This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Learning Style Preferences and their Relationship to Second Language Acquisition in Students of English as a Second Language




Dos Santos, Hugo

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


Understanding learning styles can be an essential tool to implement new learning procedures. A learning style is not just an ability but rather a preferred way of using one’s abilities (Sternberg, 1994). Sanz (2005) stated that the type of input is the key to understanding why some learners learn faster than others. Therefore, the interaction of an individual difference with an external variable, together with an examination of learners’ internal processes, could shed a more complete diagnosis of the SLA process. During the 1950s and 1960s the concept of learning strategies has gained recognition because of the use of these strategies as a distinguishing feature of successful language learners (Rubin, 1975). According to Anderson (2005), second language learning strategies are ‘the conscious actions that learners take to improve their language learning’ (p. 757). Hence, appropriate learning strategies are highly related to successful language achievement. If learners know how to use learning strategies appropriately, they can benefit greatly. In addition, one important aspect of the connection between styles and strategies is that strategies do not function independently of styles (Cohen, 1998), so that the connection between students' styles and consequential strategy preferences must be taken into account when planning strategies training (Bull & Ma, 2001). This study examined learning styles, learning strategies, and second language acquisition. This is an area which needed investigation - to identify the nature of perceptual learning style preferences as well as students’ strategies selection, in order to better understand the relationship that exists between second language students’ learning styles and preferred learning strategies based on gender, age and cultural background. The VARK Questionnaire Scoring Chart and the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) were used to identify how students learn and process information in their own special styles and strategies. The findings of this study indicated that there is a relationship between visual learning styles domains and student’s age group. Similarly, findings indicated that there is a relationship between students’ age group and their preferences for aural domains. Findings also indicated that there was a significant difference of strategy use among students from Asia, Middle East, Africa, Europe and America, and there was no significant difference of other specific learning strategies in relation to background, although the results in regard to cognitive strategy are very close to a statistical significance. The findings indicated that there was a positive correlation between aural learning style and metacognitive strategy’s use, as well as aural learning style and affective strategy’s use. Implications of this study show us that findings may help to better understand both perceptual learning style preferences and learning strategies of ESL students while in a second language acquisition environment.