Looking around your classroom it is wonderful to see all the different ways your students express themselves. They each behave and respond in their own way to each activity and task.
When given a new set of vocabulary, some students might choose to draw and colour the words, some might repeat the words out loud, some might create a game by cutting out the words and moving them around, some might close their eyes and visualise the words in a daydream and some might prefer to read and copy the words in their notebooks.
When students are able to work in a way that feels natural and comfortable, they tend to feel more at ease, more confident and their capacity for leaning increases.
Today we are looking at the VARK model of student learning. VARK refers to four different learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic.
Understanding your students’ learning styles and making them accessible in your lessons will be hugely beneficial in creating a more effective language learning environment. Let’s look at each one in more detail…
Children with a visual learning style, learn through seeing information. They like to work with images, videos, charts and diagrams. They enjoy taking notes and they like looking around and seeing new things in realtime.
- Set up the classroom so everyone can see clearly.
- Minimise visual distractions during the lesson.
- Sit the visual learners at the front.
- Minimise clutter in the classroom.
- Use flashcards.
- Use materials with well designed images.
- Use a variety of drawing and craft activities.
- Start a picture vocabulary book.
- Watch videos.
- Do visualisation exercises.
- Do creative writing activities.
- Create mind maps on the board for vocabulary.
- Encourage using highlighters for vocabulary and important language points.
Children with an auditory learning style, learn through listening and reading aloud. They usually repeat words to themselves softly or in their heads. You can often see them nodding and staring into space when they are trying to retrieve information. They like talking and enjoy group discussions.
- Set up the classroom so everyone can hear.
- If possible, make an audio recording of the lessons.
- Try to avoid unnecessary noise in the classroom.
- Read instructions and text out loud.
- Play pair work games (battleships, gap fill games etc).
- Encourage small group discussions (question cards, give me 5, talk for a minute).
- Encourage your students to repeat new words out loud to their classmates.
- Use songs.
- Do a variety of listening activities.
- Do drawing dictations.
- Encourage writing and reciting stories, dialogues and creative writing texts.
Children with a kinaesthetic learning style, learn through hands on experience. They enjoy activities where they can use multiple senses. They like practical exercises and role plays. You can usually find them playing with objects, pens, paper and fidget toys.
- Take regular breaks for stretching and physical activity.
- When possible, go outside.
- Use craft activities which involve cutting and sticking.
- Play games which involve movement.
- Use real life objects when possible and encourage students to touch and interact with them.
- Play mime games.
- Do role plays.
- When learning new words, encourage students to assign each word an action.
- Make collages and scrapbooks.
- Write words in the air as you are saying them
Learners with a Preference to Reading / Writing
Children with a preference for reading and writing, learn through reading and writing new information. They like making lists and organising information.
- Encourage note taking in class.
- Prepare ‘extra time’ reading texts.
- Encourage students to rewrite sentences and texts in different ways.
- Encourage students to turn images into words.
- Prepare reading texts from many different sources like books, magazines, articles, blogs, social media, news reports.
- Encourage students to read from different sources.
It is interesting to note that although some students will have a clear preference, others will feel comfortable with a mix of styles.
Setting up your lessons in a way which helps students approach and process information in their preferred way is hugely beneficial to helping them learn more effectively.
We hope this article was useful. If you have any comments or feedback, please get in touch.
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