Awareness of learning style in instruction would help to develop a common language teaching and learning. It is necessary for the teacher to understand the actual orientation of learners. Considering of learning style component as a device input may help teachers overcome many pedagogical drawbacks especially those not paying attention to diversity, eventually, and creativity. In this regard, Hayes and Alinson (1997) emphasize that the nature of an individual’s learning style can be influenced by his/her educational background. In learning and teaching process, it is influenced by individual differences (IDs).
- Concept of learning style
Learning style is one of the factors that may affect the learning process in second language acquisition’ learning style in EFL is based on the following hypothesis (Reid, 1995):
- Every students has a learning style and learning strength and weakness
- Learning style are value-in culture; that is no one style is better than others
- Student’s strategies are often linked to their learning style
- Teacher should allow their students to become aware of their learning strength and weakness.
- Definition of learning style
Hunt (1979) narrows his definition by dealing with how much structure the students need in order to learn best. It described how students learn, not what they have learned.
George (1979) defined it as indicators how a person learns form and adapt to his environment.
Davis (1989) pointed out that all people have preferences for the way they like to learn form, adapt to their environment in three kinds of learning (cognitive, affective, and psychomotor).
Dunn (1984) stated that learning style represent each person’ biologically and experientially induce characteristics that either foster or inhibit achievement.
Smith and Renzuli (1984) defined it as a range of instructional through students typically the act of learning.
Reid, J (2000) stated that learning style is an individual’s natural, habitual, and preferred way of absorbing, processing, and retaining new information and skill.
- Kinds of learning style
Bennet (1995) identifies two types of learning style based on the dimension of field independence and dependence:
- Field-independence learner- those who view content in a global manner, tend to impose their own structure on the task, and have difficulty distinguishing part of a task separately from the whole. Learner of this type may be thought of as social, outgoing, friendly, and oriented toward people
- Filed –dependence learner- those who are able to dissembled part of a task from the existing organizational pattern and devise alternate organizational pattern, necessary to comprehend information. Learners of this type tend to be introspective and not oriented to the social context.
Davis (1989) approaches learning style from the point of view of perceptual modality preferences into three types of learning style:
- Visual learners; those who learn better through reading or seeing information or object.
- Auditory learners; those who learn better through hearing.
- Tactile/motoric learners; those who learn better through the sense of touch or performance of body movement or through experience.
Scharle and Szabo (2000), learning style can be summarized as follows:
- Concrete learners; these people like to learn through the use of games, pictures, films, videos, talking in pairs, going out with the class and tend to enjoy listening to cassette.
- Analytic learners; these students study grammar by themselves and use foreign language books. They like the teacher to let them find their own mistakes enjoy working on problems and learn by reading newspaper.
- Communicative learners; these learners watch TV in the foreign language and listening to the foreign language speakers. They like to learn through conversation, including talking to friends. They learn new words by hearing.
- Authority oriented learners; these kind of students like the teacher to explain everything which then write in their notebooks. They learn by reading, studying grammar, and learning new words by seeing them in context.
- How to identify learning style
To identify learning style (Barsch, 1989) by conducting a simple test that help students to understand their strength and weakness. The test consisted of 24 questions of visual, auditory, and tactile question.
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- The concept of learning strategy
Strategies are referred to potentially consciously plan, learning skill, and problem solving and language behavior. A strategy may be defined as a planned design for controlling and manipulating certain information (Brown et al, 1984).
Ramires (1985) simply defined learning strategy when he says the techniques, approach, or tactics that learners use.
Oxford and Nyikos (1998) defined learning strategies as operation used by learners to aid the acquisition, storage, and retrieval of information.
O’Malley and Chamot (1990) define strategy as internal cognitive or affective action taken by the learner in order to learn both simple and complex material.
Rubin (1975) stated that learning strategy referred to the technique or devices which a learner may use to acquire knowledge.
Wenden (1991) defines learning strategy is mental step or operation that learner use to learn knowledge and to regulates their efforts to do so.
- Kinds of learning strategies
In language learning, it can be distinguished two basics categories of targets namely learning strategies and communication strategies. A learning strategy is a method of perceiving and storing particular items for later retrieve, while communication strategy is a method of achieving communication of encoding or expressing meaning in language.
Learning strategy can be classified into three types (Chomot and O’Malley, 1987; O’Malley et al, 1985):
- Metacognitive strategy, which involve executive process in planning, monitoring one’s comprehension production, and evaluating how well one has achieved a learning objective.
- Planning; previewing the organizing concept or principle of an anticipated learning task; generating a plan for the parts, sequences, main ideas, or language function to be used in handling a task.
- Self monitoring; checking, verifying, or correcting one comprehension of performance in the course of language task.
- Self evaluation; checking the outcome of one’s own language performance against an internal measure of completeness and accuracy.
- Cognitive strategy in which the learners interact with the material to be learned by manipulating in mentally (as making mental images, or elaborating on previous acquired concept or skill or physically) as in grouping items to be learned in meaning categories, or taking note on important information to be remembered.
- Social or affective strategy in which the learners either interact with other person in order to assist learning as in cooperation of asking questions about clarification, or uses some kind of effective control to assist a learning task.
- Question for clarification; asking for explanation, verification, rephrasing, or example about the material; asking for clarification about the task; posing question to himself.
- Cooperation; working together with peers to solve the problem, pool information, check a learning task, model a language activity, or get feedback on oral or written performance.
- Self-reinforcement; providing personal motivation by arranging reward or oneself when a language learning activity has been successfully completed.
Wenden (1991:19) identified two kinds of learning strategies. They are cognitive and self-management strategies. These are distinguished on the basic of their function in learning.
- Cognitive strategies are mental steps or operation that learners use to process both linguistic and sociolinguistic content.
- Self-management strategies are utilized by learners to oversee and manage their learning. In the research literature in cognitive psychology, they are referred to as metacognitive strategies or regulator skill (Brown et al: 1983) and in the methodological literature they are referred to as the skills of self-directed learning (Tolic : 1981).
Ramirez (1986) identified eight strategies contributed differently to general success of adolescent studying French in secondary schools. The eight strategies are : (1) asking for clarification or verification, (2) using inferencing skills or deductive reasoning, (3) creating opportunities for practice, (4) employing available linguistics and contextual cues, (5) memorizing, (6) using vocabulary learning techniques, (7) being able to self-monitoring performance, (8) practicing.
Chamot and Kuper (1989) conducted a study among high school students to demonstrate the use of three general learning categories : (1) metacognitive strategies, which involve thinking about the learning process, planning for learning, monitoring the learning tasks and evaluating how well done one has learned; (2) cognitive strategies, which include teaching the material to be learned, manipulating the material, and applying specific techniques to complete a learning tasks, and (3) social and affective strategies which involve interacting with another person, or using affective control, to assist a learning task.
Stern (1983) identified four basic strategies. These include (1) an active strategy (select goals or sub goals, recognize stage and participate actively in the learning process, (2) an explicit learning strategy (paying attention to linguistics features of the target language, conscious learning, practice, memorization, and progress monitoring), (3) a social learning strategy (seek communication with target language users and language community, develop communication strategies, become involved as a participants in authentic language use, and (4) an effective strategy (approach task with positive frame of mine, develop necessary energy to overcome frustrations, and cope with emotional and motivational problem).
Oxford and Nykos (1989) classifying learning strategies into five factors, based on factor analytic finding. The five factors are (1) formal rule related practice strategies, (2) functional practice strategies, (3) resourceful independent strategies, (4) general strategies, and (5) conversational input elicitation strategies.
Oxford (1990:8) defines learning strategies as specific actions taken in order to help them understand, store, and use language easier, faster and more enjoyable. She classifies learning strategies into two broad categories:
Strategies that are indirectly involve the language, which requires learners to use other techniques of learning namely metacognitve strategies, affective strategies and social strategies.
These strategies are important for language learning because they serve as a means for active and self-directed learning, improvement of proficiency and growth of self-confidence and development of communicative competence. According to Oxford (1990), learning strategies, if appropriately employed, can enhance grammatical competence, sociolinguistics competence, discourse competence, and strategies competence. Grammatical competence indicates the degree of mastery of the language from including vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, spelling and word formation. Sociolinguistics competence shows the ability to understand and use the language appropriately in different social context, including the knowledge of speech such as apologizing, describing, agreeing, persuading, etc. discourse competence indicates the ability to combine and synthesize ideas above the sentences level coherently and cohesively. Strategic competence indicates the ability to use techniques or strategies in order to overcome limitations in the language or to get message across.
Other studies on learning strategies indicate that less proficient learner can learn from strategies commonly used by more successful learner. In O’Malley et al (1985) strategy training for beginning and intermediate students was found to be very useful in improving listening and speaking ability. This suggests that learning strategies can be taught to enhance the development of target language. In another study (Chamot : 1987: 81) concludes that :
“… teachers could profitably direct students to utilize learning strategies for a variety of language learning activities. Intervention by the teacher could help less able students profit from the strategies used by more able students and even the more able students could be provided with opportunities to refine and add their learning strategies so that they became as possible”
Teacher, in this case has an important role in helping students to cope with tasks trough appropriate strategies use as O’Malley et al (1987:558) put “second language teachers can play an active role by telling students how to apply learning strategies to new tasks both in the language class and in content area requiring language skills”. In a similar vein, Chamot (1987:81) argues that teachers should provide students with opportunities and practice for strategies use both inside and outside in the classroom to foster autonomous learning.
Learning strategies by Oxford (1990) are the best strategies to apply because they are one type of learner training content that should be included in planning to promote learning autonomy. He argues that the use of appropriate learning strategies enable students to take responsibility to their own learning by enhancing autonomies learning independently and self direction.
To investigate learning strategies of students it is recommended to use “strategy inventory for language learning (SILL)”. The SILL was designed for students of English as a second language or foreign language. It consists of 50 statements and is divided into six parts each will tell the kind of strategies use in learning English.
- Remembering more effectively (memory strategies)
- Using all mental processing (cognitive strategies)
- Compensating for missing knowledge (compensation strategies)
- Organizing and evaluating learning (metacognitve strategies)
- Managing emotion (affective strategies)
- Learning with others (social strategies)