Auditory learning style: definition and techniques

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What is auditory learning?

Auditory learning is the process of learning through speaking and listening. An auditory learner learns by sound so they need to be able to hear and vocalise information to be able to understand and retain it.

How to identify an auditory learner

An auditory learner might:

  1. Be able to recall information by simply hearing it
  2. Enjoy classroom and small group discussions
  3. Work better with sound in the background
  4. Remember experiences in detail
  5. Notice changes in tone in spoken words and use that to remember information, such as remembering a telephone number due to the different tones/sounds when it was recited to them
  6. Struggle to read independently in their head
  7. Be able to process and remember information without writing it down
  8. Need to hear information and then speak it to understand and remember it
  9. Like to discuss concepts that they do not immediately understand
  10. Look like they are not paying attention, when they have in fact heard the information without needing looking at the teacher or while doing something else
  11. Not need to make notes in a lecture
  12. Find that noise can be distracting
  13. Need more time to process the information if given a reading exercise
  14. Easily remember verbal instructions

What are the advantages of auditory learning?

There are many benefits to being an auditory learner, including:

  • Increased retention

By hearing something over and over again – perhaps via an audio recording – auditory learners can improve their memory retention

  • There are many sources available to support auditory learning techniques

Auditory learners can use the internet or apps on their smartphone to obtain and process information from podcasts and audio learning material

  • The ability to multitask while learning

Auditory learners find that they can listen and process information whilst doing another task. They don’t need to use their eyes or hands to listen and remember the information, so an auditory learner can listen to an audiobook while doing something else and still remember the information they’ve heard

What are the disadvantages of auditory learning?

There can also be downsides to auditory learning, such as:

  • The auditory learning style has limitations

In a classroom environment reading material is more common than listening aids, but without those listening aids it will be harder for the student to learn

  • Distractions impacting the learning process

The classroom environment can be distracting with so many people in one area, different sounds and different voices to listen to instead of focusing on the lesson or the tutor’s voice. If you use visual props to teach, it may be harder for the auditory learner to remember the information

  • Auditory learners can unconsciously disturb other learners

An auditory learner feels the need to read out loud, or in a classroom environment they might whisper. This can disturb other students who need to be able to concentrate in silence

Auditory learning techniques

Tips and techniques for auditory learners include:

  1. Use the audio voice recorder on a smartphone to record and playback information
  2. Use songs, rhymes and spoken repetition
  3. Auditory learners should study away from windows and doors where noise from outside might distract
  4. Use small group discussions to process information
  5. Read instructions for a test or project outloud
  6. Verbally brainstorm ideas
  7. Verbally describe diagrams and pictures outloud
  8. Read notes aloud
  9. Speak your answers to questions

Auditory learning styles and activities

There are a number of things you can do to encourage the auditory learning style with planned activities:

  1. Recite aloud the information you want to learner to remember and repeat it several times
  2. When talking to an auditory learner vary your tone, pitch, speed and volume
  3. Use ‘show and tell’ techniques
  4. Incorporate poems or songs into the lesson
  5. Encourage auditory learners to study with a friend so they can discuss and listen to each other
  6. Encourage debate about a topic you are learning about
  7. Use verbal games
  8. Use flashcards and speak out loud when using them
  9. Use the radio or television in lessons
  10. Ask students to talk about what’s in the news
  11. Encourage oral presentations
  12. Verbalise goals
  13. Read out loud to students
  14. Make sure auditory learners can hear well from where they are sitting
  15. Use musical instruments and sound recordings
  16. Use panel discussions