First theorised by Neil Fleming, the VARK model identifies four learning styles that everyone fits into: visual, auditory, reading and writing, and kinesthetic.
This idea is built on the fact that everyone learns differently, an auditory learner, for example, learns best when lessons involve talking and listening exercises.
But how do you identify an auditory learner, and what can you do to make your lessons more engaging for them?
To help you plan lessons that are suitable for auditory learners, including how you can use interactive displays to enrich lessons for those who absorb information best through talking and listening, we put together this guide.
This is our ultimate classroom guide to teaching students who fit into the auditory learning style…
For a full overview of the VARK learning styles, explore our Ultimate Guide to Learning Styles in the Classroom, available on the Promethean blog.
A quick recap on learning styles
Fleming’s VARK model helps students and teachers to understand different learning styles. It allows them to develop more effective study habits. But it is not the only model, nor is there a scientific consensus on the model’s validity.
The VARK model identifies four main learning styles. It posits that individuals have a preference for how new information and skills get absorbed and mastered.
The four learning styles, and what they mean in practice, are:
- Visual learners – they prefer visual learning through visual aids such as diagrams, charts, and graphs.
- Auditory learners – auditory learners focus on hearing or listening to lessons.
- Reading/writing learners – these learners are detail-oriented, preferring to read information and take notes.
- Kinaesthetic learners – a kinaesthetic learner is hands-on and learns best through experiential activities and moving around.
What is an auditory learning style?
If a student is an auditory learner, they will find it easier to understand new topics by listening to learning materials as opposed to reading them. Additionally, auditory learners will find it easier to retain information if they have had the opportunity to discuss it with their teachers and peers.
How do you know if you have an auditory learning style?
Reflecting on your own learning preferences is the best way to ascertain whether or not you are an auditory learner. Think about how and when you learn best and whether you enjoy auditory tasks, like debates and discussions.
Secondly, you may consider how you used to revise or study whilst in school. If you found it relatively easy to remember ideas and information shared during lectures or seminars without needing to make detailed notes, it’s likely you’re an auditory learner.
Traits of an auditory learner
Auditory learners may be more chatty and vocal than other learners, and you may find they ask more questions when you’re explaining a task to your class.
Here are a few characteristics that auditory may possess:
- They thrive in debates or discussions and enjoy participating in groups.
- Auditory learners learn by listening carefully, understanding concepts and ideas presented in a group discussion or during a lecture.
- They have good memories. Learners who can respond correctly to questions about the material in oral presentations are more likely to remember speech rather than written or visual material.
- They’re attentive during lectures, podcasts or audio presentations.
- They may struggle with written material or assignments may find that it is more challenging to read than it is to hear.
How to teach children with an auditory learning style
To engage aural learners and enhance their learning experience, you should look to incorporate the following speaking and listening exercises into your lesson plans:
1. Utilise audio materials
Auditory learners excel when they hear information presented in a clear, structured manner. You could, for example:
- Set your students the task of explaining key concepts and theories to one another at the end of a lesson rather than asking them to read information from a textbook. They could even do a mini presentation or draw diagrams on the interactive whiteboard.
- Teach auditory learners a history class that includes an audio recording of historical figures. Bring events and famous figures of the past into the classroom via radio broadcasts.
- Encourage participation and lively class discussions, but make sure you give everyone the opportunity to contribute.
- Incorporate relevant videos into lesson plans to engage both auditory and visual learners at once. These can be broadcast via your classroom’s interactive display to make the videos extra engaging.
2. Discussions and debates
There’s nothing an auditory learner enjoys more than being able to participate in group discussions and debates. To encourage conversation with your class, you could:
- Split students into groups to discuss different aspects of a particular subject or lesson. Encourage them to think critically about key ideas but set clear expectations to ensure that discussions stay on topic.
- Encourage various students to discuss the pros and cons of topics. You could even set up a mini debate between two opposing schools of thought and ask your learners to present their arguments as convincingly as possible.
3. Use mnemonic devices
Students and orators have utilised mnemonic devices for centuries to remember facts and figures. In a classroom environment, this may include:
- A maths class remembering their order of operations through the use of ‘BODMAS’ (brackets, orders, division, multiplication, addition, subtraction).
- Modern foreign language classes utilising songs and rhymes to help remember vocabulary or conjugated verbs.
- Science classes using acronyms, rhymes or songs to remember sets of information such as the colour spectrum and types of radiation.
Through an alternative approach to teaching auditory learners, you can help them engage more deeply with the curriculum and perform better on coursework assignments and in exams.
For guidance and advice on engaging with your students, regardless of their learning style, discover our favourite student engagement strategies in our blog.
How not to teach children with an auditory learning style
If you’re not an auditory learner yourself, you may find it more difficult to understand how to engage students who prefer this type of learning style.This can lead to students feeling disengaged or struggling to grasp new concepts which, in turn, can cause more widespread disruption amongst your class.
When you’re planning lessons, you need to ensure you cater for all learning styles. To keep auditory learners motivated and interested in your lessons, you should:
- Not rely on written materials only – providing appropriate textual references and notes is important for all students in a class. But children whose aural learning is dominant will encounter great difficulty through reading alone.
- Ensure that your lessons have a variety of resources – a lack of variety will cause learners to disengage and either become disruptive or withdraw from the learning process. Lectures and verbal explanations are not enough, you must include group discussions and debates.
- Encourage student engagement – auditory learners crave the opportunity to ask questions. They like to share their ideas and participate in discussions. Deny them this opportunity, and they will lose interest.
How to engage auditory learners of all ages
How to engage auditory learners in primary school
To challenge auditory learners and guarantee their engagement in lessons, you must plan interactive tasks and incorporate sound and discussions where you can. This could include:
- Storytelling and reading to the class from textbooks, magazines or newspapers.
- Incorporating songs and rhymes to help pupils memorise things, like the alphabet or the spelling of words. There are some great online videos that you can broadcast on your classroom’s interactive display, that will help to engage both auditory and visual learners.
- Encouraging debates and discussions, e.g. about sections of books and what they mean.
How to engage auditory learners in secondary school
In secondary school, as students face more complex problems, they are required to engage in critical thinking exercises. With this in mind, to engage auditory learners at secondary school, your lesson plans could feature:
- Dedicating time at the end of the lesson for students to debate and discuss what they have learnt.
- Q&A sessions – giving students the opportunity to ask you questions about a text you have read.
- Recommending podcasts to supplement what has been taught in class. This can be especially useful for revision.
- Presentation projects, either in pairs or individually, can help students to consolidate what they have learnt. Getting students up to the front of the class and presenting using the interactive whiteboard can help develop a number of skills, from public speaking to confidence.
Benefits of having an auditory learning style
This group of learners excels at verbal communication, often possessing language skills beyond those of their peers. They naturally develop the ability to articulate complex ideas and thoughts, effectively allowing them to think on their feet when presented with unexpected questions.
In many cases, they are sensitive to sound and music, giving them an appreciation and understanding of a variety of complex auditory and musical patterns and rhythms. You will find these students excelling in language classes, music, and in politics or law where there is a strong emphasis on debate.
How to plan lessons that accommodate auditory learners
To engage auditory learners, your lesson plans should prioritise speaking and listening tasks. You could encourage students to present to the class, discuss things in groups, play music, or create rhymes to help engage their memories.
Classroom activities for auditory learners
Incorporate music and song where appropriate and consider providing recorded lectures for later listening.
Use every opportunity to encourage group discussion whether through paired readings, group projects, experiments, or performances.
Encourage debate on contentious or controversial topics and take the opportunity to have learners put forth arguments for and against their natural judgement.
Often, articulating a contrary point of view or support for an argument that one does not agree with helps to broaden understanding.
Using technology to appeal to auditory learners
It’s no secret that technologies such as interactive displays and software are revolutionising the way we, as educators, deliver lessons. It’s now possible for teachers at all levels of the schooling system to create engaging, highly-effective course content in a fraction of the time it would have taken just a few years ago..
Auditory learners are just one of the types of learners who can benefit enormously from the inclusion of interactive technologies in lessons.
Screens with intuitive remote and proximity sensors allow learners to move around within the classroom without sacrificing the quality of the audio content presented.
Promethean’s ActivPanel has proven successful in the classroom environment for engaging auditory learners – featuring an integrated microphone to help you record class discussions to play back later, and front facing speakers for playing audio recordings and videos.
Ultimately, by providing an immersive and dynamic learning experience for auditory learners, we can make it easier for them to engage with course content and attain better overall grades in exams across the academic syllabus.
Auditory learners thrive in lessons that encourage debate and discussion, so you should enrich your lesson plans by empowering students to talk about what they have learnt and rewarding participation.
As well as working to understand and accommodate the needs of auditory learners in your classroom, you should plan lessons that benefit visual, reading and writing, and kinesthetic learners too.
Improving and maintaining engagement in the classroom can be tricky, which is why we’ve compiled a number of tips on the Promethean blog. Here, you’ll find advice and guides on how to engage shy students, how to monitor student engagement, and to enrich your lessons, experiential learning ideas for each subject.
Frequently asked questions about auditory learners
Can you have multiple learning styles at once?
You likely engage in a variety of learning styles throughout your life, but most people tend to learn towards one as their dominant learning methodology. That said, some people may have a secondary learning style, or the ability to absorb information through a variety of media.
Is it good to be an auditory learner?
Being an auditory learner is neither good nor bad, just like any other learning style. It is merely a point on a learning spectrum that is taken into account when educators plan their lessons.