Why is knowing your learning style important for your Italian?

Have you ever felt frustrated while taking an Italian language course? Have you ever experienced feeling lost amongst endless vocabulary lists, grammar rules, must-see Italian movies or audio lessons? A myriad of inputs, and nevertheless, that feeling of stagnating is still there?

Maybe you already know or perhaps not, but every single person learns differently. No secret recipe works for every learner of Italian. We are humans, very dissimilar one another and thus, we absorb information in a variety of ways.

If you feel or if you have felt a little bit like this, at some point of your Italian learning journey, it is likely that you have been using a studying method which is not ideal for you.

The thing is, every single person is born with a different learning style, hence, knowing what style suits you best, is crucial to learn how to learn Italian. Using the most efficient method for you is vital to make the most out the time spent with Italian (or anything else).

How many learning styles are there?

Neil Fleming, a New Zealand teacher, has divided people in three different styles of learning: a visual one, an auditory one and a kinesthetic one. The letter can coexist in the same person or one or two can be predominant. No need to say, knowing your prevalent learning aspect will pave your way to a more effective Italian language learning time.

If you want to find out what your personal learning style is, you should take the VARK test, designed by Fleming.

What are the characteristics of the three learning styles?

Visual (or spatial) learning style

The typical visual person is the one that won’t remember a person name, but would definitely remember a personal appearance. Visual students learn efficiently through mental visualization. This means that they need to visualize what they study, in the shape of an image or a graphic or by writing down words. Visual students would better retain an Italian grammar rule while reading, rather than when listening to it, for instance.

Auditory (or musical) learning style

The typical auditory person is the one that remembers the people appearance but skips their names. Auditory students retain what they listen to and, thus, learn efficiently through conversation and listening activities, such as songs or podcasts. Memorizing endless wordlists without writing them down shouldn’t be a big deal for them.

Kinesthetic (or physical) learning style

The kinesthetic person is one that does not remember a person’s appearance or what he says, instead, he reminds people for what they do. Kinesthetic students tend to learn through experience. Doing is far more important than listening or reading. Learning on the move (using role plays or simulation) is one of their strengths.

What are the most productive learning activities for each style?

visual learnersreading (books, newspaper) for expanding the vocabulary
using a solid textbook for grasping the grammar
using pictures to describe situations
making vocabulary lists
working in small groups
quite study place
auditory learnerslistening activities (Podcasts, music, Youtube videos)
methods e.g. Assimil or Pimsleur
learning in groups
learning though Tv series or Italian movies
kinesthetic learnersrole plays and simulations
learning on the move (e.g. through podcasts)
writing down on a notebooks or index cards the new words

Long story short, knowing how your mind absorb information, will allow you to design your very own Italian learning strategy. Using an approach which best suits your peculiarities, means that you will be most likely to maximize your linguistic potential and less likely to get bored, carrying out Italian learning activities that don’t suit you.

In my experience, the VARK test showed I am someone with a prevalent visual and kinesthetic learning style. This sums up my learning preferences: visualizing words, by writing them down, in the shape of lists. When learning German, jotting down and copying sentences helps me to magically memorize words with very very little effort. Well, this is me! As an Italian teacher, I have come across a great wealth of students with a surprising auditory style, who would learn anything just by listening to it.

No matter what is your learning style, the secret for an exciting Italian language journey is to customize, as much as possibile, your studying strategies to your potential.