The Necessity and Feasibility of Accommodating Learners’ Learning Styles in EFL Teaching
|School||Qufu Normal University|
|Course||Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics|
|Keywords||teaching styles learning styles EFL instruction individual differences|
The emphasis of foreign language teaching and research has shifted from studying how to teach to how to learn since the 1970s. Meanwhile, with the prevalence of individualized teaching model, a teaching reforming movement away from teacher-dominated modes of learning to more learner-centered approaches has also been carried out within the foreign language teaching fields. And so many educators are conducting their research on foreign language teaching and learning more form the perspective of learner itself. It is now broadly acknowledged that individual differences are the important factors affecting learners’ learning outcome. Therefore, the significant role of learner’s dominant place as well as its individual differences played in the process of SLA has now attracted many researchers’ attention. Moreover, as one of the major differences learning style, which was defined as "the cognitive, affective, and physiological factors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment"(Keefe, as cited in Ellis, 2000: 499) is becoming one of the focuses of the foreign language teaching and research.Learning style is the one of the important learner variables that is likely to affect learners’ ultimate learning outcome in significant ways. Learning styles information is a powerful tool for both the teacher and the student. It will help teachers recognize individual differences and provide for these differences so that it would be possible for teachers to help more students to be successful. And it will help students better understand both the learning process and themselves as learners.Currently, as the learning styles mainly involve the following 4 aspects: 1) the inventories of learning styles; 2) what factors affect the formation of learning styles; 3) how learning style is related to learning strategy; 4) the relationship between learning style variables and language learning achievement as well as the success of SLA. In addition, most of the research is conducted among the students of non-English majors (Reid, 1987; Lynne, Stansfield & Charle, 1981; Xu Weicheng, 1999; Li Dongyun & Bi LI, 2006; et al). However, studies concerning on teacher-student style clashes, and how to make learning style and teaching style well-matched in actual foreign language instruction process have seldom seen.Based on qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data gathered in a study of 125 sophomore English majors from Qufu Normal University and Jinning College, as well as 10 college teachers who teach English major students, this paper is designed to probe into the effectiveness and feasibility of adjusting teaching styles to accommodate diverse learning styles based on learning outcome, findings from questionnaire survey, interview, and classroom observation. The present study is guided by the constructivism, information processing and language input theoretical framework. The aims of the study are to get a profile of English majors’ learning styles preferences. Furthermore, through this study, we intend to make some efforts to improve teacher-student rapport, to establish more harmonious learning atmosphere, and to promote foreign language teaching and learning.Results of this study demonstrate that the English major participants in general prefer kinesthetic (mean=37.0880), individual (mean=36.3680), tactile (mean=35.1520), and visual (mean=34.6400), the minor learning styles of the participants is auditory (mean=32.6560), and the negligible learning styles of the participants is group (mean=30.0480). And teachers are more preferred facilitator (mean=4.02) and delegator (mean=3.48) teaching styles, meanwhile, expert (mean=3.46) and formal authority (mean=3.24) teaching styles are also adopted by some teachers. As for learning-teaching styles discrepancies, the teachers are substantially more auditory than the students and they are likely to favor lecturing and group discussion teaching model. The results of the experiment study show that the students who received teaching-style adjustment outperformed those who underwent traditional method. The mean score for the experimental group was significantly greater (p<0.05) than that for the control group.In a word, if teachers can get a better understanding of their own teaching styles and students’ learning styles, it might facilitate them to better arrange their teaching. In addition, it is necessary for the teacher to help their students extend their learning styles since evidence shows that students with balanced and versatile learning styles make better performances in language learning than those with only one single learning style.