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Language Learning Styles and Learning Strategies of TertiaryLevel English Learners in China
Li Jie
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, P.R. China lijie@cuhk. edu. hk

Qin Xiaoqing
Huazhong University of Science and Technology, P.R. China qxq@mail. hust. edu. en
Abstract This study focuses on the relationship between learning styles and language leaming strategies in the EFL context in China. The study presents two kinds of data: quantitative and qualitative. In the quantitative study, the subjects consisted of 187 second-year undergraduates. Two self-reported inventories, the Chinese version of MBTI-G and a questionnaire on the use of learning strategies adapted from O'Malley and Chamot's classification system, were used to examine the students' leaming styles and leaming strategies respectively. Structured interviews have been performed among the six high and low achievers in the qualitative aspect ofthe study. The analyses show that learning styles have a significant influence on learners' learning strategy choices. There is evidence that the Judging scale correlates positively with seven sets of leaming strategies. Thus it turns out to be the most influential leaming style variable affecting learners' learning strategy choices. Compared with low achievers, high achievers are more capable of exercising strategies that are associated with their non-preferred styles. Based on the available research results, it is proposed that leaming styles may influence leamers' language leaming outcomes through their relationship with leaming strategies. The pedagogical implications of these findings are discussed, as are suggestions for future research. Keywords u China, Judging scale, language leaming strategies, leaming styles, MyersBriggs Type Indicator (MBTI), qualitative and quantitative data.


Vol 37(1) 67-90 I DOI: 10.1177/0033688206063475 2006 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks CA and New Delhi)

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Introduction There is a growing appreciation for the contribution of such variables as leaming style and leaming strategy to language leaming success in recent ESL/EFL classroom research (eg. Carrell and Monroe 1993; Carrell etal. 1996; Ehrman and Oxford 1990; Ehrman and Oxford 1995; Littlemore 2001; Wen and Johnson 1997). The notion of leaming style, which encompasses mental, physiological and affective elements, refers to 'an individual's natural, habitual, and preferred way(s) of absorbing, processing, and retaining new infonnation and skills' (Reid 1995: 34 of foreword). In contrast to leaming style, leaming strategies are 'those processes which are consciously selected by leamers and which may result in action taken to enhance the leaming of a second or foreign language, through the storage, retention, recall, and application of infonnation about that language' (Cohen 1998: 4). The differentiation ofthe two concepts should be made in terms of the level of intentionality, awareness and stability (Bailey etal. 2000; Brown 1994; Ehrman and Oxford 1990; Reid 1998). Leaming styles embody unconscious individual leamer traits while leaming strategies are specific behaviors selected by the leamer to make leaming more efficient. Reid (1998) theorized that whereas leaming styles are intemally based traits, often not perceived or consciously used by leamers, leaming strategies are extemal skills often used consciously by students to facilitate their leaming. Compared with leaming strategies, leaming styles are relatively stable characteristics which leamers bring to the leaming situations. Distinct as they are, these two terms still bear a close relationship to each other. Both contain cognitive and affective elements and are predictors of language proficiency. Brown (1994) further pointed out that leaming strategies do not operate by themselves, but rather are directly linked to the leamer's innate leaming styles and other personality-related factors. It is proposed that leaming style encompasses leamers' general inclination to use certain leaming strategies while avoiding others (Oxford 1990b). A number of empirical studies also suggested that leaming styles may significantly influence leamers' leaming strategy choices in spite of the different research instruments and contexts concemed (e.g. Carson and Longhini 2002; Ehrman and Oxford 1990; Littlemore 2001). In a qualitative study of 20 Foreign Service Institute (FSl) students, Ehrman and Oxford (1995) explored the relationship between leaming

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Styles and leaming strategies through semi-stmctured interviews. Before the qualitative study, the subjects had already completed two self-reported instruments as part of the quantitative study: the MBTI-G (Myers and McCaulley 1985) for leaming styles and the Strategy Inventory for Language Leaming (SILL) (Oxford 1990a) for preferred language leaming strategies. It was revealed that for each contrasting pair of the bipolar MBTI scales, the preferred leaming strategy categories were in an approximately matched distribution. For Thinking-Feeling, the complementarity was nearly complete. The research findings indicated that leamers' leaming styles may significantly influence their choices of language learning strategies. Carson and Longhini (2002) investigated the relationship between language leaming styles and strategies ofthe diarist/researcher in a naturalistic setting. The study utilized Oxford's SILL and the Style Analysis Survey (SAS) to compare categories that emerge in the diary entries. The analysis indicated that the diarist's leaming strategies were often affected by her learning styles. For example, the diarist, with a global leaming style, always suspended bits of partly understood language until they formed a large pattern. The diarist was also aware of the difficulty of utilizing strategies not prefened by her styles. For example, the diarist was introverted and often felt uneasy when communicating with people she did not know well. Littlemore (2001) related different communication strategy preferences (CSs) to the holistic/analytic cognitive style dimension. 82 Belgian university students who were native speakers of French and had been studying English for one year at the university participated in the study. A French version of Riding's (1991) computer-based Cognitive Styles Analysis (CSA) was used to measure participants' holistic/analytic cognitive styles and the concrete picture description task based on Poulisse's test was devised to assess their CSs. The research results showed that the participants used considerably more conceptual CSs than linguistic CSs. Within the domain of conceptual CSs, holistic participants were significantly more likely than analytic participants to use holistic CSs, and analytic participants were significantly more likely than holistic participants to use analytic CSs. Fruitful as they were, these studies concentrate on either quantitative or qualitative method in exploring the relationship between leaming styles and leaming strategies and few have employed the two methods in

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one instance. The monotonous nature ofthe research instmments in these studies might cripple the generalization of their findings. It was felt that a multiple methodological research approach would ensure greater contextualization and tmstworthiness for the research on leaming style and leaming strategy. The relationship between leaming styles and strategies determines that the research of linking strategies to styles will bring more fruitful results to both fields and would be beneficial to both leaming and teaching. Theoretically, leaming strategy can serve as an analytical tool to comprehend the fundamental elements of a particular leaming style which may appear to be arbitrary and random on the surface (Willing 1988). At a practical level, once leamers get to know their style preferences, it may be easier for them to see why they prefer using certain leaming strategies and not others. And this awareness would help leamers develop the flexibilities to cope with different leaming contexts and ultimately achieve leamer autonomy. An understanding of students' use of leaming strategies would allow teachers to adopt appropriate teaching methods which best cater for the leaming styles ofthe students. This will help students develop positive attitudes toward language leaming. To date very few empirical studies have attempted to relate leaming styles and strategies at the tertiary level in Mainland China. China boasts the biggest number of EFL leamers in the world (Cheng 2003). Since the year 2000, college education has been available to all regardless of the students' age and marital status (China Ministry of Education 2000). The trend for an increase in college enrollments is expected to continue over the next few years. English tertiary education in China has been under constant scrutiny to respond to the diverse leaming needs of the students as well as various demands ofthe society. At the same time, the English proficiency ofthe college students as a whole still needs improving even after ten years' instruction (Li 1996). The purpose of this study was to find out the impact of leaming styles of tertiary-level English leamers in China upon their language leaming strategy choices. It is felt that a study of this kind would throw new lights on the current teaching and leaming situation in China. The tertiary-level English leamers in China are usually divided into English majors and non-English majors. The study will mainly focus on the non-English major students as the non-English majors constitute an overwhelming majority ofthe Chinese tertiary-level English leamers and

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are considered more representative of typical Chinese tertiary-level EFL learners than English majors. These students are all required by China Ministry of Education to take English courses in the first and second years as part of their degree programs at college. Specifically, the study addresses the following questions: (a) What are the leaming style distributions of the Chinese tertiarylevel English leamers? (b) How do leaming styles affect the use of leaming strategies of tertiary-level English leamers in China? (c) What differences relating to leaming strategy deployment exist between high and low achievers of the same leaming styles? Research Design The study is aimed at examining the relationship between leaming styles and leaming strategies. For this purpose, a quantitative study was first conducted to obtain an overall picture of the leaming style distributions of the subjects and the relation of leaming styles to leaming strategies. Then a qualitative study was designed to probe the major findings obtained from the quantitative study and provide greater insights into the differences of leaming strategy deployment between high and low achievers of the same leaming style. Quantitative Data 1. Subjects The current subjects consisted of 187 second-year undergraduates from two universities in Wuhan. Among them, 102 were majoring in Science (54.5%) and 85 (45.5%) were Liberal Arts majors. Their ages ranged from 17 to 21 with an average of 19.2. There were approximately an equal number of male students (n = 94) and female students (n = 93). With regard to the year of English study, 85.6% of the participants began to study English formally from the middle schools. Independent samples t-tests revealed no difference between Science majors and Liberal Arts majors (p = .294 > .05) and between the two genders (p = .359 > .05) with respect to their language leaming outcomes in the present study.

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2. Instruments Two self-reported inventories were used to examine the students' leaming styles and leaming strategies respectively. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Form G (MBTI-G), which had been translated into Chinese, was used to measure the leaming styles of the participants. The other instmment, a questionnaire on the use of leaming strategies, was constructed to survey the subjects' use of leaming strategies. 2.1 Measure of Learning Styles: MBTI-G. The original MBTI, Form G, which was published as a research instmment for general use by the Consulting Psychological Press in 1975, is a 95-item questionnaire. In order to make the questionnaire accessible to the subjects and to minimize the misunderstandings and confusion caused by cross-cultural differences, this study adopted a Chinese version of MBTI-G, which had been translated from the original MBTI, Form G and revised by the researchers in China. The final version of the Chinese MBTI-G contained 97 items. Research has shown that the Chinese version of the MBTI-G is valid for use (Luo et al. 2001; Miao and Huangpu 2000). The MBTI aims to identify respondents' basic preferences, their most comfortable ways of behaving (Myers and McCaulley 1985). The MBTI contains four separate indices: (i) Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I); (ii) Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N); (iii) Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F); and (iv) Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P) (outlined in the Appendix). Each of the four dimensions represents polar opposites. While an individual is capable of acting in both poles of each of the four indices, the MBTI postulates that they are naturally inclined for one or the other of the poles, and will respond most frequently in a preferred style. The four indices are often viewed as four primary aspects of leaming style. The preference on each scale is independent of preferences for the other three, so the four bi-polar scales result in sixteen possible combinations or psychological types. A person with preferences for Introversion, Sensing, Feeling and Judging, for example, is referred to as ISFJ. 2.2 Measure of Language Learning Strategies: Questionnaire on the Use ofLearning Strategies. The questionnaire on the use of leaming strategies is used to assess the respondents' use of leaming strategies. The questionnaire consists of two parts. The first part is concemed with the subjects' personal information such as name, sex, major, age and previous leaming experience.

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Part Two is a 68-item, likert-scaled measure developed to probe the students' use of learning strategies. The questionnaire has adopted O'Malley and Chamot's classification system of language learning strategies (1990). For each statement of Part Two, there are five choices ranging from 'never or almost never' to 'always or almost always'. The instrument was pilot tested on 63 second-year Science majors and a Cronbach alpha of .8542 was obtained. The draft version was distributed to some teachers for their suggestions. Some items were then modified, deleted or added in order to increase the internal consistency of the questionnaire. A Cronbach alpha of .8860 was obtained in the final study. Eleven sets of learning strategies were finally identified and categorized into three groups for the present study (Table 1). 2.3 Measure ofLanguage Learning Outcomes: Obfective Questions of the Final Tests. Scores on the objective questions of the final English tests in the first semester of the second academic year were used as the indices of the students' language learning outcomes. The test items consisted of listening comprehension, reading comprehension, cloze and vocabulary. The reliabilities of the final test scores ranged from .60 to .64. As the final tests differ for the students using different course materials, all the raw scores were converted into the standardized scores (i.e. z score).
Table 1. Reliabilities of the Eleven Sets of Learning Strategies

Strategy Metacognitive strategy

Cognitive strategy

Social/affective strategy

' Arranging and planning Monitoring Self-evaluating Practicing Rehearsal Using mother tongue Inferencing Summarizing Overcoming limitations in speaking Lowering anxiety Cooperation

Number 1 2 4 7 4 4 5 2 5 4 7

Alpha .7156 .5887 .6207 .6635 .5614 .6756 .5875 .5089 .5829 .6485 .6335

3. Data Collection The participants completed the two questionnaires on learning styles and learning strategies prior to their final exams. They were asked to complete

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the questionnaires in class and detailed instructions were given by the researcher on how to respond to the questionnaire. The subjects were informed that the survey was not involved in teacher's evaluation of them and were guaranteed that their responses would be highly confidential and would serve for the research only. They were also given the opportunity to decline to participate or to drop out in the middle of the survey. A total of 187 questionnaires was considered valid in the final analysis. The final test scores of the sample were collected at the end of the semester from their respective teachers. 4. Data Analysis The MBTI results of the subjects were computed on the four indices named earlier. For each index, the higher score on one pole suggests the preference for this style. Thus, a person with high scores on Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging scales, for example, is designated as an ESFJ. The Statistical Package of Social Science SPSS was employed to process the data obtained in the study. Descriptive statistics were calculated for the MBTI distributions of the subjects. The statistical procedure of stepwise multiple regression was the major analysis for the examination of the relationship between learning styles and learning strategies. Qualitative Data The qualitative aspect of the present study aims to further examine through structured interviews how learning styles would exert infiuences on the English achievement between high and low achievers through learning strategies. 1. Key Informants Out of 187 subjects, six were selected for in-depth study. Three subjects were selected from the top group and three others from the bottom group in terms of their / scores (converted from z scores) in the final tests. English pseudonyms were used for the purpose of confidentiality. Table 2 described the general background information of the six subjects. 2. Instruments Structured interviews were performed by asking the subjects about their previous English learning experiences, learning styles and their current English learning.

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The whole interview protocol fell into three parts. Part I, previous learning experience, is interested in gathering data about the subjects' personal information and their previous English learning history. The second part, learning style, is intended to find out whether the students are aware of their own learning styles and the effects of the learning styles on their English learning. Questions such as 'How much do you know about your own personality?' and 'Do you believe that your personality will affect your language learning? If yes, how? If no, why not?' deserve the interviewees' answering. The last part, current English learning, deals with the students' responses to the questionnaire on the use of learning strategies and evaluation of their teachers' teaching. Typical questions to be addressed are: 'Why do you make this choice in the questionnaire on the use of learning strategies?', 'What learning techniques seem to have worked for you, and which have not?', 'Have you found the most effective way to leam English?' and 'What do you think of your teacher's teaching method? Do you like it? If yes, why? If not, why not and what will you do then?'
Table 2. Background Information of the Key Informants in the Interview Subjects Top Group Subject 1 Subject 2 Subject 3 Bottom Group Subject 4 Subject 5 Subject 6 Pseudonym Susan George Mike Alice Tom Eric Sex F M M F M M Age 19 20 18 19 20 19 Learning Style ISTJ ESFJ INFP ISTJ ESFJ INFP t Score 66 68 59

46 36

3. Data Collection All interviews took place within a two-week period. Subjects were invited to meet with the researcher individually. The interviews were all performed in Chinese except the interviewer's questions. The interviews ranged from 30 to 60 minutes. They were not informed of their MBTl results beforehand in case that this would lead the subjects to report what was expected of them rather than what was true. The interviewees were also told that the interviews would be highly confidential and used for

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research only. The interviews were tape-recorded and fully transcribed soon afterward. 4. Data Analysis The interview data were analyzed using a coding form developed according to the following categories: previous language learning experience, spontaneous comments related to the MBTl type, specific learning strategies coded according to O'Malley and Chamot (1990), evaluation of the teacher's teaching and self-awareness of the learning style. Results of learning styles and learning strategies obtained form the qualitative data were compared against the subjects' quantitative results for consistency. The strategy deployment of high achievers was compared against low achievers. The learning strategies acquired from the interview data were categorized into typical strategies and atypical strategies in terms of the subjects' learning styles. Typical strategies involve strategies that correspond to a specific learning style. Atypical strategies, in contrast, are strategies that do not comply with a certain learning style, but are used consciously by the learner to improve his learning. For example, an introverted learner's preference for working alone was considered as his typical strategy while his frequent use of strategy of talking to others in English was considered atypical. Results and Discussion Learning Style Results: MBTl Distribution Table 3 demonstrates the subjects' learning styles in terms of the split by each of the four MBTl dimensions as well as the classification by MBTl type. The subjects, in general, are introverted (54.5%), sensing (63.6%) and judging (59.4%) types. Type distributions on the TF dimension are almost even (T: 50.3%; F: 49.7%). The students were further categorized into three groups, namely, high achievers, mid achievers and low achievers according to their performance in the final tests. High and low achievers are scattered across the type table. Most MBTl types have representatives of both classes. Figure 1 shows that except INTP in which no high achievers were represented and ENFJ of missing mid achievers, the students of lower, mid and higher grades were found in almost all 16 types.

77 Language Learning Styles and Learning Strategies

Table 3. Sample Split by Each of the Four MBTl Dimensions and Classification by MBTl Type (n = 187)

n=22 (11.8%)

I S F J I N F J = 2 1 n = 9 (11.2%) (4.8/4)) I N F P n = 6 (3.2/<)) EN F P n = 1 2 (6.4/<,) E N F J n - 3 (1.6/


I N T J n = 1 3 (7.0%) I N T P n = 6 (3.2%) EN T P n = 6 (3.2%) EN TJ n =1 3 (7.0%)

IS TP I S F P n= 15 n = 1 0 (8.C %) (5.3%) E S TP n = 11 (5.9 %) ES TJ n == 8 (4.3 %) E S F P n =1 0 (5.3%) E S F J n = 1 2 (11.8% )


85 102 119 68 94 93 111 76

% 45.5 54.5 63.6 36.4 50.3 49.7 59.4 40.6

Quantitative Analysis of the Relationship between Learning Styles and Learning Strategies The stepwise multiple regression was utilized to examine the association between learning styles and learning strategies. In the present study, MBTl scales comprised the independent variables and the subjects' learning strategy choices were treated as the dependent variables. As the raw scores on each MBTl dimension (i.e. Extraversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling and Judging vs. Perceiving) are continuous, a high score on one pole would normally indicate a low score on the other one. Therefore, scores on the first scale of each dimension (i.e. Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking and Judging) were adopted as the independent variables in the regression analysis. The dependent variables included 11 sets of strategies demonstrated in Table 1. Results of the relationships between MBTl scales and each of the 11 learning strategies were synthesized into Table 4 in which values of the standardized regression coefficient Beta were demonstrated. MulticoUinearity was tested for each regression analysis and was found not to affect any of the regression models.

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79 Language Learning Styles and Learning Strategies

Of the eight MBTI scales, Judging is found to significantly influence seven strategies, namely, the cognitive strategies of practicing, rehearsal and summarizing, the metacognitive strategies of arranging and planning, self-evaluating and monitoring and the social strategy of cooperation, turning out to be the most influential leaming style variable affecting the use of leaming strategies in the present analysis. Extraversion is associated positively with four sets of leaming strategies, only second to Judging scale. The four strategies include the cognitive strategies of practicing and overcoming limitations in speaking, social/affective strategies of lowering anxiety and cooperation. The negative association between Extraversion and cognitive strategy of using mother tongue suggests that this strategy is preferred by Introverts. Thinking leamers exhibit preference for the cognitive strategy of inferencing and the social/affective strategy of lowering anxiety. Negative correlation was found between Sensing and the summarizing strategy, which discloses that Intuitive leamers prefer this strategy choice. Further analyses of the results revealed that a particular leaming style is always positively related to the strategies that exactly 'fall into their own types'. For example, Extraverts are inclined to use practicing, overcoming limitations in speaking, lowering anxiety and cooperation strategies; Intuitive leamers prefer the summarizing strategy; Thinking leamers show likings for the analyzing and lowering anxiety strategies; and Judging leamers indicate clear preference for the metacognitive strategy. The result is consistent with other researchers who reported that for adult leamers, leaming styles appear to have a significant influence on their strategy choices (Carson and Longhini 2002; Ehrman and Oxford 1990; Littlemore 2001). Leamers tend to use typical strategies developed by their own styles, indicating that university students, in general, are capable of capitalizing on their leaming strengths to a certain extent by making use of appropriate strategies. For example, according to Myers and McCaulley (1985), Judging leamers tend to work best in a structured, formalized leaming situation, and they like to plan their work and finalize issues so they can move from one task to the next. The metacognitive strategies which include monitoring, arranging and planning as well as self-evaluating strategies in the present study were demonstrated as organizing one's schedule, setting goals and objectives, identifying the purpose of a language task, planning for a language task and evaluating one's own progress, etc. Judgers' natural preferences for structure, organization, system and control may well be expressed in their needs of the metacognitive strategies.

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The MBTI theory characterizes Extraverts as people who prefer interaction with others and are action oriented. Their natural leaming strength lies in social interaction, concrete experience, group projects and oral perfonnance. They tend to work by trial and error. In this study, the use of the practicing strategy includes such activities as speaking English to oneself, reading English novels and newspaper, watching English movies and listening to English broadcast. Extraverts, with their preferences for movement, action and talking, would naturally show a strong liking for this strategy. Moreover, their likings for oral perfonnance and working by trial and error would contribute significantly to the high frequency of their use of the strategy of overcoming limitations in speaking. They are more willing to take conversational risks through the attempts of using gestures, selecting familiar topics and using synonyms when experiencing temporary breakdown in speaking. This natural inclination may also explain why they prefer anxiety-reducing strategy which helps leamers take appropriate risks in guessing meanings despite the possibility of making a mistake. Finally, their preferences for social interaction and working with other people would certainly result in their frequent use of cooperation strategy.
Table 4. Relationship between Learning Styles and Learning Strategies

Extraversion Sensing


Judging .358**** .197** .286**** .154* .242***

Arranging and planning Metacognitive strategy Monitoring Self-evaluating Practicing Rehearsal Using mother tongue Cognitive strategy Inferencing ' Summarizing Overcoming limitations in speaking Social/affective Lowering anxiety strategy Cooperation


-.293**** .222*** -.160* 270**** .373**** .320**** .169* .188** 251***

*/7<.O5; **p<.01; ***p<.005; ****/7<.OOl

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With regard to Thinking leamers, they tend to be objectively oriented, logical and systematic. The inferencing strategy concerns logical analysis and reasoning in language leaming. Adult leamers, by means ofthe inferencing strategy, tend to construct a formal model in their minds and create general rules for English leaming. It is probably because of their enjoyment of logical analysis that Thinkers show a clear preference for the inferencing strategy. Intuition indicates a preference to perceive the possibilities that arise from a situation, rather than just the hard facts revealed. Intuitive leamers like to see relationships, tend to reason abstractly and enjoy variation. The summarizing strategy here refers to generalizing the language rules and making summaries after class. It is not unusual for Intuitive leamers who show tendency for possibilities and pattems ofthe things to develop such a strategy. Although the interpretations above are preliminary and need to be checked against different samples, the influences of Judging scale on leaming strategies seem to further clarify the relationship found between Judging scale and language leaming outcomes in an earlier report of leaming styles to language leaming outcomes based on the same sample (Li and Qin 2003). In the preceding report, it is found that Judging scale correlates positively with language leaming outcomes. However, the small proportion of variance explained by this leaming style variable (4.2%) seems to suggest that leaming styles are only weakly or indirectly related to language leaming outcomes, which is consistent with other researchers' findings (Bailey et al. 2000; Carrell et al. 1996; Ehrman and Oxford 1995). Ehrman and Oxford (1990) have hypothesized that leaming styles are related to language leaming outcomes through their relationship with leaming strategies. That is, leaming styles may significantly influence leamers' choice of leaming strategies, which in tum, may regulate levels of language leaming outcomes. Judgers' preferences for metacognitive strategies in particular are in accordance with the characteristics of good language leamers (Oxford 1990a). The use ofthe strategies of monitoring as well as arranging and planning shows that Judging leamers are capable of organizing their leaming in an efficient way and channeling their energy in the objectives and goals they set. Besides, Judging students show a natural tendency to employ the self-evaluating strategy to monitor their own errors and evaluate their overall progress. All these indicate that Judging leamers are in a favorable position to monitor and

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organize their leaming, which is of great value in successful language leaming. It is likely that through its relationship with leaming strategies, Judging scale is positively related to language leaming outcomes. Another interesting finding lies in the positive relationship between Introversion and the strategy of using mother tongue. So far no report has been found in this respect. The strategy surveyed is reflected in thinking in Chinese before speaking, writing and reading, corresponding in part to the preference for reflection by Introverts. Does this mean that Introverts are more subjected to the influence of the mother tongue because of their leaming style preferences? More studies on this question are still called for. Qualitative Differences in Strategy Deployment between High Achievers and Low Achievers of the Same Learning Style The interview results on the MBTI type of the subjects were compatible with their quantitative statistics. Two important findings emerge from the qualitative data. First, it was found that both high and low achievers prefer to use strategies that suit their leaming styles best. However, compared with low achievers, high achievers are more aware of their leaming weaknesses and are more motivated to modify it with conscious efforts to adapt to different leaming demands. Apparently high achievers reported more kinds of leaming strategies than low achievers of the same leaming style. They are flexible and can use the strategies characteristic of the opposite styles besides the strategies typical of their own leaming styles. Second, it was revealed that high and low achievers hold different attitudes towards the teacher's instructions when there is a mismatch between their leaming styles and the teachers' teaching styles. High achievers usually develop a positive attitude towards their teachers' instructions. They are more willing and ready to change when the teachers' teaching styles do not correspond to their leaming styles. Therefore, the teachers' instructions make it possible for high achievers to stretch themselves beyond the strategies that are normally related to their leaming style preferences. In contrast, low achievers all reported negative attitudes when there is a conflict between their preferred ways of leaming and the teacher's teaching. The following three extracts from high achievers illustrated their use of less preferred strategies as well as their views towards the teachers' instructions when there is a mismatch between their leaming and the teachers' teaching.

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Extract 1 (Susan, high achiever, an Introvert)

I think I am an Introvert. I learn best when I work alone. I prefer reading and writing to listening and speaking. I like structured input better than free discussions in the class. But university teachers seem to advocate group work in class a lot. At the beginning I thought it was a waste of time. But by and by I find that working with others is an efficient way of improving my oral English. So I began to go to English comer once a week to force myself to open my mouth... This summer I am going to take GRE test. I am now preparing the test with one of my friends because the preparation is really a hard job. We can encourage each other in the long process. Otherwise, it is difficult for a single person to insist on it.

Atypical strategies mentioned by Susan include the social strategy of cooperation and the affective strategy of encouragement. While being aware of her leaming strengths, she is apparently influenced by the teacher's teaching methods. She is flexible with the choices of leaming strategies which are not naturally developed by her own style as leaming contexts vary to cope with the learning demands. She seeks cooperative learning and works with others in the interests of achieving common leaming goals. Extract 2 (George, high achiever, a Judger)
...To me, explicit guidance from the teacher is quite necessary and systematic organization of the content is very, very important. I am comfortable with everything clear in mind... But now 1 sometimes guess the meaning of a word from the context because we were instructed and encouraged by the teacher to do so. The teacher told us this was a necessary skill in English leaming. It is ...sometimes good, if not necessarily always... I will practice more.

George went beyond his Judging style and employed compensation strategy of guessing. Under the guidance of his teacher, he became tolerant of ambiguities by guessing meanings from the contexts. His words revealed that he used this strategy with a certain degree of uneasiness. However, he would keep practicing it. Extract 3 (Mike, high achiever, an Intuitive)
I think I am a very careless person... I mean, eh, I am quite impatient with those details... I seldom make any plans in my study. However, all my teachers told me that it is necessary to pay attention to details because sometimes these details provide important information. I listened to their advice and benefited a lot from it... When I entered the

84 Regional Language Centre Journal 37.1 university, I came to realize that effective arrangement and planning in my learning are very important in my future study because teachers here are not like middle school teachers. I have to depend on my own.

Atypical strategies chosen by Mike include the cognitive strategy of practicing and the metacognitive strategy of arranging. The 'carelessness' described by Mike revealed his natural preference of intuitive learning style whose detrimental side in learning lies greatly in missing important details. He was fortunate to accept the teachers' instruction complementary to his learning style to improve his learning. Moreover, he was in touch with the metacognitive strategy of arranging his study to deal with the changed learning context after he entered the university. In contrast to high achievers, low achievers appear to have more difficulties in utilizing the strategies of other styles. They appear to be 'stuck' in their own learning styles and are not aware of their learning weaknesses. Among the three low achievers interviewed, only one interviewee (Eric) reported consciousness about his learning disadvantages, but did not make clear efforts to improve the situation. Instead of reflecting on and extending their learning strategy repertoires, they all held negative attitudes towards their teachers' teaching when the mismatch between their learning and the teachers' teaching occurs. Their learning potential, therefore, is largely confined to their own styles, as illustrated in the following extracts. Extract 4 (Alice, low achiever, an Introvert)
Well... I believe I am an Introvert. I prefer to work alone and I do not think I can really leam anything from working with others... 1 am confident of my learning methods. Otherwise, how can 1 enter this university? ... 1 do not think I can really change my learning habits. How can I change my character?... I don't like my teacher's instruction, to be honest. She always encouraged us to work in groups or pairs and talk. She said that we could leam from each other this way. However, I did not feel like was a waste of time. Besides, if 1 could learn everything from my classmates, why do we still have a teacher?

It is apparent that Alice adopted learning methods appropriate to her learning styles. However, she had an incorrect conception about learning styles and strategies. Though learning styles are rather internally based and fixed, they can be modified slowly over time. To adopt strategies of the other styles is quite different from the change of one's character. On the other hand, different learning tasks and contexts may demand differ-

85 Language Learning Styles and Learning Strategies

ent learning strategies. It is hard to rely only on one's learning strengths to accomplish all the learning tasks at the tertiary level. English learning at the tertiary level which is aimed at developing students' overall communicative competence is quite different from the pre-university learning which lays great stress on grammar. To adopt different learning strategies does not mean the total rejection of one's original learning methods. In fact, it helps develop one's learning potential. Alice seemed not to develop an awareness of her own learning weakness. Instead, when the teacher's instruction did not fall into her 'type', she had a strong negative attitude towards the teacher's teaching and even viewed it as 'a waste of time'. Extract 5 (Tom, low achiever, a Judger)
I like order and systematic work. 1 always consult new words in dictionaries. So 1 read very slowly and this really depresses me...our teacher told us to use context to guess the meaning of the words. But how can we make guesses about the things we do not know? That is not a good 'attitude' towards learning.

Tom is not aware of his learning disadvantages and he is even 'hostile' to the strategies not typical of his own style although he has become uncomfortable with his old learning habits. He mistakenly took the teacher's advice as inappropriate attitudes toward learning. The misconceptions about the learning methods prevented him from employing new strategies. Extract 6 (Eric, low achiever, an Intuitive)
I do not like detailed work. I often thought that was a trivial matter although our teacher often reminded us of the details in our reading as this may provide important clues to our understanding... Maybe this was no good, but...well... I did not do anything to overcome these limitations.

Eric was conscious of his learning disadvantages. However, he did not make much effort to improve the situation. He also ignored his teacher's instruction and still dwelled on his old learning habits. The quantitative and qualitative findings address different aspects of the study on the relationship between learning styles and language learning strategies. The stepwise multiple regression analyses reveal that learning styles appear to have a great influence on learners' strategy choices. At the same time, it is found that Judging scale is positively related to the biggest numbers of learning strategies. Therefore, Judging turns out to be

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the most influential leaming style variable on leaming strategy choices. It is further proved from the qualitative analysis that high achievers are more capable of exercising strategies that are associated with their nonpreferred styles. Conclusion The major findings presented in this paper on the relationship between leaming styles and leaming strategies are as follows: (a) Leaming styles have a significant influence on leamers' leaming strategy choices. (b) Judging scale correlates positively with the biggest number of leaming strategies, thus tuming out to be the most influential leaming style variable affecting leamers' leaming strategy choices. Together with the earlier finding that Judging is only weakly or indirectly related to language leaming outcomes, it is likely that Judging scale is positively related to language leaming outcomes through its relationship with leaming strategies. (c) High achievers contrast with low achievers mainly in that high achievers are flexible to access leaming strategies typical of other leaming styles.

The research findings indicate that when leamers are aware of their own leaming strengths and weaknesses, they may take more efficient actions to improve their leaming. The ultimate goal of teaching is to help leamers achieve leamer autonomy. Teachers should help students discover and get familiar with their own learning styles in order to help them become selfaware leamers. At the same time, teachers should also encourage students to experiment with extending their preferred styles. Instmctors may use leaming style instruments to help students identify their own leaming styles. When students get to know their own leaming styles, the teacher may ask the students to keep capitalizing on their leaming strengths while at the same time explaining to the students explicitly the importance of tapping strategies of other styles in order to help students work on the development of the style areas they feel less comfortable with. It is also recommended that teachers should incorporate leaming styles into leaming strategy training. Leaming strategy training based on leaming styles would prepare instructors for which kinds of strategies should

Language Learning Styles and Learning Strategies

be taught and how to deal with leamers of different leaming styles. Since it is possible for students to tap strategies of other styles, explicit training of certain strategies would enable leamers to maximize their leaming efficiency. Future research should continue to investigate whether leaming style variables interact with other cognitive, affective and personality variables to predict foreign language leaming results. By considering the interactive effects of leaming styles with other variables, a more insightfiil analysis in foreign language leaming might be obtained. Finally, since this study is based on a sample of the second-year students at the introductory level, the results are only suggestive of the trend as leaming contexts might exert influences on leaming styles after all four years' study. Besides, the limited samples were probably not optimally representative of the second-year college students in China. Replication of this study is considered necessary to determine whether these findings are sample specific. Acknowledgments This study was supported by the Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University (NCET). The authors would like to thank Miao Danmin, Feng Yuejin and Tong Zhiyong for their valuable assistance in offering the relevant research material. The authors also appreciate comments by the two anonymous reviewers.
Bailey, P., A.J. Onwuegbuzie and C.E. Daley 2000 'Using Learning Style to Predict Foreign Language Achievement at the College Level', System 28.1: 115-33. Bayne, R. 1995 The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: A Critical Review and Practical Guide (London; Chapman & Hall). Brown, D.H. 1994 Principles of Language Learning and Teaching (Englewood Cliff, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents, 3rd edn). Carrell, P.L., and L.B. Monroe 1993 'Leaming Styles and Composition', Modern Language Journal 77.2: 148-62. Carrell, P.L., M.S. Prince and G.G. Astika 1996 'Personality and Language Leaming in an EFL Context', Language Learning 46.1:75-99.

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Carson, J.G., and A. Longhini 2002 ' Focusing on Leaming Styles and Strategies: A Diary Study in an Immersion Setting', Language Learning 52.2: 401-38. Cheng, Y. 2003 Effects of fVBt on the Academic Performances and Learning Attitudes of Chinese EFL Learners (Tianjin: Tianjin Press of Science and Technology). China Ministry of Education 2000 Regulations Concerning Enrolments of Tertiary-Level Institutions 2000 (Beijing: China Ministry of Education). Cohen, A.D. 1998 Strategies in Learning and Using a Second Language (London and New York: Longman). Ehrman, M.E., and R.L. Oxford 1990 'Adult Language Leaming Styles and Strategies in an Intensive Training Setting', Modern Language Journal 74.3: 311-27. 1995 'Cognition Plus: Correlates of Language Leaming Success', Modern Language Journal 79.1: 67-89. Li, Jie, and Qin Xiaoqing 2003 'The Relation of Leaming Styles to Language Leaming Outcomes: An Empirical Study', Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics 8.1: 17-32. Li, Lanqing 1996 ' Reforming Foreign Language Teaching Methods', China College Teaching 6: 4-5. Littlemore, J. 2001 'An Empirical Study of the Relationship between Cognitive Style and the Use of Communication Strategy', Applied Linguistics 22.2: 241-65. Luo, Zhengxue, Miao Danmin, Huangpu En and Chen Zuhuai 2001 'Revisions of Chinese Version of MBTI-G', Psychological Science 24.3: 361-62. Miao, Danmin, and Huangpu En 2000 'The Validity Analysis ofthe Chinese Version of MBTV,Acta Psychologica Sinica 32.3: 324-3\. Myers, I.B., and M.H. McCaulley 1985 Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use ofthe Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist Press, 2nd edn). O'Malley, J.M., and A.U. Chamot 1990 Learning Strategies in Second Language Acquisition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Oxford, R.L. 1990a Language Learning Strategies: What Every Teacher Should Know (New York: Newbury House Publishers). 1990b 'Style, Strategies, and Aptitude: Connections for Language Learning', in Thomas S. Parry and Charles W. Stansfield (eds.). Language Aptitude Reconsidered (Ni: Prentice Hall Regents): 67-115. Reid, J.M. 1995 Learning Styles in the ESL/EFL Classroom (New York: Heinle and Heinle). 1998 Understanding Learning Styles in the Second Language Classroom (NJ: Prentice Hall Regents).

89 Language Learning Styles and Learning Strategies Riding, R.J. 1991 Cognitive Styles Analysis (Birmingham: Leaming and Training Technology). Wen, Qiu Fang, and R.K. Johnson 1997 'L2 leamer Variables and English Achievement: A Study of Tertiary-Level English Majors in China', Applied Linguistics 18.1: 27-48. Willing, K. 1988 Learning Styles in Adult Migrant Education (Adelaide: National Curriculum Resource Centre).

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MBTl Scale Descriptions

Extraversion versus Introversion This scale concerns how people are energized and oriented. An Extravert is energized by interaction with others and puts primary interest in the outer world of people and events, while an Introvert is energized by solitary activities and is oriented primarily toward internal concepts and ideas. Sensing versus Intuition This scale concerns how people perceive the world and take in data. Relying on data gathered through the five senses, the Sensing person sees the world in a practical and factual way. An Intuitive is aware of relationships, possibilities, and meanings, and is drawn to the innovative and theoretical. Thinking versus Feeling This scale concerns how people draw conclusions or make decisions. Thinkers make decisions on impersonal, objective, cause-and-effect criteria. Feelers, on the other hand, make decisions on the basis of personal or social values, interpersonal relationships, and their own feelings or those of others. Judging versus Perceiving This scale describes the process which the individual mainly uses to deal with the outside world. A Judger prefers closure, structure, organization, and control. A Perceiver values spontaneity, flexibility, freedom, and autonomy and wants to continue to adapt and stay open as long as possible. Source: adapted from Ehrman and Oxford 1990.