There are a lot of factors that can be considered on how and how well students learn a second or foreign language. It may come from the teacher’s teaching techniques or methodology he or she employs, the condition of the environment where the learning experience takes place or it could be the amount of exposure of the learner to the target language.
But let us look language learning on the perspective of the students, their natural learning behavior and their conscious specific actions they use are also considered main factors in the learning English as a second or foreign language. These are what we call Learning Styles and Learning Strategies.
Learning Styles are the general approaches – for example, global or analytic, auditory or visual- that students use in acquiring a new language or in learning any other subject. These styles are the “over all patterns that give general direction to learning behavior” (Cornett 9). This may involve educating methods that students use in learning something. Another definition from Dunn and Griggs is this: “Learning style is the biologically and developmentally imposed set of characteristics that make the same teaching method wonderful for some and terrible for others (3).
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Ehrman and Oxford mentioned 9 major style dimensions that are relevant to L2 learning. These are learning styles that are strongly associated to L2 learning, the sensory preferences, personality types, desired degree of generality, and biological differences (311-327). These styles are not dichotomous in nature, meaning they are neither black nor white but, rather, they move along on a continuum or multiple intersecting continua. A person might be extroverted than introverted, o more closure-oriented than open, or equally visual and auditory but less kinesthetic and tactile.
Sensory preferences can be divided into 4: the visual, auditory, kinaesthetic (movement-oriented), and tactile (touch-oriented). Sensory preferences refer to the physical, perceptual learning channels with which the learner in comfortable. Visual students tend to read more and obtain information from visual stimulation. For these kinds of learners, lectures or discussions without visual backup brought confusion. In the process learning the second language may be a little bit harder on them. On the contrary, auditory students are comfortable without visual aids and can learn best and profit from discussions, lectures and conversations. They are active in classroom interactions and enjoy activities that involve communicating verbally, but might have some problems in written work. Kinesthetic and tactile learners are fond of movements and enjoy working on tangible objects, collages, and flashcards. Being stationary in one place is what they hate most, so they prefer to have frequent breaks and move around the classroom.
Reid pointed out that ESL students varied significantly, their sensory preferences differ from one another and with people from certain cultures differentially favoring the four different ways of learning. Asian students are often visual, Korean being the most visual. Hispanics, on the other hand, were mostly auditory, Japanese were very nonauditory. ESL students from a variety of cultures were tactile and kinaesthetic (1987).
Another aspect of style is the personality type which is composed of four elements: extroverted versus introverted; intuitive-random versus sensing-sequential; thinking versus feeling; and closure-oriented/ judging versus open/perceiving. Personality types or often called psychological type is a construct based on the work of psychologist Carl Jung.
Extroverted versus Introverted. By definition extroverts gain their greatest energy from the external world. They want interaction with people and many friendships, some are deep and some are not. In contrast, introverts derive their energy in the internal world, the seek seclusion and tend to have few friends which are often very deep.
Intuitive-Random versus Sensing-Sequential. Intuitive-random students think in abstract ways. They prefer to theorize, picture out in large-scale and learn on their own. On the other hand, sensing-sequential students are grounded here and now. They like facts rather than theories want guidance and specific instruction from the teacher (Oxford 360).
Thinking versus Feeling. Thinkers decide based primarily on logic, and when they do so, they consider a decision to be made. They tend to see the world in black and white and dislike fuzziness. Perhaps because people are so variable, they focus on tangible things, seeking truth and use of clear rules. At work, they are task-oriented, seek to create clear value. Interacting with them tends to brief and business-like. And sometimes, they may be seen as cold and heartless by feelers. Unlike thinkers, feelers decide based primarily through social considerations, listening to their heart and considering the feelings of others. They see life as a human existence and material things as being subservient to this. They value harmony and use tact in their interactions with othersAt work, they are sociable and people-oriented and make many decisions based on values (more than value).They may be seen as unreliable and emotional by thinkers (Thinking).
Closure-oriented/Judging versus Open/Perceiving. Closure-oriented students want to reach completion and judgement quickly and achieve clarity as fast as possible. These learners are quite serious and hard-working who prefer tasks with deadlines. As opposed to open learners, they want to be exposed into a continuous new perception and they learn less seriously and want to enjoy a good time learning L2. These kinds of learners want to absorb L2 information than hard effort. In terms of fluency, Open learners do better in developing their fluency than closure-oriented students (Erhman and Oxford 311-327).
Desired Degree of Generality
This aspect differentiates thelearner who focuses on the main idea or concentrates on details. Oxford pointed out that global or holistic students like socially interactive, communicative events in which they can emphasize the main idea and avoid grammatical intricacies and are comfortable even when not having all the information. Analytic students tend to concentrate on grammatical details and often avoid more free-flowing communicative activities. Because of their concern for precision, analytic learners typically do not take the risks necessary for guessing from context unless they are fairly sure of the accuracy of their guesses (361).
The students of L2 clearly has to make the most of their learning styles, but teachers must exposed students to activities beyond their comfort zone dictated by their natural style preferences. It is important to understand that the solution is to offer a variety of activities within a learner-centered, communicative approach.
Language learning entails a lot of variables and it is not only limited to Styles but also Strategies. Language learning strategies are defined as “specific actions, behaviours, steps, or techniques- such as seeking out conversation partners, or giving oneself encouragement to tackle a difficult language task — used by students to enhance their own learning” (Scarcella & Oxford 63). When the learner consciously chooses strategies that fit his or her learning style and the L2 task at hand, these strategies become a useful toolkit for active, conscious, and purposeful self-regulation of learning. Learning strategies can be classified into six groups: cognitive, metacognitive, memory-related, compensatory, affective, and social (Oxford 359).
A strategy is neither good nor bad, until the context of its use is taken in to consideration. A strategy is useful if: it well relates to the L2 task at hand, if the strategy fits to the learning style of the learner, and if the learner uses the strategy properly and relates it correctly to other learning strategies. If learning strategies are used in these manners, it “make learning easier, faster, more enjoyable, more self-directed, more effective, and more transferable to new situations” (Oxford, Strategies 8)
Learning styles is related to learning strategies in the idea that if the teachers help the students to “stretch” their learning style by using several strategies. They can utilize other strategies that are outside their primary style preference. If strategy instruction could be done, this “stretching” of the learning style is possible.
There are six major groups of L2 learning strategies identified by Oxford (Strategies). These are the cognitive, metacognitive, memory-related, compensatory, affective, and social learning strategies.
Cognitive strategies are one type of learning strategy that learners use in order to learn more successfully. These include repetition, organising new language, summarising meaning, guessing meaning from context, using imagery for memorisation. All of these strategies involve deliberate manipulation of language to improve learning. Classifications of learning strategies distinguish between cognitive strategies and two other types, metacognitive strategies (organising learning), and social/ affective strategies (which enable interaction). For example, a learner remembers new words by visualising them represented in a memorable or ridiculous situation. This makes it easier and faster to recall these words (Cognitive).
Metacognitive strategies, for example, identifying one’s own learning style preferences and needs, planning for an L2 task, gathering and organizing materials, arranging a study space and a schedule, monitoring mistakes, and evaluating task success, and evaluating the success of any type of learning strategy are employed for managing the learning process overall. Among native English speakers learning foreign languages the metacognitive strategies had a significant, positive, direct effect on cognitive strategy use, providing clear evidence that metacognitive strategy use has an executive function over cognitive strategy use in task completion.
Memory-related strategies help learners link one L2 item or concept with another but do not necessarily involve deep understanding. Various memory-related strategies enable learners to learn and retrieve information in an orderly string (e.g., acronyms), while other techniques create learning and retrieval via sounds (e.g., rhyming), images (e.g., a mental picture of the word itself or the meaning of the word), a combination of sounds and images (e.g., the keyword method), body movement (e.g., total physical response), mechanical means (e.g., flashcards), or location (e.g., on a page or blackboard). Memory-related strategies do not always positively relate to L2 proficiency. In fact, the use of memory strategies in a test-taking situation had a significant negative relationship to learners’ test performance in grammar and vocabulary. The probable reason for this is that memory strategies are often used for memorizing vocabulary and structures in initial stages of language learning, but that learners need such strategies much less when their knowledge of vocabulary and structures has become larger (Oxford 364).
Compensatory strategies, for example, guessing from the context in listening and reading; using synonyms and “talking around” the missing word to aid speaking and writing; and strictly for speaking, using gestures or pause words, help the learner make up for missing knowledge.
Affective strategies are learning strategies concerned with managing emotions, both negative and positive. The relationship between affective strategies and learning is not clear, but a positive affective environment helps learning in general. For example, lowering anxiety levels with relaxation techniques is one kind of affective strategy (Affective).
Social strategies (e.g., asking questions to get verification, asking for clarification of a confusing point, asking for help in doing a language task, talking with a native-speaking conversation partner, and exploring cultural and social norms) help the learner work with others and understand the target culture as well as the language (Oxford 365).
Fleming’s VAK/VARK Model
One of the most common and widely-used categorization of the various types of learning styles is Fleming’s VARK model (sometimes VAK) which expanded upon earlier Neuro-linguistic programming (VARK) model:
kinesthetic learners or tactile learners.
Fleming claimed that visual learners have a preference for seeing (think in pictures; visual aids such as overhead slides, diagrams, handouts, etc.). Auditory learners best learn through listening (lectures, discussions, tapes, etc.). Tactile/kinesthetic learners prefer to learn via experience-moving, touching, and doing (active exploration of the world; science projects; experiments, etc.). Its use in pedagogy allows teachers to prepare classes that address each of these areas. Students can also use the model to identify their preferred learning style and maximize their educational experience by focusing on what benefits them the most (Learning Styles).
Carl Jung’s Theory of Personality
One learning style theory is based on the work of analytical psychologist Carl Jung, who developed a theory of psychological types designed to categorize people in terms of various personality patterns. Jung’s theory focuses on four basic psychological functions:
Extroversion vs. Introversion
Sensation vs. Intuition
Thinking vs. Feeling
Judging vs. Perceiving
The first component of the Jungian learning style dimensions indicates how learners interact with the outside world. Extroverted learners enjoy generating energy and ideas from other people. They prefer socializing and working in groups.
While introverted learners are still sociable, they prefer to solve problems on their own. Introverted learners enjoy generating energy and ideas from internal sources, such as brainstorming, personal reflection and theoretical exploration. These learners prefer to think about things before attempting to try a new skill.
Sensing learners are focused on aspects of the physical environment. Jung described these individuals as being interested in the external world. They tend to be realistic and practical, preferring to rely on information gained through experience. While people with a sensing learning style enjoy order and routine, they also tend to be very quick to adapt to changing environments and situations.
Intuitive learners tend to focus more on the world of possibility. Unlike sensing learners who are interested in the here and now, intuitive learners enjoy considering ideas, possibilities and potential outcomes. These learners like abstract thought, daydreaming and imagining the future.
Individuals with a thinking learning style tend to focus more on the structure and function of information and objects. Thinking learners utilize rationality and logic when dealing with problems and decisions. These learners often base decisions on personal ideas of right, wrong, fairness and justice.
People with a feeling style manage information based on the initial emotions and feelings it generates. Individuals with this learning style are interested in personal relationships, feelings and social harmony.
Perceiving learners tend to make decisions impulsively in response to new information and changing situations. However, these learners tend to focus more on indulging their curiosity rather than making decisions. Unlike judging learners who tend not to change their minds, perceiving learners prefer to keep their options open (Cherry).
Oxford’s Classification of Language Learning Strategies
Oxford prefers to use the word ‘system’ since it “implies a clear set of hierarchical relationships” (239) and terms it a New System of Language Learning Strategies. She claims that her system is more comprehensible, detailed and more systematic in “linking individual strategies, as well as strategy groups, with each of the four language skills. Oxford divides language learning strategies into two main classes: direct and indirect, further subdivided into six groups:
Memory – help students store and retrieve information;
Cognitive – enable learners to understand and produce new language by many different means;
Compensation – allow learners to use the language despite their often large gaps in knowledge;
Metacognitive – allow learners to control their own cognition;
Affective – help to regulate emotions, motivations and attitudes;
Social strategies – involve learning by interaction with others
These are further subdivided into a total of 19 strategy sets and the whole strategy system incorporates 62 strategies.
This purpose of this study is to find out the relationship between language learning styles and learning strategies of freshman students of Bachelor of Arts in English of Polytechnic University of the Philippines. The framework that follows explains the strategy to be taken by the researcher.
Learning Styles of the students
Learning strategies of the students
The Relationship between Language Learning Styles and Learning Strategies of Freshman Students of Bachelor of Arts in English of Polytechnic University of the Philippines
Learning Style Survey
Strategy Inventory for Language Learning
Freshman Bachelor of Arts in English Students
Stepwise multiple regression
The input box contains the statement of the problem of the research that will be answered by the results of the study. The process box contains the research methodology that will be employed by the researcher. The descriptive method will be the research design of the study. The researcher will use the Learning Style Survey to measure the learning styles of the respondents and the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning will be used to measure the learning strategies employed by the students. The stepwise multiple regression will be the statistical treatment for the data that will be gathered. The output box contains the analysis of the test results and the interpretation if there is a relationship between the learning styles and language learning strategies used by the said respondents.
Statement of the Problem
This study aims to find out the relationship between language learning styles and learning strategies of freshman students of Bachelor of Arts in English of Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
Specifically, this study answers the following research questions:
What are the language learning styles of the freshmen AB English students?
What are the learning strategies employed by the freshmen AB English students?
Is there a significant relationship between language learning style of the students and the learning strategies they use?
Significance of the Results of the Study
The significance of the results of the study to students is that they will have better understanding that they have these natural learning styles and familiarity with these learning styles will give them an advantage in using appropriate learning strategies that would greatly help them in learning a second language.
To teachers, the results of the study will help them to have better understanding of the learning styles and strategies of the students. It may also give them knowledge that their method of instruction may be biased on their own learning style so; they can assess the method and attune L2 instruction and strategy instruction to learner’s style needs.
To future researchers, they can conduct similar studies in their own institution and location. If significant numbers of researches are done to Filipino students, we can understand how Filipino students differ from other nationalities in their way of learning especially in L2 learning.
Scope and Limitations
This study aims to find out the relationship between language learning styles and learning strategies of freshman students of Bachelor of Arts in English of Polytechnic University of the Philippines. Only 175 freshman students of the AB English program were involved. Non-AB English students were not involved in the study.
Definition of Terms
Learning styles. Learning styles are various approaches or ways of learning. They involve educating methods, particular to an individual that are presumed to allow that individual to learn best. Most people prefer an identifiable method of interacting with, taking in, and processing stimuli or information (Learning Styles).
Learning strategies. Learning strategies are processes which are consciously selected by learners and which may result in action taken to enhance the learning or use of a second or foreign language, through the storage, retention, recall and application of information about the language (Cohen).
Review of Related Literature and Studies
This chapter discusses the literature and research work found relevant to the topic at hand. It is divided into related literature and studies.
Lie Jie and Qin Xiaoqin in their research entitled “Language Learning Styles and Learning Strategies of Tertiary-Level English Learners in China” showed 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 learning strategies. Thus it turns out to be the most influential learning 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 learning styles may influence learners’ language learning outcomes through their relationship with learning strategies. The pedagogical implications of these findings are discussed, as are suggestions for future research.
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Christine C.M. Goh and Kwah Poh Foong in their article, “Chinese ESL Students’ Learning Strategies: A Look at Frequency, Proficiency and Gender” reports on a study of language learning strategies used by 175 ESL students from the People’s Republic of China. The aims of the study were to survey the frequency of strategy use and to determine how it is influenced by the learners’ proficiency level and gender. The SILL questionnaire (Strategies Inventory of Language Learning) by Oxford (1990) was administered. It consists of 6 categories: memory, cognitive, compensation, metacognitive, affective, and social. Results from the survey indicated that metacognitive strategies were most frequently used, while memory strategies were least frequently used Statistical analysis showed that significant differences were to be found in the use of cognitive and compensation strategies among learners at three proficiency levels. Gender also played a role in influencing the kids of strategy used; female students were found to use compensation and affective strategies significantly more often than male students. Findings from this study could help teachers identify appropriate strategies to facilitate the learning of a second language by Chinese learners.
Felicia Lincoln and Barbara Rademacher in their study “Learning Styles of ESL Students in Community Colleges” investigated the learning styles of adult English as a second language (ESL) students in Northwest Arkansas. Learning style differences by age, gender, and country of origin were explored. A total of 69 northwest Arkansas adult ESL students attending 7 adult-education centers were administered the VARK Learning Styles Questionnaire. Most participants came from Mexico and El Salvador, their ages ranged from 23 to 45, and females were an average of 10 years older than males. Note taking was chosen by 1/3 of participants as their favorite learning style, 20% favored aural modes, 15% favored kinesthetic, 4% favored visual, and 15% chose combinations of learning styles. Females chose auditory and multimodal learning styles, while males favored note taking. Students differed by level of English proficiency, beginning-intermediate favouring aural learning styles more than advanced students. ANOVA results indicated that participants were significantly less visual and more read-write than either aural or kinesthetic, but males and females differed significantly in their choice of aural learning. Hispanic males chose note taking and kinesthetic learning styles significantly more than visual or auditory modes of learning. Hispanic females chose note taking, aural, and kinaesthetic learning styles significantly more than visual. Asian males favoured note taking and aural learning. Correlation was found between age and learning styles with subgroups exhibiting a negative correlation between age and kinesthetic learning, with Mexican males and females exhibiting the strongest negative correlation. Males showed a low positive correlation between age and note taking.
Norman Fewell in his study: “Language Learning Strategies and English Language Proficiency: An Investigation of Japanese EFL University Students” studied language learning strategy (LLS) utilization by Japanese college EFL students. A comparison of differences in LLS utilization and English language proficiency levels revealed that the selection of LLS chosen may have been a critical source in determining language learning success or failure. It concluded that noticeable similarities of patterns in the utilization of language learner strategies shared by high proficiency learners and the noted distinctions shared by low proficiency learners demonstrate the importance of LLS as an influential variable related in some degree to eventual success or failure in language learning. As numerous researchers focus their attention to language learner tendencies in adopting LLS, and continue to examine and debate the extent of influence from a number of internal and external variables, a direct and crucial factor may continue to be overlooked, the responsibility of those in providing the language learner with the knowledge to make informed choices. Despite the widespread availability of LLS literature and over a quarter century of research devoted to its understanding, deficiencies still remain in some EFL environments due to the lack of information made available to the language learner. The urgency of raising awareness of LLS for both learners and educators should be recognized. Dependency on rote learning may continue to persist due to institutional constraints in emphasizing standardized testing. Educators should avoid encouraging dependency on rote learning for its short-term effectiveness in test preparation. Instead, consideration for long-term goals of the language learner should be the primary objective and providing language learners with the information about the variety of helpful LLS is vital for fulfilling the ultimate objective of improved TL proficiency.
This paper aims to find the relationship between learning styles and learning strategies. For this purpose, a quantitative study was carried out to obtain an overall idea about the subjects’ learning styles and learning strategies.
Then, we will further analyze the relationship between the subjects’ learning styles and learning strategies.
The target population is 175 freshmen Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of Languages and Linguistics of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. This target population is considered small; hence the researcher opted to include all 175 students in the research as respondents.
Measure of Learning Styles: Learning Style Survey
Learning Style Survey will be employed is constructed by Cohen, with Rebecca Oxford and Julie Chi. It was developed with an interest in those style dimensions that seem to have the most relevance to language learning. The format of the survey and a number of the dimensions and items are drawn from Oxford’s Style Analysis Survey (1995).
Measure of Learning Strategies: Strategy Inventory for Language Learning
Oxford’s Strategy Inventory for Language Learning is employed to measure subjects’ learning strategies. It contains 50 items which are divided into 6 kinds of learning strategies, namely memory strategy, cognitive strategy, compensation strategy, metacognitive strategy, affective strategy and social strategy. For each statement of the 50 items, there are five choices ranging from “never or almost never” to “always or almost always”.
Data Gathering Procedure
The respondents will answer the two questionnaires on learning styles and learning strategies in class. Before the participants respond to the questionnaires, the researcher will give them detailed instructions and they will be told that they could ask questions in the process if there is anything they did not understand. Furthermore, the participants were informed that they could leave the classroom at any time they like.
The statistical procedure of stepwise multiple regression was the main analysis for testing the relationship between cognitive styles and learning strategies.
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