Millions of people are on a quest for special methods and tricks that will help them learn English.
A few years ago, CBC came out with an interesting article on the secret to learning languages. As the main tip from polyglots, they highlight the importance of knowing how your brain works. Over the years, however, there has been some controversy over the concept of individual learning styles. Although there are various theories regarding this topic, a popular notion is that there are three basic types: kinaesthetic, auditory, and visual.
Traditionally, kinesthetic learners are described as getting the most benefit from combining physical activity with the learning activity, as they make links between their movements and the content that they’re studying. On the other hand, auditory learners are described as those who learn best from listening and being able to repeat and discuss what they’ve heard. Lastly, a visual learner benefits more from seeing rather than by hearing or doing. They find triggers in colorful and logical imagery, such as graphs and icons.
In the video below, Dr. Tesia Marshik is explaining the lack of data supporting the theory that a person has the capability to learn better with one particular style. Rather she focuses on the fact that we may have preferences in how we learn and that depending on what is to be absorbed a different method may be more relevant. She stresses thatboxing ourselves as one type of learner can be potentially dangerous as it limits our scope for successful assimilation.
Our approach would be to keep in tune with yourself and try to understand what can be the most effective method for you given the circumstances. For instance, imagine you are trying to memorize vocabulary by simply staring at a textbook page when you realize that the content is just not sinking in. Instead, you may try more visual methods like creating flashcards in different colors or mapping the words in a sort of diagram. Or perhaps, you may find that hearing the words being spoken on an audio file, which also gives you the option to repeat what you hear, could be the most helpful for you.
As mentioned, the notion of labeling a person as one of these learners is highly controversial. So, instead, we prefer to take this opportunity to highlight some useful study tactics, which could be categorized as adhering to one of the three learning methods.
Kinaesthetic Methods for Learning English
A kinesthetic approach to learning could involve listening to English news or another program while walking or doing other exercises. One step further is what the CBC article refers to as the shadowing method. Simply, the recommendation is to ‘hear, repeat, hear, repeat and march around.’ Another helpful tactile method is just writing what needs to be learned on paper. Although some might say that the traditional grade school punishment of writing lines does not help learn the material, in some cases it just might as your mind may make associations with the simple movement of the hand. Another approach that we particularly like is the use of gestures while practicing conversations. For example, if you were going through a dialogue related to taking a message, pretending like you’re actually writing the note could be quite helpful.
Auditory Methods for Learning English
An auditory approach involves anything that touches the hearing sense. Conversations with other language learners or native speakers could be highly effective as one has both the benefit of hearing and reiterating content. A solid auditory tactic would be to use resources like English radio, music, audiobooks, movies, recordings, or basically anything that can be heard. Furthermore, when reading, try doing so aloud. Reciting the same paragraph up to 10 times could be quite helpful in retaining information found in text form.
Visual Methods for Learning English
Some visual methods, to mention a few, would include the use of flashcards or videos. Color coating information with highlighters or colored sticky paper could also help the brain organize certain concepts. Another alternative is to use icons when note taking or to create concept maps to connect one idea to another. Here is an example of an extremely simplistic diagram containing word triggers that could aid in memorizing phrases related to ordering at a restaurant.
In summary, try to remember that there is a myriad of ways to help study the English language and it’s important not to discriminate any particular method just because you may have considered yourself to be one type of learner your entire life. Think consciously about what it is that you’re about to learn and which study tactic could give you the greatest sense of motivation.
Dr. Marshik’s lecture may receive criticism from those who’ve spent years believing that there is only one way for each person to learn. Why don’t you test for yourself the benefit of applying different study methods – you may surprise yourself.