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Learning Styles in Foreign Language Education

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    So language development depends on styles and strategies. Generally people can learn second language associated with first language. ‘’Actual learning of a language is accompanied by emotional actions. The whole process of learning a language is one of forming associations. When we learn our own language we associate words and sentences with thoughts, ideas, actions, events” (.Stern, 1992).

    What are Learning Styles?

    Learning styles and strategiesmeans differences in how people learn and understand based on their preferences, strengths and weaknesses. Both styles and strategies have importance in learning. Styles determine one’s own capability of doing any action which is stored on cognition. Strategy clear up a specific skill on doing an action. Actually, learners need encouragement to do something. Without an encouragement they may not feel good. When they meet an explanation in learning environment, they are not tend to accept some comments from other learners. Because they have their own styles to understand. For example, if the lecturer pronounces a word which ic common, each learner understands the word through their experience or what they have already knew. They may compare the word with related things or colour, size or shape of this word. That depends on their style of understanding and learning. It is quite common to all people. “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transition of experiences” (Sabatova, 2008). So every person has unique style and that situation depennds on their own capability.

    The most effective foreign language learning styles:

    • Perceptual Learning Styles
    • Cognitive Learning Styles
    • Personality Learning Styles
    • Learners of Compound Learning Styles

    These most used learning styles are favorite styles of language learning of students. If students use these styles they will learn effectively. These styles are significant in learning a foreign language. So these styles help them memorize or remember the matters easier than usual. The learners inclined to be bored, do wrongs on tests, be discouraged about the lesson, and may think that they are bad at the topic of the lesson and give up (Felder, 1988; Silver-man, 1988; Smith& Renzulli, 1984). So every learner should read features of learning styles and they must find their own styles to learn a language and for their success.

    Research Questions

    • What are language learning styles?
    • Which aspects of learning styles are particularly important in foreign language education?
    • How does a person understand his or her learning style?

    Purpose of the Study

    The main purpose of this study is to understand how a foreign language can be learned and how a person knows his or her learning style. Other purposes of this study are which style of learning a foreign language is more useful than the others to each individual and why it is significant to know a person’s attention to his or her capability in learning a foreign language.

    Literature Review

    Language learning styles are very considerable. There are many ways of classifying learning styles that gather from different theories: theories of intelligence, experiential theories (Kolb, 1984), sensory modalities ( Fleming & Mills, 1992), cognitive styles, or psychological types. Language learning styles have been mentioned in the literature by some authors. “With different educational and cultural background, different personalities, and different learning experience, everybody differs in his ways of learning a foreign language, which leads to different degrees of success. The different preferred ways all usually referred to as “learning style.” (Wen Xu, 2011). Use of appropriate language learning strategies often results in improved proficiency or achievement overall or in specific skill areas (Oxford, 1993; Thompson & Rubin, 1993). Learning styles are the system that individuals solve their problem. “According to Dunn and Griggs, they define learning style as the biologically and developmentally imposed set of characteristics that make the same teaching method wonderful for some and terrible for others.” (Wen Xu, 2011). Language learning styles are classified into four broad types.

    Perceptual Learning Styles

    Perceptual learning style means sensory learning style. It is related to sense organs like eyes and ears. Our senses allow us to perceive the world around us. This process can be thought of as perceptual learning, or the taking in of information from the environment through the body’s senses. “Jung introduced sensation and intuition as the two ways in which people tend to perceive the world.”( Felder & Henriques, 1988). “Learners employ their sense organs to process the stimuli from outside. There are five styles fall into this type, namely, visual learning (learn by seeing), auditory (learn by hearing), reading/writing (learn by processing text), tactile learners (learn by touching), and kinesthetic learning/practical learning (learn by doing).” (Wen Xu, 2011). Seeing sentence or words, reading books and looking are very significant for visual learners. Thus, they prefer teachers’ writing more than talking. “This type of learners will feel comfortable when teacher use the translation-grammar teaching approach.”(Wen Xu, 2011). There are seven types of perceptual learning style.

    Visual Learners

    Visual learners observe people and situations. A visual learner often needs to see and understand by seeing something, not just hear it, in order to learn. Slides visualizes, indications, charts, tables, and projections are useful ways of helping those people learn best. Some researches suggest that most people in their twenties and over the age of fifty use this perceptual style as their main way of learning substances.

    Interactive Learners

    Interactive Learners learn in the best way when expressing their thoughts and feelings. They generally do small-group discussions, actively question-and-answer conferences, and discusses techniques that pursue this type of learner. People over the age of fifty categorized this style of learning as second regarding preference and younger learners categorized it as third. Platforms which place attention to small-group learning are very successful.

    Haptic Learners

    Haptic Learners learn in the best way through their sense of touch. They should feel objects or to touch as many things as possible to learn something about them. By touching an object, these people usually are able to shape a visual image of it. “Hands-on’ experience is significant for them to learn. People who associate haptic and visual elements of perception learn best through confirmations that are followed by hands-on practice.

    Aural Learners

    Aural Learners learn in the best way by listening. In fact, unless they associate this way of taking in information with a synergistic manner, these learners often are irritated by interruptions to a lesson. Generally, aural learners listen carefully, scarcely talk during a lesson, and effortlessly remember what they hear. People who listen to a tape recorder of popular speakers or books are unquestionably aural learners.

    For the development of listening in students, several authors agree on the suitability of promoting inner singing (Beaty, 2013; Etxepare, 2011 and Whitcomb, 2007) and the inclusion of recordings (Baker & Green, 2013) something that does not occur with the methods studied, which present a bias towards publications, but that is given in methods of beginning closer to the moment in which the student lives. Therefore, at least the teachers should try to use popular melodies into their classes, close to the students’ environment and that would motivate a connection between teacher and students.

    Kinesthetic Learners

    Kinesthetic Learners should move in order to learn. Some people may find such people wriggling, wrinkling, scribbling, or wood carving during a lesson. Instead of drawing away from them, movement indeed helps this type of person to pay attention to their learning. When they speak, kinesthetically orientated people usually use hand gestures to describe what they are talking about. This kind of learner would unquestionably offer them to take part in a role-playing activity because it concludes movement and gestures.

    Print-oriented Learners

    Print-oriented Learners usually learn in the best way by reading and writing. Reading books, magazines, or journal articles help these learners to easily hold information. When print types are presented at a lesson, the offense learners usually can be found writing down notes. They are able to see and record what they hear helps them concentrate and learn in a better way.

    Olfactory Learners

    Olfactory Learners usually use their sense of smell or taste in order to learn. These are the people who combine what they learn with particular smells or tastes. They may walk into a room and smell a scent that directly cause to remember them of a past learning experience. Recent research on the brain suggests that smell initiates in the most original part of the brain and is, consequently, a formidable reminder of people or past events.

    Cognitive Learning Styles

    Analyzing is significant for cognitive learners. “Cognitive learning styles include focuser and scanner, serialists and holists, divergent and convergent thinkers, field dependence (global leaner) and field independence (analytic learner). Some of them are over-lapping in meaning. And the most important pair is field independence and field dependence, which has been investigated widely in relation to foreign language learning.’ (Wen Xu,2011). They are analytic people and they like analyzing a sentence or a book. They are successful analysts. “For field-dependent learners, they are global learners. They would like to focus on the whole thing of the learning material, whether a passage or a sentence. They are good at grasping the main points and the general structure.” (Wen Xu, 2011). There are two assumptions: One assumption advises that “field-dependent learners do better informal language learning, while field-independent learners do better in informal language learning.’ ( Ellis, 2005, p. 63). The other assumption advises “field dependent learners will interact more and seek out more contact with other users of the L2.” ( Ellis, 2005, p. 63) but these assumptions are changeable.

    A number of cognitive styles have been identified and studied over the years. Field independence versus field dependence is probably the most well-known style. It refers to an inclination to approach the environment in an analytical, as opposed to global, fashion. At a perceptual level, field independent personalities are able to differentiate figures as separate from their backgrounds compared to field dependent individuals who experience events in an undistinguished way. In addition, field dependent individuals have a greater social origin relative to field independent personalities. Researches have discovered that a number of connections between this cognitive style and learning ( Messick, 1978). For example, field independent individuals are likely to learn more effectively under conditions of different motivation and are influenced less by social augmentation. Cognitive (e.g., translating. analyzing) and metacognitive (e.g., planning. organizing) strategies are often used together, supporting each other (O’Malley & Chtunot, 1990).

    Other cognitive styles that have been discovered are:

    • scanning – differences in the immenseness of attention resulting in variations in the saturation of experience and the span of consciousness
    • leveling versus sharpening – individual variations in remembering that refer to the peculiarity of memories and the inclination to unite identical incidents
    • reflection versus impulsivity – individual consistencies in the speed and sufficiency with which alternative hypotheses are formed and responses made
    • conceptual differentiation – differences in the tendency to categorize perceived similarities among stimuli regarding of different concepts or dimensions

    Hypothetically, cognitive and learning styles could be used to assume what kind of instructional strategies or methods would be most effective for an individual who is given and learning task. Research to date on this problem has not identified many strong relationships ( Cronbach & Snow, 1994). However, the 4MAT framework based on the work of Bernice McCarthy which presents 4 learning styles (Analytic, Imaginative, Common Sense, and Dynamic) has been widely utilized in education. And the learning styles ‘’theoretical account’’ ( Dunn, 1999) seems to be serviceable in terms of creating teacher consciousness of individual differentiates in learning.

    Personality Learning Styles

    Students have different learning styles; they favorably concentrate on different types of information, learn to operate on perceived information in distinguished ways, and achieve understanding at different rates. The match or mismatch between the way that teachers teach and the way that students learn has important complications for levels of student happiness in school. Generally, students whose learning styles are comparable with the teaching styles of a course teacher inclined to keep information longer, apply it more usefully, learn more, and have a more positive behavior toward the lesson and school.

    In this style, there are two learners. They are reflective learners and impulsive learners.

    Reflectivity and impulsivity refer to the organization to reflect on the solution to a problem in a situation when some alternatives are possible, and the correct choice is far from the obvious one. Those students who inclined to make the decision and report them quickly with little concern for correctness are described as impulsive, while those who pause to think over the answer in order to be certain of their correctness are referred to as reflections. The definition of reflection and impulsivity consist‘’ response time and errors; in cases in which only response time is used for this purpose, it is presumed that longer response times are associated with fewer errors’’ (Messer, 1976).

    Reflective Learners

    Reflective learning is a way of allowing students to look back from their learning experience to help them develop essential thinking skills and develop on future performance by analyzing their experience. This type of learning helps the student move from surface to deep learning and can include a range of activities, including self-review, peer review, and personal development planning.

    Understanding judgment criteria and behaving on feedback circuit is also a way of stimulating students to reproduce on what they have learned and how they will develop. This can be serviceable for students in discussing for example, how students can make the best use of the feedback circuit. A better review is another means which allows students to reflect primarily on another student’s work or contribution and reflect on their own experience.

    Students may have difficulty understanding what is expected of them in using a reflective learning style and will need help in an easy list of what they should do in lesson or task. Giving and providing them with some examples of a reflective lesson that establish essential behaviors, thinking and analysis can help students in the process. Explaining advantages and disadvantages of this approach in terms of its applicability to an essential situation can also encourage students to understand the value of reflective learning style.

    Impulsive Learners

    Impulsive learners are taught to think over and over and change their behavior into a more reflective approach since the impulsive behavior is considered a weak behavior. This type of training is not the most common training and efficient way from the point of view of an impulsive learner. Therefore this training will be investigated in greater detail in the game-based environment. Game-based learning environments train problem-solving skills and most of the game designs tolerate ‘making mistakes”. This crucial aspect is mostly not tolerated in among learning styles.

    Learners of Compound Learning Styles

    Compounding is the idea that people keep adding to what they are doing to make it grow more. Thinking of life in terms of compound interest could be very useful. Early and intense investing in something people are interested in relationships, money, knowledge, spirituality or many things which are in the lives of people. “Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity, it is very much like compound interest.”( Hamming, 1986). So, compound learning style can be associated with life itself. The more people learn about life, the more successful they will be. Therefore people who use terms about money, knowledge or other words about life and think about those words are learners of compound learning style.


    In conclusion, this study shows the learning styles and effects of them. Each teacher has their particular style but they should know styles of students. The problems develop when teachers and students do not match. Learning styles refer to differences in how people learn based on their preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. The differences may refer to various elements of the learning process such as gathering in, comprehending, memorizing and recollecting information. Many observations suggest that the learning process is most effective when it is in line with people’s learning style preferences. Therefore, from a practical viewpoint, it is essential to know which learning methods are likely to be most effective for students, to help them acquire knowledge quickly and effectively. And if people are an educator, being aware of their students’ learning styles can help them accomplish a teaching approach most suitable for their particular group.

    Students can develop their own learning strategies – which includes the ways in which they learn and remember information, how they study for tests and how they make the best use of their learning preferences. Many students might not even be aware that they are using these styles as it may have become a natural and automatic process for them. There are some styles, on the other hand, that students should be taught, or at least brought to their attention to these styles. In this article, it is discussed that learning styles and strategies and how they apply to the language classroom. Future researches that discuss this situation would help to enlarge the discovery of this study.

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