Updated: Aug 17
Has a teacher ever asked you how you like to learn best? In other words, what methods help you to learn a new skill or concept? And, when I say you, I mean you personally.
Maybe you've been asked this question before. However, my prediction is that if you come from a traditional classroom learning experience, then no teacher has ever posed this important question.
With Neurolanguage Coaching®* exploring the ways in which you learn best is an integral part of the process. This is because the goal of a language coach is to ensure that you are in an ideal learning state. In other words, you are relaxed and enjoying the process. To that end, when we find a learning style that works well for you, you will feel more calm and receptive to receiving information and making connections.
Let's explore some ways that you might learn new material well.
Some Learning Styles to Consider
Do you learn best with your eyes? Do you enjoy watching movies in English to learn new phrases or vocabulary? After you watch a video, do you notice that the material seems to "stick" because you have had a visual experience? You've watched the actors' faces, expressions, and body language, so you can "see" the language better.
Or, maybe you like to write down words so that you can see them. This is how I am. When I meet someone for the first time and hear his or her name, I have to mentally spell the name out in my mind in order to remember it. I call it my mental chalkboard (or whiteboard for those who aren't as old as me!).
Maybe you enjoy drawing pictures to make connections or to help you memorize new words or patterns. I have a client who draws a picture of an eye over a word with the long i sound to help her remember the sound.
Or, perhaps you enjoy seeing information conveyed in a graph or diagram. When learning the conditionals in English, one of my clients felt great comfort in seeing the four conditionals depicted in a chart. She saw that there was a clear formula and use for each one. These are just a few examples.
Maybe you are an auditory learner. Are you a natural listener? Do you enjoy listening to English podcasts (without the extra element of video to distract you)? By hearing the words and sentences, are you able to connect them to their larger meaning? Or, maybe you enjoy learning English by listening to songs. If so, you ears might lead the way to better learning!
I have also noticed that learners who are keen on sound are often talented at mimicking or recreating sounds that they have heard; correct pronunciation comes a little easier to them. Maybe it's their passion for the spoken word that helps!
Verbal and aural learning go hand in hand. Do you make language connections easily when you talk? Do you enjoy having conversations that build your language skills? Is talking in English a fun challenge for you?
If the answer is yes, you and your language coach can incorporate conversations that are personal and relevant to you. Producing a language in real-time can lead to some very powerful progress in your English learning. This is especially true if you are having fun and enjoying the process.
Do you like to move your body in association with learning a language? Perhaps you have heard of TPR (Total Physical Response). In this method of language learning, you move your body to match the word. For example, your teacher says "stand up" and that is what you do! The goal is for your brain to make a connection between the phrase and the action. This can work well for beginners. Would this work for you?
Kinesthetic learning can be less obvious too. Have you ever noticed that you are more engaged in a phone call when you care walking around the house as you talk? Or, maybe you are like me in that you like to doodle during lectures. This helps me to stay focused. Kinesthetic learners not only like to move their bodies in some way, but it also helps them to make stronger mental connections.
Perhaps you do well with worksheets or exercises that allow you to fill in the blank or complete sentences using a model or template given. If so, you might be a logical learner. I know that I absolutely love taking our my old German workbooks and completing exercises. It is very calming for me, and it helps reinforce concepts that I have learned in the past. Now, there are many clients who would not enjoy this type of language learning!
In Groups or by Yourself
Do you prefer to learn in groups or on your own? Or, maybe you like a combination of the two. For me, I enjoy quiet time with the language during which I can do worksheets and activities on my own. But I also love meeting with my Spanish class each week. We laugh a lot, and having other learners around me is very encouraging.
What Ways Work Best For You?
Take a minute to visualize your ideal ESL session. What activities would you and your language coach be doing together? How would you feel? Would you be with other learners? Most likely, you would enjoy and benefit from a combination of activities. It's rare that a learner only learns best from one method of learning.
But by taking a moment to consider how you learn and by actively seeking environments that work best for you, you are taking English learning "into your own hands," as the expression goes. And the result will be a more effective an enjoyable learning experience.
*Registered US and European trademark in the name of Rachel Marie Paling