A profile of korean efl students learning beliefs styles and preferences
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A Profile of Korean EFL Students’ Learning Beliefs, Styles and Preferences. Dr. Andrew Finch. Introduction. Learning styles, beliefs and preferences are controlling factors in language learning. This research set out to: examine these factors in Korean students of English Education; and

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Introduction l.jpg
Introduction and Preferences

  • Learning styles, beliefs and preferences are controlling factors in language learning.

  • This research set out to:

    • examine these factors in Korean students of English Education; and

    • make a profile (though specific to these students) of Korean EFL learners


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The situation and Preferences

  • College students receiving instruction which reflected their preferred learning styles scored higher on tests (in terms of factual knowledge, attitude, and efficiency). (Domino, 1979)

  • Approximately 90% of traditional classroom instruction is geared to the auditory learner. (Hodges, 1982, pp. 30-31)


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The situation and Preferences

  • 90% of the students with normal ability can learn 90% of the material 90% of the time if the teaching methods and media are adjusted to the student’s educational cognitive style. (Hill, 1976, p. 3)

  • Teachers tend to give higher grades to students who have the same field style as they do (Hansen-Strain, 1989, p. 224)


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Introduction and Preferences

  • Individuals vary in the strategies they employ because of differences in learning styles, affective styles, and cognitive styles.

  • Dunn & Dunn (1979) identify perceptual learning modalities:

    • visual learning: reading, studying charts;

    • auditory learning: listening to lectures, audiotapes, etc.;

    • kinaesthetic learning: experiential learning - total physical involvement with a learning situation; and

    • tactile learning: “hands-on” learning, such as building models or doing laboratory experiments.


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Research and Preferences

  • Most research involving Korean students has been carried out in the United States:

    • Hofstede, G. (1986). Cultural differences in teaching and learning. International Journal of Intercultural Relations,10, 301-320.

    • Oxford, R. L. (1986). Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL). Various Versions. Tuscaloosa, AL: Oxford Associates.

    • Horwitz, E. K. (1988). The beliefs about language learning of beginning university foreign language students. The Modern Language Journal, 72(3), 283-294.


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Research and Preferences

  • Reid (1987, p. 96) reviewed ESL learning style preferences over nine language backgrounds, finding that Koreans were most visual in their learning style preferences, though they preferred kinaesthetic and tactile learning as major learning styles.

  • Stebbins (1995, p. 111) found that “Korean students strongly preferred visual learning.” Lee (1996) attributed this to the use of largely iconographic language systems in Asian cultures (hangul 한글and hanmun 한문).


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Preconceptions and Preferences

  • The “received truth” about the Asian context has been that the learner is generally “an individual who is conditioned by a pattern of cultural forces that are not harmonious to learner autonomy, independence or self-direction” (Pierson, 1996, p. 52; Liu, 1998, p. 5)


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Preconceptions and Preferences

  • However, it has been shown that traditional learning practices and cultural traits may actually contribute to the development of learner autonomy (Ho & Crookall, 1995; Pierson, 1996)

  • Cultural differences may not be the main barrier to the promotion of the concept of autonomy in countries with a group-oriented tradition such as China. (Little, 1996, p. 46)


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Preconceptions and Preferences

  • The stereotype of Asian students as ‘obedient listeners’ does not reflect the roles they would like to adopt in class.

    • They do not see the teacher as an authority figure who should not be questioned;

    • they do not want to sit in class passively receiving knowledge;

    • and they are only slightly on the ‘agreement’ side that the teacher should have a greater role than themselves in evaluating their learning. (Littlewood, 2000, p. 33)


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Alternative Perspectives and Preferences

  • “Educational contexts” are more responsible for Asian learning styles than the learners themselves (Littlewood, 2000, p. 33)

  • The gap between generations of learners of English is becoming more noticeable.(cf. Sakui & Gaies, 1999, p. 488)


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The Study and Preferences

  • For these reasons, this study set out to construct a profile of learning styles, beliefs and preferences of language learners in Korea in the 21st Century.

  • An up to the date profile of EFL students studying in Korea would have implications for materials development and for teacher training programs.


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The Study and Preferences

Kyungpook National University,

2002 to 2004 (4 semesters).


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Method and Preferences

  • During each semester, students taking methodology or writing courses in the Department of English Education were asked to work on a learning journal (Finch, 2000).

  • This journal consisted of a number of investigative, groupwork (classroom) activities for each week, followed up by individual (homework) written reflection pages.

  • Students investigated various learning-related issues in the class and reflected upon these in their own time.


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Method and Preferences

  • The research was part of the coursework.

  • The research took place over the whole semester.

  • Students were actively engaged in discussing the issues and then reflecting upon them.

  • There was little reason for them to consider writing responses that reflected the teacher/researcher’s point of view.

  • Classroom interactions focused on learning-related topics, and featured a number of questionnaires based on (or adapted from) published research instruments.


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Research Instruments and Preferences


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BALLI (Horwitz 1986) and Preferences

N = 113

  • 1. Learning a language means acquiring a body of knowledge.

  • 2. The teacher has this knowledge and must give it to the learner.


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BALLI (Horwitz 1986) and Preferences

N = 113

  • 8. The role of the teacher is to help students learn how to learn.

  • 10. The role of the teacher is to share knowledge.

  • 11. The role of the teacher is to prepare students for adult life.


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BALLI (Horwitz 1986) and Preferences

N = 113

  • 17. Some people have a special ability for learning languages.

  • 22. Learning a language is different to learning other subjects.

  • 24. Women are better than men at learning a language.


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Conclusions and Preferences

  • This research presents a profile of a set of Korean EFL students over a certain period of time.

  • It does not claim to be true of all Korean students, but it does show particular trends that can be of interest to teacher trainers and materials designers.

  • These trends reflect the changing nature of education and of student perceptions, beliefs, study strategies and learning preferences in Korea.


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Conclusions: Trends and Preferences

  • BALLI: a movement away from traditional views of language learning and teaching.

  • FLCAS: a growing feeling of comfort in the language classroom (decreasing anxiety).

  • LSI: Twice as many Visual Learners as Auditory Learners. Almost no Tactile Learners.

  • SILL: General raised awareness of learning strategies.

  • MIS: Comparable presence of all 9 intelligences, with Intrapersonal strength being the strongest and Interpersonal strength being the weakest.


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Conclusions: Trends and Preferences

  • CLE: heightened awareness of the significance of the learning environment.

  • CEQ: heightened awareness of the importance of matching preferred and actual learning environments.

  • Self-Assessment, Confidence: students responded positively.

  • Self-Assessment, Motivation: students responded positively.


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Thank You and Preferences

  • The learning Journal English Reflections is available from KNU Press: http://knupress.com/

  • The author can be contacted by email at: aef @ knu.ac.kr

  • Thank you for your time.


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