The Influence of Learning Styles and Input Modalities on the Simultaneous Attention to Form and Meaning

Document Type: Research Paper

Author

Department of Foreign languages, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

Second language acquisition (SLA) research suggests that learners differ in the extent to which they can direct their attention to the meaning and form of the input. Among various factors responsible for this discrepancy, learning style by itself or along with other factors might influence the process, yet its impact has rarely been addressed in empirical studies. The present study aimed to investigate how learners with different learning styles allocate their attention to form and content when exposed to different input modalities. For this purpose, 73 male and female university students from three intact groups, participated in the research. First, the Ehrman & Leaver (E& L) Construct Questionnaire was implemented to determine the participants' learning styles. Then, the reconstructive Elicited Imitation (REI) Tests comprising a reading and a listening section were administered to specify how learning styles might allocate their attention if exposed to different modalities. Moreover, to obtain further evidence regarding how they would attend to the form and content, a structured interview was employed. The analysis of Chi-square showed that the atomistic learners processed the linguistic features more effectively while the holistic learners focused more on the content. The results further indicated that both types of learners had difficulty processing oral input, although the atomistic learners outperformed the holistic learners in attending to the formal features. Finally it was revealed that learning style is a crucial factor, directing the EFL learners how to divide their attention between form and meaning, but input modalities can only influence the process.

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