Auditory learners learn best when information is received through sound. Instead of reading books, they prefer to listen to other people talking. But they also learn well when explaining themselves and when participating in group chats and conversations.
Today, there is a wealth of great opportunities for auditory learners to learn effectively.
In this article, I am going to reveal 6 strategies that will make auditory learners learn fast and enable them to get a solid understanding of the materials presented to them.
Before we dive into the learning strategies, let’s just take a look at what the most common learning styles are.
In a study done in 1992 by Neil D. Fleming and Coleen E. Mills, the acronym VARK was used to describe the 4 major learning styles people usually have:
- V – Visual learners (learn best with diagrams, pictures, and written notes)
- A – Auditory learners (learn best through sound)
- R – Reading/Writing learners (learn best by reading books and doing research)
- K – Kinaestethic learners (learn best by doing)
People don’t always fall neatly into one of these categories, but often, people prefer one learning style over the others.
The VARK theory seems to have more to do with personal preferences rather than learning styles being intrinsically linked to someone’s genes. If you are someone who digests information better through sound than via images, you can still learn well with images or by doing activities. But if you want to learn as effectively and thoroughly as possible, you should use learning techniques that cater to your particular taste when it comes to digesting information.
Some people prefer reading, while others prefer listening to audiobooks. We don’t necessarily have the scientific answer to exactly answer why that’s the case, but that’s not necessary either. We only have to accept what our unique preferences are and use the appropriate techniques for our particular tastes.
Now, with some background information out of the way, let’s dive straight into the 6 learning strategies for auditory learners.
1. Make Audio Recordings Instead of Taking Notes
Regardless of our learning style, we all need to store the information somewhere so we can access it later. When it comes to taking notes, auditory learners might benefit more from audio recordings instead of taking written notes.
These could be recordings of yourself explaining a concept you’re learning, reading a passage out loud from a book, or a recording of someone else explaining something, perhaps from a lecture or presentation.
Instead of filling in a notebook or spending hours typing on a computer keyboard, you can build a depository of audio clips. To make this work as well as a colorful Mind Map does for a visual learner, you need to make it easy for yourself to go back to your audio notes in the future when you need to access and review the information. It’s essential that you keep your audio notes organized.
Evernote is a great tool for this purpose. With Evernote, it’s easy to build up a database of recordings you have made and to keep them organized. Another great thing about Evernote is that it has a built-in voice recorder. This saves you the hassle of having to import voice recordings manually.
Make sure you label each recording with a description of what it contains. If you don’t, it will be too difficult to access afterward. Even though you might learn best with audio notes, it’s an awful way of organizing information. Written notes are still easier to look through to find something you’re looking for. You can speed-read and skim through the text, but you can’t speed-listen to or skim through audio clips.
This is why I think auditory learners still benefit a lot from making short written notes and even visual Mind Maps to get an overview of the topic they’re learning and to see the bigger picture.
So, to sum this strategy up: make written notes to organize information and get an overview of the whole subject. And use audio recordings when you go deeper into each topic to gain an understanding of the material.
2. Use Speech-to-Text Software
Auditory learners are often good at talking and explaining, and sometimes less good at expressing their thoughts on paper. Because of this, they might enjoy the process of taking written notes orally.
There are quite a few apps around today that let you speak into your phone and transform the words into texts as you speak. It might take a little bit of practice to get 100% comfortable with this way of taking notes. But with not too much effort, you can write text quite quickly using this method.
I often do this myself when taking notes. Sometimes, when writing an article, I write the first rough draft by speaking into my phone. It’s much faster than typing, and I would have needed to go back and edit the text again if I was typing anyway, so it does save me some time.
I use an app called SpeechTexter for this. It’s free to download. The main reason why I like this app is that you can program it to insert specific symbols with custom voice commands. That way, you can easily format your text entirely with your voice and insert things like new paragraphs, commas, colons, etc. as you dictate.
You can also copy or export the text easily and paste it into your favorite note-taking app. The major benefit of this is that it is perfect for auditory learners. You can capture your thoughts directly from your mind with your voice instead of having to pass them through a “slow typing speed” filter.
If you’re a slow typer, the speech-to-text method will make the process of capturing thoughts into texts a lot smoother. It also makes it easier for you to sustain your train of thought. Straight after you have recorded, you can go back and correct any words, punctuation, and formatting that the software didn’t pick up.
3. Podcasts and Audiobooks
Access to high-quality podcasts and audiobooks have exploded in recent years. And that’s great news for auditory learners. Podcasts and audiobooks aren’t always good strategies if you want to learn something specific to a course you’re taking. But they are great sources for general information and learning.
You should check out services such as Blinkist and Audible. If you’re an auditory learner, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re not taking advantage of them.
Podcasts and audiobooks are also a great way to save time. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks while cooking, hanging clothes up for drying, cleaning your house, or while doing any other tasks that don’t require your full attention.
4. Listen First, Make Notes Afterward
If you’re listening to a talk, masterclass, lecture, or presentation, you should focus all your attention on listening to the lecturer. Taking notes require a lot of attention, and if you focus on that, you might fall out of the whole thought-journey the lecturer is taking you through.
As an auditory learner, you will gain a lot more from the event if you spend all your energy trying to understand what the speaker is saying.
Auditory learners are likely to remember a lot of the details that are being said in the lecture, so this is a good strategy for you. The more intently you listen and focus during the lecture, the more likely you are to remember it. If you also try to make visual images in your head while listening, you will remember the information even better.
Straight after the lecture, go through it all in your head, recall all the key points, and write down as much as you can. Or better—record it and store it in your note-taking app.
This does not only work better in terms of learning, but it also forces you to train your ability to recall information. After you have written it down, you must use the information. Think about it regularly, and connect it to information that is already part of you.
This is the same strategy that allows the famous psychologist Jordan Peterson to remember so much of what he’s reading:
“People ask me how it is that I can remember all the things that I talk about extemporaneously when I’m lecturing, and the reason for that is because I’ve thought them through. … It’s kind of like I’m attaching little memory hooks to it in five different ways. And then I’ve got it. It’s part of me.”
5. Explain It Out Loud to Yourself
This is one of the best and easiest methods for auditory learners to learn effectively. Formulating something in your own words is how you solidify your understanding of it. If you do this, you also take advantage of the Feynman Technique which is one of the best learning techniques that exist.
The Feynman Technique is a learning technique that Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman developed and used himself.
This is how it works:
Pretend that you are explaining a concept that you’re learning to a child. Identify the parts of your explanation that you’re struggling with communicating clearly, and take note of gaps in your understanding of the concept. Then, read up about the concept again and try to simplify the explanation one more time. Repeat this until you can confidently explain the concept in simple terms—so simple that a 6-year-old can understand it.
To explain something in simple terms you have to understand it really well yourself first. When you try to explain something you don’t fully understand, your explanation is likely to be quite vague. A child wouldn’t be able to understand that.
To explain something in your own words, you are forced to really think about it. This is why the Feynman Technique is so effective. It forces you to grasp every single little detail of it since that is what is needed to explain it in very simple terms.
“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” —Albert Einstein
6. Engage in Conversation With Others
Auditory learners are often more comfortable participating in group conversations than people with other learning styles. Talking about the topic you are learning in a group with others will also deepen your understanding of it.
This has very similar effects as the previous strategy I explained. Explaining what you’re learning—whether to yourself or others—is one of the best ways to solidify the knowledge in yourself.
Talking to real people is often even better than when you’re just practicing explaining something for yourself. When you’re in a group conversation, you are under pressure to formulate your thoughts and articulate yourself well. And this really puts your understanding of the topic to the test.
There is another reason why engaging in conversation with others would help. Hearing others explaining something in their own words can help you understand the subject better, especially if you find it difficult to read about it.
As you can see, there are plenty of methods and techniques that allow auditory learners to learn effectively. With all the technological tools we have today, we can almost say that we’re living in the golden age of auditory learners.
However, viewing something from multiple different angles and perspectives have several times been confirmed by science as an excellent way of grasping a topic thoroughly.
So, even though you’re an auditory learner, you will get the best learning experience if you use a range of different techniques, including those that are not directly targeted for auditory learners.
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