How do you learn best?
As with many things in life, the way in which we approach our studies varies greatly from person to person. What works for one student will not necessarily be ideal for another. In order to become a more effective learner, it is useful to try out different learning styles until you find the one that is best for you.
Learning styles can be broadly broken down into three main areas: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Visual learners learn best when information is presented visually – for example, written in a text book, on a board or on an OHT. Auditory learners prefer to have the information presented orally. In a classroom setting, this can be through listening to the teacher speaking, participating in group discussions or using recordings. Kinesthetic learners respond well to exercises that are physically engaging. They value the ‘hands on’ approach and like to take notes, draw diagrams and manipulate flashcards or other materials.
For some students, identifying the category that they fall into is straightforward and clearly defined. Others might find that they learn best when combining elements from two or three styles. The important thing is to examine the ways in which you learn best, so as to discover which style of learning is most effective for you. This will involve a certain amount of trial and error but will lead to you taking more control over your own learning and not just depending on your teacher’s suggestions. Look at the following tips. They may help you to discover your own learning style.
Kinesthetic learners like to take notes and draw diagrams, even if the information is available in a handout. They also need to move around a lot so as not to lose concentration. Pair work and group work allow for a certain amount of movement within the classroom.
Meanwhile, auditory learners get a lot out of using cassettes and CDs. Listening to stories and songs can help build up a wide range of vocabulary as well as presenting valuable models of spoken language. If your teacher is in agreement, you could try recording parts of a lesson and then play them back again when you are studying that particular topic. Sometimes learners talk aloud when they are trying to remember grammar rules. Just the fact of speaking aloud seems to help with assimilation.
Finally, visual learners benefit from using different coloured highlighter pens to code their information. Symbols and pictures help when it comes to revision too as they find it easier to remember a series of pictures than a list of words.
Whatever your learning style turns out to be, the mere fact that you have spent some time thinking about the way you approach your studies will have a positive impact and you will become a more effective learner.