Revealing the 3 Main Types of Learners
Have you ever wondered why some people just seem to learn things FAST – almost effortlessly?
It’s as if they were “born smarter”, gifted or blessed with some learning superpowers which enabled them to easily absorb new knowledge & information quickly – & with crystal-clear clarity.
We might even convince ourselves that they belong to a certain class of people others can only dream of i.e. Prodigies. Natural talents. People with ‘Special Genes’. You get the idea.
Well of course that’s certainly one way to think.
After all, we have all encountered thoughts before such as “He was born for the piano” or “He is academically-inclined” & “he was born for the drawing board” etc.
But is it true that people needed to be ‘gifted’ or be born with special talents to learn fast & excel in something? Are fast learners really born – or made …
Or is it just that they have mastered some powerful, jealously-guarded ’learning’ strategies which give them this edge?
We’re all too familiar with situations where – the moment people face difficulties in learning something, it’s only too easy to ‘dismiss’ them as “not cut-out for learning this subject”.
Nothing can be further from the truth.
You see, as advocates of learning for over 30 years, here’s what we discovered at Tueetor: People learn at different rates, & in different ways. No matter how smart or intelligent a person is, there will always be areas that each person learns quicker (& vice-versa).
Research has shown that people are generally divided into 3 main learner types. No one is better or worse than the other – all have their pros & cons. Each person is born with his/her own ‘dominant’ way of learning & processing new knowledge & information.
If you’re experiencing difficulties in learning something – & ready to call it quits, pay close attention. What we’re about to cover might give you answers to what you’ve been looking for, as well as correct any mainstream misconceptions & limiting beliefs which only stop you from moving forward.
This article will open your eyes to how people generally learn in 3 main ways, & at the end of this read, you’ll become more understanding & accepting of yourself (& others).
Before we think about how we can accelerate learning, the first step is to understand how we learn i.e. our ‘Learner Type’.
Without understanding this, it’s easy to get stuck easily & find ourselves playing catch-up, while other people continue to progress with ease!
What happens? We start to doubt ourselves. Not good.
So let’s start by asking ourselves useful questions such as: Do we learn by observing how others do something? Or by watching an online Youtube video? Or actually doing it hands-on by ourselves etc?
Discover the 3 Main Learner Types: Visual, Auditory & Kinesthetic
Characteristics of the 3 learner types have been proven by research, & there are scientific reasons to explain each type. In addition, this is widely covered in training-related certifications such as ACTA & Personal Development courses such as in NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming).
It is interesting how each learner type learns according to how they absorb & process new information & knowledge.
Whether you’re taking on the role of a student, tutor, teacher or trainer, knowing these learner types will help you understand why some people may learn slower or not respond well to certain ways information & knowledge is presented to them.
Let’s get started.
1. Understanding the Visual Learner
“Show Me How It’s Done. I Need To See For Myself.”
– The Visual Learner
As the name suggests, Visual Learners learn best by direct observation. Seeing is believing – all you need to do is show them how something is done & they will be able to understand right away, without going through ‘hands-on’. It’s just the way they are.
Learners of this type largely visualize, & process new knowledge & information in terms of pictures than words – easily conjuring up images & animations in their minds. They memorize by seeking out pictures, & are able to quickly grasp the gist of any situation.
In addition, they possess high levels of focus & are less distracted by noise, which is why Visual Learners are usually keen observers & fast learners, & tend to come across as smart & intellectual.
As ‘Visual’ people, they tend to be more particular about their personal image because of their natural inclination to look neat & well-groomed. Notice their posture too – bodies erect, chest-out, eyes up.
They are usually good spellers who would rather read than listen, & naturally drawn to good looks & things that are aesthetically-pleasing.
In verbal communication, they’re usually smooth talkers with a typical habit of speaking quickly & distinctively in a high pitch tone, & they breathe from the top of their lungs.
At the same time, Visual Learners have trouble remembering verbal instructions, because they tend to get distracted easily distracted. In addition, they must be careful not to make the mistake of “speaking too soon”, & may be prone to making wrong judgments due to sufficient information.
When sharing knowledge & information with Visual Learners, the most important is to be straightforward, clear & concise. If unsure whether the Visual Learner understands what you have said, ask them questions that appeal to their dominant sensory learning organ – their eyes.
E.g. Questions like “Do you see my point?” or “Are you seeing this?” help form an instant, subtle but deeper human connection with them, making you more likeable in their eyes & you will be able to forge better relationships with them.
So there you are – the Visual Learner. While these learners have their strengths, this does not put the other 2 types of learners at a disadvantage. Read on to find out more …
*TIP: Visual Learners must be careful not to let their “smarts” get the better of themselves, which can cause them to misjudge people & situations, which results in missing out on rare talent & opportunities.
2. Understanding the Auditory Learner
“This is Music to My Ears! Tell Me More!”
– The Auditory Learner
Auditory Learners learn best by listening & hearing. They understand & remember things they have heard, & absorb information based on the way it sounds, hence it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they find it easier to understand spoken instructions as compared to written ones.
They are largely stimulated by hearing pleasant sounds e.g. music, or an attractive voice etc. Learners of this type are particularly attentive to speech & can repeat things back to you easily (sometimes word-for-word) even for things you might not remember having mentioned to them before.
When they speak, they do so with a wide variety of tonality changes, & they breathe from their diaphragm. Because of their attention to detail, they are particularly careful with the words they use on themselves (& others).
Unlike Visual Learners, Auditory Learners tend to learn by ‘talking to themselves’. Because they absorb & process information by hearing their own voices, they often read aloud. The next time you see a person studying & reading aloud from a book, chances are you have an auditory learner in front of you.
At the same time, it is important to note that Auditory Learners tend to get easily distracted by environmental noise. Hence to be productive, they need to be in a quiet environment e.g. library, study room, quiet cafes etc. This gives them the space they need, to thrive & learn well.
They usually have a habit of listening to music when working or studying, shutting themselves out from the world outside & immersing themselves in their own. This keeps them focus & helps them complete tasks faster. (You will be amazed at THAT level of focus when they have their earphones on)
Interestingly, most Auditory Learners usually find spoken instructions easier to process than written ones. They also possess a creative streak, & are easily intrigued by beautiful designs & intricate works of art.
When sharing information with an Auditory person, the important thing to do is to prepare in advance, & choose our words wisely.
To find out whether he/she understands what you have said, the first thing you need to do is clarify whether they truly understand what you’re saying, then pace them as you ask questions that appeal to their ears
Asking questions such as “Are you hearing me?” or “Does this ring a bell?” works especially well & makes them more receptive to you.
Before we move on the final type of learner – here’s another interesting Fun Fact about Auditory Learners: They tend to excel in public speaking, singing, playing a musical instrument & anything that allows them to unleash their creative streak!
*TIP: Auditory learners generally find Math & writing more challenging. To engage with them effectively, talk more to them – while being careful not to bore them with your tone of voice!
3. Understanding the Kinesthetic Learner
“Involve Me & Let Me Experience For Myself.”
– The Kinesthetic Learner
Kinesthetic Learners learn best by doing. Walking the talk. Doing the work themselves. To learn & internalize something successfully, they need to hands-on, go through & experience for themselves. Walking a kinesthetic learner through something is the #1 Best way to engage him / her.
Deep down, these learners are emphatic & compassionate people who operate primarily based on feelings & emotions. They ‘feel’ on a more intense & deeper level as compared to Visual & Auditory learners.
This is not to say that they are highly emotional people – when these learners find a topic or subject that is of interest to them, they will put in their whole heart & soul into it. On the flip side, if they’re bored, they’ll just “switch off” or even ‘zone out’ completely.
Kinesthetic learners are highly people-oriented (not ‘people-pleasers’), & love being around people. They are gifted with active listening skills & are able to accurately ‘read & interpret’ situations easily, in planning their next move(s), & have no difficulty putting themselves in the shoes of other people.
They are largely blessed with the gift of high EQ: it is in their nature to be more sensitive to the feelings of others, which makes them great listeners & excellent confidantes. They are friendly, easy to talk to & get along with.
Inside & outside of work, they operate dominantly on the sense of touch, & need to be constantly engaged & stimulated. Their attention span isn’t as long as the Visual & Auditory Learner, so they tend to get restless easily, in which they start to fidget & move around. They love being around people – standing close to them & making physical contact.
To better understand the Kinesthetic learner, all we need to do is to put ourselves in their shoes & feel the way they feel. Kinesthetic people are also easily distracted, & constantly need to stimulate themselves with interesting things, fun people & novel experiences.
When they think, they tend to look down & to the right. These people generally breathe deeply, down into their stomach/diaphragm (you can actually see their stomach moving in & out). And when they speak, they tend to speak slowly with pauses …
At times, this causes them to come across as, & misunderstood as ‘inarticulate’ – when it’s really just the way they are! And since they primarily learn & process new information by hands-on & experiencing things for themselves, this group tends to have the most difficulty excelling at school.
Kinesthetic learners to tend to get bored & “Switch Off” easily – & start to wiggle, tap, shake or swing their legs. Because they just cannot seem to sit still & hence may easily come across as being disinterested in learning & showing indifference.
However once you get to really know them, you will discover they are one of the most patient & kindest people you’ll ever meet in your life. They are highly compassionate & possess good character.
They may be mistaken for being slow learners. But all they actually want is to ensure they truly understand something before they move on. When not given the chance to experience things for themselves, they generally face huge challenges understanding excelling in school.
Now because of many academic subjects such as Science & Math, which require logical thinking & calculations, Kinesthetic learners may come across as being disinterested in learning or are often misunderstood as ‘slow learners’.
*TIP: Kinesthetic Learners love creativity & unconventionality – Keeping them stimulated & interested is key for them to learn & excel effectively.
Conclusion: What This Means For Us
Knowing your core learning type is the first most important step if you want to accelerate learning.
Now that you know about the 3 main types of learners, it’s time to put this knowledge into practice.
Whether you’ve just picked up a new skill – or making progress, you will no be deterred when learning gets tough.
If you are a teacher, tutor or trainer, knowing these 3 learner types will help you to come up with new teaching strategies. When a learner doesn’t seem to be responding well, it might be time to change your approach.
When you’re learning a new skill / subject, understanding these 3 learner types will help you to better understand your learning representation, & you will be able to devise your own learning strategies to help you learn FASTER in the shortest possible time.
Finally, let us all remember that if anyone else can learn something fast, you can do it too. It’s a matter of understanding your own Learning type first, & taking the right steps to accelerate learning.