5 - Learning Styles and Listening Strategies  pp. 62-82

Learning Styles and Listening Strategies

By John Flowerdew and Lindsay Miller

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To teach effective listening we must be aware of how our students approach their learning in general and how they prefer to develop their listening skills. In this chapter, we begin by outlining how students are oriented toward listening activities via their general learning styles. Because individual students have their own preferred learning styles, and because these styles can sometimes be predicted by factors such as ethnicity, age, type of task, and previous learning, we can often tailor our listening programs to suit the types of learners we have. Although students may have preferred learning styles, this is not to say that they cannot use other styles. To expose learners to other learning styles (which may be more effective in the task at hand), teachers can introduce their students to a range of listening strategies.

According to Willing (1988:7), a learning strategy is “a specific mental procedure for gathering, processing, associating, categorizing, rehearsing, and retrieving information or patterned skills.” In this chapter, we illustrate a wide range of listening strategies that students may either already possess or can be introduced to. Students can become aware of their listening strategies either through specific learning training sessions or by the teacher's integration of strategy training into the listening lessons. We illustrate how the teacher can introduce both of these approaches.

General Learning Styles

Learning styles are the approaches students prefer to adopt when learning, and they are generally consistent behavior. Learning style is a concept that has been developed from the extensive work into cognitive styles, that is, how people think and act in certain ways.