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Auditory learners prefer listening instead of silently reading about a topic or looking at a diagram

Many factors remain unknown at the beginning of each school year until you start carrying out your lessons. One important detail relates to students’ ability to learn new concepts. Understanding learner variability can help teachers tailor their lesson plans to individual students.  For instance, some students learn more easily when they move around, which is known as kinesthetic learning. Likewise, others prefer listening instead of silently reading about a topic or looking at a diagram. This is known as auditory learning, one of the styles included in the VARK model theory on learning styles.

Also known as aural learners, these students typically prefer receiving information verbally. They also might enjoy a read-aloud in class or following the text with a recording. Plus, they tend to perform well in group-learning situations. The following information will help you identify your auditory learners in the classroom and at home and equip you with some ideas for activities and instructional strategies that’ll help these students succeed.

How to Identify an Auditory Learner

As you dive into your lessons, you might make some observations about the way students learn. If you notice that some students best understand directions that are spoken or read aloud to them, they might be auditory learners. Plus, you’ll see these students reading aloud to themselves even in a low whisper or at least moving their lips as they go. Furthermore, they retain information, like song lyrics, a nursery rhyme, or a poem, that they have heard and are anxious to recite or explain. Additionally, they’re more likely to request a repeat of the instructions to clarify the task.

Auditory Learning Strategies for Teachers

Keeping the traits of auditory learners in mind, there are numerous ways to build sound, music, speaking, and listening into your daily instruction. Here are a few tips.

1. Incorporate Music Into Lessons

If you’ve ever heard a song or an instrumental tune that’s so catchy that you can’t get it out of your head, then you may have stumbled across an effective instructional method. Auditory learners pick up on and retain information more easily if it’s presented with music incorporated.

As one illustration of building music into your class procedures, younger students can sing or chant “Clean up, clean up everybody everywhere…” while putting supplies away.

In another example, literary devices such as poetry techniques, mood, and theme can be passed on through songs. Such a lesson would also involve critical thinking and analytical skills. And, of course, incorporating motions, clapping, and chanting helps students to remember concepts more easily.

2. Read Out Loud or Include the Audio Book

You’ve probably seen how reading aloud to students at the elementary level and pausing to make predictions about the story proves to be a valuable strategy. Just the same, at the secondary level, students can use audio versions of their books to follow along as they read. With fiction and poetry, especially, hearing another person expressing emotion and changing their tone helps with comprehension and facilitates analytical skills as students note a shift in the speaker’s tone.

3. Minimize Sound Distractions

Ironically, auditory learners need a quiet learning environment as much as they need to hear instructions. Since sound stimulates the mind of an auditory learner, it can also easily distract them.

Therefore, you’ll need to arrange a space where a student can have some quiet study time. This could be an area of the room where there are no windows (think about how a bird’s song could draw the student’s attention). Or you can find a spot away from the doors since knocking or the sound of footsteps can distract a student.

Auditory Learning Activities

Additionally, you’ll find many activities that engage the auditory learners of your group and incorporate other strategies as well — from technology to collaborative learning.

Proofread to Me

Proofreading and editing a report can get cumbersome for an auditory learner who has to read it silently. A solution is to allow the student to read their paper aloud in a designated quiet area of the room, especially if the student doesn’t want everyone else to hear. Along the same lines, you can also allow the student to use the read-aloud feature of a word processing program. By hearing the paper’s flow, the student will pay more attention to sentence structure and punctuation and more easily be able to edit.

Teach the Class (or Show and Tell)

If you’re getting close to the end of a chapter, and it’s time to review, then you can ask students to work independently or in a group and choose a section or concept to “teach” to the rest of the class. For auditory learners, talking about the material facilitates learning and retention as effectively as hearing it. Plus, the entire group benefits from honing those public speaking skills.

Include a “Question-and-File” Space in Notebooks

While presenting notes to the class, you can instruct them to leave a space on the page where they take notes. The students can then use the space to summarize their notes in bulleted points, or they can write questions they might have about the topic. During the whole-class activity, you can pause to give them time to ask their questions and to share their summary list with the class. This helps you gauge their understanding as well. Likewise, students can also complete this activity in small groups.

Create a Song or Chant Using Notes or Textbook

When students synthesize what they learn into a whole new creation, they go beyond just the mere retention of information. They take their knowledge and apply it in a meaningful way that supports both their learning and that of others. Either individually or in small groups, the students can compose a song (or write lyrics set to a familiar tune) or come up with a chant using the notes, vocabulary, or any other information that’s presented to them to share with the class.

Thus, engaging auditory learners in your class involves more than simple lectures. While every student has unique needs, you can design or modify the activities to reach students that show a preference for this type of learning style. While there are better methods of teaching than using the learning styles theory, teachers can still use the theory to add variety and make learning more engaging for some students.  In time and with some degree of experimenting, you’ll see which strategies work best for your group and your instructional style.

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