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Last Updated on January 27, 2021

7 Characteristics of an Aural Learner and How They Learn Best

7 Characteristics of an Aural Learner and How They Learn Best
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When it comes to my learning preference, I’m certainly not an auditory or aural learner. No matter how many times someone tells me how to spell a word, I can’t seem to process it. They might as well be the teacher on Charlie Brown, sputtering nonsensical sounds.

An aural learner is a person who prefers to hear things to be able to process information better. You may have a friend who remembers your phone number when you’ve only repeated it once, or maybe you have a coworker who always remembers tidbits from past conversations. These people are very likely aural learners.

It’s important to keep in mind that learning styles are, in reality, only a preference. While someone may prefer to learn by listening, they can certainly learn other ways, as well. Here, we’ll go over the aural learner preference and its characteristics.

The Truth About Learning Styles

It’s important to keep in mind that learning styles are nothing but preferences.

The idea that some people are visual, aural, kinesthetic, or read/write learners began in the 1990s in New Zealand when Neil Fleming developed a questionnaire to measure how people preferred to process information[1]. Known as VARK, this questionnaire is still used up to this day to categorize people’s learning style preferences.[2]

VARK® Learning Styles - With A Twist Education Ltd

    Though Fleming’s learning style gained popularity, Polly Hussman and Valerie Dean O’Loughlin found no link between people’s preferred learning style and actual learning outcomes.[3] These findings were confirmed in subsequent studies, as well.

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    Preferred learning styles had no impact on how well participants could recall information.[4] It may be true that people like to gain information in various ways, but it’s not true that using a chosen learning style improves learning outcomes.

    Nevertheless, it’s still clear that people (myself included) have preferred ways to receive new information. Therefore, it’s still a worthwhile pursuit to unpack what the characteristics of an aural learner are and how someone who prefers the auditory learning style can take advantage of that preference.

    7 Characteristics of an Aural Learner

    Let’s look at the 7 characteristics of an aural learner:

    1. Prefer to Hear Information

    This might seem obvious, but aural learners prefer to hear things aloud. If you find yourself asking for auditory information, you just might be one.

    Auditory learners retain more information when it is heard, so verbally reinforcing information is a strong point for them when it comes to learning experiences. Exercises with read alouds and even working with study buddies can offer important auditory feedback for these learners.

    If this sounds like you, download audiobooks and listen to podcasts. Try these 16 Best Podcasts on Motivation to Help You Reach Your Goals. You might also enjoy attending lectures and reading things out loud to better understand the content.

    2. Gravitate Towards Audiobooks

    Aural learners might also gravitate towards audiobooks, which are sources of auditory information at their finest. There are no words to read or pictures to look at, after all. If you enjoy audiobooks and podcasts and find it easy to remember bits of information after listening, you could be an aural learner.

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    3. Close Their Eyes to Focus on Auditory Information

    When someone closes their eyes to better understand something, they might be an aural learner. They do it mostly to block out other learning methods and focus on auditory inputs.

    If you think that’s you, you can try closing your eyes to get rid of visual stimuli and see how it affects your learning.

    4. Talk and Move Lips to Process Information

    You might also be able to spot an aural learner when they talk to themselves or are mouthing the words as they read since aural learners prefer hearing new information. They may repeat things to themselves during class discussions or mouth important points during meetings.

    If you think you’re an aural learner, crack a book and read along. That way, you’ll turn reading and studying into an auditory experience.

    5. Easily Remember People’s Names

    Unlike me, aural learners tend to be good at learning people’s names. We usually hear instead of see them, so aural learners are at an advantage when it comes to learning new names.

    You may boost your name-learning skills by repeating people’s names five times to make sure that you remember them well.

    6. Do Not Like Noisy Learning Environments

    It might seem counterintuitive, but being an aural learner doesn’t mean that they like a noisy environment. If someone prefers to hear information, they don’t appreciate listening to competing noises.

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    It’s the same for a visual learner. Just because I appreciate a chart or graph, it’s false to think that I like to be bombarded by visuals.

    If people prefer aural learning, they might be attracted to clear, audible sounds and struggle with auditory distractions.

    Aim to reduce distractions in your environment, regardless of your preferred learning style. Find a quiet place to study without the sound of traffic, phones, and televisions disturbing you.

    7. Might Ignore Visual Representations of Information

    Lastly, an aural learner might not even notice or pay attention to visual information. If charts and graphs don’t make things clearer for you, it is highly possible that audible information serves you better.

    Go ahead and listen to as much information as you can. Still, don’t completely ignore the visuals. After that, go back and use the other learning styles to reinforce what you’re learning. Know your blind spot and make sure to access all methods since people do learn better and retain more data when they use multiple learning styles, regardless of their preference.

    How Does an Aural Learner Learn?

    Because learning styles are only a matter of choice and not actually a way to improve learning outcomes, aural learners learn like everyone else. Once you realize that, it’s okay to start with that preference, whether it’s aural, visual, kinesthetic, or read/write. I know I still always ask people to write things down for me, and I prefer reading over anything else. It’s not a problem — it feels more natural for me to do so.

    If you’re an aural learner, you may try listening to audiobooks and podcasts first. You can even turn on an audiobook while reading the same book, considering that combining learning styles helps people retain new information.

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    People should try to match the learning task with the learning style, as context matters. If you need to analyze graphs for an upcoming exam, auditory information is probably not the best way to go. If you prefer visuals to learn your lines in a play, though, aural inputs might actually be more helpful for you. And if you favor a read/write learning style but are practicing a new TikTok dance, you can read all the books in the world and still not be able to learn the moves.

    Hence, always think of what you’re learning about before you decide on your learning method.

    Furthermore, it’s important to limit distractions, regardless of your preferred learning style. Whether you’re an aural, visual, kinesthetic, or read/write learner, you need to turn off your gadgets and study in a quiet environment. I’d even suggest getting noise-canceling headphones to block external noises. The more conducive to learning your environment is, the better your chances of learning will be.

    Final Thoughts

    Self-reflection is an essential part of the learning process. After trying out a learning style, reflect on what worked and what didn’t. What are the results? Did the learning style fit what you’re trying to learn?

    It’s a lifelong process to figure out how your brain processes new information best, so make sure to reflect on yourself. Try new learning styles or combinations of styles to see what works in different scenarios.

    Self-reflection builds self-awareness, which is crucial for improving learning outcomes over time. Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet for that.

    However, if you prefer aural learning, start with auditory information, mix things up with other learning styles, consider which ones are suitable for what you’re trying to learn, reduce distractions, and become as reflective about your learning as possible. This way, you’ll be starting with your preferences and creating a learning system that will continue to improve over time.

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    Featured photo credit: Mimi Thian via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Clay Drinko

    Clay Drinko is an educator and the author of PLAY YOUR WAY SANE (January 2021 Simon & Schuster)

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    How to Stop Information Overload and Get More Done

    How to Stop Information Overload and Get More Done
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    Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

    This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

    As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

    But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

    How Serious Is Information Overload?

    The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

    This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

    When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

    We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

    No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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    The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

    That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

    Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

    Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

    But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

    Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

    Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

    When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

    Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

    The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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    You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

    How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

    So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

    1. Set Your Goals

    If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

    Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

    Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

    Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

    2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

    Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

    First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

    If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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    • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
    • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
    • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

    If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

    (You’ll forget about it anyway.) And that’s basically it.

    Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

    You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

    Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

    3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

    There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

    Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

    Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

    Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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    4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

    Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

    This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

    Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

    The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    Summing It Up

    As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

    I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

    I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

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    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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