Since a young boy, I have always listened to my mother’s advice or orders. She is the one who taught me at home, commanded me to do things, and especially punished me when I did something wrong, or forgot doing what she had told me to do. When punishing me, she always said, “Next time, listen to me carefully”. Therefore, to avoid the punishment, I always tried to listen to her attentively and to do what she asked me to do, and that affects my learning style today, in particular one in learning English. As I have recognized, I learn most by carefully listening to the lectures before I start doing things. But that is not the only learning style of mine. Trying to think hard to find the logical reasons is also another way that makes me learn most. In other words, my learning styles are “Abstract Conceptualization” and “Reflective Observation”, the combination of which is called “Assimilator” (Kolb, 1985). However, it depends on subject matters. For some particular learning activities, the most effective way to get the knowledge for me is to do and practice them, which Kolb (1985) refers to “Active Experimentation”.
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In terms of learning English, I will talk about my experience at Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL). Since the first year, when learning the content-based subjects, such as Introduction to Environment, Introduction to Sociology, Global Studies, and Literature studies, I have always tried to carefully listen to the lectures, and take some notes since they are always been the most effective for me to understand the lessons. In addition, when reading the textbooks, for the exam in particular, I usually do not try to memorize things, but to think critically to figure out the logical reasons or ways to explain them although they are the key terms. Trying to reason something or find ways to explain it always makes me understand the lesson more deeply and remember it longer. Memorization usually does not work with me.
Some students may learn most by actually doing or experimenting thing right away, but I am not that kind. I like to study the whole thing, or observe people doing things first before I start doing myself. In learning grammar in Core English, for instance, I like deductive method by starting to study the rules and the usages of the grammar points before doing the exercises. At the same time, I also use inductive method whenever possible to create my own theories to understand or memorize the grammar points. For example, when learning the adjectives order, “opinion + size + quality/character + age + shape + color + participles + origin + material + type + purpose” (Foley & Hall, 2003, p. 219), I try to create my own ways to memorize the order, by taking the initial(s) of each word, and cluster them. It becomes OS QASh CPOM TY. These clusters are those that are familiar with me, and therefore make me remember them easily (though the others may find them even more complicated than the originals).
However, not all the skills do I learn these ways. For instance, learning to improve the four macro skills – listening, reading, speaking, and writing, I have only one key word, “practice”. The more I practice these skills, the more I learn. To practice the skills, I also try to relate them to my hobby. For example, I like watching cartoons, so I always take this hobby to improve my listening skill. I watch mostly hilarious cartoons dubbed in English, which helps me not only relax but also improve the listening skill subconsciously. I also like reading novels, and short stories in English, especially the detective ones, and that helps me improve my reading skill. For speaking skill, I always try to practice speaking whenever possible. I always take opportunity to speak English to my friends, in particular Luy Vannda (Joe), who always reminds me to use English instead of Khmer when making a conversation. To improve writing skills, I just simply try hard to finish assignment or journals assigned by the lecturers. I do not seem to care much about finding other activities to improve this skill, but I always put much effort on writing each pieces. To me, trying to get things done like this helps me improve my writing skill a lot.
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In short, I called myself “assimilator”, for I learn most by observing, thinking critically, and forming my own ways of understanding things. I like to synthesize various ideas and observation into an integrated whole before I actually start doing things myself. I try to find logical and precise ways or theories to understand things. If I cannot find one, I am more unlikely to understand the lesson. Nevertheless, I do not apply this learning style to all types of learning skills. For some skills, like the four macro skills, I simply try to practice them as much as possible.
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