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Different Learning Styles and their Effects on Engagement

Different Learning Styles and their Effects on Engagement | ITTT | TEFL Blog

The fact that nowadays, the ESA method is conventional wisdom among all the English teachers around the world highly simplifies and standardizes the process of preparation and lesson planning, specifically for those who are at the beginning of their career path as a teacher.This method simply suggests that every lesson needs to be started with an engagement stage in which the teacher aims to attract students' attention in order to encourage and enhance their active participation during the lesson. Furthermore, the recent textbooks' content is mostly designed based on the ESA method, and there are manifold attractive engagement ideas included in them that teachers can take advantage of if need be.

How a teacher plans to engage the learners depends on various features, although the learners' types, which refers to the different ways individuals manage to pick up lessons, is a notion that probably needs to be taken into account by teachers while doing the preparation. According to this premise, learners are divided into several categories based on their learning preferences. The most rudimentary classification is centered around three groups of visuals, auditories, and kinaesthetic learners.

Those who watch carefully and learn through looking at pictures, videos, the board, etc., are called visual learners. These learners take advantage of a strong visual memory and are able to recall what they see during a lesson better than things they do or hear.

The second classification, called auditory learning style, refers to students who make the most of lessons when speaking or listening to audios, teachers, and their classmates. It seems that oral input is more appealing for this type of learner. Finally, kinesthetic or tactile students benefit from practicing and getting involved in doing projects or making handmade crafts.

You might probably believe that it's why some of your students respond better to some of your activities and lessons. This is a quite controversial issue in pedagogy, though. While many teachers appear to agree with VAK or even identify with one of the learning styles, many others reject the hypothesis and represent the opposing idea that it doesn't make sense to conclude an individual's learning ability is limited to one of these categories or if one is a visual learner, he/she can't learn through listening or practicing. The other controversial aspect of this theory emerges when a teacher is assumed to walk into a class and decide on students' learning styles based on those few moments he/she had the chance to get to know them. So It just appears more logical to conclude that individuals actually learn through a mixture of these styles; however, having the awareness about learning style theories helps a teacher design more propitious lessons.

When it comes to engagement, there is a wide variety of tools a teacher can take to the class in order to keep the students attracted and focused all through the lesson.

Anecdotes

Sharing a fun story or telling your class about a particular personal experience may be a great way to absorb students' full attention and start a lesson specifically for auditory learners who indulge in listening. Students love to know more about their teachers, and it also helps the teacher with establishing and building up a strong rapport. Don't worry if you are not one of those people with a lot of anecdotal stories in hand. You can get help from other teachers or simply come up with a story that fits well and serves the purpose.

Pictures

Pictures are catchy and available for almost all the topics you might want to teach. You can also include some pictures to give exposure and elicit some of those vocabulary items that are blocking and required to be taught in your study part. This helps you avoid too much pre-teaching and a long study phase. If you like or are allowed by the school discipline, use your personal pictures, for example, on holiday or at home since students, especially the visual ones, find them particularly memorable.

Games

Not just kinesthetic learners enjoy a vibrant game that lets them walk around the class and have the opportunity to mingle with their classmates. Starting a lesson with a game increases the student-to-student interaction, reduces your TTT(teacher's talking time), and injects a burst of positive energy into your class.

Audiovisual Aids

All the items you take to your class, such as maps, equipment, globes, podcasts, magazines, animals or even people, etc., are referred to as AVAs or audiovisual aids. They are basically applied to help you provide your students with more authentic input, especially for CLIL lessons, when the language lesson is merged with a subject lesson. All the subject-related AVAs for CLIL classes can be purposefully utilized so as to facilitate the learning process for all the learner types.

Questions and discussions

One of the primary aims of the engagement phase is enabling students to think and speak in English and activate their background knowledge about the topic and content of the lesson. Preparing aimful questions can spontaneously guide students to beneficiary discussions that can improve their speaking and listening as well as negotiation and persuasion skills.

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Consequently, there are, of course, myriad ways to engage learners and set the context for a lesson, although a balanced approach towards learning style theories may result in more fruitful lessons. Another point that needs to be taken into consideration while planning is that this stage is aimed for fluency, so error treatment is not highly suggested, and in terms of effective time management, if a lesson is presumably divided into three phases, engagement should probably be the smallest stage; therefore, the allocated time for this stage is not supposed to be more than ten minutes.

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