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Last Updated on August 8, 2019

How to Make Learning Fun for Adults

How to Make Learning Fun for Adults

The advantages of continuing education as an adult learner are numerous. By learning and perfecting new skills, you could advance your career, secure a new job, or even pursue your ambitions in a new field.

But as adults, our motivation to continue education wanes. Not to mention, we have far more on our minds now than we did as children, teenagers, and students. Those simple rewards of the past are no longer relevant, and the mere thought of returning to academic practices of the past is soul-sucking.

So first, let’s address the common difficulties and misconceptions often held by potential adult learners.

“I’m too old; it’s too late for me to learn something new”

As human beings, our true education is lifelong. Your brain will never switch off or refuses to take in new information. The only limit is your curiosity and willpower. You certainly can teach an old dog new tricks, especially with a fun approach.

“I finished formal education, and I have no desire to return!”

With strict, formal education out of the way, why not choose to learn about something that interests you? Being forced to learn is not effective, but now you have the freedom to choose. You will be surprised how fast you will learn when the subject interests you, or will create a better future.

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“I’m already working full-time; continuing to learn at home feels like just another work shift!”

Try changing your perception. Learning is an investment into your future, whether for financial security, career progression, or pursuit of your true desires. Make learning fun and purposeful, and you will enjoy it.

“The conventional methods brought me great results in the past; how can a fun learning approach be as effective?”

By making learning fun you will manipulate the brain’s reward center to work in your favor. Not only will it fuel your motivation, but your brain will absorb information like a sponge!

How to Make Learning Fun for Adults: Six Methods

For us adult learners, the conventional methods of learning soon feels dull and arduous. Yet, making things fun never ceases to boost our motivation. Loosen up your approach to learning with these six methods, you’ll be amazed how much you can learn while having fun!

1. Inject a Tickle of Humor

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    Even if you are severely lacking motivation, lessons fused with laughter can be highly effective. Not only are they entertaining, but humor has actually been seen to boost retention significantly!

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    By sandwiching humor between instruction and repetition, you can learn incredibly fast while still having a laugh. Just make sure you the humor matches your own taste or age group.

    Even more complicated subjects, such as programming, can be mixed up with humor. In this case, you could try using your lessons to create comedic gif animations.

    2. Utilize Smart Devices and Applications

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      Flashcards are a thing of the past, and applications are their modern replacement. For most of us, our smartphones, tablets, or computers are with us at all times. With thousands of applications and software, covering a wide variety of subjects, we can easily make learning both fun and convenient.

      For instance, if you are interested in learning languages, Duolingo offers a fun learning platform with challenges to keep you motivated. Whenever you have a bored moment, don’t waste it browsing social media. Hone your new skills using your favorite interactive applications.

      3. Embark on Field Trips and Educational Travel

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        Travel leads to exciting experiences, personal growth, and inspiration, just to name a few. Exploring in new environments produces a rush of sensory stimuli. As our awareness rises, we absorb new information more rapidly as a matter of survival. As a result, these experiences and lessons learned stick with us forever.

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        Break out of the conventional learning conditions, the same office, room, or school. Going for a field trip or travelling to a new place will supercharge your progress.

        If you are learning a new language, visiting a native country would be the ultimate way learn the language and a fantastic experience. In other cases, you could consider travelling to attend a seminar, a training course or meet with a new mentor.

        4. Challenge Yourself Using Games

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          Games are not only for kids. Even as adults, our competitive spirit and gaming addiction still burns just as bright. There are countless educational games that will challenge and reward you. You will be surprised how quickly you will learn while having fun.

          Whether you’re interested in learning to code, or defeating calculus once and for all, there are games out there that will get you hooked and learning in no time!

          The majority of educational games may not be directly marketed at adults, but don’t let that deter you!

          5. Find Supportive Communities (Local/Online)

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            There are literally thousands of groups around the world, where individuals come together over common interests or goals. These informal communities are a hive of shared knowledge and experience, motivating, and teaching others in the most natural way possible.

            If you can find the right community, you will receive a powerful sense motivation and a wealth of knowledge. There is a great social buzz as ideas are shared freely and collaborations blossom as everyone helps each other.

            If you can’t find any local meetings to suit your chosen study, look for an online community on forums or social media. Whether you’re trying to learn a new language or how to become a freelance designer, you can be sure there’s a community that caters!

            6. Free Yourself to Explore

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              Focusing too heavily on stringent learning approaches is going to burn you out and down your motivation eventually. Instead, why not let the winds of exploration help you take flight.

              Let your curiosity guide you across a variety of different resources such as videos, documentaries or even podcasts. By freeing yourself to explore intuitively, knowledge will be accumulated in a more natural and meaningful way.

              Let’s say you were trying to learn Spanish. Instead of burying your head in textbooks, you could break up your sessions with other interesting resources such as YouTube videos, blog articles, radio shows, etc.

              Now that we’ve shown you how to make learning fun for adults, go out there and learn something new!

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              Published on June 22, 2020

              7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner

              7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner

              I spent five years as a middle and high school teacher, and I would often hear people talking about learning styles. “Betty is a visual learner. Sam is kinesthetic. Emma is an auditory learner.”

              I hadn’t read any research about learning styles at the time, but on the face of it, it makes sense. Some people seem to learn better when they see things, others when they’re active, and some when they hear things. I know that I really struggle when someone spells a word aloud. I have no idea what word they’re spelling. I’ve always just made the excuse that I’m a visual learner and will need them to write it down for me. But is there any truth to learning styles?

              Before we delve into the characteristics of a smart auditory learner, let’s take a step back and explore what research says about learning styles more generally.

              Debunking Learning Styles

              In the 1990s, a New Zealand school inspector named Neil Fleming[1] came up with a questionnaire to measure people’s preferred learning style. Now called the VARK questionnaire, it’s still used today to discern whether people are Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, or Kinesthetic learners.

              Fleming’s learning styles theory gained popularity over the decades, but no studies have confirmed its legitimacy. In a study by Polly Husmann and Valerie Dean O’Loughlin[2], they found that people who used their preferred learning style did not see any improvements in learning outcomes. In short, there was no correlation between learning style and actual learning.

              Another study by Abby R. Knoll, Hajime Otani, Reid L. Skeel, and K. Roger Van Horn[3] also found that learning style had no relationship with recall. Participants who preferred visual learning did not recall images they saw any better than words they heard.

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              There’s no evidence that learning styles help people learn or recall. Instead, they should be thought of as a learning preference. I prefer when people write things down for me, but there’s no evidence that this improves my recall.

              7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner

              Having a preference for auditory learning means you gravitate toward verbal communication. Audiobooks and lectures might be your cup of tea instead of the charts and graphs of a visual learner.

              So what if you think you’re an auditory learner? Let’s say you have a knack for processing audio communication and can close your eyes and pick up all the important details of a lecture or audiobook. The following list is for you. Here are 7 characteristics of smart auditory learners—people who use their auditory preference to their advantage.

              1. They Take Learning Styles With a Grain of Salt

              This bears repeating. There is no evidence that people’s learning styles impact their learning, so a smart auditory learner definitely takes learning styles with a grain of salt.

              Think of it as a preference. Smart auditory learners know they prefer audiobooks and hearing things out loud, so there’s no harm leaning into that preference.

              Just don’t assume it’s going to improve your test scores.

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              2. They Get Rid of Distractions

              Just because you’re an auditory learner doesn’t mean you can sift through lots of auditory inputs at once. No matter your learning preference, make sure you put effort into limiting distractions.

              An auditory learner might struggle to study while listening to music or have difficulty working with the TV on because they’re so receptive to auditory information. Therefore, you should find a quiet place to learn, so you can focus all your energy on whatever it is you’re trying to retain.

              3. They Match Learning Task With Learning Style

              The real secret to improving your retention and recall is to match the learning task with the learning style. A smart auditory learner knows the best time to rely on auditory learning. They don’t always fall back on listening. Instead, they strategize the best approach for each individual learning challenge.

              For example, I might know that I favor visual learning, but if I need to memorize my lines in a play, I might be better served recording the other characters’ lines, so I can practice saying my lines when I hear my cues.

              Maybe I’m more kinesthetic. That doesn’t mean that I have to move to learn. Instead, I have to be strategic about when and how I add movement to my learning process. It might make sense for me to memorize countries or states by drawing a giant map and running to the right spot when someone yells out that geographic location. However, it doesn’t make much sense to dance around while I’m reading Foucault. The learning style should be in service of whatever it is that’s being learned.

              Instead of catering to people’s learning preferences, we should be matching the learning style with the task at hand. Ask yourself, “What’s the best style (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, reading/writing) for this particular learning task?”

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              4. They Use Their Voice

              Auditory learners might need to read things aloud or listen to audiobooks instead of silently reading. Adding your voice can help turn reading/writing into an auditory exercise.

              Get creative with it. If you consider yourself to be an auditory learner, think of different ways to add an audio element to your learning. Sing it. Yell it. Turn it into a poem. Just don’t get stuck in the reading/writing learning style when you prefer to be hearing and listening.

              5. They Practice Listening

              Smart auditory learners don’t take listening for granted. Just because you prefer auditory learning doesn’t mean you’re great at it. Instead, smart auditory learners take their preference and improve it over time.

              Practice your listening skills. Give people your undivided attention, clarify what you’ve just heard, and challenge yourself to be as active and present a listener as possible.

              Asking clarifying questions and repeating back what you’ve just heard can help you assess how accurate your listening is[4]. You should also transfer what you’ve heard to other learning styles. Write it down or draw it as pictures, charts, and graphs. That brings us to the next characteristic of smart auditory learners.

              6. They Use All Learning Styles

              Smart auditory learners use all the learning styles. They may have a preference for listening, but using all types of inputs helps improve retention and recall.

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              If you’re studying for an exam, don’t just record your notes as audio or listen to online lectures. Use flashcards, read your notes out loud, quiz yourself, create an active game that requires you to move around, and teach the concepts to your roommate. This gets as many parts of your brain and body involved in the learning as possible, which increases your odds of retaining the information and acing the exam.

              7. They Reflect on What Works and What Doesn’t

              Smart auditory learners are also reflective and self-aware learners. After you try a learning strategy, assess and reflect on how it went. Did you retain as much information as you’d hoped? Build off your successes and change strategies when a learning style isn’t working for you.

              Smart auditory learning is really just smart learning. Create a game plan that uses multiple, appropriate learning styles. Then, follow through by removing distractions and studying your heart out. After assessing how much you’ve retained, reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Then, refine your game plan for more success next time.

              Final Thoughts

              It would be magical if learning styles were a silver bullet for learning. I’d love to be able to say I’m a visual learner and then be able to recall every single piece of information just by seeing it represented visually. Unfortunately, that’s not at all how learning styles work.

              Learning is complex and messy. Just because we prefer one learning style doesn’t mean it helps us learn better. What we really need to do is experiment with all the learning styles and try to match the right learning styles with each specific task.

              Knowing your learning style is important. It’s good to know how you prefer to receive information. Just don’t stop there. Use your preference for auditory learning strategically and when it makes sense to do so.

              More Tips for When You’re an Auditory Learner

              Featured photo credit: Blaz Erzetic via unsplash.com

              Reference

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