Auditory Learner

Aug 15, 2012 by

Auditory LearnersWhen you’re trying to remember a piece of information, do you fix it in your mind by writing it down, or repeating it aloud and discussing it with others? If you answered the latter, you might be an auditory learner. Human beings learn using our full range of senses, yet many people tend to focus on a particular sense that they find the easiest when learning new information. An auditory learner is someone who remembers information best when they hear it spoken aloud and are able to repeat it aloud themselves. Other kinds of learning styles include visual learning, kinesthetic or tactile learning, and reading-writing preference learning.

Beginning in the 1970s, a new trend in teaching proposed that there are four different types of learners. You could be categorized according to whether you absorb information best when it is visual, auditory, written, or in the form of hands-on projects requiring active involvement. For instance, a visual learner might be very skilled at remembering the content of illustrated diagrams and graphs, whereas an auditory learner would remember more from a spoken lecture. While today most educators maintain that people generally use all of their senses during the learning process, it can help to know if you have a learning style that favors a particular sense such as vision or hearing. If it seems that you remember things the best when you hear them out loud, for instance, you can use that knowledge to develop better strategies for remembering new information.

Auditory learners tend to best remember information when they hear it out loud, and are usually good at reproducing information orally. People who relate to the world through hearing rather than visually are often skilled at reading subtext in audial information (such as another person’s tone of voice), and are often social and love to talk. An auditory learner frequently excels in other areas of learning where speech and hearing are components: for instance, they may have a well-developed vocabulary and are skilled at expressing their ideas orally; they can quickly pick up the vocabulary and grammar of a foreign language; and they may have an ear for the tones, rhythm, and notes in music. As an auditory learner, where you might have trouble is in remembering information that is presented visually in a chart, diagram, or graph, or in the form of written instructions. People who are more adept at absorbing information by hearing it tend to prefer auditory study aids such as books on tape, videos, and audiotapes, and may study by repeating new information out loud to themselves or someone else.

If you think you might be an auditory learner, you can apply these techniques to anything you want to remember. In a classroom setting, auditory learners benefit greatly from participating in group work and discussions, verbal direction in assignments, and from commenting or asking questions in class. If you’re studying something by yourself, it might help to arrange the information in a rhyme, song lyric, or limerick that you can repeat out loud to memorize. Rather than silently reading class discussion or lecture notes, try reading them to yourself out loud, or even recording lectures in a tape recorder and playing them back as a form of study (hint: this also works with written instructions for an essay or other class assignment).

The “talk out loud” method can even work if you’re trying to comprehend something that has no auditory component, like a visual diagram or a new activity. Let’s say you’re trying to memorize the different parts of an anatomical diagram or learning to knit, for instance. As an auditory learner, you might explain the diagram to yourself out loud while pointing to the different parts of the illustration to fix the sound of the terms in your mind. With an activity, you could talk out the steps to yourself as you practice them. Many people learn by talking things out, regardless of their primary learning style; auditory learners may frequently talk softly or subvocalize when they are trying to memorize a new piece of information.

Incorporating white noise or another kind of background noise into a study session can be another effective tool for auditory learners: many find that they absorb information in other modalities (written, visual, etc.) much easier when they have music or the TV on in the background. Other people need dead silence before they can study or memorize information effectively! However, if you’re finding it hard to concentrate in a quiet room, it could be that what you need is a little ambient noise to act as a filter and help you focus on the work at hand. The next time you’re having trouble concentrating, try going out to a busy café or switching on the radio and see what we mean.

Although learning is still a multisensory process, by discovering what senses you favor for memorization and learning, you can notably improve your ability to recall and reproduce new information.

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