Learning is a complex, but important, process that everyone must master to be successful. Interestingly, not everyone learns the same way or at the same pace. It is important to identify a learning method that works for you as early as possible in your school career because you’ll need it throughout your life as new tasks and information come your way.
Education experts have identified four separate learning styles: auditory, visual, kinesthetic (or physical) and read and write. Your own learning style may match one of these categories perfectly or it may be a combination of two styles of more. When it comes to learning, there is no right or wrong, good or bad. It is simply a matter of determining which learning style or which combination works best to help you learn and then exploring the learning techniques which fit best with your style.
This post focuses on the auditory learning style. Auditory learners learn best by actively learning: hearing information spoken or sung aloud and having the opportunity to ask questions. Approximately 30 per cent of school-age learners fit this style.
Auditory learners aren’t focused on taking notes in class. They absorb information by listening intently, but also want to discuss or question the information that has been imparted, so they can be labeled as disruptive or disinterested. However, talking about what they have heard is simply a function of learning style.
If you are an auditory learner, here are some of the traits you may possess:
- Remembers what you say and hear.
- May read slowly.
- Follows spoken directions well.
- Likes explaining and is good at doing so.
- Enjoys oral reports, discussions and debates.
- Can’t keep quiet for long periods of time.
- Enjoys performing onstage.
- Remembers names.
- Enjoys music and may sing, hum or whistle to yourself.
- Works well as a study group member.
- Easily distracted by both noise and silence.
- May find it difficult to interpret complex graphs or diagrams.
- Expresses interest and enthusiasm verbally.
If you identify yourself as an auditory learner, it’s important to play to your strengths so that you can absorb the information that comes your way. You want to employ study methods that allow you to hear information and repeat it aloud. Try the following techniques as you attend classes or work on your homework:
- Set goals for your assignments and verbalize them orally.
- Ask questions in class, because it will require the instructor to put an idea into words or paraphrase the information and you will hear it. Participate in classroom discussions.
- Tape your lectures so you can replay them as needed, commenting when appropriate. Ensure that the instructor knows what you are doing and why so you are not accused of being disruptive.
- Recite information that you want to remember, repeating it several times aloud.
- Read out loud whenever possible, because hearing the material will help you to understand it.
- Create flashcards for material you want to learn and read them aloud repeatedly. Colour code them to make it even easier.
- Record the important points you want to learn for an exam and listen to the recording repeatedly.
- Use mnemonic devices to remember facts. Word association is an excellent tool.
- Study with others so you can talk about the information, allowing you to hear it again.
- When appropriate, ask your instructor/teacher if you can submit reports or papers as oral presentations or recordings.
Of course, it’s also important to nurture your abilities with other learning styles, which can be done through simple games. For example, boost visual learning by reviewing shapes and colours; have someone prepare a tray of objects and ask someone to remove them, one at a time. It is your task to identify the missing objects. Improve physical skills by building something with LEGO or a kit.
However, you can also devise strategies for adding an audio component to lessons that focus on the visual and physical. For example, if you are required to learn dance steps, whisper each step to yourself as you move through the dance. If you can’t concentrate on a lecture that has slides accompanying it, keep your eyes on your notebook so you aren’t distracted.
Learning styles may change throughout your life, and many people discover that a mix of styles works best for them. Don’t see your learning style as a detriment; view it as a strength and learn to play to it for the greatest success.