Over time, students will develop their own learning strategies - which includes the ways in which they learn and remember information, how they study for tests and how they make the best use of their learning strengths. Many students may not even be aware that they are using these strategies as it may have become a natural and automatic process for them. There are some strategies, on the other hand, that students may need to be taught, or at least brought to their attention. In this section we will discuss learning styles and strategies and how they they apply to the language classroom.
The phrase ‘learning style’ refers to a person’s general approach to learning and is dependent upon that person’s cognitive, affective and behavioral characteristics(Oxford, “The Role of Styles and Strategies in Second Language Learning”, 1989).
The phrase ‘learning strategies’ refers to the actions and behaviours a person uses to learn (Oxford, 1989.) All learners use strategies to help them succeed, but not all are aware of the strategies they use. As Rebecca Oxford states: “…the most successful learners tend to use learning strategies that are appropriate to the material, to the task, and to their own goals, needs, and stage of learning,” (Oxford, 1989).
For those students who make use of learning strategies without being aware of it, taking the SILL survey makes these strategies explicit to them and can therefore make these strategies more effective to their learning process. For teachers, having their students take the SILL survey at the start of a language course may help the teacher to understand what strategies are most effective for their students, and adjust their teaching to fit. As well, the results of such a survey can be useful for the teacher to see which strategies are being under-utilized by the students; with this information, the teacher can take the opportunity to teach these strategies to the students