Your learning style and why it impacts your learning experience

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Raquel Martinez  

We all learn in different ways.  Each person has their own personal or preferred learning style. Some may involuntarily write things down first or would want to visualise the concept first. Others perhaps prefer to listen to the statement first and then reflect upon it so they can later jot down their own thoughts. Some others depending on how developed is their memory will write more or less information.


Knowing what our learning style is will help us learn a foreign language quicker, more efficiently and will allow us to have a more enjoyable learning experience.It is a good idea to find out how we learn best, challenge our senses and skills i.e. eyesight, hearing, speaking, memory visualisation and doing actual practice.


Today I will mention 6 main theories in relation to the learning styles in adult learners. We´ll pick a couple and try to understand our learning style through them and with some quizzes.



Theory 1 – Blooms taxonomy which maintains all human beings have 3 main domains of educational activities:

  • knowledge – mental skills
  • attitude- feelings and emotional areas
  • skills– manual or physical skills



Theory 2 – Global vs Analytical:

  • Global learners like getting the big picture of what needs to be learnt and why before they get into detail
  • Analytical learners like learning one piece of information at a time from the beginning to be able to go through all bits and pieces that will come together afterwards.



Theory 3 – Left brain and Right brain

  • Left brain categorises people who are rather logical, rational, good at working with figures, tables, etc
  • Right brain categorises people who are rather creative, imaginative, artistic, who like hypothetical situations and more skilled with words



Theory 4 – Multiple intelligences which describes 7 types of intelligences that all humans possess. It states that despite some people have some intelligence types more or less developed than others they are not less smart. This theory is less linear and more accommodating to different skills, knowledge, types of experience and personalities.



Theory 5- Neuro-linguist programming which is concerned about the impact of the senses on learning, aka, VAK:

  • Visual – the person prefers to see or visualise concepts and things to understand the ideas. These people like PowerPoint presentations, videos, photos, handouts, texts with images and similar
  • Auditory – the person likes very much listening to the facts to then understand the idea. These people learn better with lectures, explanations, pre-recorded or recorded information, group discussion and group work
  • Kinaesthetic – the person likes very much a combination of both and to participate in the practice of ideas. These group of people will learn better with projects, simulations, games, workplace documentation, etc



Theory 6- PART which stands for Pragmatist, Activists, Reflectors and Theorists



As adult learners most of us fit in the PART, theory no. 6. We like a chance to practice, to actively brainstorm and give our ideas, to have the opportunity to reflect on what we´re practicing and learning so we can then find the sense and actual objective of the task.


Through school and university educational life we have found out what aids and ways help us learn things best and more comfortably either at work, at school or training courses or how to simply understand how to use a device.


So let´s take the following steps to ensure we learn more efficiently:


a. Get involved in the planning and designing of your customised learning program with your language trainer. Make sure you two know what the goals are and when you are expected to achieve them.


b. Be responsible for your learning process. Take yourself seriously and do the practice and exercises your facilitator assigns to you.  If you feel the type of activity is not working for you or you don’t understand it let your tutor know. Remember the VAK theory? You know how you learn best i.e. with videos or with grammar drills or with conversation snippets. Talk to your trainer.


c. Start training your brain in the foreign language you are learning. Use the little or much you know to try to, for instance, say mentally or to yourself the bus number you normally take to work. Practice mentally how you would ask for help or information; or, how you would introduce yourself in different scenarios. Listen to podcasts; listen to music in the language you are learning.


d. Do not compare your learning to others. May I remind you of the multiple intelligences theory? We all learn in different ways. One concept or topic might be easier for you to learn or maybe you´ll find it more pleasant in comparison to your classmates´ or friends´ views. Just think of this, as babies we all started to walk and to talk perhaps sooner or later or faster or more clearly than other babies.  However, we all eventually were able to walk independently and to communicate clearly in the mother tongue. The same happens with foreign languages you learn as an adult. You will get there with patience, daily practice and work.


Check out the quizzes to learn more about your VAK learning style or strongest intelligence


References:

Kolb, D.A., 1984, Experiential Learning, Prentice Hall, New Jersey

Honey,P., & Mumford, A., 1983, Using your learning styles, Peter Honey Public Maidenhead UK

Marcia Conner, 1993-2014

Gross, R., 1999, Peak Learning, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, New York




*Read more tips and tools to train your brain in the foreign language you are learning now.

AUSIT