Learning Styles in ESL Classroom - Teacher's Zone

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Learning Styles in ESL Classroom

by Anna Sawa

Every student in EFL  classroom learns in a unique way. Learning style means that different  people receive and process information differently. The basic types of  learning are visual, auditory and kinesthetic. However, every student  may have a combination of learning styles and strategies or only one  dominant way of foreign language assimilation.

Visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners in ESL classroom
Teachers  should focus on identifying learning styles of their students to adjust  teaching strategies and techniques that are best for their students’  learning preferences. How recognize the learning styles? What teaching  methods and activities should teachers use? Here are some teaching tips  to help students learn more quickly and effectively.

Visual learners
A  visual learner is someone who remembers written information and  pictures. They learn best by using posters, maps, charts, real objects  and other visual aids. Students who prefer this learning style often  recognize words by sight and take notes to organize their thoughts even  when they have printed material. During a lesson they look at the  teacher intently. Learning a foreign language they highlight new words  and phrases in contrasting colours. They like making flashcards to  memorize new lexical items and use sticky notes containing key phrases  and attach them in clearly visible places.
Teachers  who have visual learners in EFL classroom should use flashcards,  illustrations and photos. They should use different colours of chalk or  markers and underline the most important information. The classroom  should be decorated with posters, maps and other visual aids. Encourage  these students to take notes, highlight key words and make picture  dictionaries.
Auditory learners
Auditory  learners process information best when they can hear it. They are great  in following verbal instructions rather than written directions.  Auditory learners benefit from lectures and readily participate in  discussions. They prefer gather information presented through speech  over long texts to read. In the classroom they listen to the teacher  intently, but they can get easily distracted by what they can hear  around (ex. talking classmates or outside sounds). This type of student  is usually very social and talkative so he does not afraid to speak in  public. These students would willingly prepare a dialogue, a short  performance or a presentation.
Teachers  who have auditory learnes in EFL classroom should call on them to  summarise or paraphrase what they have heard or answer questions.  Introduce songs and chants to practise vocabulary and whole chunks of  the language. Put their social skills to good use with creating lesson  plans which include group work and collaboration.
Kinaesthetic learners
Kinaesthetic  learners retain information best when they are doing something or  manipulating objects in the same time. They need to be physically  engaged in the learning process. A kinaesthetic learner walks around and  moves while he tries to learn something by heart. They are usually full  of energy, vigorous and do a lot of sport. They have great hand-eye  coordination and high level of motor skills. They can be distracted by  sitting still and just listening without any additional activities.
Teachers  working with kinaesthetic learners in EFL classroom should let them do  notes or just doodle during lectures. Creating lesson plans you need to  include lots of physical activities and games to facilitate  memorization. Use teaching materials your students can manipulate such  as blocks, puzzles or board games. Encourage your kinaesthetic learners  to prepare presentations or performances and combine study sessions with  some movement.
In  fact, teaching in EFL classroom you meet all of these students  presented above at the same place and time. That could be a challenge.  The only thing you can do is diversify teaching materials and  strategies. Teachers should take into account all of the needs and  learning styles to prepare a beneficial and effective lesson plan. That  is why you should visualise teaching material, present a good model of  spoken language and put what you teach into practise during every single  lesson.
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