Language Learning Styles and Strategies: An Overview
Added on -2019-09-16
This paper by Rebecca L. Oxford, Ph.D. presents an overview of various factors that affect language learning styles and strategies, including sensory preferences, personality types, desired degree of generality, biological differences, and more. The paper emphasizes the importance of finding harmony between the students' preferences and the instructional methodology in order to achieve better learning outcomes and lower levels of anxiety. The paper also discusses various learning styles and strategies and how they can be assessed.
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4LANGUAGELEARNINGSTYLESANDSTRATEGIES:ANOVERVIEWRebeccaL. Oxford, Ph.D.ABSTRACTThe paper presents various researches performed by the author from various parts of world on the various factors that affect the language learning styles like the general approaches towards learning any language and learning strategies where the specific behavior or thoughts of the learners are utilized for enhancing the language learning. The ability of the student towards learning in the particular instructional framework is seen to be influenced by these factors. INTRODUCTION The critical factors that are seen to determine how and how well the students are able to learn the foreign or the second language influence the languagelearningstylesand strategies. When a language is the primary source of communication and an abundant input is seen to exist in that particular language, a second language is used in that particular setting. Whereas, the settings where input in a certain language is restricted and not used as a primary means of conveying our thoughts, a foreign language is used. Therefore, the study uses the term “L2” inorder to refer to the foreign or the second language. The readers of the study would use English as their foreign or second language (EFL or ESL) and almost every chapter present inthis study was conducted either in EFL or ESL settings.Some of the studies used while conducting this paper was seen to include the native English speakers who learnt Japanese, German, French and other foreign language. All the styles and strategies that have been mentioned in the study can be used irrespective of the first language.The general approaches like the auditory or visual, global or analytic etc. that can be used by
4the student in order to acquire a new language or any other subjects are termed as the learningstyles. Cornett (1983, p. 9) has defined these styles as the overall patterns which provide a general direction towards the learning behavior. Similarly, Dunn&Griggs (1988,p. 3, has suggested that learning style can be termed as the biologically and developmentally imposed set of characteristics which are helpful in making the method of teaching a wonderful experience for many whereas also accounts for making it terrible for others. The paper will review various aspects related to the learning styles like desired degree of generality, sensory preferences, biological differences and personality styles.Whereas the specific behaviour, actions, techniques or steps like giving oneself an encouragementfor tackling any difficult task related to language which is used by the students for enhancing theirown learning is termed as the language strategies(Scarcella&Oxford, 1992, p.63). The strategies must be fit into the learning styles of the learners and chosen consciously by them. Whereas for the L2 task, these strategies would be considered as a useful toolkit for conscious, active and purposeful self-regulation of learning. There are six categories of the learning strategies ranging from cognitive, memory-related, metacognitive, affective, compensatory, and social. All these strategies are discussed thoroughly in the paper. As this particular section provides thorough help to the instructional methodology book therefore is highlights the learningstrategies and styles of the students and how it can perform functions with the given instructionalmethodology. This paper emphasizes on the learning styles and strategies of the students who can work with the instructional methodology and even contradict to emphasizethat learningstyles and strategies ofindividual students can work togetherwith – or conflict with – agiveninstructional methodology. In case a harmony was found between the students in terms of their preferences and learning styles and the instructional methodology and material is combinedIfthereis harmonybetween(a)the student (in terms ofstyleand strategypreferences)and (b)thecombination ofinstructional material and its methodology, this will assist in helping the
4students to perform well and to experience lower level of anxiety. In case of any discrepancies or clashes between (a) and (b), then the students are seen to perform with a poor outcome and experience lower level of confidence with high stress and anxiety. This might be harmful for the relationship between teacher and students leading to increased conflicts. The students mightbe give an outright rejection towards the methodology of the teacher and the subject matter. The next part of the study will discuss various other learning styles.Learning StylesThere are 9 major style dimensions provided by Ehrman and Oxford (1990) which are relevant to the L2 learning. However, various other learning styles aspects are also seen to be highly influential. The chapter presented will discuss four primary learning styles which will strongly be associated with the L2 learning namely, personality types, sensory preferences, desired degree of generality, and biological differences.According to various studies, the learning styles will not be dichotomous in nature (black or white, present or absent). These learning styles are operated on the continuum or intersecting and multiple continua. This can be explained by giving an example of an individual who is more extraverted as compared to introverted, or equally visual and auditory and/or more closure-oriented than open, but might have lesser tactile and kinesthetic involvement. (Prabhu, N. S., 1987).Sensory PreferencesThe sensory preferences encompasses four main arenas namely, auditory, visual, kinesthetic (movement-oriented), and tactile (touch-oriented). These preferences are referred to as the perceptual, physical learning channels and create a comfortable environment for the students. Thevisual students would enjoy the process of reading and can obtain a large amount of information on visual simulation. It has been identified that the learning procedure without any oral direction
4or conversation might become highly confusing and give zero result for these students. Whereas the auditory students are seen to find learning comfortable even without the visual input. These kind of students are able to enjoy and even profit from the unembellished conversation, lectures and oral directions. These students enjoy the classroom interactions and similar activities along with engaging in the role-play. Whereas, a large amount of movement and enjoyment with the collage, tangible objects and flashcard is seen with the kinesthetic and tactile students. These students are seen to take considerable amount of breaks and move from one place to another and cannot sit at their desk for a long period of time.It was demonstrated by Reid (1987) that all the ESL students have varying degree of sensory preferences, and some people from particular culture are seen to favour various modalities towards the learning procedure. This can be explained by giving the example of students coming from Asian culture and were seen to be highly visual and amongst them the Koreans were the most visual of all. Various studies like Reid explained that Hispanic learners are highly auditory in nature and it was also observed by Reid that Japanese are highly non-auditory in nature. The ESL students coming from various cultures were observed to be highly tactile and kinesthetic in their sensory preferences (Reid, 1995).Personality TypesPersonality style is another style which consists of four important strands namely; intuitive-random vs. sensing-sequential; thinking vs. feeling; extraverted vs. introverted; and closure-oriented/judging vs. open/perceiving. The personality type is also known as psychological type is basically a construct on the basis of work presented by psychologist Carl Jung. A considerable relationship was found between the L2 proficiency and personality type in the native-English-speaking learners of foreign languages (Ehrman, 1989; Oxford, 1990).
5Extraverted vs. Introverted. The extraverts are seen to gain their energy from the external world and interact with the people on daily basis. These people tend to have many friends whereas the introverts are seen to derive their energy from internal world, love seeking solitude and have fewer friends. Only a teacher can make these two work together. In the L2 classroom, the teachers can keep the enthusiasm of extraverts to a manageable level by enforcing the time limits. The introverts are provided with the opportunity of participating with the extraverts when the person in charge is rotated shift wise.Intuitive-Random vs. Sensing-SequentialThe intuitive-random students are seen to think in a futuristic, abstract, large scale and non-sequential manner. These kind of people believe in creating new possibilities and theories which have sudden insights and even prefer guiding people about their learning. Contrastingly, the sensing-sequential learners are seen to be highly grounded and even like facts instead of focusingon theories, they always look for consistency and want specific instructions and guidance from the teacher. In order to teacher both the sensing-sequential and intuitive-random learners is to provide them with plethora of choices and offer them variety. This can be done by having an organized structure for the sensing-sequential learners and providing enrichment activities and multiple options for the intuitive-random students.Closure-oriented/Judging vs. Open/PerceivingThe closure-oriented students are seen to reach towards the judgment and completion as soon as possible and want to clarify doubts as soon as possible. These types of learners are believed to behighly serious and hardworking and like to be given work with strict deadlines and written information. But according to the Ehrman & Oxford (1989), their desire towards the closure is seen to be hampered by the development of their fluency. Whereas in terms of the perceiving and
5open learners, they are open towards the ideas of new perceptions. These learners are seen to takethe L2 learning less seriously and take all their work tasks as game that has to be enjoyed instead of considering as the set of tasks. These learners are seen to dislike their deadlines and always look towards having a good time. These type of learners are seem to soak up the information provided to then by osmosis instead of working towards hard efforts. While developing the fluency, the open learners are seen to perform better as compared to the closure-oriented learners (Ehrman & Oxford, 1989) however, these students are always at the disadvantage when taught in the traditional classroom setting. In the L2 classroom, a good balance must be required for the closure-oriented and open learners. The closure oriented are highly task-driven in nature whereas the latter one know how to have fun. As these learners can benefit from each other when collaborated together, the skilled L2 teachers must create cooperative groups.Thinking vs. FeelingThe thinking learners are highly rigid and are constantly oriented to the stark truth even when their decision is seen to hurt the feelings of others. These people are viewed as highly competent and do not even offer any kind of praise easily. These type of learners also seen detached sometimes. Contrastingly, the other ones, the feelings learners are seen to value other individual in the best way possible. These type of learners are empathetic and compassionate towards the words and behavior of people and also say things to which are required to smooth over various other difficult situations. These people want to be respected for the contributions made by them and are often seen to wear their heart on their sleeves. These types of people must be paired up with the thinking learners so as to lower down their emotional expression while performing their tasks and the thinking learners might learn to show their feelings.
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