Table of Contents
2. MOST COMMON LEARNING STYLES
3.STYLE CONTRASTS ACCORDING TO OXFORD
Dealing With Other People
Dealing With Ideas
4. OVERLAPPING DIMENSIONS
5. RAISING CONCIOUSNESS
6. LANGUAGE LEARNING STRATEGIES
Supporting indirect strategy use
7. REALISATION IN DIFFERENT TEXTBOOKS
Camden Town 2 - Learning Styles
Orange Line 5 - Reading Strategies
Red Line 6 - Listening Strategies
Inclusion, a highly charged issue in today's school policy debates. However, this topic is not only important concerning students having a migration background or disabilities,but also in terms of different learning styles and strategies a learner brings to class.
The previous belief in a homogeneous learning group has to be reconsidered, due to the fact that each child has its own talents and abilities.
An inclusive school does not mean that all students are treated equally. It is much more important to take the learners' distinctive features into account and to give students the opportunity to improve their skills by discovering their own learning style and strategies.
Especially in terms of foreign language acquisition, it is crucial for teachers to know about the learners' different learning styles, so that they are able to offer them alternative ways of learning and therefore, adapting the learning process itself.
To aim this goal, teachers have to be researchers and specialists in terms of learning styles as well as learning strategies. Firstly, this paper aims to give insights into two different views of the concept “learning styles”. Furthermore, two possibilities of raising consciousness about these styles will be shown. Due to the dependence between style preferences and strategy use the six different learning strategies are discussed in detail before some textbooks are analysed regarding their explicit use and awareness – raising of language learning strategies.
2. MOST COMMON LEARNING STYLES
The term “learning style” refers to variations in the ability to retain as well as assimilate given information.
Learners often bring a certain learning style or a combination of styles to the classroom, even though it is frequently used unconsciously. Reid defines the term by pointing out that a learning style is a “natural, habitual, and preferred way of absorbing, processing, and retaining new information and skills” (Lightbown & Spada, 1999, p. 58).
The three most common basic types of learning styles are visual, aural and kinaesthetic (Müler – Hartmann, 2007, p. 35).
Individuals who fall in this category learn through what they appreciate with their eyes. This implies that information are mainly incorporated and associated with images, hence the easiest way for those students to learn is by using books, film and maps. Facial movements and gestures are also a very important means of information for those learners. By connecting them with the content of the lesson, it is much easier for them to completely follow the instructions and to gather as much information as possible. On this account, it is advantageous for them to have a seat at the front of the classroom because only in that way they have an unobstructed view to the teacher (lbride.net, 2008, p.1).
More auditory learners tend to “interpret the underlying meanings of speech through listening to tone of voice, pitch, speed and other nuances” (lbride.net, 2008, p.1). In my part- time job as a private tutor, I was also responsible for a twelve year old boy with dyslexia. He was not able to recall any information of a text, he had read before. After some time, I started to read him the texts aloud and found out that he was now capable of reproducing the heard information more precisely than any other student had done it in the past. It was astonishing since the written text didn't have any meaning for him until it was read out aloud.
This implies that especially aural learners may benefit from listening to taped notes, leading discussion and using songs or rhymes to recall information.
Approximately 5% of the population are kinaesthetic or so called tactile learners. Müller – Hartmann indicates that those learners “need to combine new language with some kind of physical action to remember it” (2007, p. 35).
Due to this fact kinaesthetic learners prefer situations in which they have the opportunity to take part in physical activities like working with objects, doing project work or taking a field trip.
3. STYLE CONTRASTS ACCORDING TO OXFORD
In her Style Analyses Survey (SAS) Oxford describes a far more extensive view of the concept of learning styles. She does not only include how students use their physical sense, but she also views learning styles in an interrelation with global personality factors (Reid, 1995, pp. 208 - 215).
Excluded the use of physical senses, there are four other style contrasts which appear in Oxford's learning style construction.
Dealing With Other People
This category deals with the issue of characteristic attributes in a social interaction. Regarding this, Oxford differentiates two central dimensions of human personality – extroversion and introversion.
These terms denominate two basic temperamental differences. It is often said that extroverts or oriented to the outer world like people, places and things while introverts tend to orient to the inner world of thoughts and concepts. These differences also arise in learning situations and affect the learning style.
While extroverted learners often benefit from “social, interactive learning tasks” and prefer to work in groups, introverted learners rather like to work independently or with only one good schoolmate (Reid, 1995, p. 208 - 215).
Two other personality types Oxford distinguishes are intuitive-random and concrete-sequential.
Concrete-sequential learners mainly pay attention to what is observable right now. This means that they focus on details gained in concrete learning experiences. Later, these details are analysed step by step to understand each part of the given problem in detail. This implies that concrete-sequential learners construct their own language system in linear steps which have a logical order.
In contrast, the intuitive-random learner is “able to find the major principles of the topic” and enjoys thinking in an abstractive way (Reid, 1995, p. 208 - 215). It is interesting and challenging for them to consider ideas, possibilities and potential outcomes. Students with these preferences tend to use their intuition and imagination to solve given problems in a spontaneous and creative way.
The manner of approaching given tasks is also an important point when talking about learning styles in correlation with personality factors.
Some students are inclined towards tasks offering them the opportunity to discover new language items or information in an unstructured way. They prefer to learn, not having to take any rules or deadlines into account. These learners who best learn by enjoying and relaxing, are called open – oriented (Reid, 1995, p. 208 – 215).
Contradicting, closure – oriented learners frequently “focus carefully on all tasks, meeting deadlines”(Reid, 1995, p. 208 – 215). They work hard and seriously on their tasks. Beneficial for them is it, when things are clear and the rules of a language are explained explicitly.
Dealing With Ideas
The last distinction is made in terms of the handling of own ideas. To do so, Oxford contrasts the terms global and analytic. According to the author, it is crucial for global learners to understand the overall structure or idea of a text or given information. This also signifies that global learners are often inattentive to details. As a result, they are not able to see how the individual parts of all language fit together, until they have understood the whole issue.
Conversely, analytic learners work by focusing and details and specific rules. Information should be presented logically and structured to assure a precise access to language rules. For these learners, all parts have to be understood one after another, before an overall interpretation of the problem could be made (Reid, 1995, p. 208 – 215).