The Auditory Learning Style

Student studying with headphones
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Do you prefer lectures over long reading assignments? Are you great at following verbal directions? Do you benefit from in-class discussions and receive great marks for class participation? If so, you may be an auditory learner.

Auditory learning is one of the three learning styles established by the VAK model of learning. In essence, auditory learners retain information best when it is presented through sound and speech.

Auditory learners generally remember what their teacher says and readily participate in class. They are good listeners and often very social, which means they can sometimes get distracted from the lesson by everything else going on in the classroom. Auditory learning methods range from studying with voice recordings to memorizing vocabulary words by inventing short songs.

Strengths of Auditory Learners

From kindergarten to calculus class, auditory learners will be some of the most engaged and responsive members of any classroom. Here are some of the strengths that will help them achieve success in the classroom:

  • Good at explaining ideas out loud
  • Knack for understanding changes in tone of voice
  • Skilled at oral reports and class presentations
  • Unafraid to speak up in class
  • Follows verbal directions well
  • Effective member of study groups
  • Gifted storyteller
  • Able to work through complex problems by talking out loud

Auditory Learning Strategies

Those with an auditory learning style like to speak and hear others speak in order to learn, but they may have trouble reading silently or staying engaged in a completely quiet classroom. If you are an auditory learner, try these strategies to improve your learning experience.

  • Find a study buddy. Team up with a study group or a reliable study partner and quiz each other on the content. Verbally reinforcing the information will help you retain it, especially if you have to memorize lots of details.
  • Record class lectures. Ask your instructor's permission to create audio recordings of class lectures. During class, focus your brain power on listening closely to the lecture. You'll process the information much better this way than if you try to jot down every word the teacher says. Later, you can listen back to the recording and take notes on the most important information.
  • Sit near the front of the room. Find a spot in the front row so that you can hear every word of the lecture.
  • Listen to classical music. Listen to lyric-free music while you study. (Music with lyrics may be too distracting.)
  • Participate in class discussions as much as possible. Talking about your ideas and voicing your questions will increase your understanding of the material. Encourage other students when they speak so that others feel just as comfortable as you do speaking in front of a group. 
  • Record yourself reading key terms and their definitions out loud. Then, listen to the recording while you walk to class, exercise, or get ready for bed.
  • Repeat facts with your eyes closed. This technique will help you focus your attention on the auditory process, rather than any other visual stimuli that might be in front of you.
  • Read assignments out loud. If you're given a homework assignment that involves reading a lengthy chapter, don't feel like you're trapped into a silent reading session. Instead, curl up in your room or another study space and read aloud to yourself. (You can even make it interesting by using goofy voices.)

Auditory Learning Tips for Teachers

Auditory learners need to listen, speak, and interact in order to learn. They are often social butterflies. Help the auditory learners in your class put their gift of gab to good use with these teaching strategies.

  • Call on auditory learners to answer questions.
  • Lead class discussions and reward class participation.
  • During lectures, ask auditory learners to repeat ideas in their own words.
  • Record your lectures so that auditory learners can listen to them more than once.
  • Allow any struggling auditory learner to take an oral exam instead of a written one.
  • Create lesson plans that include a social element, such as paired readings, group work, experiments, projects, and performances.
  • Modulate your vocal tone, inflection, and body language during lectures.
  • Allow students with an auditory learning style to listen to approved music during silent study periods.