) Reflectivity and Impulsivity
People have different personality tendencies toward reflectivity. Some people tendto make a quick, gambling guess at an answer to a problem. Others tend to make aslower, more calculated decision about the same problem. The former cognitivestyle is called “
impulsive or intuitive
” styles, and the latter one is called “
reflectiveor systematic
” styles. These personality traits have an effect on second languagelearning.
Impulsive learners
of second language tend to be quick to answer the questionsprovided by the teacher, but their answers are not so much accurate compared tothe reflective learners. On the other hand,
reflective learners
tend to make fewererrors but they react slower than the impulsive learners. For language teachers,they need to figure out the reflectivity of their students and adjust their teaching tothe traits. For example, they must not judge the errors of impulsive students tooharshly, and they need to be more patient to reflective learners in their class.
5) Visual and Auditory Styles
People have different preferences for the type of input: either visual or auditoryinput.
People who like visual input 
tend to prefer reading and studying charts,drawings and other graphic information. On the other hand,
those who like auditory input 
tend to have preference for listening to lectures and audiotapes. According to Joy Reid (1987), Korean students are significantly more visually oriented than nativeEnglish-speaking Americans.
Cook (2001) claims that
learning strategy 
is a choice that the learner makes while

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