Have you ever wanted to learn a new language, but had no idea where to start? You’re not alone. According to a survey by The Guardian, 70% of adults and children would be interested in learning another new language in the future. In fact, picking up a second language has a number of benefits. In many countries, for example, it makes you a better job candidate.
There are countless ways to tackle a new language. In fact, the online language market is worth around $13 billion USD, and it is projected to reach $25 billion USD by 2025. So how do you pick the option that works best for you? It starts with understanding your own learning style to maximize your efforts and become a successful language learner.
Understanding the Different Learning Styles
When it comes to learning a new language, one size does not fit all. Many people think they can pick up a new language the same way that works for everyone else, but that’s not necessarily true.
As individuals, we all have different experiences and preferences, from the types of food we prefer to the different approaches we take to learning.
Who hasn’t struggled to understand something new in school? The difficulty you experienced may have been because of the way the teacher presented the information. The teacher may have taught gradually by writing on a chalkboard, or they may have assigned you to read a chapter in the textbook.
Not every method works for everyone, and not everyone learns in the same way as their fellow students.
While many people find learning a language to be a great challenge, especially those idioms and metaphors, the reality is that it’s not that different from learning any other subject.
However, without the right approach, you may feel as if you are making little progress. That’s why it’s crucial to understand learning styles used by successful language learners — so you can maximize your time and your potential.
There are four primary types of learning styles, and every learning style has its own style and traits that may — or may not — work for you as a language learner. But just because one style works for you doesn’t mean that none of the other learning styles will.
Looking to get started? Here are the four primary learning styles:
- Visual: Visual learners use cues like photos, flashcards, books, and films to learn new information. Tangible materials help these learners process new information and visualize the knowledge. Seeing the facts, and then writing them down, helps with memorization. Visual learners need visual aids and prompts to help them learn.
- Auditory: The auditory learner uses audio tools to learn new information. These learners will use conversations, lessons and lectures, or audio-lingual materials like audiobooks and podcasts to process new information. This technique first originated during World War II, where students listened to dialogue and then repeated it to aid their memorization.
- Reading and writing: Students who learn through reading and writing will process information by taking notes and reading texts. Interacting with written text is the most powerful way for these learners to absorb information. Other ways these learners absorb information include quizzes, tests, manuals, dictionaries, online tools, and other written texts and activities.
- Kinesthetic and tactile: These students use more active and interactive techniques to interact with new information. The more communication involved, the better. These learners will make use of movement by watching a play, listening to native speakers, talking to people, and playing interactive games. For example, a kinesthetic and tactile learner looking to take up Spanish may greatly benefit from a Spanish tutor.
What Works for You?
Figuring out your learning style will be an important stepping stone in helping you better learn a new language. Picking a strategy in line with your learning style can help save a lot of time and effort. An Oxford study on different learning styles found that when learners are aware of their learning style, they are far more likely to succeed at learning the topic.
To figure out what works best for you, try each method and see which one sticks. Nevertheless, keep in mind that you should not limit yourself even when you understand your learning style. Mixing up the methods can speed up your process and shake up the norm. Start off with your learning style, and integrate different styles as you may need more than one learning style to make a new language stick.