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Learning Styles: How do you learn?

Learn something new about yourself , if you hate grammar exercises in English and find them frustrating, an understanding of your learning preferences may help you understand why!

What are your learning preferences and are they important to language learning? 

How people learn is a subject of much debate. Some academic researchers have developed theories that suggest that learning is affected by genetics, the time of day that you study, or whether you prefer concrete facts to abstract theory. While other academics argue that learning is so complex, that it is impossible to encapsulate it into a single theory.  In fact the lack of academic consensus is so big  that it could be argued that there is no point thinking about learning theories or learning styles at all. 

Even though there is no evidence to suggest that following a particular learning style affects learning outcomes,  I maintain that if you understand what your learning preferences are that it can help you  to  develop a learning strategy to support your needs and to find activities that will keep you interested and motivated. It may also help you to understand that there is no one correct method to learn a language, that different people learn in different ways and the best method for you may change according to your mood, the time, your energy levels and which side of the bed you wake up on!

4 types of Learning styles 

Typically learning styles are categorized into 4 different types; auditory, visual, reading and writing and kinesthetic. Understanding what your preferences are may help you to stop torturing yourself with endless grammar exercises and realise that for you, conversations are simply more productive, and infinitely more enjoyable. Remember than language learning is often a long-term commitment, so doing something that you enjoy to help you learn is highly recommended! 

Auditory, this type of learner tends to learn through auditory input, so they would prefer to listen to a lecture rather than read a text book. If you have this learning preference then it may be a good idea to listen to a song or a podcast in English rather falling asleep in a textbook full of grammatical rules.

Kinesthetic, this type of learner tends to learn through action, movement and doing, so for language learning this could involve role play and participating in conversation with other students. If you find it difficult to sit still and struggle with taking notes and prefer to practice you may find it useful to find a conversation partner or teacher to practice with.

Visual, this type of learner prefers information presented in a visual way, they learn through seeing, pictures and flashcards might help you to learn vocabulary, visual diagrams can also help to remember and learn grammar rules. 

Reading and writing, this type of learner works best by using the methods that we associate with the traditional education style such reading text books, making and reviewing notes. 

Don’t fit into a learning box? 

In reality you may find that after some research you do not have a  strong preference for one specific type of learning, but prefer a mix of styles and activities. This is ok! In fact an extensive review of academic research concluded that presenting information in different formats helps people to learn, and that just the act of developing an understanding of preferred learning styles can help students to become a better learners. 

There are many learning style questionnaires available online an although these are rarely academically approved but  they are a fun way to learn more about your learning preferences, will give you an opportunity to look at learning and education related vocabulary, practice answering questions and you may even learn something about yourself! 

Happy learning!