Learning Preferences

Language learners use different kinds of language learning strategies, or specific actions and behaviors to help them learn. Their strategies differ greatly, at least in part because their general learning styles (overall approaches to learning and the environment) are so varied. Recent research (Ehrman & Oxford, 1988, 1989; Oxford & Ehrman, 1988) suggests that learning style has a significant influence on students' choice of learning strategies, and that both styles and strategies affect learning outcomes. What are learning styles? The term learning style is used to encompass four aspects of the person: cognitive style, i.e., preferred or habitual patterns of mental functioning; patterns of attitudes and interests that affect what an individual will pay most attention to in a learning situation; a tendency to seek situations compatible with one's own learning patterns; and a tendency to use certain learning strategies and avoid others (Lawrence, 1984). Learning style is inherent and pervasive (Willing, 1988) and is a blend of cognitive, affective, and behavioral elements (Oxford & Ehrman, 1988). At least twenty dimensions of learning style have been identified (Parry, 1984; Shipman & Shipman, 1985). A key to getting (and keeping) students actively involved in learning lies in understanding learning style preferences, which can positively or negatively influence a student's performance (Birkey & Rodman 1995; Dewar 1995; Hartman 1995). It has also been shown that adjusting teaching materials to meet the needs of a variety of learning styles benefits all students (Agogino & Hsi 1995; Kramer-Koehler, Tooney & Beke 1995).

Four learning Styles
The Visual/ Verbal Learning Style You learn best when information is presented visually and in a written language format. In a classroom setting, you benefit from instructors who use the blackboard (or overhead projector) to list the essential points of a lecture, or who provide you with an outline to follow along with during lecture. You benefit from information obtained from textbooks and class notes. You tend to like to study by yourself in a quiet room. You often see information "in your mind's eye" when you are trying to remember something. The Visual/ Nonverbal Learning Style You learn best when information is presented visually and in a picture or design format. In a classroom setting, you benefit from instructors who use visual aids such as film, video, maps and charts. You benefit from information obtained from the pictures and diagrams in textbooks. You tend to like to work in a quiet room and may not like to work in study groups. When trying to remember something, you can often visualize a picture of it in your mind. You may have an artistic side that enjoys activities having to The Auditory/ Verbal Learning Style You learn best when information is presented auditory in an oral language format. In a classroom setting, you benefit from listening to lecture and participating in group

discussions. You also benefit from obtaining information from audio tape. When trying to remember something, you can often "hear" the way someone told you the information, or the way you previously repeated it out loud. You learn best when interacting with others in a listening/speaking exchange

Field -dependent L2 learner: Global learner, socially oriented, extrincically motivated, more successful in inductive lessons. Field –independent L2 learner: analytic learner, tends to work independently, more successful in deductive lessons. Field Dependent Learner
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Experiences in a global fashion, adheres to structures Learns material with social content best Attends best to material relevant to own experience Requires externally defined goals and reinforcements Needs organization provided More affected by criticism Uses observational approach for concept attainment [learns best by using examples]

Field Dependent Teaching Styles
• • • • • •
Prefers teaching situations that allow interaction and discussion with students Uses questions to check on student learning following instruction Uses student-centered activities Viewed by students as teaching facts Provides less feedback, positive feedback Strong in establishing a warm and personal learning environment

Field Independent Learners
• • • • • • • • •
Perceives analytically Makes specific concept distinctions; little overlap Impersonal orientation May need explicit training in social skills Interested in new concepts for their own sake Has self-defined goals and reinforcement Can self-structure situations Less affected by criticism Uses hypothesis-testing approach to attain concepts

Field Independent Teaching Styles

Prefers engaging students by establishing routines in order to work through ideas

• • • • •

Uses questions to introduce topics and probe student answers Uses teacher-organized learning situations Viewed by students as encouraging to apply principles Gives corrective feedback using error analysis Strong in organizing and guiding student learning

Modality

Descriptors

Learn Best Through the Use of ...

Visual Learners (input)

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Learn by observation Can recall what they have seen Can follow written or drawn instructions Like to read Use written notes

• • • • • • • • •

Charts, graphs, diagrams, and flow charts Sight words Flashcards Visual similarities and differences Pictures and graphics Maps Silent reading Written instructions

Benefit by visualizing, watching TV/video/films

Computer assisted learning Discussion, dialog, debate Memorization Phonics Oral reading Hearing anecdotes or stories Listening to tapes or CDs Cooperartive learning groups

Auditory Learners (input) Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence

• • • • • • •

Prefer listening and taking notes Listen for patterns Consult peers to ascertain that they have the correct details Can recall what they have heard Can follow oral directions Repeat words aloud for memorization Use oral language effectively Are often physically adept Learn through experience and physical activity Benefit from demonstration

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Kinesthetic Learners (input)

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Learn from teaching others what they know

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Playing games Role playing Read body language/gestures Mime Drama

Learn or memorize while moving (pacing, stationary bike, finger or whole body games) Learning by doing "Hands-on" Creating maps Building models Art projects Using manipulatives Drawing, designing things

Tactile Learners (input)

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Learn by touching and manipulating objects Often learn inductively rather than deductively Tend toward psychomotor over abstract thinking Prefer personal connections to topics Follow directions they have written themselves / that they have rehearsed Benefit from demonstrations Can be impulsive Risk-takers Do not prefer lectures Prefer group work

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Writing / tracing

• Active • • • •

• • •

Prefer "doing, discussin, explaining" vs listening and watching Prefer active experimentation Like acting and role playing

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