As language learners, we all have our own unique ways of learning and acquiring foreign languages. However, sometimes we may find ourselves struggling unnecessarily while learning or just feeling frustrated with our progress. In these situations, it can be helpful to take a step back and reconnect to our learning preferences to optimize our language learning journey.
The Importance of Learning Preferences
Learning preferences refer to the ways in which each one of us prefer to learn and process information (languages, in our case). When we are able to understand our personal language learning preferences, we can tailor the experience to better suit our needs. That’s how we accelerate the language acquisition process. For example, some people may learn best through visual aids such as images, diagrams or videos, while others may prefer learning through audio, using music or podcasts. By identifying our learning preferences and leveraging them in our daily practice, we will feel more motivated and engaged along the process.
Identifying Your Learning Preferences
There are several ways to identify your learning preferences as a language learner. One effective method is to reflect on past learning experiences and determine which methods were most effective for you. When I think back of the time I was a piano student, I remember I absolutely loved doing ear-training exercises and music transcription. Maybe I have a preference for audio + writing? How would that look like applied to language learning? What about transcribing audio excerpts in my target language and then translating that into a language I know well? It turns out, that’s one of my strong personal preferences 🤓.
During the last months learning Thai, I’ve discovered that I really like listening to audios, transcribing audios, shadowing audios, and translating my transcriptions into English. The Thai online course I’m currently taking (Intensive Thai Course) has an audio exercise at the end of each chapter. And that’s always my favorite part! 😁 Now I can’t wait to get started with the Thai Listening Exercises 😃.
Each one of us has different learning preferences. What works best for me might not be so useful to you, and vice versa. If you don’t have the slightest clue about your learning preferences, you could try with one of the many learning style assessments available online. These assessments can help you determine whether you have a personal preference for visual, auditory, reading-writing or kinesthetic learning styles.
Incorporating Your Learning Preferences into Language Learning
Once you have identified your learning preferences, it is important to incorporate them into your language learning routine. Given I really like audio, I try to incorporate audio in my Anki cards. Listening to podcasts in my target languages is also one of my keystone activities. If you find out you enjoy visual input, watching videos and using charts and diagrams might help you make progress in your target language. Those who prefer kinesthetic learning, on the other hand, may choose something like role-playing exercises or interactive language learning apps.
It is also important to keep in mind that our learning preferences may change over time. What is giving you good results right now, might not work so well in the future. And that’s perfectly fine 🙂. For that reason, it’s useful to reassess our preferences and needs, and adjust our language learning routine and practices accordingly over time. Regardless of your personal preferences, incorporating a variety of learning methods can help you keep language learning fun and engaging, potentially preventing burnout and boredom.
Overcoming Learning Challenges by Connecting to Your Preferences
Identifying and incorporating our learning preferences can be a powerful tool in overcoming learning challenges. For example, if you are struggling to remember vocabulary in your target language, incorporating visual aids like flashcards or reviewing visual dictionaries can help you reinforce the meaning of the words. If you are struggling with pronunciation, listening to audio, doing shadowing or practicing with a language partner can help you improve your skills.
Having said that, keep in mind that language learning is a journey. Setbacks and challenges are a natural part of the process. However, by understanding and incorporating our personal preferences into our learning routines, we can overcome some of these challenges and continue to make progress towards our goals.
In conclusion, rediscovering our learning preferences as language learners can be a key tool in optimizing our language learning journey. By identifying these preferences and making them part of learning routines, we can accelerate our progress and feel more engaged and motivated throughout the process. To accomplish this, just make some time to reflect on your past learning experiences and/or take a learning style assessment to discover your unique learning preferences 😊.