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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

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)

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    Last Updated on April 26, 2021

    How to Know Which Types of Learning Styles Work for You?

    How to Know Which Types of Learning Styles Work for You?

    One of the biggest realizations I had as a kid is that teaching in school could be hit or miss for students. We all have our own different types of learning styles. Even when I was in study groups, we all had our own ways of uncovering solutions to questions.

    It wasn’t only until later in my life did I realize how important it is to know your own learning style. As soon as you know how you learn and the best way to learn, you can better retain information. This information could be crucial to your job, future promotions, and overall excelling in life.

    Best of all about this information is that, it’s not hard to figure out what works best for you. There are broad categories of learning styles, so it’s a matter of finding which one we gravitate towards most.

    What Are the Types of Learning Styles?

    Before we get into the types of learning styles, there’s one thing to know:

    We all learn through repetition.

    No matter how old you are, studies show that repetition allows us to retain and learn new information.[1] The big question now is what kind of repetition is needed. After all, we all learn and process information differently.

    This is where the types of learning styles come in. There are eight in total and there is one or two that we prefer over others. This is important because when reading these learning styles, you’ll feel like you’d prefer a mixture of these styles.

    That’s because we do prefer a combination. Though there will be one style that will be more predominate over the others. The key is finding which one it is.

    Visual Learning

    A visual learner (also known as the spatial learner) excels at deciphering anything visual – typically maps and graphs.

    If you are this type of learner, you likely excelled at geometry in math class but struggled with arithmetic and numbers. To this day, you might also struggle with reading and writing to a degree.

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    While visual learners are described as “late bloomers,” they are highly imaginative. They also process what they see much faster than what they hear.

    Verbal Learning

    Verbal learning, on the other hand, is learning through what’s spoken. Verbal learners excel in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Because of that, they are likely the ones to find thrills in tongue twists, word games, and puns.

    They also thoroughly enjoy drama, writing, and speech classes. But give them maps, or challenge them to think outside of the box and they’ll struggle a bit.

    Logical Learning

    Not to be confused with visual learners, these learners are good at math and logic puzzles. Anything involving numbers or other abstract visual information is where they excel.

    They can also analyze cause and effect relationships quite well. Part of that is due to their thinking process being linear.

    Another big difference is their need to quantify everything. These people love grouping information, creating specific lists, agendas or itineraries.

    They also have a love for strategy games and making calculations in their heads.

    Auditory Learning

    Similar to verbal learning, this type of learning style focuses on sounds on a deeper level. These people think chronologically and excel more in the step-by-step methods. These are likely the people who will watch Youtube videos to learn or do something the most.

    These learners also have a great memory of conversations and love debates and discussions. Chances are likely these people excel at anything oral.

    Also as the name suggests, these individuals have great musical talents. They can decern notes, instruments, rhythms and tones. That being said, they will have a tough time interpreting body language, expressions and gestures. This also applies to charts, maps and graphs.

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    Social Learning

    Otherwise known as the interpersonal learner, their skills are really unique. They don’t particularly excel in classrooms but rather through talking to other people.

    These are the people who are excited for group conversations or group projects. Mainly because they are gifted with coming up with ideas and discussing them.

    They also have a good understanding of people’s emotions, facial expressions, and relationship dynamics. They are also likely the first people to point out the root causes of communication issues.

    Intrapersonal Learning

    The reverse of interpersonal learning, these people prefer learning alone. These are the people who love self-study and working alone. Typically, intrapersonal learners are deeply in tune with themselves meaning they know who they are, their feelings, and their own capabilities.

    This type of learning style means you love learning something on your own and typically every day. You also have innate skills in managing yourself and indulging in self-reflection.

    Physical Learning

    Also known as kinesthetic learning, these people love doing things with their hands. These are people who loved pottery or shop class. If you’re a physical learner, you’ll find you have a huge preference in using your body in order to learn.

    This means not just pottery or shop class you enjoyed. You may also have loved sports or any other art medium like painting or woodwork. Anything that involved you learning through physical manipulation you enjoyed and excelled at.

    Though this doesn’t just apply to direct physical activities. A physical learner may also find that they learn well when both reading on any subject and pacing or bouncing your leg at the same time.

    Naturalistic Learning

    The final learning style is naturalistic. These are people who process information through patterns in nature. They also apply scientific reasoning in order to understand living creatures.

    Not many people may be connected to this one out of the types of learning styles primarily because of those facts. Furthermore, those who excel in this learning end up being farmers, naturalists or scientists.

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    These are the people who love everything with nature. They appreciate plants, animals, and rural settings deeply compared to others.

    How to Know Which One(s) Suit You Better?

    So now that you have an idea of all the types of learning styles we have another question:

    Which one(s) are best for you?

    As a reminder, all of us learn through a combination of these learning styles. This makes pinpointing these styles difficult since our learning is likely a fusion of two or more of those styles.

    Fortunately, there are all kinds of methods to narrow down which learner you are. Let’s explore the most popular one: the VARK model.

    VARK Model

    Developed by Neil Fleming and David Baume, the VARK model is basically a conversation starter for teachers and learners.[2] It takes the eight types of learning styles above and condenses them into four categories:

    • Visual – those who learn from sight.
    • Auditory – those who learn from hearing.
    • Reading/writing – those who learn from reading and writing.
    • Kinesthetic – those who learn from doing and moving.

    As you can probably tell, VARK comes from the first letter of each style.

    But why use this particular model?

    This model was created not only for discussion purposes but for learners to know a few key things — namely understanding how they learn.

    Because our school system is focusing on a one-size-fits-all model, there are many of us who struggle learning in school. While we may no longer go to school, these behaviors persisted into our adult lives regardless. While we aren’t learning about algebra or science, we may be learning new things about our job or industry. Knowing how to best retain that information for the future helps in so many ways.

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    As such, it can be frustrating when we’re in a classroom setting and aren’t understanding anything. That or maybe we’re listening to a speech or reading a book and have no clue what’s going on.

    This is where VARK comes back in. To quote Fleming and Baume:

    “VARK above all is designed to be a starting place for a conversation among teachers and learners about learning. It can also be a catalyst for staff development- thinking about strategies for teaching different groups can lead to more, and appropriate, variety of learning and teaching.”

    Getting into the specifics, this is what’s known as metacognition.[3] It helps you to understand how you learn and who you are. Think of it as a higher order of thinking that takes control over how you learn. It’s impossible to not use this while learning.

    But because of that metacognition, we can pinpoint the different types of learning styles that we use. More importantly, what style we prefer over others.

    Ask These Questions

    One other method that I’ll mention is the research that’s done at the University of Waterloo.[4] If you don’t want to be using a lot of brainpower to pinpoint, consider this method.

    The idea with this method is to answer a few questions. Since our learning is a combination of styles, you’ll find yourself leaning to one side over the other with these questions:

    • The active/reflective scale: How do you prefer to process information?
    • The sensing/intuitive scale: How do you prefer to take in information?
    • The visual/verbal scale: How do you prefer information to be presented?
    • The sequential/global scale: How do you prefer to organize information?

    This can narrow down how you learn and provide some other practical tips for enhancing your learning experience.

    Final Thoughts

    Even though we have a preferred style of learning and knowing what that is is beneficial, learning isn’t about restriction. Our learning style shouldn’t be the sole learning style we rely on all the time.

    Our brain is made of various parts and whatever style we learn activates certain parts of the brain. Because of this fact, it would be wise to consider other methods of learning and to give them a try.

    Each method I mentioned has its merits and there’s not one dominate or superior method. What method we like is entirely up to our preferences. So be flexible with those preferences and uncover what style works best for you.

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    Featured photo credit: Anna Earl via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] BrainScape: Repetition is the mother of all learning
    [2] Neil Fleming and David Baume: VARKing Up the Right Tree
    [3] ERIC: Metacognition: An Overview
    [4] University of Waterloo: Understanding Your Learning Style

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