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Last Updated on January 27, 2021

7 Characteristics of an Aural Learner and How They Learn Best

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7 Characteristics of an Aural Learner and How They Learn Best

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

    More by this author

    Clay Drinko

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

    How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential How to Think Smart (If You Think You’re Not Smart Enough) 7 Proven Ways to Strengthen Your Long Term Memory What Is a Fixed Mindset And Can You Change It? 9 Steps to Make Self-Regulated Learning More Effective

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    Last Updated on August 11, 2021

    23 Killer Sites for Free Online Education Anyone Can Use

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    23 Killer Sites for Free Online Education Anyone Can Use

    Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless. Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent, free online education awaits on the following 23 sites.

    1. Coursera

    Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

    Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

    Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups. However, the free courses are now quite limited, so you’ll have to

    2. Khan Academy

    Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well-organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

    Among the more well-known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly user-friendly, which may make it easier to keep learning goals. If you’re looking for a free online education, you can’t go wrong with Khan Academy.

    3. Open Culture Online Courses

    If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos, and podcasts from universities around the world.

    The site features a lot of material found only on universities’ private sites, all in easy-to-browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses without having to visit and search each university’s site.

    Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales, and many state universities around the United States. It’s a very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

    4. Udemy 

    Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

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    Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top-quality content. This is another site, however, that mixes free and paid content.

    5. Lifehack Fast Track Class

    Lifehack believes in skills that multiply your time, energy, and overall quality of life.

    In this rapidly changing world, traditional education skills just don’t cut it anymore. You can’t afford to take years learning a skill you’ll never really practice. Besides offering some paid courses that will help you become a better self, it offers a list of free courses which aim to train some of the Core Life Multipliers including:

    These are cross-functional skills that work across many aspects of life.

    6. Academic Earth

    Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

    Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

    7. edX

    Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics from universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley, meaning a high-quality, free online education is entirely possible here.

    8. Alison

    Unlike the previous sites on this list, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

    It’s a great option if users need a professional certificate for their learning, as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

    9. iTunesU Free Courses

    A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

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    Desktop users can access iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

    Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including by genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos and paid content.

    iTunesU does include courses on a variety of topics, but it does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

    10. Stanford Online

    Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session-based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

    Stanford Online is a great site for high-quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school. If you’re looking for free courses, make sure to mark the “free” option on the left-hand side.

    11. Open Yale Courses

    Open Yale Courses echoes Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses but learn better by watching than by reading.

    12. UC Berkeley Class Central

    Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but it includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts, and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

    13. MIT OpenCourseWare

    Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, and it includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

    14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

    Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list. However, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics, but for the topics that are covered, impressive, in-depth material is available.

    15. Codecademy

    Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

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    The courses at Codecademy are well-written and easy to follow, and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, and it organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

    16. Code

    Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high-quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

    In addition to kid-friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics, and Javascript.

    Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

    17. University of Oxford Podcasts

    The University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

    The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. This is another great site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

    18. BBC Podcasts

    For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

    Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

    19. TED-Ed

    Another great destination for more general learning and free online education is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all-encompassing, motivational web series comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

    Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, but it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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    20. LessonPaths

    LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high-quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

    21. Memrise

    Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

    Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

    22. National Geographic Kids

    The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid-friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keep kids interested on this site.

    National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

    23. Fun Brain

    Fun Brain is another great option for kids looking for free online education, as it focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game-based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

    Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and it is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

    The Bottom Line

    With so many amazing free online education resources, everyone has the ability to boost their skills and knowledge. Whether you’re interested in picking up some interesting trivia for your next party, improve your resume with some coding or business skills, or become a more well-rounded person, these resources are perfect for you.

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    Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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