A Study of Language Learning Style and Teaching Style Preferences of Hong Kong Community College Students and Teachers in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Contexts
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
In English language classrooms, students use different approaches to carry out English learning tasks. Language learning styles, which generally refers to learners’ preferred modes of language learning, have been widely researched and discussed in the fields of second language acquisition (SLA) and educational psychology. Understanding the learning style preferences of students can help teachers cope with students’ course-related learning difficulties and ultimately help alleviate their frustration levels. Another important concept is teaching styles, which refers to teachers’ classroom behaviour based on their teaching beliefs, is commonly associated with learning styles in language education research. Teaching style is vital for providing students with good learning experiences and improving students’ academic outcomes. This study explores the English language learning and teaching style preferences in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) classrooms at community college level in Hong Kong. The present study adopted a mixed method approach involving both questionnaire surveys and semi-structured interviews, in attempt to investigate the factors influencing learning styles and teaching styles, and the relationship between them. It aims at providing valuable information for curriculum design and teacher training in order to offer Hong Kong community college students adequate and effective academic English language learning support. A total of 637 students and 10 EAP teachers from two community colleges in Hong Kong participated in this research. The quantitative and qualitative findings of this study show that the community college students in EAP classrooms have multiple learning style preferences. A plethora of factors such as cultural and educational backgrounds are related to their development of learning styles. This research also explores the nature of teaching styles and the possible variables, including students’ English language proficiency and their learning styles, influencing their teaching styles in EAP classrooms. This study attempts to explain the relationship between learning styles and teaching styles in English language classrooms with reference to the interview findings from both students and teachers. It is argued that both learning styles and teaching styles are flexible and have a reciprocal influence on each other. Learners may adjust their learning styles in order to meet academic requirements, while teachers may adjust their teaching styles so as to provide students with an affective learning environment. When learners and teachers have more interaction with each other, their styles may become similar to each other. This study also identifies the importance of improving learners’ flexibility for developing learning styles and accepting unfamiliar teaching styles. Based on the evidence drawn from this research, educational implications on teaching and learning in EAP classrooms, and recommendations for future research on learning styles and teaching styles are proposed.