Learning is an extremely important and personal experience for people of all ages. Years ago, there was an assumption that everyone learned new material the same way, but over time research has discovered there are actually a number of different learning styles and different ways that humans retain and process information.
The more you know about these different types of learning styles, the more prepared you will be to help yourself (or your children) learn a new skill, idea, language, or concept—no matter what the material may be.
What Are the 7 Different Learning Styles?
While every individual is unique and everyone processes information at their own pace and in their own way, research has discovered there are seven primary learning styles or categories that everyone falls into.
Here are the 7 learning styles:
1. Visual (Spatial)
As the name suggests, visual learners are those that learn best when they have an image or cue to help them process the information. They may also need to map out or write out their thoughts in order to really process what they are thinking.
These are some of the most common characteristics of visual learners:
- Have good spatial sense and sense of direction
- Can easily visualize objects, plans, and outcomes
- Like coloring, drawing, and doodling
- Have good color balance
- Are good at using maps and rarely get lost
For example, a visual learner in a writing class may process the information better by seeing a movie clip of how a film adapts the literature it was based on, instead of listening to the literature being read aloud.
You are a visual learner if: You prefer pictures, images, and mind maps to help you process information.
2. Aural (Auditory-Musical)
Aural learning is a unique type of learning style, but it is used to classify those who respond primarily to sound. Unsurprisingly, most musicians are aural learners. This is a learning style that isn’t often addressed in many schools because it can be hard to teach outside of music class. These are also individuals who respond best to things such as binaural beats.
- Find that certain music invokes strong emotions
- Enjoy listening to music in the background while learning
- Have a good sense of pitch or rhythm
- Often hear songs, jingles, and themes tend to pop in their head without prompts
For example, a song that helps you remember the alphabetical order of all the states is a way to tap into aural learning styles.
You are an aural learner if: You prefer learning through rhythms or tend to use clever rhymes to remember something.
3. Verbal (Linguistic)
Verbal learners learn best both under verbal instruction and writing. They typically excel with both. These learners are typically those that go into public speaking, writing, journalism, and debating.
- Express themselves in both written and spoken word
- Enjoy reading and writing
- Like tongue twisters and rhymes
- Has a large vocabulary and enjoys learning new words
For example, reading definitions of a word aloud or writing them down a few times, are ways for verbal learners to process information.
You are a verbal learner if: You need to read content aloud to learn something or prefer to have someone speak the information to you so you can process it.
4. Physical (Kinesthetic)
If you are someone who likes getting their hands dirty, then you are likely a physical learner. Physical learners are extremely animated and always need to be moving. They learn best by going through the motions of what they are learning.
- Notice and appreciate the physical world around them, such as textures
- Enjoys sports and exercise along with outdoor activities and working with their hands
- Tend to use and pick up on body language
- Enjoy making models or doing jigsaw puzzles
For example, if something is bothering you or you are trying to wrap your head around a concept, you would rather go for a run or walk than sit down and figure it out.
You are a physical learner if: You don’t learn something until you do it, and need to draw out your own diagrams or role play to learn new information. You may also be constantly in motion and speak with your hands.
5. Logical (Mathematical)
Most logical thinkers end up being engineers, mathematicians, or pursuing the sciences. This is because they have a very unique way of learning. They are the individuals who want to understand the reason behind content or skills and tend to enjoy games like chess and doing brainteasers.
- Classify and group information together to better understand it
- Perform complex calculations
- Create procedures for future use, after coming up with a solution to a problem
- Plan agendas and itineraries and even rank and number them
For example, those who prefer making a neat and organized list while studying and extracting key points from material for these lists are typically logical learners.
You are a logical learner if: You can learn something only when you understand the bigger picture, along with the logic, reasoning and systems behind that concept.
6. Social (Interpersonal)
As the name suggests, social learners are natural group workers. For students, these are the individuals that seem to be involved in every extracurricular activity. For adults, they are the individuals that like to be engaged with others, work on teams, and ask their peers for feedback in order to learn.
- Prefer to socialize after work or class
- Enjoy playing group sports
- Bounce ideas off of others and to work through issues in a group
- Listen well
- Are often trusted by others for their advice
For example, in school when teachers assign group projects, it is often a way to appeal to social learners.
You are a social learner if: You prefer to work with other people and find you learn best in groups.
7. Solitary (Intrapersonal)
Solitary learners are individuals who simply prefer to learn on their own and keep to themselves. In most situations, this is a learning style for socially introverted people—but not always. There are some people who are extroverts in social situations but prefer to be alone when they are trying to learn. They also tend to be concerned with goals and outcomes.
- Spend time on self-analysis
- Prefer to relax or travel away from crowds
- Think independently
- Journal, write, and record personal thoughts and events as a way to improve.
For example, someone who reads self-help books to develop a deeper understanding of themselves is often a solitary learner.
You are a solitary learner if: You need to sit alone and study by yourself in order to retain information.
How to Apply This Knowledge In Your Learning Routine
So, now that you know what learning style you fall under, what can you do with this information?
If you know what learning style (or styles) that you have, you can start applying this to your everyday life, even if you’re no longer in school.
While you can’t always ask someone in a meeting to sing a rhythmic song for you so that you remember the information better, you can start using these learning techniques in your everyday life to grasp concepts faster, better, and with greater ease. There is no wrong way to learn, and even if it may seem strange to others, you need to play to your strengths when trying to learn a new concept so that it really sticks.
By being more aware of how it is that you learn, you may find that you develop new interests, start retaining information from beneficial books better, or that you remember new names and pick up new skills even faster.
Watch the video below to receive more advice on learning from the founder of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani:
What’s your learning style? Share in the comments below.