There are four types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, kinesthetic. Visual learners do their best when seeing, auditory love to converse and listen, reading and writing learners work best with texts and writing exercises, and kinesthetic learners need to interact with the material, be on their feet, and use their senses. How do you learn? It is important to note that determining what type of learner you are grants you insight into not only how you learn, but also where your weaknesses lie. This is will be a great tool to you when you are learning a foreign language, in this case Spanish.
Visual learners learn best by seeing and reading. You are attracted to colors, pictures, and graphs. As a visual learner, never neglect your eyes. Make sure you have your eyesight checked regularly.
The following are 10 tips to learn Spanish if you are all about the visuals.
If you are a visual learner, you should choose a teacher that reflects this. Teachers who not only use visuals, but who have a dynamic personality, use gestures, range in their tone of voice, and move about the classroom are the best option for you. Those who encourage visual ways of learning, without undermining the other components, would be a great match for you.
When I go to the movies, I always sit near the front. I also like sitting close to the board if I am in a classroom. When attending a conference or seminar, I sit in the first row as well. I’m a visual learner! If you are a visual learner you definitely need the best seat in the house! You need to see everything clearly, including any information that is written on the board. Don’t be afraid to look like teacher’s pet ;).
If you are a visual, chances are you need to also sharpen your listening comprehension skills. However, unless you are an advanced Spanish speaker, listening to podcasts without transcriptions won’t help you get the most out of the audio exercise, and could potentially be a waste of time. If you are a visual learner, the transcriptions will add a good balance so that when you are feeling out of synch you have something tangible to hold on to. Watching videos could provide further visual context for you. The same holds true for music videos. Listening to music is a great way to learn Spanish, especially if you are a music lover, but make sure you have the lyrics to the song.
The trick to watching movies in a foreign language is to watch some of your favorite movies dubbed Spanish, or whatever language you are trying to learn. Like with videos and music above, watching movies will also help you to sharpen your comprehension skills.
Step outside of your comfort zone and go to a Latin American restaurant and order your meal in Spanish. Try that new salsa club or go to that bar and do some flirting (what a challenge!). Doing other things as simple as putting new vocab post-its on objects around your home—such as when you learn the parts of the house or the names for appliances—or changing the settings on your cell phone and computer so that you always have to see Spanish all the time, take little effort but make a huge difference. I generally change the settings on my email account to Italian, French or Japanese. It serves not only as a way to learn new vocabulary, but it is also a gentle reminder to do practice.
Some teachers will tell you not to write in your books. And some students don’t want to write in their books anyway. I have to disagree. The books are there to help you learn. If they are tidy and perfect, you are not using them enough. I write in all my language books. I also highlight, create post-its, and draw in them. I consider this to be part of the learning process. I also write and make corrections in my students’ books as well (oftentimes without asking first).
A journal is a great place to write all your thoughts, including your challenges and progress. I’ve seen tremendous progress in students who do this.
Get rid of any clutter that is interfering with your learning: books you don’t use, handouts from two years ago, folders to which you never return. Organize yourself so that you only keep one or two books for class (one main book and a grammar book, or one main book and a workbook, for example) and one notebook or journal. I keep one book for every language I learn and except for Japanese—because of all the mistakes I often make with the calligraphy—I don’t keep a notebook. Instead, I simply write in all my books, workbooks, and handouts.
You need to keep track of new vocabulary, ideas, and concepts. As archaic as they might seem, the good old index cards are not a bad option for you, but fe However, be aware of mental clutter. You don’t need to know the name of every dish, every flower, and every animal at the zoo. Don’t overdo it.
It might sound esoteric, but you are good with visuals, so visualize. It is as simple as creating image association for new vocabulary, acronyms for new grammar (DÍA, for the conditional), or stories for the new concepts. You see, it is a lot easier than the picture shown ;0.
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Irma is a trained linguist, native Spanish speaker, and teacher. She is the founder and CEO of Diáfano.
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