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MARA University of Technology

Faculty of Education

EDU 704- PSYCHO-SOCIOLOGY FOR PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES

Lecturer: P.M. DR. ABU BAKAR HJ IBRAHIM

TERM PAPER:

ATTUNNING YOUR TEACHING TOWARDS LANGUAGE LEARNING

STYLES AND LEARNING STRATEGIES.

Name: WAN RAIHAN BINTI WAN SHAAIDI

ID no: 2010416998

email: one_rayhan07@yahoo.co.uk

HP: 012-2437793

Date of Submission: 19th February 2011

ATTUNNING YOUR TEACHING TOWARDS LANGUAGE LEARNING STYLES


AND LEARNING STRATEGIES.

ABSTRACT
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Students’ lack of interest in learning English has become a crucial issue in schools nowadays.
Due to that administration has put in a great effort to know the resolutions to end this
predicament. Thus by knowing what the student preferred learning styles and attuning to
learning strategies somehow given a new perspective to teachers to cater to the students need.

Keywords: attuning, learning styles, learning strategies

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Born as human with various attitudes, characteristics, norms and values have made

human as unique entities that inimitably respond towards surrounding and what more toward

learning and teaching styles. Due to that, has derived education institutions to pay a great

detail on students learning styles and strategies as to nurture them to be responsible towards

their own learning process. Some students prefer to learn by themselves in their own time

pace, in familiar surrounding rather than in groups. Students tend to perceive information

differently, such as by seeing and hearing, reflective and acting, reasoning logically and

intuitively and also analyzing and visualizing (Azlinda, 2006). Thus has clearly portrayed that

all students display characteristics of both ends at each dimension, and may move from one

extreme to the other depending in the topic, its context, and the particular task demands made

on the students (Wong, 2004). The learning styles of the students influence their ability to

acquire information and respond to the learning environment (Azlinda, 2006). Students can

plan and manage their language learning activities better if they can discover their preferred

learning styles. Thus can assist the students in enhancing and take advantage of their natural

skills and inclinations. Because of that students’ motivation will be sustained and thus can

process well in language learning process (Azlinda, 2006).

What more, when learning styles of the students in a class and teaching styles of the

instructor are incompatible, with adverse potential effects, the students may be bored and

become inattentive in class, do poorly on tests, get discouraged about the course, the

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curriculum and themselves, and in numerous cases change to another program or drop out

from school (Felder & Spurlin, 2005). Hence more researchers have taken great interest

discovering learning styles and strategies among students.

In English as second language classroom, teachers can observe that usually successful

learning shows positive attitude towards English (Azlinda, 2006). Furthermore, according to

Nunan (1991), one of the characteristic of a good language learner is the ability to reflect on

and articulate the processes underlying their own learning. As learning a language is among

the most challenging lifelong pursuits to undertake (Almasa, Parilah & Fauziah, 2005).

Therefore, teachers should not neglect significance of choosing the appropriate

teaching strategies to suite students learning styles, as both teaching strategies and learning

styles play a crucial role in language learning process and achievement.

1.1 DEFINITIONS OF LEARNING, LEARNING STYLES AND LEARNING

STRATEGIES

Learning according to Kolb (1984), refer to the process whereby knowledge is created

through the transformation of experience.

There are numerous of definitions of learning styles being defined and redefined by

researchers to suite their purpose of studies. As cited from Lewenfeld (1945), researched

visual versus hepatic memory preferences, but the concept of learning style has not been well

explored at present. There is perplexity that comes from variation in the scale and scope of

learning, school achievement and other behaviour predicted by diverse learning style terms

(Nel, 2008). As stated by numerous researchers, the term ‘learning style’ has different

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meanings for different people. For some, it is congruent with ‘cognitive style’, and for others

it refers to as preferred approaches to learning based on modality strengths.

Stewart and Felicetti (1992) elucidated learning styles as those educational conditions

under which a student is most likely to learn. In such a way, learning styles are not really

concerned with "what" learners learn, but rather "how" they prefer to learn.

As for learning strategies stand for conscious steps or behaviour used by language

learners to enhance the acquisition, storage, retention, recall and use of new information

(Rigney, 1978; Oxford 1990).

1.2 MODEL OF LEARNING STYLES

These models of learning styles provide good frameworks for designing assessment

instruments. It is difficult to single out learning styles without appropriate assessment

instruments. Beaty (1986), has noted that teachers cannot identify students’ learning styles

meticulously without an instrument. In addition, Dunn and Dunn (1998), stated that decisive,

valid and comprehensive instrument can diagnose many learning styles traits that influence

individuals. Learning style is a multi-dimensional construct, many variables have an impact

on each other and produce unique patterns. In this term paper dissertate a few models of

learning styles that can be used in determining learning styles of students.

1.2.1 Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Learning Styles (VAK)

The VAK learning style uses the three main sensory receivers: Visual, Auditory, and

Kinesthetic (movement) to determine the dominant learning style. It is sometimes known as

VAKT (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, & Tactile). It is based on modalities, a channel by

which human expression can take place and is composed of a combination of perception and

memory (Clark, 2008).

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VAK is derived from the accelerated learning world and seems to be about the most

popular model nowadays due to its simplicity, however, its shortcoming is that the research

does not support it. This is probably because it is more of a preference, rather than a style

(Clark, 2008).

According to Clark learners use all three modalities to receive and learn new

information and experiences. Nonetheless, according to the VAK or modality theory, one or

two of these receiving styles is normally dominant. This dominant style delineates the best

way for a person to learn new information by filtering what is to be learned. This style may

not always to be the same for some tasks. The learner may prefer one style of learning for one

task, and a combination of others for a different task (Clark, 2008).

Clark (2008) also mentioned, classically learning style is enforced via stages. In

kindergarten till third grade information is presented kinesthetically, while starting fourth

until eight grade information are usually presented visually, while ninth to college and on into

the business environment, information is presented to us mostly auditory through the use of

lectures.

Based on VAK theorists, educators need to present information using all three styles.

This allows all learners the opportunity to become involved, no matter what their preferred

style may be (Clark, 2008), thus VAK theorists have come up with there main categories as

follows:

1. Auditory learners, often talk to themselves. They also may move their lips and

read out loud. They may have difficulty with reading and writing tasks. They often

do better talking to a classmate or a tape recorder and hearing what has been said.

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2. Visual learners, have two sub-channels - linguistic and spatial. Learners who are

visual-linguistic like to learn through written language, such as reading and writing

tasks. They remember what has been written down, even if they do not read it

more than once. They like to write down directions and pay better attention to

lectures if they watch them. Learners who are visual-spatial usually have difficulty

with the written language and do better with charts, demonstrations, videos, and

other visual materials. They easily visualize faces and places by using their

imagination and seldom get lost in new surroundings.

3. Kinesthetic learners, do best while touching and moving. It also has two sub-

channels, there are kinesthetic (movement) and tactile (touch). They tend to lose

enthrallment if there is little or no external stimulation or movement. When

listening to lectures they may want to take notes for the sake of moving their

hands. When reading, they like to scan the material first, and then focus in on the

details to get the big picture. They use color highlighters and take notes by

drawing pictures, diagrams, or doodling.

Kolb's Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Model

Kolb learning styles are popularized by Professor David Kolb, Professor of

Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University. Kolb acknowledges that his

theory is eclectic, and that its applications are drawn from the work of John Dewey, Kurt

Lewin, Carl Jung, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky (Azlinda, 2006). Kolb learning theory

defines the cognitive mechanism of learning and attests the importance of critical reflection in

learning. According to Kolb, effective learning incorporate four phrases as listed below:

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Concrete Experience, where the students correspond to knowledge by acquaintance which

means direct practical experience (or "Apprehension" in Kolb's terms) (Atherton, 2010).

Reflective Observation, in which the students like to watch and observe others and develop

surveillances about their own experience.

Abstract Conceptualization, where the students create ideas or theories to explain

observations (Azlinda, 2006).

Active Experimentation, in which students use theories to solve problems and make decisions

(Azlinda, 2006).

Richmond and Cummings (2005), has looked into application of Kolb’s theory to

online distance education. The research engrossed undergraduate students in Educational

Psychology from University of Nevada-Reno. This research been done via online in which the

questionnaire as well as interactive discussion about the matter were done via online chatting

box. Here, the researchers wanted to investigate how to adapt Kolb’s theory to online

instruction, as to accommodate students learning styles is crucial to initiate courses. Thus, to

see the effectiveness of learning environment supportive of diverse student learning styles and

learning modes may first want to identify the distribution of the four learning styles of

students enrolled in the educational psychology course (Richmond & Cummings, 2005).

Significant of this research proven that students enjoyment in one class assist the learning

process, thus knowing one student learning style will help to attract the student to focus in the

lesson.

1.2.2 The Dunn and Dunn Learning Styles Model

The Dunn and Dunn learning style model (1993) bestow a clinical or

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diagnostic teaching framework. The model is designed and planned based on the theory that

individual students learn best in different ways. As a consequence, a productive approach to

teaching and learning can be carried out to identify the ways (modalities, preferences and

styles) in which an individual student learns best. The findings then can be used, to plan

instructional procedures and arrange learning situations to accommodate the students’

learning preferences or styles. The model is based on the assumptions that:

1. It is possible to identify individual student preferences for learning process.

2. It is possible to use a variety of instructional procedures and to modify the

instructional environment to match the preferences. As a result the student will

improve his or her ability to learn.

The Dunn and Dunn Learning Style Model has distinguished several main principles or

theoretical assumptions. Teachers and administrators must be committed to the following

principles:

1. Most individuals can learn.

2. Instructional environment, resources and approaches respond to diversified

learning style strengths.

3. Everyone has strengths, but different people have different strengths.

4. Individual instructional preferences exist and can be measured reliably.

5. Given suitable environments, resources and approaches, students will be able to

attain statistically higher achievement and attitude test scores in matched, rather

than mismatched treatment.

6. Most teachers can learn to use learning styles as a cornerstone of their instruction.

7. Many students can learn to capitalize their learning style strengths when

concentrating on new or difficult academic materials.


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Dunn and Dunn (1998), pointed out that for the last few decades, the most manifold used

of instruments in experimental research on learning styles is the Dunn and Dunn and Price

Learning Style Inventory (LSI) for young students and Productivity and Environment

Preference Survey (PEPS) for college students and adults. LSI was developed through content

and factor analysis. The inventory was easy to administer and interpret as they used more than

one hundred dichotomous items, for example, when I really have a lot of studying to do, I like

to work alone. The responses are rated on a five-point likert scale and can be completed in

approximately thirty to forty minutes.

1.3 LITERATURE REVIEW

Students’ learning styles and preferences have been of considerable interest in

the administrative and organizational sciences, as well as academic community. For that

matter many researchers have conducted numerous delving to investigate students learning

styles either in school or institution of higher learning (Azlinda, 2006).

Moreover, teacher do not seemed to understand students learning styles, on that

account unable to assess students learning styles without administering proper learning styles

inventory (Almasa, Parilah & Fauziah, 2005). It has found later (Almasa et al., 2005) that,

students learning styles have been ignored and have been considered an insignificant

component in language learning process. If students use limited learning styles as their

preference, it is more challenging for them to adjust to teachers’ teaching styles ( Chiya,

2003). Thus, teachers may misinterpret students’ lack of attention or hyperactivity in class as

students’ bad attitudes due to no proper evaluation about students preferred learning styles. As

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a consequence, the need to assess the learning style of students becomes obvious in order to

accommodate different learners (Almasa et al., 2005).

Furthermore, most teachers do not teach according to learning styles preferred by

students, yet they are teaching based on their own learning styles and teaching styles.

Investigation into the teaching styles asserts that mismatch between teaching and learning are

continuous, and that this hugely influence students attitudes and motivation (Almasa, Parilah

& Fauziah, 2009). The gap between students learning styles and teachers teaching styles and

the lack instruction on language strategies might hinder students learning (Chiya, 2003).

According to Rao (2002), building the gap between teaching and learning styles can only be

achieved when teachers are first of all, aware of their learners’ needs, capacities, potentials

and learning styles preferences in meeting these needs. Whence, learning styles of students do

not match with teaching style of the instructors (teachers), students may be bored and pay less

attention in the class or lesson, and this will result to poor grade and lead to uninterested in the

learning process.

As what has been mentioned in ‘The role of Styles and Strategies in Second Language

Learning’ article, strategies can be assessed in various ways such as journal or diary entries,

think-aloud procedures, observation and surveys. In addition, competent learners tend to

indulge in learning strategies that are appropriate to the material, to the task, and to their own

goals, needs and stage of learning (Skehan, 1989). Research indicates that language learners

at all levels use strategies (Chamot & Kupper, 1989), however most learners are not fully

aware of the strategies they use or the strategies that might be most beneficial to employ.

1.4 LANGUAGE LEARNING STYLES AND STRATEGIES

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A great deal of attention has been given to way individuals learn or understand new

information and as well as their preferred methods in language learning. As a consequence, it

has become a crucial point for students to excavate their own learning styles to able them to

perceive adeptly language learning process. Once the students distinguish and know their own

learning styles they can find suitable activities that suite their learning preference and due to

that will enhance their performance in English subject. Withal, if the students are failing to

identify their preferred or compatible learning styles, they might lose interest in learning

English subjects as they fail to find suitable activities that can boost up their learning interest.

In addition, students study differently, what works well for one learner may not be

useful or favourable for another (Man & Tomoko, 2010). Thence, Man and Tomoko added

that individuals learn in different ways from time to time, from culture to culture and from

context to context, findings of such research can only explain a comparatively small group of

people’s temporary perceptions of their learning preferences to a selected subject surveyed.

To such a degree, it has become one of the pivotal factors to know students preferred learning

style and to adapt suitable language strategies that can assist the learning process.

What more proficient language learners do not inevitably use identical language

strategies. Even if they use the same strategies, they may end up not using them for the same

principle nor in the same way. Furthermore, no single set of strategies will suite for all

learners or for all tasks (Language-Learning Strategies). Whether the strategies that learners

selected are thriving depends on their choice of learning style preferences and learning

strategies.

According to Style and Strategies-Based Instruction, ‘A Teachers’ Guide’ booklet,

language strategies can be derived from identifying the language material that needs to be

learned, distinguish this language material from other material, grouping the material for

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easier learning, practising material through participation in classroom activities and

homework and also by committing the material to memory using techniques such as

repetition, the use of memories, or some other memory technique.

Through these wide range of language strategies teachers can assist their students to

use these strategies by modelling how to look up words or how to group material according to

its classified group. Thus, to enhance learning strategies, teachers must know the 6 basic

subsets of language strategies which all of them have been identified by Oxford (1990):

1) Cognitive strategies enables students to manipulate language material in direct

way such as through reasoning, analysis, note-taking, summarizing, synthesizing,

outlining, organizing information (knowledge structure), practice in naturalistic

settings and practicing structures and sounds formally.

2) Metacognitive strategies refer to strategy that need the students to identify their

own learning style preferences and needs planning for an L2 task, gathering and

organizing materials, arranging a study space and schedule, monitoring mistake

and evaluating task success and evaluating the success of any type of learning

strategies as employed for managing the learning process overall.

3) Memory related strategies help students (learners) to link one L2 concept with

another but do not necessarily involve deep understanding. This enables students

to learn and retrieve information in an orderly string (coinage an acronym), while

other techniques create learning and retrieval via sounds (rhyming), images

(mental picture of the meaning of the word), a combination of sounds and images

(key word method) or location.

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4) Compensatory strategies are requiring students to guess from the context in

listening and reading, using synonyms and having conversation with missing word

to aid speaking and writing, and strictly for speaking. This strategies support the

students to make up for missing knowledge. Despite this, Cohen (1998) asserted

that compensatory strategies are used for speaking and writing and often known as

a form of communication strategies and must not be considered to be language

learning strategies. However Oxford and Ehrman (1995) demonstrated that

compensatory strategies are significantly related to L2 proficiency in their study of

native-speaker learners of foreign languages.

5) Affective strategies such as identifying one’s mood and anxiety level, talking

about feelings, rewarding oneself for something good, and using deep breathing or

positive self-talk, have been shown to be crucial related to L2 proficiency.

6) Social strategies are situation where students will ask questions to get verification,

asking for clarification of confusing point, asking for help in doing a language

task, having a conversation with a native-speaking partner and exploring cultural

and social norms tend to help the students to comprehend the target culture as well

as the language.

1.5 IMPLICATIONS FOR L2 TEACHING

Implication of knowing students (learners) learning styles will be an ease to

educators as it lift out burden of trying to figure out the hidden vindications of students lack

of interest in learning English. I have list down four implications for classroom practice;

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assessing styles and strategies in L2 classroom, attuning L2 instruction and strategy

instruction to learners’ style preferences, no distinction L2 instructional practice suite all

students and last but not least is preparing for and conducting strategy instruction.

Assessing Styles and Strategies in L2 Classroom

By conducting assessment of students learning styles and strategies teachers will

benefits a lot as such assessment can give a deeper understanding of styles and strategies that

are used by the students in their learning of English. Besides that, teachers also need to assess

their own learning styles and strategies thus to create awareness of their preferences and

possible biases that they might doing it unintentionally. Teachers can use variety of costless

instruments to assess either theirs or their students preferred learning styles and strategies that

can be implemented to suite their need.

Attuning L2 Instruction and Strategy Instruction to Learners’ Style Needs

Once teachers apprehend their students’ style preferences, cogently they can

acclimatize their L2 instruction, as well as the strategy teaching that can be interwoven into

language instruction, matched to those style preferences (Oxford, 2003). Without sufficient

attainments regarding their students’ style preferences teachers might not able to

systematically cater instructional variety that are needed by the students as some student

might need more visual presentations, while others might require auditory and to name a few.

No Distinction L2 Instructional Practice Suite All Students

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Styles and strategies assist particular student’s ability and willingness to work within

the framework of sundry instructional methodologies. It is foolhardy to think that a single L2

methodology could possibly fit an entire class filled with students who have a range of

stylistic and strategic preferences (Oxford, 2003). Thus teachers should best choose a holistic

instructional approach, notably the best version of the communicative approach that contains

a combined focus on form and fluency to bestow their students learning preferences.

Preparing For and Conducting Strategy Instruction

Teachers should take up development courses to expand their dogma regarding

strategy instruction, also they need to find relevant information in print or on the Internet and

have a close networking with specialist in the field to assist them in conducting strategy

instruction in class. For some teachers it might be better to start with small strategy

interventions, such as helping L2 learners to analyze words and guess meaning from the

context when they are doing reading exercise, rather than with full-scale strategies-based

instruction involving a vast array of learning strategies and the four language skills that are

reading, writing, speaking and listening (Oxford, 2003).

1.6 CONCLUSION

By having great knowledge of learning styles along with learning strategies

will facilitate teachers as well as school administration. The outcomes will provide the

students opportunity to assess their learning preferences especially in learning English

language. Besides that, it will enlighten them that there are more than one learning styles or

strategies in learning (Azlinda, 2005). As a result, students will have sense of responsibility

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for their own learning and in the same time they may want to adopt other learning styles and

strategies to adorn themselves for advance language learning in the future.

What more, by knowing and implementing suitable learning styles and learning

strategies will also benefits English teachers as it will give egregious opportunity for English

teachers to understand their students learning styles and execute learning strategies better, as

it will make them aware that variety of learning styles and learning strategies do exist in their

classrooms. In addition it will enhance teachers teaching styles as teachers will approach their

lessons differently by using appropriate instructions activities and materials that will proffer

according to students learning styles, as a successful teaching and learning process will be the

main predictor of students’ success.

Withal, the school administration will also be beneficial as it will apprise the variety of

learning styles and strategies that students adapt in learning language. The information can

help administrator to establish courses, activities or instructional materials that suite students

learning styles. On the other hand, it will make the administrators realize that there is a need

for them to look into the problems regarding students’ performance in English and due to that,

find condign measures to rectify the problems.

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