How to Identify a Student’s Learning Style
Have you ever stopped to think what your learning style was as a student?
As language tutors, we know that no two students are alike. And we’re not just talking about our learners’ unique personalities, but also about their learning styles and preferences: While one learner may thrive in a traditional classroom setting, another may prefer a more hands-on approach. While some people prefer visual cues, others learn better when the information is conveyed through sounds.
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So, how can you tell which type of learner your student is? And more importantly, how can you adjust your teaching methods to accommodate their learning style?
There are a few things to look for that will help you identify your student’s learning style. In this blog, we’ll help you identify your student’s learning style and needs and give you some tips on how to adapt your teaching methods.
How to Identify a Visual Language Learner
Does your student ask you to pause every time you explain a new concept so they can write it down in a notebook full of colored notes? Have you noticed that a learner tends to remember things better (to have a better time, even) whenever you bring flashcards or other attractive visual materials?
Then you may have a visual learner in your hands!
Visual learners are people who interpret the world around them primarily through sight, and they often like to take notes and create visual aids, such as charts and diagrams, to help them remember what they’ve learned.
Sometimes — even though they’re not really aware of what a ‘learning style’ even means– they may even say things like: “Can you write that on the online board? I need to see what you are saying.” Comments such as this are clues that a learner is, in fact, a visual type. But, how can you help a visual learner learn better?
How to teach a visual learner
When teaching a visual language learner, it’s important to use materials that are bright and easy to understand at a glance. For example, you might want to use charts and graphs to explain grammar rules or vocabulary lists, and you can also use pictures and videos to help explain concepts that are difficult to visualize, such as idiomatic expressions.
Are you an English tutor trying to illustrate the meaning of the word ‘cringe’? Instead of just explaining what it means, why not use movie scenes, fun celebrity gags, or trendy memes? In fact, you could even act out the word you are explaining! Just be careful not to overdo it – a little goes a long way for visual learners. After all, you don’t want your students to feel like they’re back in elementary school!
How to Identify an Auditory Language Learner
Does a learner often ask you to repeat yourself more than a couple of times? Don’t worry, I’m there’s nothing wrong with your mic. If a student prefers to listen to audio recordings and has trouble understanding written rules even when they perfectly apply them during speaking activities, their learning style is definitely auditory.
Auditory learners are people for whom sound is the primary way they make sense of the world around them. As a result, they often like to say grammar rules out loud, listen to audio recordings, and participate in discussions.
If a learner often says things like “Can you read that out loud and have me repeat after you?”, or “Can we just quickly summarize the content of this chart?”, they are likely an auditory type.
How to teach an auditory learner
When teaching an auditory learner, it’s important to use a lot of verbal explanations and examples. Instead of letting a student silently read an article or a chart, you might want to ask them to repeat after you or to say the grammar rules out loud.
Imagine that you are a Spanish teacher talking about the differences in pronunciation between European Spanish and Latin American Spanish. Instead of only writing the differences on the board by using phonetic symbols, why not record yourself saying the words and have your student compare the two?
Or, If you are someone who likes to work with authentic materials, you could always show your learner two clips of a movie or a TV show, one from Spain and one from Argentina, and have them compare the way the characters speak. This is bound to make your lesson much more dynamic and memorable.
Then, of course, you can use songs, chants, and other types of audio recordings to help your student remember what they’ve learned. Just be careful not to overwhelm them – too much sound can be just as confusing for auditory learners as too many visuals are for visual learners.
How to Identify a Kinesthetic Language Learner
Do your students often fidget in their seats or have trouble sitting still for long periods of time? Do they often say things like “Can we actually do something now?” or “I can’t concentrate, can we just finish now so I can go for a walk?” If so, they are likely kinesthetic learners.
Kinesthetic learners are people who learn best by doing. For this reason, they often have trouble staying still for the entire lesson and need to move around in order to stay focused. As a result, they often prefer hands-on activities, such as role-playing or simulations.
How to teach a kinesthetic learner
But, is it possible to teach a kinesthetic learner when you’re a private online tutor? Of course it is! For example, imagine you’re teaching grammar tenses. Instead of just asking your student to do a typical fill-in-the-gaps activity, you could read the sentences out loud and have them point in different directions depending on what verb tense you’re using.
Or, if you are teaching prepositions or action verbs, why not can your student leave their chair and act out the words? Not only will this help them remember the grammar rules or lexical items better, but it will also be more fun for them!
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It is undeniable that different students have different learning styles. Even if they are unable to put their preferences into words, part of your job as a language tutor is to be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses and adapt your teaching methods accordingly.
Remember: When a language learner feels seen (or heard!) they are more likely to engage with the content and make progress.
If you can achieve that, you’ll be one step closer to helping them realize their language goals, whether they are personal, professional or academic!