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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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  • 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
the situation
The situation
  • 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)
the situation4
The situation
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
alternative perspectives
Alternative Perspectives
  • “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)
the study
The Study
  • 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.
the study13

The Study

Kyungpook National University,

2002 to 2004 (4 semesters).

  • 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.
  • 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.
balli horwitz 1986
BALLI (Horwitz 1986)

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.
balli horwitz 198618
BALLI (Horwitz 1986)

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.
balli horwitz 198619
BALLI (Horwitz 1986)

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.
  • 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.
conclusions trends
Conclusions: Trends
  • 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.
conclusions trends22
Conclusions: Trends
  • 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.
thank you
Thank You
  • 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.