The area of cognitive or learning style in athletes has been relatively unstudied. For decades, understanding students’ physical, emotional, social, and cognitive needs is one of the more demanding challenges facing a teacher, and it is especially challenging when students are athletes. In the English as Foreign Language (EFL) teaching environment, how students take in and process information, i.e., their learning styles, is deemed crucial to successful and satisfactory learning. Thus, understanding athlete students’ learning styles is an important component of developing their EFL abilities; in addition, knowledge of their idiosyncrasies will assist EFL teachers in preparing such athlete students to their maximum potential.
This research used The VARK Questionnaire-for-Athlete, a guide to learning styles, to understand college athletes’ modes for taking in and processing information in a sport university. The VARK is a simplified and frequently used method to categorize learning modes, namely, V-vision, A-auditory, R-reading/writing (thinking), K-kinesthesis, and MM-multimodal. Athletes (n=120; age 19±1 yrs) completed the questionnaire in traditional Chinese version. The results showed that although most people utilized multiple ways to process information with no one absolutely preferable way, the finding showed that most college athletes tended to be kinesthetic learners. This indicates that athletes tend to learn by doing; they are hands-on learners, which quite reflects their habitus of athletes being physical practitioners.
The study examined the relationships between athletes’ learning style preference and university athletes’ gender, sport specialty, athletic status, and their EFL performance. Moreover, the researcher analyzed the results and designed instructions using the perceptual modes to provide appropriate instruction utilizing strategies for each learning style to assist EFL athletes to strive to their potential in learning English of their specialties in sports.