Students’ Ways to Learn English out of Class: A reliability check (Talk T17)

Presenters: Howard Doyle, Kochi University, Japan and Michael Parrish, Kwansei University, Japan

The references for and experiences of language learning students bring to an institution let alone a course are frequently neglected by many stakeholders in the learning process, including the students! This presentation reports a replication study based on action research to find out just what students thought were effective (ie ‘Good’) and less effective (ie ‘Bad’) ways to learn English. This study confirmed initial findings that Japanese students prefer audiovisual and study-relevant ways to learn with more traditional ways being viewed ‘Bad’ly. Further, CAL and SACs did not seem to cross students’ minds until prompted when they did figure significantly. Utility of providing a preliminary questionnaire-based list of ways to learn English out of class is considered. It is hoped that from this presentation participants consider their language-learning clients as adult learners with prior experiences and preferences for ways to learn. Dealing with their effectiveness and relevance can come later.

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Filed under Japan, Research and practice of advising, Talk

2 responses to “Students’ Ways to Learn English out of Class: A reliability check (Talk T17)

  1. Interesting that Japanese students saw traditional teaching techniques as bad. In my experience of teaching Far Eastern students, I have found that they have usually been taught “lecture style” and anything lively or stimulating (such as audio-visual teaching) goes down very well indeed.

    • Howard Doyle

      Yeah, that had been my thought for years, until I became immersed in ideas of culture, cultural environment, consciousness, discourse community and all that – basically a consciousness or set of assumptions which come from being in that milieu.
      In other words, students had been in traditional modes of learning (ie top-down, etc.) and that was what they would think of as normal in the first instance), and our results have tended to support this. However I am extrapolating here, and some longitudinal research (ie case study or focus group discussion) would be one way to confirm these sorts of hypotheses.
      Rather in the short-term were were just seeing if there was anything strange about our data collection, and seeing if we could develop it a bit. That bit was OK I thought.
      But about your supposition about ‘lively or stimulating’ things, I agree – and our Likert-Item data supports this. But there are 2 qualifications here:
      i. our questionnaire was acting as a prompt – basically providing a repertoire catalogue of ways to learn English outside of class, so the student does not need to recall or create schema for themselves;
      ii. the approaches you are thinking of, are they similarly provided in a top-down manner, or are the lively or stimulating ways to learn English actually outside of the classroom rather than in it, and also conceived by the student independently of any teacher or institution? Otherwise, the given student may just consider traditional, in-class ways to learn English as the norm, and just stop their learning repertoire there.
      Two studies by Malcom (2004) on Arab learners in the Gulf and Pearson (2004) on Chinese learners in New Zealand reported the opposite patterns to our research. At this point I was stumped, and I set out to ‘go figure!’, which led to the subsequent 2009 study and the present paper.
      I hope this helps a bit – sorry it is a bit long-winded. Now I have to go and teach a couple of student (who actually were subjects in my initial research).

      Howard Doyle (17 Nov 2011)

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