Learning style and achievement in English of secondary school students: the relationship with demographic variables
proficiency is crucial. In South African schools, many students who study through medium of English have underdeveloped linguistic skills. Their English proficiency may improve if they are taught in consideration of their learning styles. Therefore, the main research problem of this study was: How can the teaching of English at school be enhanced in consideration of student learning style and classroom diversity? To address this question, the study investigated academic achievement in English and learning style, and their relationship with demographic variables; the differences in the learning styles of the top and the low achievers in English; and how the top-achieving students learned English in different contexts. The sample comprised 240 students enrolled at an independent school in the North-West Province of South Africa. The study implemented a mixed method research design by means of a structured questionnaire, followed by interviews with ten of the top-achieving students selected to ensure maximum diversity. The results indicated significant differences in the achievements in English and the learning styles of different student groups. The qualitative phase of the research shed light on the learning styles of the top performers in English in different contexts and sub-fields of English. Recommendations were made on how the teachers can take students’ learning styles and classroom diversity into consideration in their classroom teaching in the quest to improve academic achievement in English.