Individual learning styles, preferences, and strategies

A bit off topic, but my research for a paper in linguistics a long time ago shows that different people have different ways of remembering things. Most, however, share the preference for visuals. Some through actions (doing it, including writing things down or walking while reading). Some by listening.


and a quiz is here


I love this book for its scope, depth, and deep determination, but prefer to stick to using mainstream terminology. :rofl:

Question 4: When you see the word “cat,” what do you do first?

  1. Picture a cat in your mind
  2. Say the word “cat” to yourself
  3. Think about being with a cat (petting it or hearing it purr)

The quiz I used (over 30 years ago) have the fourth option: See the word ‘cat’ in your mind. The quiz is to determine foreign language learners’ vocab learning styles.

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This particular version is for learning styles in general for school students, and it’s not 30 years old cos it talks about storing phone numbers on your phone. .
I find I am a visual learner, but I knew that already!

  • Visual: 50%*
  • Auditory: 25%
  • Tactile: 25%
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Hmm, I did the test, but it then asked me to fill in my personal details, which I declined. So I guess I’ll never know the results.

I think I had eidetic memory when I was a teenager (my mum said she was called in to school once because the teacher was accusing me of cheating on an exam). I was forced to sit for the exam again under strict supervision, and apparently I was able to regurgitate entire class lessons from memory. After that, I had no problems, although the teacher specified in future exams I wasn’t allowed to quote verbatim from class notes as my answers. So learnt to vary my answers and rephrase things, which turned out to be a useful skill later in life.

I remember the way I did it was if I could recall an aspect of a specific page in my notebook, maybe from a crease in a corner or a specific smell from a food stain, then I was able to visualise and recall the entire notebook and hence it was like cheating - I am simply copying off a notebook I can visualise perfectly in my mind.

Another method is just repeating something out loud. I can still recite pi this way, by listening to my inner voice pronouncing the numbers: 3.141592653589 …


Most people are visual.

In terms of language learners, the second highest score is important as learners can then use techniques that help them remember vocab according to their inherent preferences.

Most language teachers score high on ‘visual of written words’. Yours truly included. I guess @Christie could belong in the same category. I can remember whether something is on the right or left page, top or bottom… Also can remember the ‘scene’ when the teacher said something.

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How are these even the same thing?

  • Read about it or listen to someone explain it

According to my research (if my memory serves me right), they are different learning techniques in the linguistic field. To be more specific to language learning,

Listen to someone explain it = auditory

This is a usual response for native speakers to their mother tongue. However, some learners of both contents and languages who are auditory will benefit greatly if someone reads the material to them, or listens to their own recording.

Read about it = could be either visual of written forms or activity.

The reaction (in nano-second) to a word they hear could determine which. For instance, if someone says the word ‘pizza’, what is your nano-second reaction? Seeing the spelling ‘P i z z a’ or your mouth waters.

The key is that in order to be tested, you need someone to read a list of words that you haven’t seen (= you don’t know what to expect) but that consists of all the words that you know (so, no guessing is needed).

This test is a good tool for teachers as well as for adult learners. A pity it was in a book or a printed article 30 years ago…

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mouth watered!

I’ve had a few conversations around the way we think/learn lately. Apparently when some people think they see the thoughts as words, as in actual letters. This blows my mind, but I believe it’s the norm. I will either see or feel (in a tactile sense) a lot of my thoughts, though there is an inner dialog. It’s more like a movie going on.
The receptionist at my physiotherapist heard I was going on silent retreat and confided that for her it would be ‘really silent’ as she only thinks in pictures. There are lots of pictures and always songs playing for her. For both of us we find it takes a long time to read books, for that reason.


They say one doesn’t really master another language until one starts “thinking” (or having dreams) in that language. So language does constrain and put shape to how we think.

I have lucid dreams, so I am able to monitor how I think. A lot of time it’s not words, but feelings, and emotions, some of which I can’t really express in words. And of course visual, but also the other senses as well. I often have dreams that are musical, either me listening to a piece of music or composing music.

I have woken up and discovered I can play a piece of music I have composed in my dream. But I have to reverse-engineer the notes, as what I am hearing are not notes on paper, but actual harmonies and melodies.

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It is a norm for certain types of people. Most non-native speaker teachers of a language are like that.

That is of a different issue from the learning styles discussed here. That shows how one has internalised another language. However, this doesn’t indicate the (high or not) language skills one possesses.


For students who are still taking the Pali course, I’m curious how you’re approaching the reading passages – right now as I write this we are in Lesson 16. Do you plan to keep writing out English translations on a separate sheet of paper (virtual or hard copy)? As these reading passages get longer, I’m wondering what the learning style should be. (Or for anyone who is using Warder’s book.)

Thank you


I think it’s a very good idea to write out your translations of the Pāli passages, Beth. Better to do them in a Word doc or similar, rather than on paper, in my view. Then they are easier to save and you can always go back and amend them as your Pāli knowledge grows. But, everyone has a different learning style - do what works for you.


First I read through a couple of times to test how much of the story I can just read; I get a little bit more with each go. Then I look up some keywords and try to understand better. I don’t worry about how successful I am at doing this because I know that it’s training my foreign language reading skills and laying a foundation for actual reading experiences in the future.

Then, I do what John says, because this refines my grammatical knowledge further, allows me to answer questions in class and provides material for revision going forward.


I’ll write out (with ink on pulverized tree fibers) a word-by-word gloss a bit similar to Bhikkhu Bodhi’s book (using the DPD as necessary of course). Usually this “intermediate representation” is enough for me to figure out the meaning (i.e. how I would word it in more fluent English) as well as to provide some training wheels to support my understanding as I go back and reread the passage a couple times in the Pāli.


I think the technique of repeated reading is really good. As I understand it you spend time rereading texts that are easy to develop fluency, rather than always pushing into texts that are going to require new learning.


Repetition is very very important; thanks for this link.

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As I understand it’s not just the repetition, but repetition below your challenge level. That you are repeating things you already can read. Kind of like how children will reread the same book countless times.