Recruitment is an interesting aspect of education, with demographics affecting a large part of operational and educational methods. A fresh intake comes with its usual challenges of settling students and making them comfortable with the style and targets of their school, but attracting students is where the real challenge lies.
It seems obvious to say the way to success is to ‘be more visible and appealing’, but the steps towards business growth are pretty simple. Offering innovative, modern choices of study is one of the top considerations for the current student, with many looking at much more than academic credentials.
It’s likely that you’ll be aware of the idea that there are different ways of learning and that all of us will prefer different approaches to absorbing and holding onto new information. However, you may not be aware of all the different learning styles out there and you may not have given much thought to which works best for you. Whilst the terms used for each style, and even the number of said styles, can often differ slightly between different researchers and industry experts, this blog will provide you with an easy to understand guide to seven of the most recognized learning styles. It will also provide you with an insight into how you’ll be able to utilize them in language learning, and specific insight into how online learning can effectively engage all of them.
One of the most frequently used and well-known of the learning styles is that of the visual learner. This style favors the use of images, videos and well-presented notes that catch the eye. So this style is fairly self-explanatory and easy to grasp but what does that mean to us in language learning? How can online learning effectively engage the mind of a visual learner? When learning online, the very screen of your laptop, tablet or phone immediately becomes a visual stimulus with the right presentation of information. With the wealth of software available to us via the internet, online learning programs can now take advantage of tools that allow them to draw images in real-time, link the learner to relevant visuals and format information in a visually dynamic way rather than just listing information in a standard word document file.
Another one of the learning styles favors the use of audio elements like music, sharing information verbally and listening to notes rather than reading them. In other words, aural learners will benefit from a kind of language learning that frequently uses speech exercises and presents the majority of its information in audio form rather than dense pieces of writing. Cutting-edge online language courses are using live video and voice calls that not only allow for speech exercises but also allow for fully-immersive conversations versus the perhaps limited nature of voice recognition applications. Take a look at our blog here for more information on industry debates around such apps: Will Speech Recognition Apps Replace Teachers?
The physical learner can be a trickier learner to imagine. Does this mean that we need to have our students and employees dancing around to every part of the language syllabus? No, luckily, it doesn’t quite mean that. Of course, including some form of physical movement can be really effective for the kinaesthetic learner but it’s not always the easiest thing to implement. This kind of learner goes beyond the ‘show don’t tell’ concept by needing to do rather than being told or shown. In this sense, you need to allow the kinaesthetic learner to use a hands-on approach and to learn by practicing the task. For example, such an individual will most likely absorb information better when able to have a dialogue in English with someone. As previously discussed, online language courses can provide a uniquely-interactive learning experience in which kinaesthetic learners can excel in being able to do in live conversations rather than automated questions and replies.
The logical learner has a keenly organizational, numerical and puzzle-focused mind. Individuals with a preference towards this learning style may seem hard to engage in an area of training that is more word-based than number based. However, highly personalized online language programs can effectively appeal to a logical mind with its context-focused syllabus, which will make all of the difference in getting the most out of your language learning. A successful online language course will, if relevant, go far beyond covering the basics of English by providing lessons in mathematics, statistics, and vital numerical business processes. This high-quality personalization will not only engage the logical minds of your organization but will also provide you with the business context that will likely be most beneficial to the day-to-day running of your company.
The linguistic learner’s mind naturally attaches itself to words, written or spoken, and this style lends itself well to the learning of a language. Wordplay exercises like rhyming, mnemonic devices, and tongue twisters can be used to really engage the linguistic mind. There are also fantastic written resources available that allow an individual to find a copy of a text that they enjoy published beside a translation in their desired language. You can read more about such language learning techniques in our blog [hyperlink] 5 Activities That You Wouldn’t Have Thought of to Enhance Your Language Learning. [hyperlink] The personalized nature of specialist online learning courses can work closely with learners to put together linguistic exercises and activities in order to reach their maximum learning potential.
Another one of the learning styles favors a solitary learning environment. These kinds of learners are likely to be the kind of individuals who will take great ownership of their learning goals and shine in situations that give them independence in their learning. In many ways, online learning easily lends itself to the type of learner who excels when allowed to learn in their own company and with their own preferred way of doing things. With the impressive current accessibility of technology, we all have the opportunity to learn wherever we want to and with whoever we want to. Rather than having to attend a weekly language class in person, which can feel a little daunting to some solitary learners (although solitary learners are not necessarily introverted personalities), online learning can provide a very flexible environment in which individuals can be in full control of their learning experience.
The final of the seven widely-regarded learning styles is that of the social learner who learns most effectively when working with others. Whilst the previous section of the blog looks at the aspects of online learning that effectively cater for the lone learner, the experience of language learning online does not need to be a solitary one. In our technology-driven world, we are able to defeat the obstacle of distance and bring thousands of people together in mere minutes. In this sense, online learning can create a social learning environment that allows individuals to discuss and practice their language learning with all sorts of people from all over the world. In other words, those of us that prefer the social learning style can throw ourselves into language forums, as well as voice and video call sessions that will create an effective group learning environment for them to excel in.
Conclusions and final advice
At this point, you’ll probably be in one of three camps. One of the ‘camps’ being; you’ll be thinking eagerly about the ways to engage those around you via their varied learning styles or improving your own learning potential by thinking about your own preferred learning style. Another possible camp is the mindset in which you might be questioning the importance of all this information. Does it really matter that I know about these learning styles? Do they really affect a person’s language learning potential that much? Research in Cognitive Psychology shows that a person’s natural learning style is not simply a preference or an active choice made by the individual, but is in fact affected by chemical activity in different areas of the brain. The scientific research behind the concept provides us with visible evidence of the high levels of engagement in the learning process when individuals are utilizing their preferred learning styles.
Whether you’re looking into language learning for yourself or looking to implement a language learning program for a group of students or a team of colleagues, your best chances at success lie in finding a company that will be aware of and appreciates the need for personalization in learning. It’s also important to consider the idea that many of these learning styles can overlap with one another. For example, you could easily find an individual who considered themselves a solitary-visual type or an individual who considered themselves a social-aural type; all within your workplace. The possible combinations of learner types within one organization can be overwhelming and difficult to pin down when formulating a successful language learning program. With this in mind, you’ll want to find an online language learning program that can deliver highly personalized courses for all of the varied individuals taking part. Ultimately, it is vital that we as learners, employers, and teachers regard the differing learning styles of our own minds and those around us with great importance in order to reap the best career and business benefits.