Language learning styles and strategies are among the main factors that help determine how –and how well –our students learn a second or foreign language. A second language is a language studied in a setting where that language is the main vehicle of everyday communication and where abundant input exists in that language. A foreign language is a language studied in an environment where it is not the primary vehicle for daily interaction and where input in that language is restricted. Following the tradition in our field, the term “L2” is used in this paper to refer to either a second or a foreign language.
The readers of this book will be primarily in the field of English as a second or foreign language (ESL or EFL), and most of the studies in this chapter were conducted in ESL or EFL settings. However, some of the studies cited here focused on native English speakers learning French, German, Japanese, and other languages foreign to them. Information about language learning styles and strategies is valid regardless of what the learner’s first language is.
Learning styles are the general approaches –for example, global or analytic, auditory or visual –that students use in acquiring a new language or in learning any other subject. These styles are the overall patterns that give general direction to learning behavior. Of greatest relevance to this methodology book is this statement: Learning style is the biologically and developmentally imposed set of characteristics that make the same teaching method wonderful for some and terrible for others.
Learning strategies are defined as “specific actions, behaviors, steps, or techniques --
such as seeking out conversation partners, or giving oneself encouragement to tackle a difficult language task -- used by students to enhance their own learning” (Scarcella & Oxford, 1992, p. 63). When the learner consciously chooses strategies... [continues]
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