Different people learn differently. We all have a unique learning style that is based on the type of sensory information that we prefer. These kinds of sensory information are called learning modalities.
The VARK Modalities
They are Visual, Auditory, Read/write and Kinesthetic. You can remember them based on the acronym, VARK.
Students generally have a dominant modality. But they do use a combination of all the different modalities. Some people will say “I’m a visual learner” but really what they mean is “I am primarily a visual learner”. With some of the other modalities as well, there are some people who don’t really have one strongly dominant modality. We call those people multimodal learners. They have a multimodal learning style. I happened to be a multimodal learner. I don’t really have one really dominant modality. But my least dominant modality is the auditory. Preferring a specific mortality doesn’t mean that that’s the only way you can learn or you can’t learn in the other modalities. Just means that it’s usually the best way for you to learn.
Visual learners tend to prefer learning using images, videos, charts, maps, graphs and so on. Often they see images in their mind when they are reading or listening.
Auditory learners prefer to learn by listening to other speak, having discussions, explaining things out loud, sometimes by recording a lesson and listening to it again to review.
Read/write learners learn visually but specifically through text. And they enjoy learning through text books, articles, writing journals, writing articles and so on. Read/write learners tend to be quite good with language patterns and syntax. They can look at a sentence and analyze the different elements within it quite easily.
Kinesthetic learners are engaged when they are experiencing something physically with their body. They tend to like acting out real or simulated situations through movement or play. Since emotions are actually physical sensations, kinesthetic learners are quite engaged by emotional sensation. So emotional impact will help in their learning and retention.
Know Your Preferred Learning Style
When you know your preferred learning style ( do this quiz ). It becomes easier to understand why you’re not motivated, not excited to be learning or not learning as efficiently as you could be. Most people rely on their teacher or materials to teach them. But they often don’t target your preferred learning modalities.
Have you ever had a teacher who just talked and talked and talked and talked and talked and talked even if your teacher had a pleasant voice. Unless you were an auditory learner, you were probably bored to death. Another common situation is that kinesthetic learners are sometimes made to sit in the chair at their desk for 90 minutes straight. After about 30 minutes you’re ready to pick up your chair and throw it.
Optimize Your Study
When you do self-study, you can choose to use your preferred learning modality to be more engaged with the material and pretend them better. If you are learning materials don’t match your preferred modality, you can adapt the materials by filling in the gaps in creating the parts that are missing in your modality.
For example, if you are a visual learner but your materials are mostly text-based. Then you can imagine images of the content that you are reading. Actually see the situation in your head as you are reading so that the study content and the imagery become associated.
If you’re an auditory learner but your materials are mostly text-based. Then you can imagine auditory component inside your head. You can hear the voices being expressive. You can also champ or sing sentences to yourself.
If you happen to be a read/write learner and you are using an audio program. Then you can try to imagine the sentences inside your head and actually see them when listening to them. That might be hard to do it first. But when you get used to it, you can do it.
If you are a kinesthetic learner and your materials are mostly text-based. Then you can imagine yourself going through the experience that you are reading about in text. Try to actually feel what’s going on and experience it in your body. Even though you’re imagining it, you can try to feel those sensations. You can use body motions and gestures to learn new vocabulary. You also can use body motions to act out the content that you are studying.
You don’t have to just stick to the learning materials that you have. You can interpret them and adapt them to your own learning style. Use them in a way that’s best for you.
So knowing your learning style is important, it can help you adapt materials, create new activities to keep you engaged and help you retain the study content. So I recommend that you find out your learning style and use it to your advantage today.