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The Effect of Korean Secondary School Students' Perceptual Learning Styles and Ideal L2 Self on Motivated L2 Behavior and English Proficiency* Yoon-Kyoung Kim and Tae-Young Kim** (Chung-Ang University)
Kim, Yoon-Kyoung and Kim, Tae-Young. 2011. The effect of Korean secondary school students' perceptual learning styles and ideal L2 self on motivated L2 behavior and English proficiency. Korean Journal of English Language and Linguistics 11-1, 000-000. In this study, 495 Korean
secondary school students' visual, auditory, and kinesthetic preferences, ideal L2 self, motivated L2 behavior, and English proficiency were analyzed based on questionnaire surveys. Identifying possible effect of the participants' perceptual learning styles and ideal L2 self on their motivated L2 behavior was followed by an investigation of all variables' impact on English proficiency. The influence of the visual learning style and the ideal L2 self on motivated L2 behavior indicates that the students' visual style preference contributes strongly to the forming of a vivid ideal L2 self, which in turn results in a higher level of motivated L2 behavior. As for the effect of the variables on English proficiency, the more motivated L2 behavior the students exhibited, the higher achievement they obtained, but the impact was not notably powerful. Based on these findings, it is suggested that Korean secondary school students’ motivation to learn English can be increased by enabling them to realize and develop their ideal L2 self through group discussion or individual journal writing.
Key Words: Perceptual Learning Style, Ideal L2 Self, Motivated L2
Behavior, English Proficiency, Korean Secondary School Students
1. Introduction Recently, an interesting line of research was conducted into * This study is a part of the first author's M.Ed thesis under the supervision of the corresponding author. ** First author: Yoon-Kyoung Kim; Corresponding author: Tae-Young Kim
the relationship between second language (L2) motivation and perceptual learning style preferences. Al-Shehri (2009) investigated L2
preferences contribute to developing a vivid ideal L2 self, which in turn can lead to a high level of motivated L2 behavior in learning English. The concept of the ideal L2 self is one component of the L2 motivational self system proposed by Dörnyei (2005, 2009). Dörnyei emphasized the importance of the future images that L2 learners possess with regard to L2 learning and use. Among these images, the one that learners would like to become is the ideal L2 self. As for the motivational facet of the ideal L2 self, Dörnyei explains that L2 learners are likely to be deeply motivated to learn the target language if they have a vivid, future image of an ideal L2 self, and are willing to make the effort to move closer to the idealized L2-speaking image. That is, the ideal L2 self can be a powerful motivator for L2 learners, which is why it is becoming a significant concept in understanding L2 motivation. In order to investigate the exact features of this promising concept,
(Al-Shehri, 2009; Csizér & Kormos, 2009; Ryan, 2009; Taguchi, Magid, & Papi, 2009) have conducted research which includes the ideal L2 self. In the Korean context, Kim (2009a) investigated Korean elementary school students, expanding on Al-Shehri’s (2009) study. Kim discovered that not only their visual style preferences but also their auditory learning styles influence their creation of ideal L2 self and enhance motivated L2 behavior. This fact implies that both visual and auditory styles facilitate L2 learning motivation among Korean elementary school students. Given this, investigating the relationship between perceptual learning style preferences and the ideal L2 self is likely to hold great potential for better understanding how L2 learners are
forming their motivation. However, in Korea, except for Kim's recent works (2009a, 2009b, 2010), few studies have been made of the ideal L2 self. Also, Kim's (2009a) research into the perceptual learning styles and ideal L2 self was based only on elementary students, so none has been done with secondary school students. Therefore, the focus of this study is identifying how the perceptual learning styles of Korean secondary school students are related to their ideal L2 self, compared with elementary students.
2. Literature Review Dörnyei (2005, 2009) approaches L2 motivation from the aspect of the individual’s self, suggesting that L2 learners possess an image of their future-self regarding L2 learning and use. Among the future self images, the one that learners would like to become is the ideal L2 self and another image formed by obligations or sense of duty is the ought-to L2 self. With the other components of the L2 learning experience, Dörnyei's L2 motivational self system consists of three concepts. In the conceptualization of the self images related to L2 learning, Dörnyei (2005, 2009) is inspired by Markus and Nurius’ (1986) possible self theory and Higgins’ (1987) self-discrepancy theory. The motivational aspect of self-discrepancy theory can be explained by stating that people are motivated by the desire to reduce the discrepancy between their actual and future selves. Possible selves indicate "specific representations of one's self in future states, involving thoughts, images, and senses" (Dörnyei, 2005, p. 99). It represents an individual’s imagined self of what they might become, what they hope to become, and what they are afraid of becoming. In developing his new construct for L2 learners' motivation, Dörnyei pays particular attention to the
characteristics of the possible selves that the self images can be depicted using the same imagery and semantic methods as one's reality, or actual self. Imagining the future self in this way can be a significant benefit because "this representation seems to capture some elements of what people actually experience when they
(Dörnyei, 2005, p. 99). Markus and Ruvolo (1989) also state that focusing on possible selves enables us to be "phenomenologically very close to the actual thought and feelings that individuals experience as they are in the process of motivated L2 behavior and instrumental action" (p. 217). Based on such a viewpoint, Dörnyei concludes that positive possible selves are closely related to visions. As an example of the relationship between the positive self image and vision, he provides an account of the motivational disposition of a former Olympic athlete offered by Murphey (1998). In the story, when the athlete experiences difficulties in rising for early-bird training, she imagines herself walking into the Olympic stadium. It is this vision that enables her to overcome the reluctance to train and the difficulties associated with that training. Influenced by Dörnyei’s (2005) suggestion that forming a vivid L2 self is related to vision and imagination, Al-Shehri (2009) questioned
relationship between visual style preference and imagination, and consequently between these visual and imaginative capacities, and the ideal L2 self and motivation. To answer this question, Al-Shehri surveyed the relationship between visual learning style, imagination, ideal L2 selves, and motivated L2 behavior. The study
dominant visual learning style are more likely to exhibit a strong capacity for visual imagery and imagination, and that therefore such learners are more likely to develop a stronger ideal L2 self, given the prominent imagery contact of the ideal self. The
subjects of the study are 98 university students, and 102 high school students. All of them were studying English either as a foreign language in Saudi Arabia or as a second language in the UK. He found that the participants' visual style was highly correlated with an ideal L2 self and motivated L2 behavior via the creation of mental imagery. However,
assumption that only the visual style is related to the ideal L2 self, suggesting that the auditory learning preference may be equally important in creating and maintaining the ideal L2 self. According to Kim, by actively participating in listening and speaking activities in a communicative L2 class, the students with auditory styles can recognize the gap between their actual proficiency and idealized proficiency. Based on this assumption, Kim
motivated L2 behavior, expanding on Al-Shehri's study. He analyzed the effects of the perceptual learning style preference and the ideal L2 self on the motivated L2 behavior, including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic styles. The finding indicated that not only the Korean elementary school student’s visual style preference but also their auditory learning style are significantly correlated with the ideal L2 self and motivated L2 behavior. He also identified that the kinesthetic style has a negative influence on motivated L2 behavior. As
endeavored to understand the nature of the ideal L2 self and its connection to perceptual learning styles, which is embodied in motivated L2 behavior. What is noteworthy is that L2 learners' visualizing process with ideal L2-speaking images can lead to their motivation to make more efforts in learning an L2. It is a novel perspective in understanding the microgenetic process of L2 learning motivation. Given this, further investigation needs to
be conducted into whether identifying the relationship among the perceptual learning styles, the ideal L2 self, and motivated L2 behavior is applicable in the Korean context in guiding students to
investigation into this relationship in the Korean context was focused
worthwhile to delve into how these concepts are related at the secondary school level. Therefore, this study aims to investigate relationships, if any, between Korean secondary school students' perceptual
motivated L2 behavior. An additional concern of the study is identifying whether any of these potential relationships might have an effect on students' academic achievement in English. If visual and auditory preferences are positively correlated to motivated L2 behavior through forming a vivid ideal L2 self, highly-motivated students’ perceptual learning styles are more likely to result in good academic grades. Consequently, in this study,
secondary school students are investigated and analyzed along with their imagination, ideal L2 self, motivated L2 behavior, and academic achievement in English. The research questions are postulated as follows: 1. Among Korean secondary school students, what is the combined effect of three perceptual learning styles and the ideal L2 self on motivated L2 behavior? 2. What is the impact of the students' perceptual learning style, ideal L2 self, motivated L2 behavior on their academic achievement in English?
3. Method 3.1 Participants The total number of participants was 495 Korean secondary school students drawn from five different schools located in Sungnam, Gyeonggi province. Of those, 277 were middle school students in their second year (56%) and 218 were high school students in their second year (44%). Male students were 252 (51%) and female students were 243 (49%). The average number of assigned English classes for the middle school students was three times a week, while for the high school students, it was five times a week. One standard for selecting schools for the survey
beginner, intermediate, and advanced level classes. The schools which had only two of the three different levels were not chosen for this research. In the participating schools, the students in beginner and advanced were not included in the subject of this study, following the researchers' judgment that they were more likely to be weighted toward being either extremely motivated, or strong in academic performance in English, with the beginner level students being the reverse. In other words, every participant was an intermediate proficiency group member.
3.2 Procedures This
investigate perceptual language learning styles, imagination, the ideal
secondary school students (see Appendix for sample questions). For the participants' academic achievement in English, their grades
questionnaire included a total number of 33 items, focusing on 6 variables: visual (6 items), auditory (4 items), kinesthetic (5 items), imagination (3 items), the ideal L2 self (7 items), and motivated L2 behavior (8 items). All of the items were measured using a six-point Likert-scale, ranging from disagree strongly (1) to agree strongly (6). The six-point Likert-scale did not include the response uncertain to prevent neutral results. The questionnaire items for perceptual language learning styles were modified from Cohen, Oxford, and Chi’s (2002) Learning Style Survey. The items measuring imagination, the ideal L2 self and the motivated L2 behavior were from Al-Shehri’s (2009) study. In order to fine-tune the questionnaire items, a pilot study was conducted with 30 secondary school students attending a private ESL institute in Sungnam in June 2010. After completing the
difficulties they had understanding and answering the items in the questionnaire. Also, reliability statistics were run to check on the internal consistency, and the items lowering the overall Cronbach’s alpha were eliminated. Cronbach’s alpha indexes after item elimination were =.673 for visual, =.606 for auditory, =.801 for kinesthetic, =.720 for imagination, =.927 for the ideal L2 self, and =.895 for motivated L2 behavior. The main-study questionnaire was carried out in five different schools in July 2010.
3.3 Data Analysis The
quantitative methods, using SPSS 12.0. First, descriptive analysis was used to display the mean and standard deviation of the 1)
The final exam in the schools was a written test focusing mostly on reading, vocabulary, and grammar, which admittedly provided a less than accurate measurement of the student’s English proficiency.
variables: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, imagination, the ideal L2 self, and the motivated L2 behavior of Korean secondary school students.
conducted to identify statistically significant relations among the participants' perceptual learning styles, imagination, ideal L2 self, motivated L2 behavior, and academic achievement in English. Third,
examine (1) the impact of Korean secondary school students' perceptual learning style preferences and ideal L2 self on their motivated L2 behavior, and (2) the effect of perceptual learning styles, the ideal L2 self, and motivated L2 behavior on academic achievement in English. The alpha was set at .05.
4. Findings and Discussion Based on the two research questions, the collected data are presented
kinesthetic, imagination, the ideal L2 self, motivated L2 behavior, and academic achievement in English were set as the variables to probe (1) the effect of three perceptual learning styles and the ideal L2 self on the motivated L2 behavior of Korean secondary school students, and (2) to what degree the students' academic achievement in English can be explained by the perceptual learning styles, ideal L2 self, and motivated L2 behavior.
4.1 Korean Secondary School Students' Perceptual Learning Style, the Ideal L2 Self, and Motivated L2 Behavior The general characteristics of the variables are presented before an examination of the correlation among the variables and the effect of the perceptual learning styles and the ideal L2 self on motivated L2 behavior. Table 1 provides descriptive statistics for
the six variables: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, imagination, the ideal L2 self, and motivated L2 behavior. Table 1. Descriptive Statistics of the Variables (N=495) Visual Auditory Kinesthetic Imagination Ideal L2 self Motivated L2 behavior
Min. 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00
Max. 6.00 6.00 6.00 6.00 6.00 6.00
M 3.9603 3.5448 3.2494 4.1397 4.3024 3.8013
SD .88906 .79049 .95210 1.07530 1.02523 1.04824
As depicted in this table, Korean secondary school students were more visually oriented in comparison with the use of auditory and kinesthetic learning styles. This finding indicates that Korean secondary school students are likely to be more sensitive to visual learning aids such as books and videos (Oxford, 1995). Kinesthetic was the least preferred learning style used by the secondary school students, which was not different from
(2009a) study. The participants demonstrated a
relatively high level of imagination, but the standard deviation of imagination was greater than any other variable, indicating that Korean secondary school students’ imagination differs greatly among the participants. Table 2 displays the correlations among Korean secondary school students’ perceptual language learning styles, imagination, ideal L2 self, and motivated L2 behavior. Firstly, three perceptual language learning styles presented relatively low correlations with imagination. Even though imagination by Korean secondary school students presented a relatively high mean score in Table 1, it was not highly correlated with perceptual language learning styles. The correlation coefficients between perceptual learning styles and imagination by Korean elementary school students, reported in Kim’s (2009a) research, were higher than those found in the present study. For example, Kim reported the correlation
coefficients of .215 between visual style and imagination, of .318 between
kinesthetic and imagination. This difference in the correlation coefficients students'
lateralization (Birdsong, 2006). The human brain goes through the process
compartmentalizes the various functions of the brain to be firmly established in different parts of the brain. Many researchers have tried to link this change in the brain with the ability to learn an L2 and have argued that younger students could learn the target language
Douglas (1993), the right hemisphere of the brain takes charge of the visuospatial function, whereas the left hemisphere is more related to verbal/auditory function (cf. Yang & Kim, in press). In this regard, it can be hypothesized that the decreasing flexibility of the brain after puberty may have led to the lower correlations of different functions, as in the case of perceptual learning styles and imagination shown in Table 2. Table 2. Pearson Correlations of the Variables
Ideal L2 self
(.000) ** .391
(.000) ** .210
(.000) ** -.144
Note. N=495, ** means significant at the p