Learning types and styles

The types of Larning Styles, a Venn diagram: Red circle = Auditory learner, Green circle = Visual learner, Blue Circle = Kinesthetic learner | Red and Green Circle overlap: Visual-Auditory Learner (read/write) | Green and Blue Circle overlap: Visual-Kinesthetic Learner (spatial) | Blue and Red Circle overlap: Kinesthetic-Auditory Learner (Musical) | All Circles overlap: Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic Learner

One of the things that can really influence the effectiveness of your learning is what kind of learner you are. What do I mean by that? Everyone learns in the same ways, right? By memorizing, understanding, and knowing how to apply things. Wrong.

In fact, science tells us that there are many different ways to learn, and that different people may find certain ways easier than others. Learning types are nowadays distinguished in several different ways.

One of the easiest distinctions is based on sensory channel. This means that we may have a dominant means of perception through which we most, or more, easily pick up new things, including language. Those three channels are seeing (visual), hearing (aural or auditory), and touching/moving (kinetic/kinesthetic/physical). Are you someone who more easily picks up new vocabulary in a lecture or from a book? Do index cards work better than lists or mind-maps of words? Asking yourself these questions, and understanding which channel is dominant in you (often by thinking along lines unrelated to language learning) can really help you to figure out the best learning techniques for you.



In addition, some learners tend to work better with verbal (language-based) methods and others along logical/mathematical lines. Do you find your way easily with a map? Do you enjoy logic puzzles? Are you more intuitive about finding solutions, or do you need to solve problems in a clear sequence of steps? Answering these questions can help you better understand yourself and find ways that best suit your personality to learn even language more effectively.

Finally, learners are often distinguished by whether they best learn in social situations or alone (solitary learners). This is separate from whether people are generally extro- or introverted, though there is likely to be some overlap. It could be very helpful to know whether you will more easily learn language points in a more interactive context or on your own with a book or a computer.

There are many questionnaires and lists of various methods to find out what kind of learner you are, but my favorite, which considers these three distinctions, is at the website Learning Styles Online. At this link you will find a lengthy, detailed questionnaire, which will offer you a descriptive profile at the end:


If you enter your name and email address, the profile will offer you an interesting graph, showing you your strengths and preferences. Isn’t it fun to learn about yourself? Remember, this is not one of those personality quizzes from a magazine, but one based on cognitive science.

Go to the website above by clicking on the link. Complete the inventory questionnaire and look at your results. Are they what you expected? Please comment with your thoughts and questions about how the image reflects your picture of yourself and what you learned from the questionnaire and discuss what kinds of consequences your results might have for your approach to learning English.

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