Background of the Study
In English 'learning process, students' awareness of their learning styles is iffiportant for several reasons. First is because there are differences in ways of students learn which is called as learning styles. Second is that learning styles is an important factor in English learning due to the activation of students' senses such as eyes (seeing), ears (hearing) hands (touching) and body (touching and moving) which one of them is more dominant in each individual. Therefore, students' awareness of own learning styles can also help them to understand their own weaknesses and strengths in learning process. In other words, they will know what kind of learning activities make understand lesson easier or vise versa. Third is because students' awareness of own learning styles can help them match their learning styles with appropriate learning strategies in English learning in order to achieve effective learning. This matching is indeed very crucial for students because it can help to create interesting and motivational learning process. Based on the above reasons, it can be said that students' awareness of their own leaning styles is very important as it can increase students' learning achievement in English learning.
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Teaching English to non English students can be difficult due to students' limited interaction to the English in their daily life Therefore, to find out most appropriate teaching and learning styles in English learning, teachers should have the knowledge of their students' styles in learning.
Teachers who know their students' preferred learning styles can match their teaching styles with students learning styles. This is very important as it effect greatly to the effectiveness of the teaching and learning process. Students' preferred learning styles can help teachers to prepare lesson plan and decide learning activities and teaching strategies based on consideration of variety of their students' learning styles in a particular classroom. Teachers' awareness of their students' learning styles, therefore, can be an effective base in order to create effective, motivating and interesting learning environment for students.
In short, the above explanation shows the importance of conducting a study on students' preferred learning styles in learning English. The study is important in order to get intended data regarding kind of learning styles preferred by students in their learning in English lessons.
2. Problem Statement
Based on the above explanations about learning styles, problem
statement of this study is stated as follow:
What are year 2 students of SMPN 27 Bekasi learning styles preferences in English learning?
3. Method of the Study
Considering the research question/problem, this study has been designed to be a descriptive qualitative one. A survey has been employed as the technique for collecting the required data. A set of questionnaire has been used with some SMPN students. An interview was also done to some SMPN students. The instruments were aimed at obtaining data about students' learning styes preferences in English learning.
4. Purpose of the Study
This study mainly aims at investigating learning styles in English learning preferred by year 2 students of SMPN 27 Bekasi. The learning styles are classified into the four sensory modalities (visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic). This study focuses on collecting data about students' preferred learning style in English lesson.
5. Benefit of the Study
Information about learning styles which preferred by year 2 students of SMPN 27 Bekasi will be useful for teachers of SvWN 27 Bekasi to help them to promote appropnate interesting, effective and motivating learnIng environment which are responsive to stuGents neeas
because it is based on variety of students' learning styles prefererees in their classes. In practice, teachers of year 2 students of SMPN 27 Bekasi can create learning activities in their lesson plans based on infonnation about students' preferred learning styles. Moreover, year 2 students of SMPN 27 Bekasi may also benefit from the result of this study as they can
find out theit strengths and weaknesses in learning so that they can find
ways to learn best in any kind of learning situations.
Finally, it is hoped that by using the information about learning styles preferences of students, both students and teachers can have an effective relationship in teaching and learning process as they can cooperate to achieve effective learning based on students' preferred learning styles.
Learning Styles in English Learning
1.1. Learning Styles
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The term "learning style" was defined in many different ways. Kinsella (1995) described a learning style as an individual's natural, habitual, and preferred ways of absorbing, processing, and retaining new information and skills which persist regardless of teaching methods or content area (p.171). In another way, Ellis (1985, cited in Vester, 2006) suggests a learning style as the more or less consistent way in which a person perceives, conceptualizes, organizes and recalls information (available: http://TEC.candem.rutgers.edu JALT). In addition, Jester and Miller (2000) stated that ones learning styles are the way they prefer to learn. It does not have anything to do with how intelligent they are or what skills they have learned. It has to do with how the brain works most efficiently to learn new information. (available:
http/www.metamath.com/isweb/dvclearn .htm). Then, learning styles, for the purpose of this study can be defined as a natural way in which a person preferred to learn best. It can be more consistent in adults and less consistent in children due to the effect of some factors. Learning styles are ways of learning which include the process of absorbing and perceiving,
processing (conceptualized aid organized), and retaining or recall nw information and skills. Learning styles are not affected by how intelligent the person is, however, it is about how someone's brain can work dominantly and most effectively and efficiently when learning new information or skills.
The original works concerning the involvement of senses which occur in learning process was developed by John Grindler and Richard Bandler in 1970 from the filed of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP). There are four principles of Neurolinguistic Programmming which are stated as follows (O'Connor and McDermott 1996; Revell and Norman 1997):
1. Outcomes: the goals or ends. NLP claims that knowing precisely what you want helps you achieve it. This principle can be expressed as "know what you want."
2. Rapport: a factor that is essential for effective communication- maximizing similarities and minimizing differences between people at a non conscious level. This principle can be expressed as "establish rapport with yourself and then with others."
3. Sensoiy acuity: noticing what another person is communicating, consciously and nonverbally. This can be expressed as "Use your senses. Look at, listen to and feel what is actually happening,"
4. Flexibility: doing things differently if what you are doing is not
working: having a range of skills to do something different. This can
be expressed as "Keep changing what you do until you get what you want.
Types of learning styles used in this study were drawn from principle 3. The expression "Use your senses such as "look at" was meant as visual (seeing), "listen to" was meant as auditory (hearing) and "feel" what is actually happening meant as tactile and kinesthetic (touch and move)."
hi language learning, the awareness of the activation of senses has been developed by Dunn, Dunn and Prices (1975). This model is categorized into four sensory modalities: (1) visual (seeing), (2) auditory (hearing), tactile (touching or hands-on activities) and (4) kinesthetic (whole body movements) which classified under physiological stimuli in learning. Visual learners learn best though their eyes while auditory learners learn best when they hear them. Tactile learners learn though their hands and kinesthetic learners learn best through their body movements (hands and body).
1.2. The Importance of Students' Awareness of Their Preferred Learning Styles
When learning English, students also need to be aware of their preferred learning styles. Knowledge of learning styles preferred by their own can help them to learn English easier. Students who realize their preferred learning styles will know their own strengths and weaknesses in
learning. Then, they' will be able to learn effectively. Students who are aware of their learning styles will fell more comfortable and motivated in learning through their preferred styles and may try to other styles in order to overcome their weaknesses. They can try other styles of learning in order to develop their learning styles. However, in order to be aware of their own learning style preferences, firstly their teacher should aware of his/her students learning styles preferences. Teacher needs to introduce the existence of individual learning styles preferences to his/her students. It is hoped, by doing so, teachers can raise students' awareness of their own learning styles preferences. Kang (2005) suggests that teacher should help students discover their own learning preferences and provide constructive ideas about the advantages and disadvantages of various styles. Also, teachers should respect the learning styles preferences and encourages their development, while at the same time creating opportunities from experiment with different ways of learning. (p.7) Fro the above explanations, it can be concluded that, students can be aware of their own preferred learning styles through teachers' awareness of his/her students preferred learning styles
1.3. Learning Styles-Based English Learning
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To cater with students' learning styles. teacher can match learning
activities with learning styles preferences characteristics. For example, in reading skill, visuat students who learn best from what they see can use
high light to help them to read main idea in each paragraph or they may use pictures as learning aids in learning all language skills. Auditory learners can learn language skills if there is much explanation and (or) oral instruction from teacher. Tactile learners can use method such as Total Physical Response or they may use games on the board or drawing. Kinesthetic learners need to go out of classroom to learn speaking and writing skill in English learning based on students' modality strengths are aimed at facilitating effective and interesting learning environment for students. In addition, examples of English learning based on learning
styles are as follows (available:
I. In reading and writing, visual learners may learn new vocabulary by rewriting them in notebook and divided them into topic areas, so they can see and read them. In reading, use colors to highlight the main ideas in textbook. To strengthen listening skill, when learning dialogues and new vocabulary, try to use both text book cassette tape at the same time and then just listen to the tape.
2. In listening and speaking, auditory learners may learn dialogues and drills by reciting them out loud or taping them and play them back. In
ting and reading, teachers can play soft music to accompany them.
3. in listening and reading, tactile and kinesthetic students can use whilelistening and reading activities. For example, teachers can ask students
to fill in a tableS while listening to a talk, or to label a diagram while
reading In speaking, students can have demonstration so that at the same time they can speak and used their hands. In writing, they can rewrite the paragraph.
The suggestions of learning styles-based English learning above
are designed to match with each sensory perception. The aims of them are to create effective language learning.
2. Characteristics of Junior High School Students.
In general, junior high school students are teenagers which aged between 12-15 years pld. When they were at elementary level, they have ability to engage in many activities which required body activation (games, play, dance, ete). Beyond elementary levels, however, they have more abilities which developed due to their age. In learning, these students have characteristic such as they begin to have the ability to listen to teachers and become more comprehend to teachers' instruction and explanation. Price (1980, cited in Kinsella,1995) suggest that apparently, the ability to remember three-quarters of what students' hear in a 50- minute period does not develop among many young learners before the 6th grade, and among under achievers not until high school and sometimes not at all (p.173). Therefore, in general. students at secondary levels have the ability to recall what they hear. This is the ability that they do not have at elementary levels.
Based on Bruner's theories of learning, stated from age 8 years old, children have some abilities. On Bruner's stages, students above 8 year old have the ability to understand and to use symbols to represent people, places, and things (http://tiger.towson.edu/jclingl/Learningtheor.htm). At junior high school, these abilities are still eist. They can be seen in form of visual ability.
In conclusion, junior high school students have abilities which they have had since they were at the elementary levels. In addition, they also have some other abilities i.e. the ability to recall and comprehend what they hear. All abilities above are integrated at the level of junior high
3. Learning Styles and Junior High School Students
In general, Junior high students have develop all four sensory modalities at the time they start grade 7. The four modalities develop in sequence. When they were at first level of elementary school, they mostly learn best through tactile and kinesthetic learning styles. At the second grade, they start to develop visual learning styles. Finally at the sixth grade of elementary school, most students have developed the ability to comprehend lessons through their hearing (auditory). Price (1980, cited in Kinsella,1995) stated that modality sfrenh evolve and generally become more integrated th age. Children are essentially more tactual and kinesthetic in the primary grades but with time their preferences evolve
from psychomotor (learning through touching and experimenting) to visual at approximately second grade and finally auditory at the end of elementary school. Apparently, the ability to remember three-quarters of what students' hear in a 50-minute period does not develop among many young learners before the 6 grade, and among under achievers not until high school and sometimes not at all (p.173). In conclusion, kinesthetic, tactile, visual and auditory learning styles have developed completely at junior high school. Although, for some underachievers, auditory learning style does not develop at junior high school levels. For them, the ability to learn through their hearing seems to be extended or may not be developed even until they finish high school.
This study focuses on students' preferred learning styles in English learning. it aims at finding answers to the following research questions:
What are year 2 students of SMPN 27 Bekasi preferred learning styles in English
To find answer to the questions, this descriptive qualitative study employed a survey as the technique of data collection.
1. Population and Sample
Population of this study covers all year 2 students of SMPN 27
Bekasi. 92 year 2 students from two classes (VlI1-l and VTIU-2) in SMP (c
27 Bekasi were involved as samples of this study.
2. Time and Place of The Study
The research was conducted on 24 November 2006 until 15 December 2006 at SMPN 27 Bekasi.
3. Data Collection
For data collection purposes, a set of questionnaire has been developed with reference to Learning Style Analysis, Junior Version taken from website http://www.creativelearning.com. In addition, interviews were also done to six students from class VIII1 and Vffl-2.
The questionnaire has two parts. Part I, consists of three questions aims at eliciting information on respondents' background i.e;. (1) name (2) age and (3) level of education and name of class. Part II consists of twenty questions about learning styles in four language skill. Questions number I to 5 represented visual learning style, number 6 to 10 are for auditory learning style while number 11 to 15 are for tactile learning style and the last five questions are for kinesthetic learning style.
The questionnaire has been designed in Indonesian to avoid respondents' misunderstanding questions related to concept which is possible due to the limited exposures to English in their everyday learning. It is expected that this strategy will increase the reliability of the obtained responses.
The ninety two copies of questionnaires which were distributed to respondents through their teacher were all returned to the researcher. Based on the result, some interesting and useful data can be observed.
Interview to stiidents were also done in order to find out students' learning styles preferences in four language skills in English learning. They were asked twenty questions which were same as the questions on the quesiioniaire. Based on the interview, some interesting findings were also can be observed.
3. Data Analysis
Simple frequency analysis has been employed to process data. Obtained data was tabulated and percentage value of each category was calculated. The results were then analyzed and interpreted with respect to the research questions.
The following are numbers of specific steps of the analysis:
1. Distributing questionnaires to students.
2. Interviewing the students.
3. Tabulating numbers of responses from questionnaire and interview. Then, calculating them in percentage value.
4. Presenting the percentage values in form of tables.
5. Synchronized the result of each percentage value.
6. Describing students' learning styles preferences qualitatively.