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Learning Styles

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Farley
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 Message 1 of 55
22 November 2005 at 9:12am | IP Logged 
There have been many remarks on the forum about different learning styles, but what are they? I found the following links below very interesting. Richard Felder, a professor at North Carolina State University, has some of his research listed on different learning styles, including a paper on learning styles on second language education.

Learning Styles

The URL below includes a description of “the learning styles” and link to a quiz to determine your learning style.

INDEX OF LEARNING STYLES (ILS)

I listed a few quotes from the paper below. The most interesting part is the difference between sensory-intuitive and sequential-global learning. The differences between the two read like some of the topics on the forum debating the merits of note cards or Assimil.

Learning and Teaching Styles In Foreign and Second Language Education
The quotes are in italics cited from:
Learning and Teaching Styles
In Foreign and Second Language Education
Richard M Felder

And of course my disclaimer, I don’t know and have never met the guy. I’m not pushing (or stealing) his ideas. I just think they are relevant to language learning.

Dimensions of Learning Style

The proposed learning style dimensions may
be defined in terms of the answers to the
following five questions:

1. What type of information does the student
preferentially perceive: sensory—sights,
sounds, physical sensations, or intuitive—
memories, ideas, insights?


Think Carl Jung here -- sensation vs intuition.

Sensors tend to be concrete and methodical,
intuitors to be abstract and imaginative. Sensors
like facts, data, and experimentation; intuitors
deal better with principles, concepts, and
theories. Sensors are patient with detail but do
not like complications; intuitors are bored by
detail and welcome complications. Sensors are
more inclined than intuitors to rely on
memorization as a learning strategy and are
more comfortable learning and following rules
and standard procedures. lntuitors like variety,
dislike repetition, and tend to be better
equipped than sensors to accommodate new
concepts and exceptions to rules. Sensors are
careful but may be slow; intuitors are quick but
may be careless.


He makes the point that most language learners are intuitors. Intuitors don't have to rely on rote to the extent sensors do.

2. Through which modality is sensory
information most effectively perceived:
visual— pictures, diagrams, graphs,
demonstrations, or verbal—written and spoken
words and formulas?


Self explanatory. He does make the distinction between visual verbal and visual-auditory.

3. How does the student prefer to process information:
actively—through engagement in
physical activity or discussion, or reflectively—
through introspection?


Again self explanatory. This site is dedicated to self-learning and my guess is that this site is populated with a bunch of introverts or reflective learners.
He does make the point that some people do better some people learn better in classes than self teaching.

4. How does the student progress toward understanding:
sequentially—in a logical progression
of small incremental steps, or
globally—in large jumps, holistically?


This was the most interesting point. This difference reads like the Assimil vs FSI threads on the forum.
Perhaps Assimil fans are global learners.

Sequential learners absorb information and
acquire understanding of material in small
connected chunks, and global learners take in
information in seemingly unconnected fragments
and achieve understanding in large
holistic leaps. Before global learners can master
the details of a subject they need to understand
how the material being presented relates to
their prior knowledge and experience, a
perspective that relatively few instructors
routinely provide. Consequently, strongly
global learners may appear slow and do poorly
on homework and tests until they grasp the
total picture, but once they have it they can
often see connections that escape sequential
learners. On the other hand, sequential learners
can function with incomplete understanding of
course material, but they may lack a grasp of
the broad context of a body of knowledge and
its interrelationships with other subjects and
disciplines...
Oxford (1990) proposes that this learning
style dimension can be tapped through studies
of brain hemisphericity. She cites studies of
Leaver (1986) suggesting that left-brain (sequential)
thinkers deal more easily with grammatical
structure and contrastive analysis,
while right-brain (global) thinkers are better at
learning language intonation and rhythms. Sequential
learners gravitate toward strategies that
involve dissecting words and sentences into
component parts and are comfortable with
structured teaching approaches that stress
grammatical analysis; global learners prefer
holistic strategies such as guessing at words
and searching for main ideas, and may respond
well to relatively unstructured approaches like
community language learning that might not
appeal to sequential learners.


I remember "holistic" from the Assimil threads. Perhaps there is a connection?

5. With which organization of information is
the student most comfortable: inductive— facts
and observations are given, underlying
principles are inferred, or deductive—principles
are given, consequences and applications are
deduced?


Here he covers the difference between the Grammar-Translation, Direct and Audio-Lingual Methods


Edited by Farley on 22 November 2005 at 9:14am

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patuco
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 Message 2 of 55
22 November 2005 at 10:51am | IP Logged 
This brings back horrible memories of last year when I had to spend most of my free time writing numerous essays for a course I was doing called "Leadership and Management". They were really insistent on learning styles and individual methods of learning. Still, it was fairly useful since I find myself using certain aspects that I learned in my classes.
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Farley
Triglot
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 Message 3 of 55
22 November 2005 at 12:28pm | IP Logged 
patuco wrote:
This brings back horrible memories of ... a course I was doing called "Leadership and Management".

Well now that you mentioned it, this stuff does have a strange resemblance to all the “organizational behavior” classes I have had to sit through. Those classes always insist that everything always fits into their model. I think you have to take this stuff with “a grain of salt” and not be dogmatic when trying to apply the lessons.

patuco wrote:

it was fairly useful since I find myself using certain aspects that I learned in my classes.

What aspects do you use? For example, I know I’m a strong visual learner so I stay away from all-audio material.

Edited by Farley on 22 November 2005 at 12:28pm

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luke
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 Message 4 of 55
22 November 2005 at 2:01pm | IP Logged 
Farley wrote:
I'm a strong visual learner so I stay
away from all-audio material.

That's interesting. I think of myself as a visual learner too. I'm wondering if you've found a course or method that you really like. FSI is the cornerstone of my program, though I use a lot of other material too. I believe I'm also what the article would describe as a "global" learner - as opposed to sequential. I mention these two things, visual/global to say that I don't think the FSI Basic Spanish course is really designed for visual/global. I.E. it is very sequential, and the book, though perhaps decent when the courses were produced in the late 50s, are not visually attractive. They're generally photocopies of typed works. That's not to say the FSI course isn't effective, but rather just that I may be working harder than someone who was an auditory/sequential learner.

One book/cd set I have is Learn ....... the Fast and Fun way. Barrons makes this series for a lot of languages, and the method - even the topics - seems very similar regardless of the language. I actually like this particular book. The type is modern, there are lots of drawings/cartoons, it's colorful, informal and they try to be humorous.

So it would be interesting to find out how people modify the methods they use to accommodate their learning style.

Edited by luke on 30 December 2005 at 9:00pm

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luke
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 Message 5 of 55
22 November 2005 at 6:10pm | IP Logged 
The questionnaire at http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html
only takes a couple minutes to fill out. I came up with:
Reflective: 5
Intuitive: 7
Visual:     7
Global:    11

That's kind of lopsided on the global. I guess there's hope that things will snap into place at some point. things that have helped me already based on the quiz results is updating my "learning diary" which I've only used about 14 days over the last 8 months. The learning diary ties in with the "reflective" trait. I always like doing the diary, but just have fought this natural activity with "must do more drills", which is actually counter to my learning style.

I'm also tempted to now zoom ahead (skim) through the courses I'm doing now just to see what's going to be covered.

I'd be curious from others who take the quiz what they like doing. For instance, a couple people have said they really like Rosetta Stone. What learning style does that person have?

Edited by luke on 30 December 2005 at 8:59pm

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patuco
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 Message 6 of 55
22 November 2005 at 6:13pm | IP Logged 
Farley wrote:
patuco wrote:


it was fairly useful since I find myself using certain aspects that I learned in my classes.


What aspects do you use? For example, I know I’m a strong visual learner so I stay away from all-audio material.


I think that I've confused you. I meant to say that what I learned from the course I've found useful in my teaching. Perhaps a better sentence would have been: "I find myself using certain aspects that I learned when teaching my classes."

The course was mainly geared towards ensuring that we could become more effective teachers by more effectively matching our teaching styles, and subsequently our lessons, to our pupils' learning styles.

When it comes to languages, I like using a combination of visual and audio (but mainly audio) although my favourite method is reading like a maniac. Not sure what learning style that would come under! Visual?
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Farley
Triglot
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Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 7 of 55
22 November 2005 at 9:52pm | IP Logged 
luke wrote:
Farley wrote:
I'm a strong visual learner so I stay
away from all-audio material.

That's interesting. I think of myself as a visual
learner too. I'm wondering if you've found a course or
method that you really like.   


Luke,
My scores are somewhat similar but I’m lopsided on the visual.
Reflective: 7
Intuitive: 5
Visual:     11
Global:     7

I guess it won’t come as a surprise to you that often I have to “see it” to “hear it”.

As for the methods I like. I learned German from an immersion course at the Goethe Institute in Germany. That is my favorite method: language immersion – plenty of visual clues to follow in person. Before I went to the Goethe Institute I used books by Margarita Madrigal and the Vis-Ed think set cards to start speaking German. I also used a grammar book called Cassell’s Contemporary German, 501 German Verbs by Henry Strutz, and the Berlitz German Self Teacher. While in Germany I used a video series called “Alles Gute”. I did not use one single drill or note card, just videos, books, charts, and people in and out of class. I spent hours reviewing, reading, listening and speaking, but this method is not practical to self-study. I have just started using note cards and replacement drills as a way to make the best use of my time outside of immersion.

Right now I’m using French in Action, the next best thing to an immersion class in French. Besides the videos, the textbook and workbooks have plenty of charts and illustrations to go with the audio. The course is a visual learners dream. I’m also using Assimil along side of French in Action. The Assimil lessons tell short stories that “provoke an mental images” that I can then peg sound and words to, for me it is the ultimate vocabulary builder. I like a lot of charts for structure so here I like Barron’s Mastering series with their simple black and white pages with the printed drills. The only reason I’m not using Barron’s for French, is because French in Action’s charts are much better. I tried Pimsleur French I, but other than the pronunciation, I found the course difficult to use. In fact I liked Michel Thomas better than Pimsleur because of all his mnemonics. Rosetta Stone looks fun, but I am a programmar/developer by trade, so spending more time at the computer is not attractive. Of course this is all subjective to my style of learning.

I hope this helps.
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ElComadreja
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 Message 8 of 55
25 November 2005 at 7:23pm | IP Logged 
Ref:3
Sen:3
Vis:1
Glo:1

Well I guess that makes sense in a way. Most things I will work on in a certain way until I get stuck, and then approach it in another way, etc. For example, with languages I normally have to hear to be able to read, and later read to be able to hear.

Edited by ElComadreja on 25 November 2005 at 7:24pm



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