We’ve all heard the best way to learn a language is by speaking it and I would whole heatedly agree with this.
However there is another way to learn that is not discussed nearly as often and not knowing this can leave language students frustrated, so here it is…
The best way to learn a language (besides speaking it) is to identify your learning style.
something that I hadn’t done when I chose the Wrong Language School.
A learning style is simply how you learn best and this can be applied to learning a language. Some people learn best by hearing, seeing or doing. Some people learn better in group settings while others learn better individually. Each person has their own learning style and by identifying your own learning style, you can then choose the best way to learn a language for you so that you will learn a language more efficiently and more quickly. A good teacher will use a variety of teaching techniques that will hit on all the learning styles, and it should be fun at least some of the time (see 5 Fun Language Learning Techniques) but in reality this doesn’t always happen. But the goods news is even if you don’t have a good teacher, there are still things you can do on your own. I didn’t have good language teachers, which is why I ended up Quitting German School.
I’ve been taking an Intensive German Course for the past 5 months and have been very frustrated with my progress. Normally I find school quite easy and am one of the “smart kids”, not so much in German class and it is driving me crazy. I know from my education background that aural learning is not my strong point but unfortunately a lot of aural teaching techniques are used to help students learn a language.
I decided to take a free online learning style test at Learning Styles Online to see exactly what I was dealing with and why I struggle so much. Below are my results:
The blue line shows my results. I am very high on the social, logical and physical traits. I was pleased to see that I scored so high on the social trait, since my course involves interacting with other students. Based on my high social trait this is a better option for me than studying German by myself.
I scored very low on the Aural trait, much lower than my peers as indicated by the red line for people ages 30-39 and the green line for people in Canada. Ah ha – that explains why I’m struggling to learn German! Obviously if I want to learn German – and I really do since I’m planning to live in Germany indefinitely, aural traits are going to be really important. Knowing this, I can give myself a break and spend more time Learning a Language by Reading Celebrity Magazines. I can also be aware that anything I’ve learned aurally, I will likely need to reinforce it using another learning style that meshes better for me. For example, if we were doing a listening exercise in my German class, I can make notes while listening. After class I could turn this into a social, logical or physical exercise which is how I learn better and will reinforce what I learned aurally.
I would encourage anyone that wants to learn a language to do the free learning styles quiz at Learning Styles Online. This test is longer than other online learning style tests, but you can still complete it in under 10 minutes and it will give you a very comprehensive review of your learning style. It also provides more info on each learning style and learning techniques that are best for that learning style. For example, one of the suggestions it gives for people who score high on the social trait is role playing. I found this site very useful. Note: This is an un-sponsored review of this website, I just happen to like it and think taking a few minutes to take the quiz to identify your learning style and then apply it will save you a lot of time regardless of what you’re trying to learn.
Knowing your learning styles and some exercises to accommodate your learning style will make it so much easier and much less frustrating when trying to learn a language. Now I’m off to play Scrabble, in German of course, since it incorporates social, logical and physical learning traits all at the same time! If I keep it up, I might just learn German yet.
As an aside:
Identifying your learning style is useful no matter what you’re learning. For the purposes of this post, I’ve just focused on how to learn a language.
Why should you listen to me? I hold a Master of Education degree in Adult Learning and have worked in education for over 10 years doing everything from curriculum development, program design to instruction for people ranging in age from 4 to 89 (my oldest student). Until recently I taught Adult Education courses in Continuing Education at a university in Canada that taught adult educators how to teach adults, I have conducted numerous staff training sessions and also worked as an ESL Teacher in S. Korea and Thailand. I still teach an online course for a university in Canada.