Finding Your Own Learning Style

Everyone has their own style for learning how to do something. It could be a job skill, how to care for their lawn, hobbies and crafts, etc. Each individual has a preferred way to learn, a way that helps them see how things are done clearly and makes sense in their minds so they can get the job accomplished. Do you know your preferred learning style? Here’s a simple exercise to help you find your style by the way you interact at a party. You are surrounded by people who look, act, and speak differently from you. Which one of these situations would apply to you?

  • Do you sit back, observe, listen carefully, take your time, and learn from watching what others say and how they act?
  • Do you ask yourself questions and make guesses about what is going on based on what you see and hear?
  • Do you wait to say something until you are pretty sure you will not make any errors?
  • Do you experiment with things you have learned in other situations in an attempt to communicate in this new situation?
  • Do you wish you could see the new words you are hearing in writing?
  • Do you jump right in and begin talking to the people at the party and sharing in the activity even if your language is pretty minimal?

Each of the above questions represents a different learning style. Language learning styles are the general approaches that we use to learn a new language. Each of us is unique and learns in the way that suits us best. However, by being aware of how we prefer to learn and of other possible ways, we may be able to capitalize on our strengths to improve our weaknesses. There are no right or wrong answers to the above questions, there are just different ways people learn through interaction.

Let’s use a few more questions to break things down a little more and identify your preferred learning style. Ask yourself the following:

  • Do I focus on details or on the “big picture”?
  • Do I have a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic preference?
  • Is my preferred style more abstract, random, and intuitive or is it more concrete, organized, and sequential?
  • Is language learning a game or a task for me?

How Do You Learn?

Learning can be broken down into seven major categories. Once you identify which category you belong to, you will be able to enhance your language learning capabilities and see some amazing results.

  1. Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  2. Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  3. Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  4. Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
  5. Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
  6. Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  7. Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

Intuitive or Sequential?

Once you’ve figured out how you learn, the next thing is, how do you prefer your lessons?

Intuitive learners prefer to jump right into a new situation and accomplish what they’ve set out to do. They like to figure out the main principles of how the language works without benefit of the rules.

Sequential learners prefer to learn in a set order, slowly and steadily. They like to be told facts about the language and learn from lists and charts.

A Game or a Task?

Learners who look language it as a game prefer open–ended communication. They don’t worry about making mistakes or paying conscious attention to what they are learning. They enjoy learning and any obstacles are seen as a challenge to overcome.

Other learners approach language learning as completing a task; they prefer to plan and organize their learning and then evaluate what they have learned. Sometimes critical of themselves, they prefer to make sure they know their lessons thoroughly before moving on.

Find Out For Yourself

If you’re interested in seeing for yourself what your learning style is, you can fill out an online questionnaire that determines your personal learning style. It has 70 questions that will then calculate your results and give you a better understanding of what your style is, and you can go from there. A series of different learning styles will be posted here so you can find how to use any language method to fit your needs.

Languages Are In Demand

Do you speak another language? In nearly every field and profession, from financial services to sales, there is a growing need for multilingual candidates. Any company that has offices and clients throughout the world seeks employees who can speak languages such as Russian, Arabic, German, Spanish or French.

You don’t have to be a highly trained professional in the job market, either. Even new graduates who are fresh out of school and conversational in a second language are finding that they have an extra edge during job interviews. While bilingual skills aren’t always required to land good jobs, many companies prefer to hire candidates with this added skill.

Now , before you go into your boss’ office demanding a raise, do your homework. In some jobs, it’s the position, not the employee, that is considered bilingual. Even if you can carry on a conversation in another language, companies will want to test you to be sure you can fully and effectively communicate the policies and technical terms of the business. The tests may be written or oral, and the materials may vary between employers.

The Demand Is There

Whether companies are conducting business overseas or trying to grab a larger market share at home, employers are always looking for bilingual workers, or people with the ability to speak and communicate in more than one language. I did a keyword search on CareerBuilder.com using the words “bilingual”, “multilingual” and “language”, and I found more than 4,500 job postings seeking applicants with some sort of foreign language skill.

In the United States, Latinos account for half the nation’s population growth since 2015, thus making them the largest minority group according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So if you are bilingual in English and Spanish, you are particularly in demand throughout the Southwestern states and Florida.

On the West Coast of the United States, you’ll find Japanese and Chinese are highly sought after languages. In the larger cities, such as New York, Chicago, L.A., etc., you’ll encounter languages such as Arabic, Russian, Hindi, Italian, and more.

Speak Up!

If you can speak two or more languages with equally (or nearly equal proficiency), tell employers up-front that you have this ability. If they do not have an immediate need for your linguistic capabilities, they are likely to see your fluency as an added benefit and asset in the hiring process, and it may encourage the company to expand their demographics.

In your CV/resume, mention your language skills in your cover letter or skills summary. List each language, including English. Be honest, though. If you just had a couple of semesters of a language in high school or college, use the phrase “knowledge of…”. Never overstate or understate your expertise.

The bottom line: Being bilingual literally pays off, use it to your advantage.