A Study of Learning Styles, Teaching Styles and Vocabulary
Teaching Strategies in Chinese Primary School
—How Do They Differ and How Can They Be Integrated?
Jie Fu
Kristianstad University College
The School of Teacher Education
English IV, Spring 2009
D-essay in English Didactics
Tutor: Carita Lundmark
1. Introduction
Introduction......................................................................................................................... 1
1.1 Aim................................................................................................................................. 2
1.2 Material and Method...................................................................................................... 2
1.2.1 Participants.............................................................................................................. 3
1.2.2 Questionnaires and Data Analysis........................................................................... 3
1.2.3 Procedures............................................................................................................... 5
1.2.4 Material for Suggested Strategies............................................................................ 5
2. Theoretical Background
Background..................................................................................................... 6
2.1 EFL Learning and Teaching...........................................................................................7
2.2 Learner Style Preferences...............................................................................................9
2.3 Matching of Learning and Teaching Styles.................................................................. 11
2.4 Teaching Method.......................................................................................................... 13
2.4.1 Multisensory Approach.......................................................................................... 13
2.5 Vocabulary Teaching.................................................................................................... 16
2.5.1 Word Associations.................................................................................................. 16
2.5.2 Vocabulary in Discourse........................................................................................ 18
2.5.3 Techniques.............................................................................................................. 20
2.5.4 Games.................................................................................................................... 21
3. Data Analysis
Analysis..................................................................................................................... 24
Analysis of The VAK Questionnaire.............................................................................24
Analysis of Teaching Style Inventory........................................................................... 25
Comparison Between Learning and Teaching Styles...................................................26
Analysis of Questionnaire on English Vocabulary Teaching Strategies...................... 28
4. Discussion
Mismatch Between Learning and Teaching Styles.......................................................31
Problems of English Vocabulary Teaching Strategies.................................................. 34
5. Suggested Pedagogical Practice Based on the Discussion
Discussion.............................................. 39
Strategies for Vocabulary Teaching to Different Learning Styles.................................41
Suggested Multisensory Vocabulary Teaching Activities.............................................45
6. Conclusion
Conclusion......................................................................................................................... 50
1. Introduction
Teaching vocabulary is a significant factor in language teaching, since words play an
important role in expressing our feelings, emotions, and ideas to others during the act of
communication. Vocabulary difficulties could lead to reading comprehension problems. In
many EFL (English as a foreign language) classes, even where teachers have devoted much
time to vocabulary teaching, the results have been disappointing. For years, vocabulary
building skills were mostly taught by using a vocabulary book in which students memorized
words and their meanings. In China, students come from a cultural background whose
educational system emphasizes rote memorization. They have highly developed memory
strategies, but less developed comprehension strategies for problem-solving. The
characteristics of the Chinese teaching and learning styles are memorizing and modeling. The
traditional classroom vocabulary teaching techniques often leave students struggling with
concepts and unable to make progress. Many students feel frustrated with their English
vocabulary learning. Therefore, vocabulary teaching is an indispensable part of the English
However, students as well as EFL language learners do not take in new information in the
same way. Just as we are different in the way we look, act and feel, we are also different in
the way we learn. Each of us has a learning style. Many EFL teachers experience student
resistance when they introduce an instructional activity in the classroom. Some students want
more opportunities to participate in free conversation, expressing their wishes towards a more
communicatively oriented approach. On the other hand, there are those who would prefer
more emphasis on grammar teaching. It is thought that the teacher, in making decisions
regarding the type of activities to conduct in a language classroom, should take into account
such learner diversities. Learning style is a consistent way of functioning that reflects the
underlying causes of learning behavior. Learning styles are internally based characteristics of
individuals for the intake or understanding of new information. All learners have individual
attributes relating to their learning processes. Some students may rely heavily on visual
presentation; others may prefer spoken language; still others may respond better to movement
activities. It is evident that students learn differently and at different paces because of their
biological and psychological differences. Therefore, EFL teachers need to recognize the
conflict and difference between teaching and learning to enhance the learning process. An
English teaching that explicitly combines different learning styles and strategic vocabulary
teaching activities with everyday classroom language instruction can help a teacher to ease the
burden. Thus the classroom teacher can perform a key role in this effort as learner trainer.
Students can learn English effectively and efficiently.
1.1 Aim
This study is carried out with three main aims: firstly, to investigate the present state of
English vocabulary learning styles and teaching styles at a primary school in China; secondly,
to investigate the strategies of English vocabulary teaching used by teachers at primary school,
and thirdly, to make suggestions for improvement and an attempt to put forward several
practical vocabulary teaching strategies to meet the needs of different learning styles, which
might reduce teaching and learning style conflicts.
1.2 Material and Method
The procedures consist of sequential steps which include a review of related research,
population and sample selection, development of the study instrument, procedures of data
collection, and data analyses. The theoretical framework serves as the basis of the evaluation
of vocabulary teaching practices at primary school, and of suggestions for improving its
drawbacks so as to reduce conflict between teaching and learning styles, and develop
vocabulary teaching strategies according to students’ learning styles. In order to investigate
current vocabulary teaching practices at a primary school, four sections are included: (1) a
survey of the learning style and teaching style among the pupils and teachers, and (2) to survey
the teachers’ vocabulary teaching strategies, and (3) to analyze the data collected and describe
the procedure for conducting the study, and (4) to discuss a practical suggestion for teachers in
English vocabulary teaching, and to present an application of vocabulary teaching mode with
concrete teaching activities as well.
1.2.1 Participants
The participants in the present study consist of 253 EFL pupils and 21 EFL teachers of these
pupils at the same primary school in the south of China. The pupils (132 girls, 121 boys) from
year 8 to 12 were selected in this investigation to state their views as to their learning styles.
The pupils’ English level is between intermediate and advanced. As a further step, the English
teachers (12 females; 9 males) of these pupils were also asked to express their views regarding
the extent of their awareness of their own teaching styles and vocabulary teaching strategies.
The teachers are between 25 and 42 years of age. The survey was mailed to the primary school
in China, the students and faculties of which had volunteered to participate in the study. They
were asked to respond on a voluntary basis to the questionnaire as it applied to their learning
English as a foreign language. Of the 203 participants, 21 teachers and 182 pupils returned the
1.2.2 Questionnaire
Questionnairess and Data Analysis
In order to answer the three research questions, information is collected through a 3-item
questionnaire. This is achieved by using a proved questionnaire followed by a statistical
analysis method. The questionnaire has two versions; version 1 is designed to investigate the
learning and teaching styles of the pupils and teachers respectively, and version 2 to
investigate the attitudes of teachers toward English vocabulary teaching strategies.
The first section, The VAK questionnaire (Chislett and Chapman, 2005) (see Appendix A)
consists of 30 questions to which respondents are asked to answer A, B or C. The
questionnaire provides users with a profile of their learning preferences. These preferences are
about the ways that they want to take in and put out information in a learning context. The
VAK profile matches their perception of their preferences for learning. The simplest and most
common way of identifying different learning styles is based on the senses. Commonly called
the VAK model, this framework describes learners as visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Visual
learners most effectively process visual information; auditory learners understand best through
hearing; and kinesthetic/tactile learners learn through touch and movement. Those who have
used VAK before and older respondents have a higher figure for the “match” statistic. Having
the students do these might provide information for them on effective learning strategies as
well as provide teachers with information on effective teaching strategies. By teaching to the
particular learning styles of students, learning outcomes can be improved. Knowledge of the
learning styles of students helps instructors to understand the learning difficulties some
students have in specific aspects of courses and to reduce their frustration levels.
Teaching Style Inventory was designed by Grasha (1996) (see Appendix B). The GrashaRiechmann Teaching Style Inventory has 40 questions. The statements in the questionnaire
will help teachers recognize their teaching style. Only by discovering their own personal
teaching style is it possible to become more flexible and match their style to the learning needs
of the students. The Grasha-Riechmann teaching style survey determines an individual’s
preferred teaching style. Grasha describes five teaching styles: Expert (transmits information),
Formal Authority (structured instruction), Personal Model (teach by example), Facilitator
(consultant, guides students), and Delegator (assigns task, teacher as a resource). Based on the
preferred teaching methods employed by each group, combinations of the five styles create
four teaching “clusters:” 1 (teacher-centered, knowledge acquisition), 2 (teacher-centered, role
modeling), 3 (student-centered, problem-solving), and 4 (student-centered, facilitative).
The second section is about English vocabulary teaching strategies (see Appendix C).
Vocabulary teaching is a complicated task. The teacher has to perform several tasks when
teaching a new word: spelling, pronunciation, stress, grammatical class, semantic category, in
combination with other semantic and grammatical elements in the sentence, and possible
contextual occurrence in various situations. Thus, a language teacher attempting to present a
new word, may overlook these characteristics of the word, and remain content with one or two.
With the questionnaire named Questionnaire on English Vocabulary Teaching Strategies, the
purpose is to find out how the teachers teach vocabulary in the classroom. The recent situation
of English vocabulary teaching at primary school is analyzed through the questionnaire. The
traditional language teaching approaches have resulted in a number of typical learning styles.
In order to incorporate all of the learning styles, the teachers are required to differentiate
instruction through use of the learning styles. As a successful EFL teacher, he or she will find
appropriate ways and create valuable approaches to match students’ learning styles and needs.
The study utilizes a quantitative analysis of the data gathered in two self-reporting
instruments. The data gathered from the returned surveys are reported through descriptive and
inferential statistics, such as item percentages, and are analyzed by computing.
1.2.3 Procedures
The study involves two steps through investigating current vocabulary teaching practices at
primary school. Firstly, the investigation of learning and teaching styles involved a survey of
the pupils and English teaching staff with the purpose to find out if the teaching style matches
with the learning style. Secondly, the current teaching practices involved a survey of teachers’
perceptions of vocabulary teaching skills assessment at primary school. They are evaluated in
order to point out the strengths and weaknesses based on the theoretical framework. The
survey was conducted in the form of questionnaires. The questionnaires were delivered to the
respondents and collected one week later. The respondents were clearly informed of the
purpose of the questionnaire. From the data results, some analyses are conducted to examine
whether the teaching style matches with the learning style, and what strategies are applied to
vocabulary teaching, and finally to present sample activities of multisensory vocabulary
teaching mode.
1.2.4 Material for Suggested Strategi
The textbook chosen for the practical teaching program is Michael McCarthy & Felicity
O'Dell’s English Vocabulary in Use (Elementary), which is a classroom textbook for
vocabulary development. It is intended for elementary students. The book contains 60 units.
Unit 4 Everyday verbs: go/went/gone is chosen as the text to present the concrete teaching
activities. In every chapter, there is a vocabulary comprehension section that includes
exercises such as matching vocabulary items to definitions, identifying the odd word out in a
sequence, and recognizing the meaning of words in context. In a separate section, learners are
encouraged to use the vocabulary items in alternative contexts. They work with cloze
sentences and gap-filling activities or give alternative examples to illustrate understanding of
meaning and nuance. Therefore, vocabulary is presented in context and there are plenty of
follow-up exercises. Vocabulary is clearly presented and contextualized on left-hand pages
with practice activities on facing right-hand pages. The book is designed for primary students
and is intended to take learners from a very basic level of vocabulary to a level where they can
use around 2,000 words. The vocabulary has been chosen for its usefulness in everyday
2. Theoretical Background
This section presents the background information of the previous study. This chapter will first
review the contemporary studies on EFL learning and teaching and the concept of learner
preference, then present some of the teaching methods facing different learners, and finally
discuss the studies done by former researchers of EFL vocabulary teaching.
2.1 EFL Learning and Teaching
The term learning applies to a conscious process of accumulating knowledge of features, such
as vocabulary and grammar, of a language, typically in instructional settings (Yule 2006:163).
More than any other species, people are designed to be flexible learners and active agents of
acquiring knowledge and skills. Much of what people learn requires formal training, usually
in schools. While activities associated with learning have traditionally been used language
teaching in schools and have a tendency, when successful, to result in more knowledge
‘about’ the language (as demonstrated in tests) than fluency in actually using the language (as
demonstrated in social interaction) (Yule 2006:163). The need for instruction in other
languages has led to variety of educational approaches and methods of fostering L2 learning.
More recent approaches designed to promote L2 learning have tended to reflect different
theoretical views on how an L2 might best be learned.
The most traditional approach is to treat L2 learning in the same way as any other academic
subject. Vocabulary lists and sets of grammar rules are used to define the target of learning,
memorization is encouraged, and written language rather than spoken language is emphasized.
This method has its roots in the traditional teaching of Latin and is described as the grammartranslation method (Yule 2006:165). In this case, the focus is on the language itself, rather than
on the information which is carried by the language. Therefore, the goal for the teacher is to
see to it that students learn the vocabulary and grammatical rules of the target language. The
learners’ goal in such a course is often to pass an examination rather than to use the language
for daily communication interaction. Traditionally, the teaching of EFL in most East Asian
countries is dominated by a teacher-centered, book-centered, grammar-translation method and
an emphasis on rote memory (Liu & Littlewood 1997). These traditional language teaching
approaches have resulted in a number of typical learning styles in East Asian countries, with
introverted learning being one of them. Introverted learners enjoy generating energy and ideas
from internal sources, such as brainstorming, personal reflection and theoretical exploration.
These learners prefer to think about things before attempting to try a new skill. In East Asia,
most students see knowledge as something to be transmitted by the teacher rather than
discovered by the learners. They, therefore, find it normal to engage in modes of learning
which are teacher-centered and in which they receive knowledge rather than interpret it.
Therefore, the students are often quiet, shy and reticent in language classrooms. They dislike
public touch and overt displays of opinions or emotions, indicating a reserve that is the
hallmark of introverts. Chinese students likewise name “listening to teacher” as their most
frequent activity in senior school English classes (Liu & Littlewood 1997). This teachercentered classroom teaching also leads to a closure-oriented style— focusing carefully on all
learning tasks and seek clarity. for most East Asian students.
A very different approach, emphasizing the spoken language, became popular in the middle of
the twentieth century. It involved a systematic presentation of the structures of the L2, moving
from the simple to the more complex, in the form of drills that the student had to repeat. This
approach is called the audiolingual method (Yule 2006:165). It was influenced by a belief that
the fluent use of a language was essentially a set of ‘habits’ that could be developed with much
practice, which involved hours spent in a language laboratory repeating oral drills.
More recent revisions of the L2 learning experience can best be described as communicative
approaches. Although there are many different versions of how to create communicative
experiences for L2 learners, they are all based on a belief that the functions of language (what
it is used for) should be emphasized rather than the forms of the language (correct grammatical
or phonological structures) (Yule 2006:166). Communicative instructional environments
involve learners whose goal is learning the language itself, but the style of instruction places
the emphasis on interaction, conversation, and language use, rather than on learning about the
language. The communicative approach is based on innatist and interactionist theories of
language learning and emphasizes the communication of meaning both between teacher and
students and among the students themselves in group or pair work. Grammatical forms are
focused on only in order to clarify meaning (Lightbown & Spada 2006:95). In these classes,
the focus may occasionally be on the language itself, but the emphasis is on using the language
rather than talking about it. The teacher tries to lead learners to use the language in a variety of
contexts. Students’ success in these courses is often measured in terms of their ability to “get
things done” in the second language, rather than on their accuracy in using certain grammatical
features. Through communication-based approach, pupils will be able to gain knowledge by
challenging its meaning. The emphasis in this activity is on communicating messages where
meaning is the clear priority in the interaction (Lightbown & Spada 2006:113). With this kind
of communication between teacher and students, students are able to understand the meaning
of a subject by analyzing, critical thinking and freely expressing their knowledge.
The most fundamental change in the area of L2 learning in recent years has been a shift from
concern with the teacher, the textbook and the method to an interest in the learner (Yule
2006:166). This method is to focus on the learner. For example, one radical feature of most
communicative approaches is the toleration of ‘errors’ produced by students. Traditionally,
‘errors’ were regarded negatively and had to be avoided. The more recent acceptance of such
errors in learners’ use of the L2 is based on a fundamental shift from the traditional view of
how L2 learning takes place. An ‘error’ is not something that hinders a student’s progress. Just
as children acquiring their L1 produce certain types of ungrammatical forms at times, so we
might expect the L2 learner to produce similar forms at certain stages.
2.2 Learner Style Preferences
Learning preferences are personal learning strengths and weaknesses, and different approaches
or ways of learning. Many educators believe that learners have clear preferences for how they
go about learning new material and that teaching to these preferred styles will increase
educational success. Since all of these students are in class at the same time, as a teacher you
will be called on to use a variety of instructional approaches to reach all of them. Research has
shown that learners have three basic perceptual learning channels:
1. Visual learning--reading, studying charts
2. Auditory learning--listening to lectures, audiotapes
3. Kinesthetic learning--experiential learning, that is, total physical involvement with
a learning situation (Reid 1987: 89).
At the same time, in accordance with Lightbown and Spada (2006:58), students who absorb
content best by listening are auditory learners. Those who learn best by seeing are visual
learners, while a need to add a physical action to the learning process are kinesthetic learners.
Therefore, according to both Reid and Lightbown & Spada, visual learners learn by seeing.
They do best with textbooks that have graphs, photographs, and charts. Auditory learners
learn by being read to, and by discussing what has been read. They will also be more likely to
be distracted by sounds. The kinesthetic learner will enjoy being able to move while learning.
They have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time and may become disturbing if they
are not allowed to get up quite often during the day. The kinesthetic learner needs hands-on
experience to, as it were, “get it”.
The visual learner may think in pictures and learns best from visual displays including
diagrams, illustrated text books, overhead transparencies, videos, flipcharts and hand-outs.
During a lecture or classroom discussion, visual learners often prefer to take detailed notes to
absorb the information. Videos can be good for a visual learner, as he can see what is going
on and specific examples of the subject he is trying to learn. These learners need to see the
teacher’s body language and facial expression to fully understand the content of a lesson. They
tend to prefer sitting at the front of the classroom to avoid visual obstructions (e.g. people’s
heads). Auditory learners might learn best through verbal lectures, discussions, talking things
through and listening to what others have to say. They interpret the underlying meanings of
speech through listening to tone of voice, pitch, speed and other nuances. Written information
may have little meaning until it is heard. These learners often benefit from reading texts aloud
and using a tape recorder. Kinesthetic persons learn best through a hands-on approach, actively
exploring the physical world around them.
When learners express a preference for seeing something written or for memorizing material
which we feel should be learned in a less formal way, we should not assume that their ways of
working are wrong. Instead, we should encourage them to use all means available to them as
they work to learn another language (Lightbown & Spada 2006:58). Students preferentially
take in and process information in different ways, and teaching methods also should vary
accordingly. How much a student can learn is also determined by the compatibility of the
student’s learning styles and the teacher’s teaching styles. It is important for teachers to know
their learners’ preferred learning styles because this knowledge will help teachers to plan their
lessons to match or adapt their teaching and to provide the most appropriate activities to suit a
particular learner group. Therefore, EFL teachers need to recognize the conflict and difference
between teaching and learning to enhance the learning process. Matching the language
instruction methods to student learning styles can enhance academic achievement.
2.3 Matching of Learning and Teaching Styles
A variety of approaches have been taken in research on a link between student learning styles
on the one hand and teaching styles on the other. Ford and Chen explored the relationship
between matching and mismatching of instructional presentation styles with students’
cognitive styles, that is, the area of matching of student and teacher styles. The results suggest
that the matched-conditions group had better performance than the mismatched-conditions
group only for students (Ford & Chen 2001:21). To some extent, this study provides support
for the effect of matching condition on learning outcomes.
The term “teaching style” refers to “a teacher’s personal behaviors and media used to transmit
data to or receive it from the learner” (Kaplan & Kies 1995: 29). Teaching styles focus on
teachers and their distinct approach to teaching. Differences in teaching styles may also impact
on areas such as classroom arrangements, the organization and assessment of activities,
teacher interactions with students and pedagogical approaches. Jarvis (1985:14) used three
classifications to identify teaching styles: (a) a didactic style which was teacher-controlled
through lectures and student note taking; (b) a Socratic style which was teacher directed
through the use of questions to which the students responded; and (c) a facilitative style in
which the teacher prepared the learning environment and the students were responsible for
their own learning. However, Van Tilburg and Heimlich (Heimlich, 1990:3-9) in an attempt to
describe an individual’s teaching style, defined two domains, sensitivity and inclusion. The
sensitivity domain is based on the ability of the teacher to sense the shared characteristics of
the learners. The inclusion domain is based on the teacher’s willingness and ability to utilize
instructional strategies that take advantage of the group’s characteristics. An individual can be
classified into one of four teaching styles based on their sensitivity and inclusion scores. The
low inclusion and low sensitivity quadrant is labeled “expert”. The “expert” teacher is subject
oriented and tends to use the lecture method of instruction. Teachers scoring in the low
inclusion and high sensitivity quadrant are termed “providers”. “Providers” are learnercentered and seek to teach effectively. “Providers” tend to use group discussion,
demonstrations, and guided activities. The quadrant defined by high inclusion and low
sensitivity is labeled “facilitator”. Teachers falling into the “facilitator” category are teachercentered and the method of instruction is dictated by the subject matter. Teachers in the final
quadrant with scores of high inclusion and high sensitivity are “enablers”. “Enablers” are very
learner-centered and the learners define both the activity and the process in the learning
environment. Grasha also groups five teaching styles into four clusters (1996:154):
Cluster 1 - expert/formal authority: tends toward teacher-centered classrooms in
which information is presented and students receive knowledge.
Cluster 2 - personal model/expert/formal authority is a teacher-centered approach that
emphasizes modeling and demonstration. This approach encourages students to
observe processes as well as content.
Cluster 3 - facilitator/personal model/expert cluster is a student-centered model for
the classroom. Teachers design activities, social interactions, or problem-solving
situations that allow students to practice the processes for applying course content.
Cluster 4 – delegator expert places much of the learning burden on the students.
Teachers provide complex tasks that require student initiative to complete.
However, students learn in many ways — by seeing and hearing; reflecting and acting;
reasoning logically and intuitively; memorizing and visualizing. Teaching methods also vary.
Some instructors lecture, others demonstrate or discuss; some focus on rules and others on
examples; some emphasize memory and others understanding. How much a given student
learns in a class is governed in part by that student’s native ability and prior preparation but
also by the compatibility of his or her characteristic approach to learning and the instructor’s
characteristic approach to teaching (Felder & Henriques 1995:21). Felder and Henriques
showed that matching teaching styles to learning styles can significantly enhance academic
achievement, student attitudes, and student behavior at the primary and secondary school level,
and specifically in foreign language instruction (Felder & Henriques 1995:28). This is not to
say that the best thing one can do for one’s students is to use their preferred modes of
instruction exclusively. Students will inevitably be called upon to deal with problems and
challenges that require the use of their least preferred modes, and should be given practice in
the use of those modes on a regular basis. However, frustration, and burnout may occur when
students are subjected over extended periods of time to teaching styles inconsistent with their
learning style preferences. Therefore, effective matching between teaching style and learning
style can be achieved when teachers are aware of their learners’ needs, capacities, potentials
and learning style preferences in meeting these needs.
2.4 Teaching Method
Teaching methods are primarily descriptions of the learning objective oriented activities and
flow of information between teachers and students. Which instructional method is “right” for a
particular lesson depends on many things, and among them are the developmental level of the
students, the subject-matter content, the objective of the lesson, and material resources. The
following sections are descriptions of teaching methods that are correlated to the study.
2.4.1 Multisensory Approach
Any teacher has experienced meeting students with different learning styles. Three common
learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Recognizing these differences and striving
to incorporate approaches that are multisensory can promote greater interest, enthusiasm, and
more thorough learning. Multisensory instruction refers to any learning activity that includes
the use of two or more sensory modalities simultaneously to take in or express information
(Birsch 1999: 1). The sensory modalities include visual (sight), auditory (hearing), tactile
(touch) and kinesthetic (movement). Using a multisensory teaching approach means helping
students to learn through more than one of the senses. Students have learning differences in
one or more areas of reading, writing, listening comprehension, and expressive language.
Multisensory instruction can facilitate students’ ability to learn and recall information by
combining explicit instruction and multisensory strategies (Birsch 1999:2). Multisensory
teaching is simultaneously visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile to enhance memory and
learning. Links are consistently made between the visual (what we see), auditory (what we
hear), and kinesthetic (what we feel) pathways in learning. These teaching techniques and
strategies stimulate learning by engaging students on multiple levels. Some researchers
theorize that many students have an area of sensory learning strength, sometimes called a
learning style. This research suggests that when students are taught using techniques consistent
with their learning styles, they learn more easily, faster, and can retain and apply concepts
more readily to future learning. Most students, with a disability or not, enjoy the engaging
variety that multisensory techniques can offer (Logsdon 2009). Multisensory techniques
enable students to use their personal areas of strength to help them learn. They can range from
simple to complex, depending on the needs of the student and the task at hand.
Multisensory techniques that stimulate visual reasoning and learning are called visual
techniques. Those techniques that focus on sound and stimulate verbal reasoning are called
auditory techniques. Multisensory techniques that involve using body movement are called
Kinesthetic Methods (Logsdon 2009). For instance, the visual teaching methods include
strategies such as using text or pictures on paper, posters, models, projection screens, or
computers, student-created art, and images. Auditory techniques include strategies such as
using hearing aids, video, film, or multi-image media with accompanying audio; and music,
song, instruments, speaking, rhymes, chants, and language games. Moreover, multisensory
methods involve games such as jumping rope, clapping, stomping or other movements paired
with activities while counting, and singing songs related to concepts.
Generally speaking, students learn more when information is presented in a variety of modes
than when only a single mode is used. The point is supported by a research study carried out
several decades ago. Felder and Henriques (1995:28) claim that students retain 10 percent of
what they read, 26 percent of what they hear, 30 percent of what they see, 50 percent of what
they see and hear, 70 percent of what they say, and 90 percent of what they say as they do
something. Thus, what must be done to achieve effective foreign language learning is to
balance instructional methods, so that all learning styles are simultaneously accommodated.
However, teaching styles are made up of the methods and approaches with which instructors
feel most comfortable; if they tried to change to completely different approaches they would
be forced to work entirely with unfamiliar, awkward, and uncomfortable methods, probably
with disastrous results from the students’ point of view. Fortunately, instructors who wish to
address a wide variety of learning styles need not make drastic changes in their instructional
approach. The way they normally teach addresses the needs of at least three of the specified
learning style categories; regular use of at least some of the instructional techniques given
below should suffice to cover the remaining five (Felder & Henriques 1995:28-29).
• Motivate learning. As much as possible, teach new material (vocabulary, rules of
grammar) in the context of situations to which the students can relate in terms of
their personal and career experiences, past and anticipated, rather than simply as
more material to memorize (intuitive, global, inductive).
• Balance concrete information (word definitions, rules for verb conjugation and
adjective-noun agreement) (sensing) and conceptual information (syntactical and
semantic patterns, comparisons and contrasts with the students’ native language)
(intuition) in every course at every level. The balance does not have to be equal, and
in elementary courses it may be shifted heavily toward the sensing side, but there
should periodically be something to capture the intuitors’ interest.
• Balance structured teaching approaches that emphasize formal training (deductive,
sequential) with more open-ended unstructured activities that emphasize
conversation and cultural contexts of the target language (inductive, global).
• Make liberal use of visuals. Use photographs, drawings, sketches, and cartoons to
illustrate and reinforce the meanings of vocabulary words. Show films, videotapes,
and live dramatizations to illustrate lessons in texts (visual, global.)
It is impossible for instructors to do all that in a course and still cover the syllabus. They can
make extensive use of some of the recommended approaches, particularly those involving
opportunities for student activity during class. The idea, however, is not to adopt all the
techniques at once but rather to pick several that look feasible and try them on an occasional
basis. In this way a teaching style that is both effective for students and comfortable for the
instructor will evolve naturally, with a potentially dramatic effect on the quality of learning
that subsequently occurs.
In all classrooms, there will be students with multiple learning styles and students with a
variety of major, minor and negative learning styles. An effective means of accommodating
these learning styles is for teachers to change their own styles and strategies and provide a
variety of activities to meet the needs of different learning styles. Then all students will have at
least some activities that appeal to them based on their learning styles, and they are more likely
to be successful in these activities. Creating multi-sensory lessons that help students focus on
the material at hand is a helpful way to meet this goal. These activities will be that the student
has a visual memory from seeing materials, an auditory memory from hearing the sound it
makes, and a kinetic memory from having body movement. When planning a unit, the teacher
should try to check to be certain that he or she includes elements like movement activity,
pictures, tape recorder and so on. In order to meet diverse needs from individual students,
many multi-sensory activities need to be presented at once.
2.5 Vocabulary Teaching
Vocabulary instruction is one of the most important aspects of language teaching. One of the
main tasks of a language teacher is to help students develop a sufficiently large vocabulary.
This section will present a few vocabulary teaching points that related to the study.
2.5.1 Word Associations
The words are related to each other in various ways. Richards (2008:37) illustrates two
examples to show the word association: (1) the meaning of the word depends to some extent
on its relationship to other similar words, often through sense relations, and (2) words in a
word family are related to each other through having a common base form, but different
inflectional and derivational affixes. It seems logical to assume that these relationships are not
just quirks, but reflect some type of underlying mental relationship in the mind. In association
methodology, a stimulus word is given to subjects and the automatic responses that have been
thought out will have the strong connection with the stimulus in the subjects’ lexcion. For a
stimulus word like needle, typical responses would be thread, pin, sharp, and sew. However,
different people might have different associations attached to a word like needle. They might
associate it with “pain”, or “blood”, or “hard to find”. These associations are not treated as a
part of the word’s conceptual meaning. Not only can words be treated as “containers” of
meaning, or as fulfilling “roles” in events, they can also have “relationships” with each other
(Yule 2006:104). Words cannot be treated as if they were a swarm of bees — a bundle of
separate items attached to one another in a fairly random way. They are clearly interdependent
In some cases it is difficult to understand a word without knowing the words around it: orange
is best understood by looking at it in relation to red and yellow, or warm by considering it as
the area between hot and cold (Aitchison 2003:75). Every word in the language has similar
links with numerous others. In everyday talk, we often explain the meaning of words in terms
of their relationships. For example, if we are asking the meaning of the word shallow, we
might give the meaning as “the opposite of deep”. This approach is used in the semantic
description of language and treated as the analysis of lexical relations.
Suppose the mental lexicon is a sort of connected graph, with lexicon items at the nodes with
paths from each item to the other. Theories of this type are known as network theories. A
network is ‘anything reticulated or decussated at equal distances, with interstices between the
intersections’. A network in relation to the mental lexicon simply means “an interconnected
system” (Aitchison 2003:84). If you ask a thousand people what you think of when you say
hammer, more than half will say nail. If you say table, they will mostly say chair, and butter
elicits bread, needle elicits thread and salt elicits pepper. A network of some type is inevitable.
The link between one particular word and another is formed by habits. There are many
different types of link between the stimulus word and the response. Collocation is a common
response involving a word which was likely to be collocated (found together) with the stimulus
in connected speech, as with salt water, butterfly net, bright red (Aitchison 2003:86). Lexical
collocation has been defined as the occurrence of two or more words within a short space of
each other in a text (Sinclair 1991: 170). The list of lexical collocation includes information
about the frequency of words used in collocation as well as specific statistical counts used to
calculate the figures needed for comparison and authorization of the examples of collocation.
Collocation is the relationship between two words or groups of words that often go together
and form a common expression. There is a principle to interpret the way in which meaning
arises from language text. Collocation illustrates the idiom principle, that is, a language user
has available to him or her a large number of semi-preconstructed phrases that constitute single
choices, even though they might appear to be analyzable into segments (Sinclair 1997:110).
This may reflect the recurrence of similar situations in human affairs; it may illustrate a natural
tendency to economy of effort; or it may be motivated by the exigencies of real-time
conversation. At its simplest, the principle of idiom can be seen in the apparently simultaneous
choice of two words, for example, of course (Sinclair 1997:110). On some occasions, words
appear to be chosen in pairs or groups and these are not necessarily adjacent. If the expression
is heard often, the words become 'glued' together in our minds. “Crystal clear”, “middle
management”, “nuclear family” and “cosmetic surgery” are examples of collocated pairs of
words. Some words are often found together because they make up a compound noun, for
example “riding boots” or “motor cyclist”. English has many of these collocated expressions
and some linguists argue that our mental lexicon is made up of many collocated words and
phrases as well as individual items.
2.5.2 Vocabulary in Discourse
Most people think of vocabulary as lists of words. However, apart from single words,
vocabularies include numerous multi-word items. Richards (2008:97) states that the words take
on aspect of a single entity, that is, a string of words acts as a single lexeme with a single
meaning. When this happens, those lexemes are called multiword units. Vocabulary is more
than just individual words working separately in a discourse environment (Richards 2008:113).
Therefore, once words are placed in discourse, they establish numerous links beyond the single
orthographic word level, such as set phrases, variable phrases, phrasal verbs and idioms.
Thornbury (2002: 6) mentions the term “lexeme” which he defines as “a word or group of
words that function as a single meaning unit.” Additionally, he talks about lexical chunks,
which vary in the degree in which they can be fixed or idiomatic, sentence frames, and phrasal
verbs. Despite the differences in terminology, it is obvious that the above-mentioned
classifications highlight the fact that words require their neighboring words to express meaning.
Learners need to keep in mind that these multi-word units are necessary if natural
communication is to happen. For example, in order to acquire phrasal verbs, students need to
understand their form, their meaning and their use. Larsen-Freeman (2001: 254) mentions that
knowing the form of a phrasal verb includes knowing whether it is followed by a particle or by
a preposition, whether it is transitive or intransitive, whether it is separable or not, and what
stress and juncture patterns are used. Knowing the meaning encompasses literal, figurative and
multiple meanings. Finally, knowing the use covers understanding the fact that phrasal verbs
are part of informal discourse and that they operate by the principle of dominance. For
example, if learners encounter the verb “look” in a reading passage and have trouble
understanding what it means, their chances of guessing the meaning from context are
minimized if they ignore the particle or preposition that follows it, such as look after, look up,
look around. If then they decide to look it up in a dictionary, they will not necessarily find the
definition that fits the context.
There is a need for the instructor’s direct intervention in the teaching of selected vocabulary
items. There are several techniques and procedures a teacher might choose to help learners
acquire new vocabulary items. Lewis (1997) claims that what teachers need to do is adapt
activities so that the tasks have a clear lexical focus. To achieve this goal, Lewis (1997: 205)
points out that teachers should do the following:
• Consciously take every chance to expand the learners’ phrasal lexicon.
• Highlight Fixed Expressions and prototypical examples, so ensuring learners have
maximum benefit from the language they meet.
• Encourage accurate observation and noticing by learners, but without excessive
• Use many different ways to increase learners’ awareness of the value of noticing,
recording and learning multi-word items.
• Encourage lexical, but not structural, comparison between L1 and L2.
• Help learners to hear and learn language in multi-word units.
Using the context of surrounding words and sentences, students will be able to figure out the
meaning of new and unfamiliar words to enhance reading enjoyment. They will practice
looking for new and unfamiliar words in prepared sentences and use context to determine
meanings of words.
2.5.3 Techniques
During a child’s early years, the order in which he learns the vocabulary in his mother tongue
is this: the child has an experience with some object (perhaps a new toy truck). While his
attention is on the truck, the child then hears the name of the object which has attracted his
interest. First the child’s attention is drawn to the truck; then the child gets the word that names
it. In second-language classes, we can apply what has been discovered about the acquisition of
first language vocabulary (Allen 1983:13). Whenever possible, teachers offer their students
some sort of experience with an object for which the English word will be taught. They can
draw students’ attention to an object before spending much time on the English name for it.
For instance, if the textbook has a picture that shows a man and a woman, and the English
words man, woman have not already been taught, we do not need to introduce those words now.
When the students see the pictured man and woman, they will request the English words.
When that happens, we are delighted to supply those words. Therefore, at the beginning of the
vocabulary lesson, we call students’ attention to the set of stick figures. This can be done by
pointing, or by covering one of the figures with a piece of paper, or by drawing a frame around
the figures.
One of the best known proposals for second language teaching approach is called Total
Physical Response (TPR). TPR was developed by James Asher, whose research has shown that
students can develop quite advanced levels of comprehension in the language without
engaging in oral practice (Lightbown & Spada 2006: 130). In TPR classes, students participate
in activities in which they hear a series of commands in the target language, for example:
“stand up”, “sit down”, “pick up the book”, “put the book on the table”. For a substantial
number of hours of instruction, students are not required to say anything. They simply listen
and show their comprehension by their actions. Asher’s research shows that, for beginners, this
kind of listening activity gives learners a good start (Lightbown & Spada 2006: 130). It allows
them to build up a considerable knowledge of the language without feeling the nervousness
that often accompanies the first attempts to speak the new language. When we ask students to
respond physically to oral commands which use the new words, the activity is very much what
happens when one is learning one’s mother tongue (Allen 1983:23). Each of us — while
learning our own language — heard commands and obeyed them for many months before we
spoke a single word. Children have frequent experiences in obeying commands during the
early years of learning the mother tongue. Those experiences appear to play an important part
in the learning of vocabulary. Comparable experiences should be provided in the second
language classroom for students of all ages. When students have observed an action —
touching, for example — and have wondered what the action is called in English, it is not
difficult to teach them the word touch. For mastery of the word, we can ask the class to obey
simple commands that contain touch; the commands are given first by the teacher, then by
selected students.
Demonstrating an action is the best way of teaching meaning of many verbs (Allen 1983:37).
To teach the word walk, for instance, we start walking toward another part of the classroom.
When it appears that the students are paying attention and wondering about the purpose of our
action, we say, while continuing to walk, “I’m walking…walking.” The meaning of other
verbs can be shown through simple dramatic presentations. Even teachers with no dramatic
ability can mime certain actions well enough to show the meaning of verbs like eat, drink,
laugh and smile. Pictures are very useful for showing the meanings of verb phrases (is running,
is jumping, are playing football). But they do not offer the best way of introducing the singleword verb forms like jump, play,, or walk. To introduce the meaning of a verb, it is easy and
helpful to use our commands. The command is spoken loudly by the teacher in English, the
students perform the action.
2.5.4 Games
Gibb (1978), quoted by Rixon (1992:3), claims that a game is an activity carried out by
cooperating or competing decision-makers, seeking to achieve, within a set of rules, their
objectives. Applying this to teaching, we can know how students playing a game are
encouraged to use language to some purpose. Language should always be the basis of the
game, especially in classes where students are of different abilities. Looking at the language
skills involved is a good start when considering whether a particular game will be suitable for a
particular purpose, but other features may be just as important (Rixon 1992:1). For languageteaching purposes we need to make sure that the skills needed in any game are heavily enough
weighted on the language side. For example, chess is an excellent game in itself, but it is almost
useless from the language-teaching point of view. Lee (1997:2) claims that most language
games distract the learners’ attention from the study of linguistic forms. They stop thinking
about the language and instead use it. A language is learnt by using it, and it means using it in
situations and communicatively. Thus, all language games must be communicative in order to
aid language learning activity, and provide the learners with communicative experience of one
The actual language that is called for varies from game to game, but there is a basic division in
what the students must do with it to achieve success, which can help to keep up the students’
interest. Games that involve running around in response to words of command are also popular
with the very active students and give them training in listening skills (Rixon 1992:39). Much
enjoyable language work could be built into their physical training lessons. The games could
interest the students in formal accuracy —through enjoyment.
Two games in language teaching and learning run through everything a teacher does, that is,
games whose main focus is on correctness and those in which it is on communicative
effectiveness (Rixon 1992:22). Different types of game are appropriate for different purposes.
The games which depend upon players producing correct language must be controlled or at
least led by the teacher, who awards credit for correct answers. Correct repetition of a limited
range of language is the important thing in these games. Players must get things right in order
to win. Players can be required to say something correctly, sometimes to practice a structure,
or to extend vocabulary and challenge memory, while the emphasis of communication games
is on the overall message of players’ language (Rixon 1992:27). Success is judged by the
outcome of what is said rather than by its form. The language used by the players may be
formally less than perfect, but if the message is understood the objective will be reached. The
students can measure their own success by the speed and efficiency with which they reach the
objective of the game. A good example of communication game is Describe and Draw. The
main rule in this game is the one that forbids player B to see the original picture before the end
of the game. The only way he can find out about it is by having a conversation with A. The
language used as the two sides try to solve the problem will be free and varied.
Games, in the strict sense, have definite beginning and end and are governed by rules (Lee
1997:3). A well-designed game has its own momentum and is far less likely to ‘run out of
stream’ than many other classroom activities. This closure is useful and students know when a
game will be over. It helps to give some structure to what they are doing. There is a definite
point at which the game is over, and it is easy to monitor students’ performance and give them
appropriate help on the language side.
3. Data Analysis
This section is the analysis of the data results that are based on the questionnaires. Descriptive
statistics were calculated for the questionnaire data. Analysis of variance was used to compare
learning styles and teaching styles.
3.1 Analysis of The VAK Questionnaire
According to the VAK model, most people possess a dominant or preferred learning style.
The VAK learning style uses the three main sensory receivers: visual, auditory, and
kinesthetic to determine the dominant learning style. This self-assessment questionnaire was
emailed to 253 students at the primary school in China to take part in the study. Of the 253
questionnaires distributed, 182 were returned, giving a response rate of 72%. All returned
questionnaires were valid because of the willingness of pupils. They volunteered to participate
in the study. Results from The VAK Questionnaire are shown in Table 1.
Table 1. VAK Learning Styles
VAK Learning Style
Table 1 displays that visual is the major style; followed by auditory, and kinesthetic was a
minor style. The proportion of the pupils who characterized themselves as visual learners is
70.3%. Nearly 23.7% of the pupils have a preference for auditory learning, and the rest of the
pupils (6%) prefer kinesthetic learning. This demonstrates that most pupils have a preference
for visual features in learning in the study, which was reflected in their interest in the use of
images, graphs and other structures to support their learning. The rest of participants
considered themselves auditory learners, which suggests that these pupils prefer lectures,
tutorials, group discussions and presentation tasks over other tasks. The participants who
characterized themselves as kinesthetic learners felt strongly about their response and
described their desire to experience and do things in order to learn.
3.2 Analysis of Teaching Style Inventory
All of the items in the questionnaire were taken from Grasha’s Teaching Style Inventory
(1996). He identified five teaching styles to represent the typical orientations and strategies
teachers use. Grasha claims that these styles converge into four different clusters. These
clusters are Cluster 1 (expert/formal authority style), Cluster 2 (personal model/expert/formal
authority), Cluster 3 (facilitator/personal model/expert), and Cluster 4 (delegator expert). Each
cluster of teaching style conveys a distinguished message to the students.
Of the 21 surveys distributed to the teachers of these pupils, 21 were completed, giving a
response rate of 100%. Results from the Teaching Style Survey are shown in Table 2:
Table 2. Teaching Style
Teaching Style
formal authority
Table 2 shows that 71.4% of the teachers preferred the “expert” style, and 19.1% of the
subjects preferred the “formal authority” style. A very low percentage (9.5%) of the teachers
preferred the “facilitator” style. Strangely, no subjects preferred the “delegator” style.
According to Grasha (1996), expert and formal authority styles fall into Cluster 1 (teachercentered), and facilitator belongs to Cluster 2 (student-centered). According to Grasha
(1996:154), the expert/formal authority cluster tends toward a teacher-centered classroom in
which information is presented and students receive knowledge. The facilitator/personal model
cluster emphasizes the personal nature of teacher-student interactions. They guide and direct
students by asking questions, exploring options, suggesting alternatives, and encouraging them
to develop criteria to make informed choices. The delegator cluster emphasizes the
development of a student’s capacity to function independently. The teacher is available at the
request of students as a resource person. As presented in Table 2, the dominant teaching style
of these teachers is teacher-centered approach, with a high proportion of respondents (90.5%).
Only a small number (9.5%) used student-centered approach, when one might have been
expected that they would have preferred higher level categories.
3.3 Comparison Between Learning and Teaching Styles
Experts have identified three basic learning styles: visual learners, auditory learners, and
kinesthetic learners. It is based on modalities — a channel by which human expression can
take place and is composed of a combination of perception and memory. Modalities can be
divided into three categories: visual — sights, pictures, diagrams, symbols; auditory — sounds,
words; kinesthetic — taste, touch, and smell. It is shown as below (Table 3):
Table 3 Learning Modalities
Percentage of Learning Style
Visual (70.3%)
Auditory (23.7%)
Kinesthetic (6%)
Information Receiving Modalities
Pictures, videos, graphics, diagrams, charts,
verbalization, questioning
Acting, role-play, clay modeling
Most learners learn most effectively with one of the three modalities and tend to miss or ignore
information presented in either of the other two. Visual learners remember best what they see:
pictures, diagrams, flow charts, time lines, films, and demonstrations. If something is simply
said to them they will probably forget it. Auditory learners remember much of what they hear
and more of what they hear and then say. They get much out of discussions, prefer verbal
explanation to visual demonstration, and learn effectively by explaining things to others. Each
of the learning modalities tends to coincide with certain teaching method.
Table 3 displays that the use of visual images needs to be a large part of the teaching practice
to meet the needs of visual learners (70.3%), while the proper use of lecture can cater for the
needs of auditory learners (23.7%), and learning through using all of the sensory processes to
take in information is what kinesthetic learners (6%) call for.
The teaching style survey, however, has suggested that every teacher has preferred teaching
styles with which they are comfortable and revert to in chaotic situations. According to Grasha
(1996), teaching style is viewed as a particular pattern of needs, beliefs, and behaviors that
teachers display in the classroom. These teaching styles are associated with particular teaching
roles, attitudes, behaviors and preferred methods and tend to complement certain preferred
learning styles. Each teaching style accommodates a particular teaching method. The teaching
styles associated with teaching methods are showed as following (Table 4):
Table 4 Teaching Methods
Percentage of Teaching Style
Teaching Methods Employed
·Tutorials Technology
Based Presentations
·Exams/Grades Emphasized
·Term Papers
·Teacher-Centered Questioning
·Case Studies
·Cognitive Map Discussions
·Critical Thinking Discussions
·Fishbowl Discussions
·Key Statement Discussions
·Laboratory Projects
·Problem Based Learning
·Role Plays/Simulations
·Roundtable Discussions
Expert /Formal authority
Facilitator (9.5%)
As presented in Table 4, it is clear that the characteristic of the expert/formal authority teaching
style is teacher-centered instruction. Meanwhile, the characteristic of the teacher-centered
method is lecture, where the teacher feels responsible for providing and controlling the flow of
the content and the student is expected to receive the content. It is the most traditional, longestablished method of teaching. The instructor talks more or less continuously to the class. The
class listens, takes notes of the facts and ideas worth remembering, thinks over them later; but
the class does not converse with the instructor. Therefore, expert /formal authority teacher
sends a message to students that “I’m in charge here” and tends to create a “cool” emotional
climate. In contrast, a teacher who has a facilitator model teaching style tends to focus on
activities, such as case studies, role plays, discussions and so on. This teaching style
emphasizes student-centered learning and there is much more responsibility placed on the
students to take the initiative for meeting the demands of various learning tasks. It works best
for students who are comfortable with independent learning and who can actively participate
and collaborate with other students. Teachers typically design group activities which
necessitate active learning, student-to-student collaboration and problem solving. The teacher
will often try to design learning situations and activities that require student processing and
application of course content in creative and original ways. Thus, an emphasis on the facilitator
teaching style creates a different picture from the expert/formal authority teaching style. It
sends message to students that “I’m here to consult with you and to act as a resource person”.
A warmer emotional climate is created and students and teachers work together, share
Based on the explanations of Grasha (1996:154), the expert/ formal authority teachers present
themselves as possessing knowledge and expertise that students need, and are mainly
concerned with verbally transmitting as much information as possible to the students. This
teacher-centered method is associated chiefly with the transmission of knowledge. Student
achievement is at the forefront of a teacher- centered curriculum, but teachers are driven to
meet accountability standards and often sacrifice the needs of the students to ensure exposure
to the standards. Meanwhile, Table 3 and Table 4 show that learning styles of most pupils and
teaching styles of most teachers are incompatible in several dimensions. Most pupils are visual
learners, while most teaching is verbal — the information presented is predominantly auditory
(lecturing) or a visual representation of auditory information (words written in texts and
handouts, or on a chalkboard). The pupils regard “listening to teacher” as their most frequent
activity in English classes.
3.44 Analysis of Questionnaire on English Vocabulary Teaching Strategies
The questionnaire was handed out to 21 English teachers of these students, with a 100%
response rate from all the faculties. The results of the questionnaire were the following ones.
For the attitude to vocabulary teaching, the result of the questionnaire survey of teachers
shows that 23.8% of the teachers think that vocabulary teaching in English teaching is ‘the
most important’ and 66.7% of the teachers think that it is ‘very important’. On the other hand,
9.5% of the teachers regard vocabulary teaching as ‘not so useful’.
On the aspect of presenting vocabulary in appropriate contexts and situations, the survey
indicates that 4.7% of the teachers are aware of the use of context to word teaching and chose
‘always stick to it’, while 19.1% of the teachers chose ‘not always’ in vocabulary teaching in
appropriate contexts and situations, and 76.2% of the teachers separate the vocabulary from
When coming across the vocabulary teaching of series connected memory system,
consequently, there is a very high proportion of teachers who know this kind of approach but
never use it (84.9%). The percentage of teachers who sometimes use this kind of approach is
extremely low (12.4%). The rest of the teachers (3.7%) have no idea about this approach.
As for the vocabulary teaching strategy of discriminating the meaning of a word by
distinguishing the root, the questionnaire reveals that 100% of the teachers use this kind of
approach sometimes.
With regard to another vocabulary teaching strategy of discriminating the meaning of a word
by word tree, a high number of of the teachers, 80.9%, answered ‘know this kind of approach
but never use it’, while only 9.5% of the teachers opted for the ‘use this kind of approach
Due to the different strategies to enlarge vocabulary, consequently, it is remarkable that a high
proportion, 90.5% of the respondents, chose textbook and the content as the main source of the
vocabulary, and very low percentage of the teachers (9.5%) encourage their students to learn
words or phrases either from TV or English songs, radio programs, English movies and
magazines etc.
When it comes to the useful practicing vocabulary activity, the types of activities teachers
consider the most useful vary. More than half of the teachers (57.2%) chose ‘completing
vocabulary lists’, while ‘[F]ill in the gaps exercise’ has been chosen by 28.6% of them, and
9.5% of the teachers regard ‘matching’ as a useful activity to practice vocabulary. On the other
hand, a few of the teachers (4.7%) consider ‘reading texts’ as a useful activity.
According to the vocabulary teaching procedure described by teachers, surprisingly, in total,
90.5% of the English teachers keep a traditional way of vocabulary teaching. Only 9.5% of the
teachers change the traditional vocabulary teaching methods and teaching patterns. Their
English vocabulary teaching is to show the nature of the English vocabulary system and
connection, making students acquire the rules in variation and conversion of English words,
whereas the traditional vocabulary teaching concentrates on imparting knowledge alone,
simply explaining the meanings, the spellings and the usages. The procedures are as follows:
a. presenting new words;
b. correcting the pronunciation;
c. explaining the meaning;
d. making sentences with new words.
Based on the analysis conducted above, the results demonstrate that teachers fail to give
students effective strategies to learn vocabulary. On the one hand, a large percentage of the
teachers do not require their students’ extensive reading. As a result, the students will show a
very restricted knowledge of vocabulary. The teachers do not help foster their students’
development of a large “word bank” and effective vocabulary learning strategies. On the other
hand, most teachers tend to teach vocabulary explicitly and lack varieties in presentation. The
way of teaching vocabulary on dealing with pronunciation, form, and meaning cannot make
students learn new words effectively. Students just understand the words’ meanings, but they
cannot figure out the meaning of a word from its context. New vocabulary is hard to embed in
the students’ minds without their own processing. Like a computer, the human brain needs to
be “on” in order to work. It cannot retain information without “saving” or processing it by
actively linking new concepts to existing knowledge (Riegler 2005). Thus, the traditional
vocabulary instruction does not teach students effective word-learning strategies and how to
appreciate words.
4. Discussion
This section consists of a discussion of the data results. The results show that most students
report being visual learners; they want to see everything written or diagrammed. However,
auditory input plays a dominant role in teaching. Many teachers use a lecture-style forum,
presenting information by talking to their students. Only auditory learners tend to benefit most
from traditional teaching techniques. A conflict between teaching and learning styles is
obvious. On the other hand, English teachers pay little attention to strategies for helping
students learn vocabulary. There are also many problems in relation to English vocabulary
teaching strategies.
4.1 Mismatch Between Learning and Teaching Style
When the learning styles of the students and the teaching style of the instructor match, then
both the students and the instructor get the most from the interaction. Students will gain more
knowledge, retain more information, and perform far better when teaching styles match
learning styles. Felder and Henriques (1995:28) hold that matching teaching styles to learning
styles can significantly enhance academic achievement, student attitudes, and specifically in
foreign language instruction. However, when there is a mismatch both the student and the
faculty suffer. Where and how does this mismatch occur in the present study?
The first place where the mismatch occurs is in the ways most teachers teach their students.
From the results of the teaching style survey, a high proportion of the teachers (90.5%) have a
preference for teacher-centered instruction. In this method, the teacher is seen as the holder of
all knowledge, and the characteristic of teacher-centered approach is lecture. This type of
lecturing is described as an “uninterrupted verbal presentation by an instructor”. However,
giving lectures is the most accepted and frequent teaching method. Teachers come to class and
start to lecture. They talk about the subject usually at the front of the class with the students
listening attentively. There is little student involvement and the teacher strongly favors auditory
teaching style. Lecturing like this is very well suited to students that have an auditory learning
style. It assumes that all students have similar learning styles and identical informational needs.
However, investigation into the learning style preference of the primary school pupils, found
that 70.3% of the pupils had a preference for visual learning style. Visual learners are the
individuals who think in pictures rather than in words. They learn better visually than
auditorily. They are the learners who need to see the picture first before they learn the details.
When a visual material is used to present information, it can improve their comprehension. A
picture is more effective than words alone for them. Of those surveyed, 23.7% of the pupils are
auditory learners. This teacher-centered approach suits them. If adding visuals to lecturing, it
can meet the students’ needs from 23.7 percent to 94 percent. Another type of learner that the
teacher did not pay special attention to is kinesthetic learners. There are 6% of the pupils who
are kinesthetic learners in the study. These learners like to be actively involved in what they
are learning. They enjoy acting out what they are learning, interviewing others, playing games
and simulations. They enjoy action-packed learning experiences. However, the teachercentered method has little student involvement. The essence of this kind of teaching and its
purpose are for a steady transmission of information from the teacher to the students. Thus,
the teacher-centered method does not work for the kinesthetic students. This method does not
match their best and fastest method of learning.
Obviously, the learning styles of many students do not conform to the traditional teaching style
of most teachers as explained above. Most classes are verbal or oral, and auditory is a major
teaching style for the teachers. However, the most common learning style among the pupils is
visual learning. These students like to read and obtain a great deal of visual stimulation. For
them, lectures, conversations, and oral directions without any visual backup are very
confusing and can be anxiety-producing. No matter how learning styles are assessed, students
come in all shapes and sizes as learners. However, under the influence of Confucian teaching,
the Chinese teachers make all the decisions during the class. The standard mode of
authoritarian style is command and control, with no regard for diversity and efficiency of
teaching and learning. Learners are to be controlled, and no matter how many kinds of
learners there are in the classroom, the teachers adopt a single approach to teaching their
students. The students are expected to do what they are told without questioning. As the result
reveals, the faculty is not aware that the students have different learning styles. Therefore,
they continue to adopt a single approach to teaching the entire group. This traditional form of
teaching cannot meet individual learner needs without involving extensive planning and taskspecific classroom management. Generally speaking, teachers in a teacher-centered
environment focus more on content than on student processing. The teacher-centered
classrooms do not place students at the center of classroom organization and disrespect their
learning needs, strategies, and styles. In teacher-centered classrooms, students cannot be
observed working individually or in pairs and small groups on distinct tasks and projects.
Problems occur when teaching styles conflict with students’ learning styles, which resulting
in limited learning or no learning.
Another place where the mismatch occurs is in the students themselves. The students’ native
culture has influenced their perceptions of how second language is learned and taught. It is
worth noting that the cultural influence on EFL education, in which Chinese students’ learning
styles have been conditioned, is deeply rooted. Cortazzi and Jin (1996:74) use the term
Chinese “culture of learning” to describe a whole set of expectations, attitudes, beliefs, values,
perceptions, preferences, experiences, and behaviors that are characteristic of Chinese society
with regard to teaching and learning. For instance, a teacher’s personality, knowledge level,
and teaching methods, as well as his or her attitude and attention toward students, will affect
students’ attitudes toward and interest in his or her teaching in class. Chinese students,
regardless of their different learning preferences, who have been conditioned by their previous
cultural experiences, will show great respect for their teachers, and in the meantime, expect
their teachers to show a strong interest in them since the students see their teacher as the most
reliable person to turn to for help. Therefore, the students try to adapt their own learning styles
to their teachers’ teaching styles. Even when the teaching style is incompatible with their
learning styles, no one dares to challenge teachers. Furthermore, students expect their teachers
to be “facilitators” or “coaches” in the subjects they teach. The teachers are perceived as a
“fount of knowledge”, with students as “passive receivers of knowledge”. Students recall the
strengths inherent in teacher-centeredness, in which they could learn much more input from
teachers in class. Therefore, EFL classrooms in China often take the form of “knowledge
transmission” from teacher to students. In other words, the “culture of learning” shapes the
way second language is learned and taught.
To sum up, the mismatch between the learning and teaching styles in the study occurs in part
because the teachers tend to favor their own teaching styles, and in part because the students
instinctively accept the way they are taught in classes — the teaching style in most lecture
courses tilts heavily toward the small percentage of students who are auditory learners. This
imbalance puts a sizeable fraction of the student population at a disadvantage.
4.2 Problems of English Vocabulary Teaching Strategies
In the previous section, a detailed description of the outcomes of the questionnaire on the
English vocabulary teaching strategies was presented. Based on the comprehensive study of
the outcomes, a conclusion can be made that though the performance of the teachers in the
questionnaires is encouraging, most of the teachers have few strategies in their vocabulary
teaching. Therefore, the teachers in this survey are lacking in effective and efficient
vocabulary teaching strategies. Many problems exist in the situation of teaching English
vocabulary as seen in the present study.
As indicated by the vocabulary teaching strategies applied by the teachers, the data reveals
teachers’ excessive dependence on textbooks as the source for vocabulary. A high number of
teachers (90.5%) choose the textbook and the content they teach to students as the main
source of students’ vocabulary. As for the new words appearing in their outside reading, such
as radio and TV, the teachers do not pay enough attention to them. The rest of the teachers
(9.5%) are likely to use extracurricular sources (such as listening to English songs, radio
programs, watching English movies, reading stories, magazines etc.). The existing evidence
indicates that incidental and intentional learning are both essential for language learning, a
more balanced structure of vocabulary sources seems more helpful in improving learners’
vocabulary. Incidental vocabulary learning occurs all of the time when we read. Based on the
way a word is used in a text we are able to determine its meaning. Teachers should model the
incidental vocabulary learning for students to help them develop their own skills. Research is
clear regarding implications for instruction that will ensure the development of large, useful
vocabularies: wide reading plays a critical role in developing knowledge. Of those surveyed,
90.5% of the English teachers keep such a traditional English vocabulary teaching procedure
as the following: firstly, they present new words; secondly, they correct the pronunciation;
thirdly, they explain the meaning; and finally, they make sentences with new words. Under
the guidance of traditional vocabulary teaching, most teachers always pay attention to the
word meaning, spelling, and pronunciation. Thus, vocabulary teaching is simply seen as the
memorization of separate word forms with fixed meanings, which is too simplistic and
inadequate for the learners to build up their lexical knowledge.
In addition, when it comes to the useful practicing vocabulary activity, no teacher considered
Vocabulary Word Games as a useful activity. As a matter of fact, pupils need motivating ways
to learn and retain new vocabulary at their own level. These word games ensure that students
explore ideas at a level that build on their own prior knowledge and motivate them to learn
independently. Games can also help the teachers to create contexts in which the language is
useful and meaningful. In the whole process of teaching and learning by games the students
can take part widely and open-mindedly. W. R. Lee holds that most language games make
learners use the language instead of thinking about learning the correct forms (1979:2). He also
says that games should be treated as central not peripheral to the foreign language teaching
program. A similar opinion is expressed by Richard-Amato, who believes games to be fun but
warns against overlooking their pedagogical value, particularly in foreign language teaching.
According to him, games can lower anxiety, thus making the acquisition of input more likely
(Richard-Amato 1988:147). The students can be highly motivated, and the games can enable
learners to acquire new experiences within a foreign language which are not always possible
during a typical lesson. Learning vocabulary through games is an effective and interesting way.
Games are used not only for mere fun, but more importantly, for the useful practice of
language lessons.
Moreover, when it comes to some newly invented methods, surprisingly, more than 80% of
the teachers do not know how to use them. Even for the common methods, there are also
many teachers who have never used them. It is notable that nearly 90% of the English
teachers tend to overlook the importance of the lexical system. As indicated by the
questionnaire responded from the teachers, most teachers seldom teach their students how to
memorize vocabularies by using the lexical system, which is the main obstacle the teachers are
faced with at the primary school. This phenomenon might have resulted from the fact that
linguists have worked out a perfect equivalent Chinese vocabulary system to the English
vocabulary system, so that teachers and students more easily can deal with the vocabulary
than with the grammar and sound of English which are quite different from the Chinese
grammar and sound system. Lexical items may also have appeared to be of secondary
importance because they have sometimes been seen as something that is used to “flesh out”
the structure or to exemplify parts of the sound system. However, without a lexicon, the major
meaning-carrying element in a language is missing. Recent developments in lexical semantics
did suggest the effectiveness in using these strategies, which affect both vocabulary learning
and teaching. For example, componential analysis and the paradigmatic versus syntagmatic
conceptions of the mental lexicon have prompted the development of semantic fields, semantic
networks or maps, or semantic grid strategies in which new words are presented and organized
in terms of maps or grids of interrelated lexical meanings. The essential factor in forming a
semantic field is the semantic interrelationship between words of the same class. Take the
color field as an example, red, yellow, blue, white, black, brown and pink are all subject to the
perception of color which is the core of the semantic field. It is quite natural that people tend to
group related words together on the basis of their semantic interrelationship, because it is easy
to master them in the same or related perception.
Richards (2008:42) believes that word association responses suggest that words are indeed
organized in the mental lexicon, and that they are organized in a similar manner among native
speakers of a language. For example, a person who sees the word yellow will be slightly faster
to recognize the word banana as a word. This happens because the words yellow and banana
are closely associated in memory. The word banana is activated by its association to the word
yellow, so you easily retrieve it even if the stimulus is partial or degraded. The memory
retrieval is automatic, evoked by the situation, so this is an example of implicit memory.
Researchers sometimes envision a network of word meanings or semantic network somewhat
like the diagram. The distance between words indicates the frequency with which the words
are associated in everyday life. Because of these associations, activating one node of the
network warms up or nearby words, speeding retrieval. Specifically, Nation (1990:191)
maintains that when a group of related items require the same response from the learner,
learning would be helped. The network of associations between words in a native speaker’s
brain may be set as a goal for second language learners. Therefore, the teacher should instruct
the students to master some effective vocabulary memorizing skills. Otherwise, students will
spend much time memorizing vocabularies, but it will all be in vain.
Furthermore, the teaching strategies questionnaire reveals that 76.2% of the teachers present
vocabulary separating them from context. Another 19.1% of the teachers sometimes teach
vocabulary in context. Teaching words in isolation is a traditional vocabulary teaching
method in China. English teachers at primary schools usually ask students to learn vocabulary
lists in which words are isolated from the context. In one case, they let the students pick out
all the new words in the text, list them on a paper, and consult the dictionary for the Chinese
meanings. In those teachers’ views, vocabulary teaching is no more than teaching the
meanings of words. They think their roles are to help the students master the dictionary
meanings. Thus, a phenomenon arises that the students memorize the meanings of new words,
but they do not know how to use them. Therefore, the students’ language skills are still not
improved. This pattern of English vocabulary teaching is unitary. The teachers only
concentrate on explaining the words’ meanings, the spellings and the usages. This pattern is
contrary to the law of language study. Separating vocabulary from the context makes students
memorize English vocabulary in isolation and mechanically. However, it is impossible to
understand a sentence by adding the meaning of all the words it is made up of. The exact
meaning of a sentence should be understood by combining the situation in which it is uttered,
the purpose for which the speakers to utter it and even with the speakers’ intellectual level and
social background. Almost each word has its own lexical meaning, contextual meaning,
denotative meaning, connotative meaning and stylistic meaning. Thus, a unitary pattern to
teach vocabulary will affect the effectiveness of the students’ learning process.
The characteristics of the above-mentioned teaching strategies are memorizing and modeling.
In its written form, the Chinese language depends greatly on the memorizing, repetition and
constant improvement of particular ideograms, and it is probably this that leads the teachers to
seeing memorizing as a dominant form of vocabulary teaching. Teachers lack the initiative to
actively explore different kinds of methods in English vocabulary memorization. Therefore, it
causes most students to be confined to only memorizing vocabulary by rote without more
effective strategies. This may lead to some negative learning consequences.
5. Suggested Pedagogical Practice Based on the Discussion
The results of the present investigations indicate that, at a macro level, the mismatch between
learning and teaching styles exists, which causes learning frustration and failure. Moreover, at
a micro-level, many problems exist in the vocabulary teaching strategies. Such situations cause
the main block to the effective learning and teaching. Although inappropriate teaching methods
by teachers contributing to the inefficiency in English teaching, the basic reason for the
inefficiency lays in the traditional teaching style — teach-centered instruction.
Though today’s teachers generally work with single classes with the same age, and these
students have an array of needs as great as those among the students of the one-room school,
the biggest mistake of this method in teaching is to treat all students as if they were variants of
the same individual, and thus to feel justified in teaching them the same subjects in the same
ways. This cannot reach out effectively to students who span the spectrum of learning diversity.
A different way of teaching is what the individual learners are calling for. Felder and
Henriques (1995:28) believe that effective matching between teaching style and learning style
can be achieved when teachers are aware of their learners’ needs, capacities, potentials and
learning style preferences in meeting these needs. Reid (1996) adds that matching teaching
style with learning style gives all learners an equal chance in the classroom, and builds student
self-awareness. One method for overcoming the mismatch is that teachers should try to
accommodate all learning styles. In this way, the problem of the mismatches between the
prevailing teaching style in English courses and the learning styles of most of the students
could be minimized. The quality of English teaching significantly enhanced if instructors
modified their teaching styles to accommodate the learning styles of all the students in their
classes. Granted, the prospect of trying to address the different learning styles simultaneously
in a single class might seem forbidding to most instructors; the point, however, is not to
determine each student’s learning style and then teach to it exclusively but simply to address
each side of each learning style dimension at least some of the time. If this balance could be
achieved in classes, the students would all be taught in a manner that sometimes matches their
learning styles, thereby promoting effective learning, and sometimes compels them to exercise
and hence strengthen their less developed abilities.
Teachers can begin where students are, not at the beginning of the curriculum guide. They
should accept and build upon the premise that learners differ in important ways. Thus, teachers
must be ready to engage students in instruction through different learning modalities by using
varied rates of instruction along with degrees of complexity. Teachers should call upon a range
of instructional strategies, and become partners with their students to see both what is learned
and the learning environment are shaped to the learner. They do not reach for standardized,
mass-produced instruction assumed to be a good fit for all students because students are
individuals. Teachers should provide specific ways for each individual to learn. To improve the
effectiveness and efficiency of English teaching, the English teachers in the present study
should try to convert their roles for the needs of the students. They should make the class to be
learner-centered, more democratic and less teacher-dominant, stress on students’ participation
in classroom, show more concern for their needs for instruction. Only in this way can they help
to improve the students’ language competence.
Vocabulary teaching is an important part in English curriculum. When starting out teaching
new vocabulary, different strategies can appeal to a variety of activities. Researchers have
pointed out that strategies may help students learn to learn (Oxford 2002:3), contributing to a
better development of linguistic, communicative and pedagogical skill, including autonomy
and the management of the learning process. However, several strategies in vocabulary
teaching that the surveyed Chinese teachers have tended to overlook are effective.
Instruction through word associations is an overlooked skill. Word association tasks where
the learners are asked to select the appropriate paradigmatic or syntagmatic responses
highlight the semantic and syntactic properties of the target words, strengthen the links
between the items in L2 mental lexicon, and help build new concepts for L2 lemmas
consequently resulting in a greater degree of automaticity and accuracy in production. A very
effective way present semantically related words is to build word webs around some central
concept. For example, after reading the selection Akiak, a story about dog sled racing in
Alaska, it would be appropriate to build a word web of “cold weather words.” At the same
time, teaching vocabulary in context is often neglected by the teachers. The same word can
have various meanings in different contexts. To convey the meaning of a new word exactly, it
is better to present the word in the sentence or in the text. There are at least three advantages
of teaching vocabulary in context: Firstly, assessing the meaning of a word in context obliges
the learner to develop strategies, such as anticipating and inferencing. Secondly,
systematically meeting new words in context underlines the fact that words are indeed used in
discourse for purposes of communication. Finally, context provides an indication of the way
the words are used. Meanwhile, game is an often-overlooked strategy in vocabulary teaching.
Games have been shown to have advantages and effectiveness in learning vocabulary in
various ways. Firstly, games bring in relaxation and fun for students, thus help them learn and
retain new words more easily. Secondly, games usually involve friendly competition and they
keep learners interested. These create the motivation for learners of English to get involved and
participate actively in the learning activities. Thirdly, vocabulary games bring real world
context into the classroom, and enhance students’ use of English in a flexible, communicative
way. Therefore, the role of games in teaching vocabulary cannot be denied.
As discussed above, faced with the anxiety brought about by learning style differences and the
present state of English vocabulary teaching, teachers must incorporate vocabulary teaching
strategies that appeal to a variety of learning styles. Therefore, it is of great necessity to seek a
solution, which can integrate the vocabulary strategies instruction with learning styles. As a
result, it can not only provide effective techniques to teach vocabulary, but also meet the needs
of different learners so as to reduce the conflict of teaching and learning styles. On the basis of
the previous theories and research, some suggestions will be presented below.
5.1 Strategies for Vocabulary Teaching to Different Learning Styles
Traditionally, emphasis has primarily been on the teaching side of EFL instruction, rather than
on the learning side. When it comes to learning, everybody has their own style. An important
point to make here is that whatever methodology or approach utilized — we recognize that
learners learn in different ways: some are more visual, others are more auditory and so on.
With this in mind it is a priority to ensure teachers are able to cater for different learner styles.
Meanwhile, a language teaching methodology typically assumes that if the language teacher
follows the steps outlined, the effort will result in effective learning by students in the class.
Methodologies often assume that everyone learns the same way. As a matter of fact, no single
method can meet the needs of all learners. The fact that individual learners use a variety of
strategies and approach learning a language differently is not taken into careful consideration
within the context of most of the methods for language teaching.
Within the context of methodologies, strategies play a central role in two approaches: learning
style and strategies-based instruction. Learning style and strategy instruction involves the
explicit instruction of learning styles and strategies so that learners know about their preferred
style of learning and how, when, and why to use the strategy, which embeds learning style and
strategies into all classroom activities so that learners have contextualized practice. This
integration of learner style and strategy instruction approach is a learner-focused approach,
which explicitly highlights within everyday classroom language instruction the role of the
learners’ styles and strategies in performing instructional activities. Learning style is the
general approach one takes to learning; the ways that we prefer to organize and retain
information. This instruction teaches learners to be aware of their learning style. For example,
a student may learn best by listening (auditory), looking at printed material (visual), or by
moving around (kinesthetic). Strategies are the specific things that one does to learn. Strategies
are typically linked to a learning style. For example, an auditory learner may apply a strategy
of reading aloud to hear a text. A visual learner may draw a graphic organizer to help visualize
the organization of a reading passage. A kinesthetic learner may walk around while studying
new vocabulary written on flash cards. Research data suggest that there is a link between the
language learning strategies and learning styles. In this highly interactive course, the teacher
should apply style and strategy theory to the specific classroom tasks and lessons and consider
the benefits and limitations the currently available style and strategy measures when designing
the teaching project (e.g. set of classroom activities).
With respect to vocabulary teaching, it is a key point that how teachers can do to promote
different learner styles to learn new vocabulary quickly. Learning new words can be
accelerated if teacher uses effective strategies that cater to his or her students’ learning styles.
The tips below will provide fun and creative ways to help students learn vocabulary words
faster. There are a variety of fun vocabulary activities that have game-like features which are
motivating. Based on the integration of learning styles and vocabulary strategies instruction,
the specific techniques of vocabulary teaching are as follows.
The visual learner requires graphic aids to really succeed at learning tasks. They learn
everything through seeing. The visual student may think in pictures and will enjoy diagrams,
illustrated books, videos, and seeing a demonstration. They will generally take detailed notes
during class, illustrate stories that they write, and use pictures to help them memorize facts.
The visual learner will enjoy phonics with pictures. Thus, the vocabulary teaching tips for
visual learners include:
• Practicing visualizing (mental imagery) or picturing spelling words.
• Flash cards for vocabulary.
• Drawing a picture dictionary for vocabulary, and all the visual cues are present, such as
syllabication, definitions, configurations, affixes, etc.
• Drawing lines around the configuration of printed words and structural word elements.
Auditory learners are frequently gifted musicians being able to “play by ear”. They will learn
more easily through verbal lessons and anything that allows them to talk out what they are
learning. They learn best by reading text aloud. Quite often the auditory learner will enjoy
debates and discussions in class. They do not mind making presentation and may use musical
jingles to help them memorize facts. They enjoy dictating their ideas to others and may not
enjoy writing. The vocabulary teaching tips for auditory learners are the following:
• Reading the words and definitions aloud.
• Recording themselves saying the words and definitions. They should then playback
these recordings.
Kinesthetic learners often struggle with learning vocabulary because it is traditionally taught
in an auditory or visual way. Kinesthetic learners learn vocabulary and reading
comprehension using different methods and activities from those with other learning styles,
such as auditory or visual learners. Kinesthetic learners have a right-brain preference, which
means they learn differently from those with a left-brain preference, such as auditory and
visual learners. Traditional methods involve using a vocabulary book which lists new words
and their meanings or reading the words aloud. They may also include writing exercises in
which one fills in the blank in sentences with the correct word. These techniques are visual,
auditory, and predominantly left-brain in their strategies. This puts kinesthetic learners and
right-brain learners at a disadvantage. Kinesthetic learners will learn effectively if given the
opportunity to move and be active. They are not able to sit still for long periods of time, and
will use body language and hand gestures when talking. They need to show you how to do
something rather than explain it. They love to touch things and are often natural-born actors.
Help kinesthetic learners by giving them a chance to move about. Physical action, even if it is
limited, will stimulate these students and help them do their best. These activities can
accelerate the speed at which kinesthetic learners can learn new words in a fun, engaging way.
The vocabulary teaching tips for kinesthetic learners are as follows:
• Using games, and word associations.
• Making a list of words and their definitions. Taking turns with the kinesthetic students
selecting a word and acting it out silently, so the other can guess which word is being
• Making their own word puzzles and collaborating with visual learners.
The strategies mentioned above can be used to greater advantage if we can diagnose learning
style preferences. The ideas are divided according to each learning style. However, there will
always be a mix of learning styles amongst the students in a class. In order to accommodate
those learning styles, one way to achieve is to match teaching style with learning style. A better
approach is to attempt a balanced teaching style that does not excessively favor any one
learning style-or rather tries to accommodate multiple learning styles (Pedagogical changes,
however, should be informed by teacher beliefs about good teaching practices). Teachers can
present new information and materials in a variety of modes, and use a variety of activities.
However, it is hardly possible for teachers to use all of the above-mentioned methods in any one
lesson (though they can over several lessons). It is true that as the teacher accommodates one
style, he or she blocks another, but there is a combined approach.
The multisensory lessons can meet the needs of different learner styles at the same time. This
teaching techniques and strategies stimulate learning by engaging students on multiple levels.
They encourage students to use some or all of their senses to gather information about a task
and link information to ideas they already know and understand. Multisensory teaching
approach is simultaneously visual, auditory, and kinesthetic to enhance memory and learning.
Links are consistently made between the visual (what we see), auditory (what we hear), and
kinesthetic-tactile (what wefeel) pathways in learning to read and spell (Birsch 1999:2). This
methodology can make a good combination of learner styles and strategy instruction
simultaneously. Therefore, in order to meet diverse needs from individual students, many
multisensory activities need to be presented at the same time. This approach is to keep it
simple, straightforward and at the same time appeal to the three senses of learners.
5.2 Suggested Multisensory Vocabulary Teaching Activities
In the following presentation, the multisensory teaching approach will be implemented in the
lower primary levels. The English instruction at primary schools is intended to endorse the
mastery and development of the basic abilities and skills concerning language use, so that the
pupils are able to express simple expression with an emphasis on the vocabulary mastery. The
following teaching activities will be demonstrated to integrate the students’ learning styles
with the vocabulary strategies instruction. The lesson involves different activities and at least
two or more of the sensory pathways are activated. These teaching activities will mean that
students have a visual memory from seeing materials, an auditory memory from hearing the
sound it makes, and a kinetic memory from having performed body movements. It was
important to catch the pupils’ attention and to ensure that pupils have fun meaningfully.
Furthermore, these teaching activities help to meet the needs of a variety of learners.
In proposing the ways of teaching narratives, sample activities will be provided. The teaching
activities are merely suggestions on the use of the material found in the textbook English
Vocabulary in Use. Unit 4 Everyday verbs: Go/went/gone (see Appendix D) in the book is to
be used to present the suggested multisensory teaching approach. The goal of the unit is to
provide a quick and easy resource to provide students an instant way to learn everyday verbs.
The target verbs are presented through a variety of games to appeal to the different learning
styles. Learning English vocabulary using games is an important way for primary teachers and
students. As young students, they are easy to accept the English language because they learn by
playing games. For the teachers, it can help them in the teaching process. In addition, three
teaching steps involved in the vocabulary teaching: convey meaning (step 1), check
understanding (step 2), and consolidate (step 3). The following are the suggested activities.
Unit 4 Everyday verbs: Go/went/gone
Level of Students: Primary pupils (Grade 3)
Suggested Lesson Time: 50 min
1. Presentation of new words
Time allocation: 15 min
Aim: To match the action verbs to the gestures; to present the new word.
(1) Matching the action verb go to the gestures by miming the ways of moving from one
place to another.
(2) Call on several students and have them describe the motions.
(3) Word in context: explaining the meanings of go by giving different situations.
e.g. I go to work by bike.
e.g. Where does this road go to?
(4) Have the students open the text to page 12.
(5) Explain the form of its Past Tense and Past Participle in context.
(6) Explain go + prepositions and go+ v-ing for activities by Collocation.
e.g. go
out ,
(7) Explain go + v-ing = go to do
e.g. go shopping =go to shop, go fishing =go to fish
go skating =go to skate, go swimming =go to swim
2. Matching Games
Time allocation: 12 min
Aim: To make the sentences of go+ prepositions and go+ -ing for activities;
To match the pictures in the cards;
To recite the sentence that teacher reads.
(1) Seven small pictures; the sentence-cards backed with sandpaper and attached or removed
from a flannel-board.
(2) A list of sentences below that match with the pictures.
① Pablo went out of the house.
② Kim went up the stairs slowly.
③ Bob went down the stairs quickly.
④ Rose and her friends go camping.
⑤ Alison usually goes swimming in the morning. ⑥ Jean is going shopping today.
⑦ Tom likes going sightseeing when he is on holiday.
(1) Game Description:
Sentences or phrases are matched to pictures. The learners have to match the sentences or
phrases with the pictures. The cards are not ‘flashed’ but are just placed under or against the
pictures. Sentence like This is a house is the simplest. With some pictures, longer sentences are
possible such as The little girl has fallen into the water. The picture is shown and a descriptive
sentence is then obtained from the class, e.g. John is skipping. The card bearing this sentence is
then put underneath, similarly for other pictures.
(2) Game Organization:
• Divide the students into several groups of 7 or 8 members;
• Teacher puts up all pictures on flannel-board, and point to the pictures at random.
• Students compete with one another to make descriptive sentences of the pictures.
• The student who makes a right sentence comes out and repeats the sentence aloud.
• All students follow the teacher to read all the sentences matching with the pictures.
• The student who makes the most right sentences is the winner.
This kind of activity can easily be made into a simple competitive game. Some words work
well with pictures. Pictures can be used in printable worksheets and flashcards, where pictures
are matched to the word they represent. This can be a good way to introduce blocks of related
words, which are often utilized in foreign language classes, such as nouns and verbs related to
everyday activities. It is an advantage to have a collection of simple pictures showing the
object or action, which can encourage the students’ accuracy in word recognition. As the
activity involves pictures and verbal reading, teachers can make the sounds themselves, or
bring in tapes or CDs for students to listen to. This activity meets the need of visual and
auditory learners to acquire the vocabulary with fun and accelerates their learning speed.
3. Vocabulary Charades (Miming Games)
Time allocation: 15 min
Aim: To match the action phrases go+-ing for activities to the gestures.
Preparation: a set of cards on each of which an activity is written below.
go fishing
go skiing
go dancing
go riding
go running
go eating
go playing
go driving
(1) Game Description:
Many simple actions can be performed or mimed in the classroom. Learners and teams take
turns to perform an action, and the others guess what it is. Vocabulary Charades help
kinesthetic students make a list of words and their definitions. Take turns with the kinesthetic
students selecting a word and acting it out silently, so the other can guess which word is being
dramatized. Group can separately prepare a number of mimed actions in which all the
members of the group take part. Other groups then say what they think has been going on, e.g.
an accident in the street (somebody walking suddenly stops, looks shocked, then hurries
forward to help a man holding his head, is brushed aside by a ‘doctor’, etc.).
(2) Game Organization:
• Divide the students into several groups (seven or eight is a good number).
• Distribute to each group a set of cards with the phrases of go+-ing for activities.
• Each group decides who will gesture the written phrases.
• A student in one group select out the verb phrase written on his or her card and act it out,
while the students in other groups guess the verb.
• The groups take turns.
Although no language is involved in the mime itself, the mime stimulates interest, the desire to
speak about what one has seen, and the wish to communicate to others that one understands
what it represents. It is based on the characteristics and attitude of the students that they are
curious and in general like any sort of play-acting. Through the sensory experiences of seeing,
touching, hearing, and moving, they develop their learning skills. Using games that involve a
varied use of language appears to hold a solution for many teachers. Teacher use games
activities as their teaching aid. The students appreciate any kind of activities which provide
excitement and fun. It will be easy to understand and practice of English. The students can
learn while playing games. Therefore, teaching vocabulary-using games is the effective way.
The above-mentioned activity involves body language and hand gestures, which fits the
kinesthetic learner to learn and understand the new word. Moreover, total physical response
works well with young students and help introduce them to new concepts. After explaining
new vocabulary, teacher can ask the kinesthetic students to perform the actions to accelerate
the speed of vocabulary learning.
4. Teaching Assessment:
Time allocation: 8 min
Aim: To check the teaching result through making sentences by the students.
To describe the motions with the core verb go in students’ real life.
Call on the students individually and have them make sentences related with the
verb go (e.g. by asking students the question “What do you do on holiday?”).
6. Conclusion
The current survey was originally motivated by an interest in the instructional vocabulary
strategies of English teachers with respect to combining learner styles. Through the process of
conducting several questionnaires, the results indicate that the learning styles of many students
and the teaching styles of many teachers do not match. The majority of students are visual
learners, while most teachers, on the other hand, adopt the auditory teaching style. This leads to
frustration on the part of the teacher and a missed opportunity on the part of the student. Few
teachers in the study are able to teach to a wide variety of students and at the same time satisfy
all the various different learning styles. Furthermore, the present research shows that there are
many problems in the present state of English vocabulary teaching. The teachers lack the
initiative to explore new methods in vocabulary teaching: most teachers still keep a traditional
English vocabulary teaching procedure; their teaching pattern is unitary; some teachers cannot
help students develop vocabulary learning strategies; other teachers cannot use various
methods in vocabulary teaching in a flexible way. In a word, there are few strategies involved
in their vocabulary teaching. However, teaching strategies can take students to promote their
own learning success, which include a vast number of teaching techniques so as to make
learning easier, faster, more enjoyable, more effective, and to boost performance. Developing
teaching strategies can help students find a variety of tools to aid learning and understanding.
In the case of the visual learners, this will mean validating those techniques that appeal to their
learning channel preferences while promoting other appropriate techniques for other learners.
In all academic classrooms, no matter what the subject is, there will be students with multiple
learning styles. Everyday teachers make instructional decisions before, during, and after
meeting the students, and these decisions lead to tailored instruction to individuals or groups in
the classrooms. There are academically diverse learners and teachers need to make curriculum
choices that complement our students’ interests, strengths and needs. The effective teacher is
constantly making decisions about how to present information to achieve this, as well as
monitoring and adjusting presentations to accommodate individual differences and enhance the
learning of all students. An effective means of accommodating these learning styles is for
teachers to change their own styles and strategies and provide a variety of activities to meet the
needs of different learning styles. Then all students will have at least some activities that appeal
to them based on their learning styles, and they are more likely to be successful in these
activities. When presenting content, effective teachers gain their students’ attention, interact
positively with the students, review previously covered material, and provide an organization
for the material (e.g. graphic organizers, outlines, anticipation guides). Clear directions,
adequate examples, and practice need to be provided in a relevant context for students.
When it comes to vocabulary teaching, the traditional way of vocabulary teaching makes the
students lazy and bored. The teacher needs something different to make students interested and
motivated. They should combine their vocabulary teaching method with the different learning
styles. The suggested multisensory approach requires the integration of visual, auditory, and
kinesthetic techniques in classroom teaching. It can simultaneously meet the various needs
from visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners to enhance memory and learning. The right
combination of these activities varies with the class profile. For the auditory learners, students
tend to get much out of lectures, verbal explanations, tapes and oral instruction. Language
games for this type of learner are mainly listening based. They include games that involve
repetition, dictation, and listening for clues. As for visual learners, they prefer to read silently
and make good use of any illustrations that go with the text. They will generally prefer you to
teach with written instructions and will benefit from you acting out situations, watching a
demonstration or presenting scenarios in videos. When it comes to kinesthetic learners, they
are often the students who just do not get what you are trying to teach in a traditional lecture or
worksheet based lesson. Kinesthetic learners take in information best when they use their
whole bodies to complete practice exercises.
Therefore, EFL teachers should encourage students to build their confidence by using direct,
audio-lingual, community language learning and communicative approaches, methods and
practices and give them more active practice in their learning skills. Individual differences of
students need to be considered and the instructional delivery system needs to correspond to the
varying abilities of the students. Students may fail to learn the material if the teacher’s style of
teaching does not match their learning styles. Many researchers claim that students with highly
preferred learning styles achieve higher test scores when instructional conditions or resources
complement their preferred styles. By teaching to the particular learning styles of students,
learning outcomes can be improved.
The results of this study suggest that multisensory approach might offer some benefits to meet
diverse learners’ needs. It is hoped that the findings of this study will be of interest to
instructors in similar instructional settings and prompt them to evaluate the existing practices
and experiment with new approaches to English teaching. It is also hoped that the results of
this study will stimulate further research in the integration of vocabulary teaching strategies
with learner styles.
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Appendix A
VAK Learning Styles Self-Assessment Questionnaire
Circle or tick the answer that most represents how you generally behave.
1. When I operate new equipment I generally:
a) read the instructions first
b) listen to an explanation from someone who has used it before
c) go ahead and have a go, I can figure it out as I use it
2. When I need directions for travelling I usually:
a) look at a map
b) ask for spoken directions
c) follow my nose and maybe use a compass
3. When I cook a new dish, I like to:
a) follow a written recipe
b) call a friend for an explanation
c) follow my instincts, testing as I cook
4. If I am teaching someone something new, I tend to:
a) write instructions down for them
b) give them a verbal explanation
c) demonstrate first and then let them have a go
5. I tend to say:
a) watch how I do it
b) listen to me explain
c) you have a go
6. During my free time I most enjoy:
a) going to museums and galleries
b) listening to music and talking to my friends
c) playing sport or doing DIY
7. When I go shopping for clothes, I tend to:
a) imagine what they would look like on
b) discuss them with the shop staff
c) try them on and test them out
8. When I am choosing a holiday I usually:
a) read lots of brochures
b) listen to recommendations from friends
c) imagine what it would be like to be there
9. If I was buying a new car, I would:
a) read reviews in newspapers and magazines
b) discuss what I need with my friends
c) test-drive lots of different types
10. When I am learning a new skill, I am most comfortable:
a) watching what the teacher is doing
b) talking through with the teacher exactly what I’m supposed to do
c) giving it a try myself and work it out as I go
11. If I am choosing food off a menu, I tend to:
a) imagine what the food will look like
b) talk through the options in my head or with my partner
c) imagine what the food will taste like
12. When I listen to a band, I can
can’’t help:
a) watching the band members and other people in the audience
b) listening to the lyrics and the beats
c) moving in time with the music
13. When I concentrate, I most often:
a) focus on the words or the pictures in front of me
b) discuss the problem and the possible solutions in my head
c) move around a lot, fiddle with pens and pencils and touch things
14. I choose household furnishings because I like:
a) their colours and how they look
b) the descriptions the sales-people give me
c) their textures and what it feels like to touch them
15. My first memory is of:
a) looking at something
b) being spoken to
c) doing something
16. When I am anxious, I:
a) visualise the worst-case scenarios
b) talk over in my head what worries me most
c) can’t sit still, fiddle and move around constantly
17. I feel especially connected to other people because of:
a) how they look
b) what they say to me
c) how they make me feel
18. When I have to revise for an exam, I generally:
a) write lots of revision notes and diagrams
b) talk over my notes, alone or with other people
c) imagine making the movement or creating the formula
19. If I am explaining to someone I tend to:
a) show them what I mean
b) explain to them in different ways until they understand
c) encourage them to try and talk them through my idea as they do it
20. I really love:
a) watching films, photography, looking at art or people watching
b) listening to music, the radio or talking to friends
c) taking part in sporting activities, eating fine foods and wines or dancing
21. Most of my free time is spent:
a) watching television
b) talking to friends
c) doing physical activity or making things
22. When I first contact a new person, I usually:
a) arrange a face to face meeting
b) talk to them on the telephone
c) try to get together whilst doing something else, such as an activity or a meal
23. I first notice how people:
a) look and dress
b) sound and speak
c) stand and move
24. If I am angry, I tend to:
a) keep replaying in my mind what it is that has upset me
b) raise my voice and tell people how I feel
c) stamp about, slam doors and physically demonstrate my anger
25. I find it easiest to remember:
a) faces
b) names
c) things I have done
26. I think that you can tell if someone is lying if:
a) they avoid looking at you
b) their voices changes
c) they give me funny vibes
27. When I meet an old friend:
a) I say “it’s great to see you!”
b) I say “it’s great to hear from you!”
c) I give them a hug or a handshake
28. I remember things best by:
a) writing notes or keeping printed details
b) saying them aloud or repeating words and key points in my head
c) doing and practising the activity or imagining it being done
29. If I have to complain about faulty goods, I am most comfortable:
a) writing a letter
b) complaining over the phone
c) taking the item back to the store or posting it to head office
30. I tend to say:
a) I see what you mean
b) I hear what you are saying
c) I know how you feel
Now add up how many A’s, B’s and C’s you selected.
A’s =
B’s =
C’s =
If you chose mostly A’s you have a VISUAL learning style.
If you chose mostly B’s you have an AUDITORY learning style.
If you chose mostly C’s you have a KINAESTHETIC learning style.
Appendix B
Teaching Style Inventory
Respond to questions below by using the following rating scale:
1 = strongly disagree | 2 = moderately disagree | 3 = undecided |
4 = moderately agree | 5 = strongly agree.
Facts, concepts, and principles are the most important things that students should
acquire. Response:
I set high standards for students in this class.. Response:
What I say and do models appropriate ways for students to think about issues in the
content. Response:
My teaching goals and methods address a variety of student learning styles.
Students typically work on course projects alone with little supervision from me.
Sharing my knowledge and expertise with students is very important to me.
I give students negative feedback when their performance is unsatisfactory.
Activities in this class encourage students to develop their own ideas about content
issues. Response:
I spend time consulting with students on how to improve their work on individual
and/or group projects. Response:
Activities in this class encourage students to develop their own ideas about content
issues. Response:
What I have to say about a topic is important for students to acquire a broader
perspective on the issues in that area. Response:
Students would describe my standards and expectations as somewhat strict and rigid.
I typically show students how and what to do in order to master course content.
Small group discussions are employed to help students develop their ability to think
critically. Response:
Students design one of more self-directed learning experiences.
I want students to leave this course well prepared for further work in this area.
It is my responsibility to define what students must learn and how they should learn
it. Response:
Examples from my personal experiences often are used to illustate points about the
material. Response:
I guide students' work on course projects by asking questions, exploring options, and
suggesting alternative ways to do things. Response:
Developing the ability of students to think and work independently is an important
goal. Response:
1 = strongly disagree | 2 = moderately disagree | 3 = undecided |
4 = moderately agree | 5 = strongly agree
Lecturing is a significant part of how I teach each of the class sessions. Response:
I provide very clear guidelines for how I want tasks completed in this course.
I often show students how they can use various principles and concepts. Response:
Course activities encourage students to take initiative and responsibility for their
learning. Response:
Students take responsibility for teaching part of the class sessions.
My expertise is typically used to resolve disagreements about content issues.
This course has very specific goals and objectives that I want to accomplish.
Students receive frequent verbal and/or written comments on their performance.
I solicit student advice about how and what to teach in this course.
Students set their own pace for completing independent and/or group projects.
Students might describe me as a "storehouse of knowledge" who dispenses the fact,
principles, and concepts they need. Response:
My expectations for what I want students to do in this class are clearly defined in the
syllabus. Response:
Eventually, many students begin to think like me about course content. Response:
Students can make choices among activities in order to complete course
requirements. Response:
My approach to teaching is similar to a manager of a work group who delegates
tasks and responsibilities to subordinates. Response:
There is more material in this course than I have time available to cover it.
My standards and expectations help students develop the discipline the need to learn.
Students might describe me as a "coach" who works closely with someone to correct
problems in how they think and behave. Response:
I give students a lot of personal support and encouragement to do well in this course.
I assume the role of a resource person who is available to students whenever they
need help. Response:
Score Survey
Click "Score Survey " and your results will appear below. The results of your teaching style
survey are as follows:
expert formal authority
personal model
Appendix C
Questionnaire on English Vocabulary Teaching Strategies
Teaching Experience:
1. What
What’’s your attitude to vocabulary teaching in English teaching? (
A、the most important
C、not so useful
2. Do you present vocabulary in appropriate contexts and situations? (
A、Yes, and always stick to it.
B、not always
3. Series-connected memory system: to memorize a certain word or the name of
something, people often connect the first letter or syllable of each word to make a new
word, e.g. the first letter of the four words “north
north”” “east
east”” “west
west”” “south
south”” can make a
new word “news
news”” (
A、know this kind of approach but never use it
B、use this kind of approach sometimes (according to each word )
C、have no idea about this approach
4. Discriminate the meaning of a word by distinguishing the root:
e.g the root of costly is cost, the root of valuable is value
A、know this kind of approach but never use it
B、use this kind of approach sometimes (according to each word )
C、have no idea about this approach
5. Discriminate the meaning of a word by word tree
by land by air by water by train, coach, by plain by boat,
bus, bike
A、know this kind of approach but never use it
B、use this kind of approach sometimes (according to each word )
C、have no idea about this approach
6. Which of these strategies do you use to enlarge students
students’’ vocabulary? (
A.I always encourage students to read books or texts in English, though it is not compulsory
for class.
B.I always encourage students to learn words or phrases either from TV or English songs,
radio programs, watching English movies and magazines etc.
C.I encourage students have a look at the dictionary and I learn some new word.
D.The textbook and the content is the main source of the vocabularies I choose to teach to
7. Which of the following types of activities do you think of as the most useful to practice
vocabulary? (
A、Filling in the gaps with vocabulary given. B、Crosswords or word squares.
C、 Reading texts. D、Matching (words and pictures, words and their definitions, etc).
E、Completing vocabulary list or columns. F、 Writing composition.
G、Vocabulary Word Games.
8. Describe your English vocabulary teaching procedure.
Appendix D
Unit 4 Go/ went/ gone
A. Go
Go means to move from one place to another.
I go to work by bike. My brother goes by car.
We went to Paris last summer.
Shall we go to the swimming pool today?
You can go to a place on foot or in some kind of transport.
To make it clear that we are going on foot we can say:
We’re walking to work this morning.
B. Go + prepositions
Kim went in(to) his room and shut the door.
Yuko went out of the house and into the garden.
Rani was tired. He went up the stairs slowly.
The phone was ringing. She went down the stairs quickly.
I’m going back home this evening.
C. Go + ing for activities
Go is often used with –ing for different activities.
I hate going shopping.
I usually go swimming in the morning.
Let’s go dancing.
Do you like going sightseeing when you are on holiday?
Hans goes skiing every winter.
Bob is going fishing today.
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