Talenonderwijs aan volwassenen
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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The first part of this article deals with the possibilities of individuali-zation in general and of the teaching of foreign languages in particular. Of the four areas of individualization (objectives of learning, rate of learning, method or style of learning and content of learning) the second is the most commonly used. The theory of Mastery Learning (Bloom 1971), which distinguishes between basic tasks and additional tasks, is an elaboration of Carroll's theory (1963) of differences in rate and learning. Since learning foreign languages consist of the acquisition of communicative skills and problem-solving strategies, more is needed than a classification of learning-content in basic tasks and additional tasks (Welsing 1978, Papen 1980). The differences in learning outcomes are not only caused by differences in learning rate, but above all by differences in learning strategies and methods. Therefore, we must know about individual learning strategies and methods, before we can improve them and thus also the result of the learning. This implies an investigation of the interaction between the individual learner and his/her teaching environment. Applied to the reading process: reading is a function of individual characteristics and task characteristics. To comprehend the interplay of these two kinds of characteristics of the reading of foreign languages, we have to investigate them in specific situations and for specific groups, as for example the group of adult language learners. (Hunt, 1972,1979). In reading a foreign language, three strategies are very important:1) to elmininate irrelevant alternatives by using one's own knowledge,2) to use as efficiently as possible the visual information of a text,3) to take calculated risks. Related to the strategies I + 2 are individual styles of information-processing or cognitive styles.One aspect of the cognitive style of information-processing which is assumed to be important for reading a foreign language, is field-dependency/field-independency. Related to strategy 3 is the sense of personal control of learning which deals with the dimension of locus of control. Task-characteristics of reading are the degrees of structure, feedback and challenge in both text and teaching environment and the evaluation of the reading task.To improve the teaching of reading by adapting to individual differences we must investigate the interactions between the above-mentioned task characteristics and individual reading styles that are based on cognitive styles. We are planning a research project for German language learners (13 to 15 years old) and Spanish language learners (adults) in order to find out about these interactions. Meanwhile, the only recommendations for the teaching of reading are 1) much more atttention to the reading process, 2) more exercises to optimalize the three reading strategies (Westhoff, 1981, Neuner, 1981), 3) adaptation of the choice of texts to the interests and present knowledge of the language learner and A) not only evaluation of the product of reading but also of the process.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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