Have you ever wondered why some people are able to pick up certain skills or concepts more quickly and easily as compared to others? Or have you ever been jealous that your friend can learn languages faster than you, no matter what you try? This is because everyone has a natural inclination towards certain learning styles, and they gravitate towards activities that complement that style. As a result, abilities that work well with a certain learning style might be grasped and retained faster compared to others. Similarly, different teaching ways can greatly impact learning any skills, particularly a second language.
Neil Fleming, an education minister from New Zealand, took his experience working with schools to research education and learning at Lincoln University. Beginning with the work that American Walter Burke Barbe and his colleagues started with the VAK model, where the learning styles or modalities are broken down. They are broken into visual, auditory, and kinesthetic as well as representational systems in neuro-linguistic programming. Fleming redefined the definition of a visual learner to include an additional group: the read-write group.
People who learn best with visual materials such as charts, diagrams, pictures, flashcards, colors, videos, etc., are known to be visual learners. They prefer to see information like in a Spanish graphic novels and visualize it thinking about the relationships and ideas in their heads.
They are learners who learn by listening to things. They love to hear information rather than read it. Audiobooks, podcasts, and voice memos can be pretty helpful for such learners.
These types of learners learn best through actions. These can either be performed directly, observed, or through stimulation, but what is essential is that it feels real; there is a sense of reality or concrete nature to the example. Kinesthetic learners learn by doing hands-on problem solving or hands-on activities. They like making and creating things rather than listening to long boring lectures where they can't do something. Role-plays and stuff like these provide aid to such learners.
Reading and writing learners: this is very obvious that such learners learn by reading and writing things. They are happy to sit down with a book or a printout and read and take notes from it.
Teaching according to the learning styles:
A question that comes along with all this information is, how does all this help in teaching, and how can it impact learning a language? To answer this question, let us create a simple scenario. For example, teaching someone how to get to the post office to mail a letter. People who are visual learners find it easier to use a map. It would help them visualize things making the task quite a lot simpler. While on the other hand, auditory learners will try listening to the instructor's instructions carefully to respond to the job successfully.
Moreover, a read and write learner will find written instructions more helpful in achieving their goal. Lastly, the kinesthetic learner will learn best how to get to the post office by asking the teacher questions such as "what other shops are near the post office?" the teacher might reply, "It is across the street from the coffee shop." Then the student would recall his memories and using his prior experience, the student would start to fit the pieces of the puzzle together in his mind and would be able to figure out how to get to his destiny.
Keeping all this in mind while teaching a second language, which most students find challenging to learn, try teaching them differently according to their learning styles. For example, you can plan role models, prepare audios, write notes, make flashcards, etc. in order to engage all the different learners in class. This would help create a better learning atmosphere and an interactive lesson.
Impact of teaching style:
Teaching this way would help students retain a lot of information. The techniques used to teach according to students' learning styles would cause them to understand things much better. This would boost their confidence and cause them to strive harder to learn that language. As they would have more confidence now, they would start to speak their tongue in front of others. This would lead them to speak more fluently than before. Any mistake they make while speaking that language can be pointed out by someone else, which can also help them learn from their mistakes. They will also learn body language, which comes with language much faster than before.
Making students more comfortable with their learning style by using various fun teaching techniques such as games, flashcards, or listening to songs in that language could make learning a language much more fun and effective.
Teaching while keeping all the different types of learners in mind can help more students succeed while learning a second language. In addition, tasks can be made easier for students in this way.