As part of their personality, everybody has an individual learning style, which determines the way they perceive, conceptualize, organize and recall information (Ellis 1985). Learning styles are influenced by genetic make-up, earlier learning experiences and the local culture and society.

Many dimensions of learning styles have been recognized and categorized. For example, learners differ according to whether they are visual (sight), auditory (hearing), kinaesthetic (movement) or tactile (touch).

Others have suggested that there are four learning styles: the activist, who is open-minded, not sceptical and always ready to try; the theorist, who focuses on the grammar or morphology of a language before having the confidence to produce it. S/he likes to go step-by-step in a logical way; the reflector, who wants to see the patterns in language before trying something new and prefers to think things through first; and the pragmatist, who takes the practical approach, picking up new words or structures and immediately trying to use them.

There are other personality traits that may affect language learning. Extroverts and introverts will interact differently in communicative situations, but this does not mean that one trait is better than another. Levels of self-esteem, anxiety, inhibition and capacity for risk-taking also have an influence on performance.

Student’s voices:

I worry a lot about making mistakes

I want to have everything clear in my head before I speak

I think that people will laugh at the way I speak

It helps me to remember words if I see the words written down

I like to observe the patterns and structures in language

a_ryhma_ohistoriaI need to understand the grammar before I start to use the language

I’m not afraid to just jump in and have a go

I like to learn language by just listening, noticing new things and using them

I’m very shy and don’t like to speak up

I compare myself with others a lot