Perceptual Learning Style Preference in Learning English as a Foreign Language in United Arab Emirates Middle School Students
Learning styles-centered education is influential at higher education organizations across the world. Learning styles are qualities of how students choose to learn, and they play a crucial function in learning. These learning styles draw their foundations from both experiential and biological conditions that make every learner distinct in the manner in which he/she learns. A crucial step in promoting learning is to determine or evaluate the learning styles that every student adapts. Enhancing students' academic performance entails offering optional activities and strategies that corresponds to their learning style requirement and preferences. Students learn, develop and attain better results when their lessons development focuses on attaining the preferences of their learning styles.
Moreover, the motivation of students augments when their instructors focus their attention to the student's learning styles preferences. In reaction to the globalization demands, learning is paramount in the United Arab Emirates. However, teaching English in these countries has been considered inefficient insofar as the teaching techniques do not fulfill the social needs of students. Few students are capable of mastering English. The reason for failure of mastering English includes individual disparities, which entail learning style preference, type of personality and utilization of learning styles.
Learning styles are habitual, natural and preferred means of taking in, processing and retaining novel skills and information. Different learners have different personal characteristics concerning the process of learning. For instance, while some students respond to visual representations, others respond well to hands-on-activities. It is apparent that individuals learn in different manners and these disparities in learning proliferates EFL and ESL environment (Ahmad, 2011). Perceptual learning style preference entails perceptual channels via which students prefer to learn in, and they are portioned into four dimensions. These dimensions include auditory that entails listening to tapes and lectures, visual, which entails studying and reading diagrams, tactile which entail hands-on, and performing lab experiments, and kinesthetic which entails physical movement and activities. Learning strategies are behavioral hence observable, and they could either be common perspectives or specific methods adopted to learn a particular language (Ahmad, 2011).
Learners recognize the techniques or perspectives they use in language learning. Past studies have confirmed that individual disparities play a crucial role in the quality of the foreign and second language learning. Among the most notable individual disparities, variables identified during the studies include language learning strategies and language learning styles where these variables affect student's performance in second language. Language teachers should offer a wealth of knowledge and information to students to increase their understanding regarding their learning strategies and learning styles. From this perspective, learning strategies and styles hold great effects on the process of education and the performance of students.
Learning Styles and Strategies
Learning styles refer to cognitive, physiological and affective characteristics that comparatively are stable indicators of how learners interact with, react to and perceive the learning environment. Learning styles refer to a learner's constant manner of reacting to and utilizing stimuli in the learning perspective. They are the educational conditions through which a learner learns, and they are concerned with how a student prefers to learn as opposed to how these students learn. Learning styles facilitates discovery of divergent kinds of mental representations, but they are not excellent categorizations of what individuals are. According to Gabriel (2008), learning styles refers to a person's characteristic and preferred ways of interpreting, collecting, thinking and organizing information. There are four major kinds of learning styles, visual, kinesthetic, tactile and auditory with most students learning best via an integration of the three, visual, kinesthetic, auditory, forms of learning styles. Auditory learners listen to explanations from their instructors than read them. In this type of learning styles, recitation of information with background music is a preferred study method. Visual learners, on the other hand, learn well through viewing graphics, reading or watching illustrations. Such students find it hard to listen to explanations. Kinesthetic learners process knowledge best via hands-on practice. For kinesthetic learners, performing an activity is the easiest means of learning, and writing enhances their understanding. While majority of people integrate the three learning styles, they hold a preference for a single learning style. In this regard, understanding the forms of learning styles is crucial for learners of all ages.
It is beneficial for learners to gain knowledge of their learning style type to enhance their learning. LeFever (2011) asserts that understanding the learning styles concepts helps in-service educators to optimize the learning experience of students. Learning style as developmental and biological set of personal traits makes identical instruction effective for some learners and inefficient for others. The learning-style model is founded on two learning theories, which include brain lateralization, and cognitive style theory. However, several variables affect the learning style of each individual. The learning style of each individual explains how the individual is capable to learn difficult and new information, retain, concentrate and understand the information. According LeFever (2011) learning styles entails four perceptual strengths, visual which encompasses between 30% and 40% of learners, auditory which includes 20%-30% of learners, tactual with 20%-25% of learners, and Kinesthetic with encompasses between 20% and 25% of learners ( LeFever, 2011) .
To facilitate their understanding of information and help them solve problems, students utilize Learning strategies refers to an individual's perspective to using information and learning. Students who fail to employ good learning strategies always learn inactively and they do not do well in their studies. Instruction of learning strategy centers on making students develop into active learners through instructing them on how to learn and utilize their gained knowledge to solve issues and perform well in their studies. Learning strategies have been linked to failure or success of students. Past studies have shown that intensive, consistent, explicit support and instruction are crucial ingredients for learning and instructional success.
According to Hewitt (2008), educational success of pupils depends on the learner building self-regulation in different important areas. In some cases, the strategies for regulation may be specific to a given subject or may be generic in nature. Self-support strategies function in similar manner. For example, clarificatory strategies allow learners to get more information regarding an activity or a task to resolve confusion or a misconception regarding how it should be performed. Students adopt learning strategies to facilitate their learning. According to Teng (2006), oral reading is a good tool that facilitates students reading comprehension, but the role of language differences and language levels in student reading comprehension calls for careful examination. Teng (2006) cites a study where the findings indicated that older students scored higher in silent reading than in oral reading as compared to younger students. Teng (2006) further explains that lower lever readers understand better during oral reading than when they reading silently. On the contrary, higher-level readers understand better, when they read silently than when reading loudly. However, language disparities influence the efficiency of utilizing oral reading to enhance comprehension.
Teng (2006) claims that more assessments are needed to determine how the divergent first languages affect oral reading for EFL learners. EFL learners employ divergent strategies to learn a foreign language compared to native language speakers learning. Understanding of a passage is the reason for reading. When readers read words and fail to understand the meaning of the passage, they are not reading. Being able to comprehend a printed passage is a crucial academic activity that forms the foundation of learning in academic subjects. Teng (2009) proposes four different element procedures in reading comprehension. The component process include accessing pertinent knowledge from long-term memory, combining knowledge with the text information, making inferences founded on the text information and remembering newly learned text material.
A study carried out by Chen & Hung (2012) indicated that extroverted students utilized compensation, cognitive, affective, metacogntive, social and memory strategies compared to introverted students. Extroverts utilized social and affective strategies more regularly than introverts did, and introverts use metacogntive strategies for planning upcoming language activities compared to extroverts. Students with intuitive personality type employed compensation and memory strategies more regularly compared to students with sensing personality. Chen & Hung (2012) concluded that in view of the effect of type of personality to learners' use of learning strategies, language teachers should take into consideration the personality type when designing learning activities and types.
According to Chen & Hung (2012), nationality or ethnicity holds a powerful impact on the employed language learning strategy. Numerous studies have explored the role of personality in learning English in western nations, but very few studies have explored whether or not differences exist among personality type, language learning strategies and perceptual learning style preference across cultures. Educational psychologists have confirmed that every person learns in a different manner and personality type play a major role in determining how a person learns best. This implies that personality traits affect how learners perceive information and what they learn (Chen & Hung, 2012). Chen & Hung (2012) further states that the…