Considering Learning Styles

Teach to Students' Learning Styles

by Judie Haynes

It is especially crucial to take your students' learning styles into account when you are teaching English language learners. This articles gives a brief description of each style and how you can teach to it.

It is always important for teachers to teach to their students’ learning styles but this becomes crucial when teaching English language learners. ELLs may be highly literate in their own language but experience difficulties when acquiring English because they are accustomed to learning through a different style. In any case, most ELLs are visual or kinethetic learners when they first learn English. Most teachers, especially in the upper grades, teach to students with an auditory learning style. This can be very difficult for the ELLs in your class.
Auditory Learners

Students with this style will be able to recall what they hear and will prefer oral instructions. They learn by listening and speaking. These students enjoy talking and interviewing. They are phonetic readers who enjoy oral reading, choral reading, and listening to recorded books. They learn best by doing the the following:

  • interviewing, debating
  • participating on a panel
  • giving oral reports
  • participating in oral discussions of written material

Visual Learners

Visual learners will be able to recall what they see and will prefer written instructions. These students are sight readers who enjoy reading silently. Better yet, present information to them with a video. They will learn by observing and enjoy working with the following:

  • computer graphics
  • maps, graphs, charts
  • cartoons
  • posters
  • diagrams
  • graphic organizers
  • text with a lot of pictures

Tactile Learners

Students with this strength learn best by touching. They understand directions that they write and will learn best through manipulatives. Try using the Language Experience Approach (LEA) when teaching these students to read. These students will also benefit from whole language approaches to reading. They'll learn best by :

  • drawing
  • playing board games
  • making dioramas
  • making models
  • following instructions to make something

Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners also learn by touching or manipulating objects. They need to involve their whole body in learning. Total Physical Response is a good ESL method for them. They remember material best if they act it out. These students learn best by:

  • playing games that involve their whole body
  • movement activities
  • making models
  • following instructions to make something
  • setting up experiments

Global Learners

Global learners are spontaneous and intuitive. They do not like to be bored. Information needs to be presented in an interesting manner using attractive materials. Cooperative learning strategies and holistic reading methods work well with these learners. Global learners learn best through:

  • choral reading
  • recorded books
  • story writing
  • computer programs
  • games
  • group activities

Analytic Learners

Analytic learners plan and organize their work. They focus on details and are logical. They are phonetic readers and prefer to work individually on activity sheets. They learn best when:

  • information is presented in sequential steps
  • lessons are structured and teacher-directed
  • goals are clear
  • requirements are spelled out