Development & Awareness of Learning Styles
by Marjorie Rosenberg
article first appeared in the IATEFL Teacher Development SIG
Newsletter, Autumn 2001
since joining the Teacher Development SIG of IATEFL, I have
often found myself explaining to both colleagues as well as
those outside the teaching profession what I understood under
the rubric "Teacher Development." The term seems
to crop up consistently in teacher training courses, in journals
devoted to the teaching profession and at international conferences.
Therefore I was fascinated by the opportunity to become personally
involved with pre-service teacher development in an entirely
new and exciting manner.
autumn 2000, we introduced a new subject called "Pädagogische
Fachsprache" (the specialized language of pedagogy) at
the Pädagogische Akademie des Bundes in der Steiermark
(a state teacher training college in the federal state of
Styria in Austria) where I am an instructor of English. In
this class, which is held in English for all students regardless
of their majors, we teach the English language as it relates
to topics of general pedagogical interest. Teacher trainees
learn vocabulary and structures which enable them to discuss
the latest trends in teaching and learning. Through practical
classroom work they also experience up-to-date methodology.
The goal of the program is to brush up their English and for
them to gain self-confidence and feel comfortable using the
English language. Reading English journals from the teaching
profession, searching the internet for information and working
with a language portfolio are parts of the training whose
aim is to produce teachers who can communicate with colleagues
in the international world of education and are willing to
take part in international projects.
Basics of Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic Learning Preferences
one part of the program we concentrated on information regarding
the various theories of learning styles. We began by examining
some of the models presented by Dr. Raymond Swassing and Dr.
Walter Barbe dealing with modalities and their importance
in modern day teaching and learning. This lead us to the further
development of VAK (visual, auditory and kinesthetic channels
of perception) by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, the founders
of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. We filled out a questionnaire
designed to determine sensory preferences, analyzed eye movements
of different students, listened to their speech patterns to
find out if they preferred visual, auditory or kinesthetic
predicates and examined the characteristics of the different
learning styles. After a demonstration of Michael Grinder's
"Teaching - Re-teaching" model" (Righting the
Educational Conveyor Belt, Michael Grinder, Metamorphous Press,
1991) the students had to create their own models and demonstrate
them to the class. We had some fascinating presentations dealing
with teaching primary school children to spell simple words
in English, working with word recognition and connections
of words and pictures, presentation of basic math structures,
etc. The students greeted this information with great enthusiasm
and found that much of what we did in our class could also
be directly applied to their own situation as learners. Some
of the comments found in reflection papers written by the
already knew I was visual, because I always knew exactly where
things were printed that I needed to learn. I knew if they
were on the right or left part of the page. I also like to
get handouts and now I know why. I just love photos and taking
them is one of my favorite hobbies. I also remember most of
the time what people wear." (Dagmar Esther Gumhold)
learned many new things about myself. Now I know that I am
a visual and kinesthetic person. I have a very photographic
memory and remember nearly everything which I have seen. I
really like handouts with nice pictures and everything has
to be written down for me. I am also very kinesthetic. I remember
things I have done. I learn by doing! I like to walk around
in my flat to get ideas." (Irmgard Göritzer)
am a visual and kinesthetic learner. I learn by watching.
I remember things I have seen, I have a good memory for faces.
I need to have things written down if I want to remember them.
I often use high-lighters when I read texts. On the other
hand, I also learn by using my feelings and intuition. I remember
things I have felt and I learn best from a teacher I like.
I need to have at least one good friend with whom I can discuss
my everyday problems. I often take criticism personally and
social contacts are important to me." (Petra Supanz)
test I took showed that I am an auditory and kinesthetic learner.
At the beginning, I didn't believe this but now I am sure
it is true. It is very important for me to learn alone in
a room. I can't learn outside because there are so many things
and animals around that distract me. It must be silent. I
always speak and learn loudly. When I don't understand a topic,
I discuss the problem with another person. I also need to
be active which reflects my kinesthetic learning style."
learned a lot about my learning habits and which type of learner
I am. Now I know that I am a visual learner and I know which
methods to use to help me learn more effectively. I am very
happy when I get pictures and handouts during a lesson because
I can more easily store the information in my head. I learn
by seeing and have a photographic memory. I also like to read
things on the blackboard or on the overhead projector. I also
use coloured pencils and highlighters when I learn."
am a visual type. I can't concentrate just by listening -
I must write everything down in order to remember. I have
a good memory for faces and make pictures in my head. If the
room is too loud I have troubles learning." (Katrin
am not very visual, I am mostly auditory and kinesthetic.
I need to talk to myself when learning and also need to try
things out for myself." (Tina Berse)
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