For many of us, our learning style was something we only really thought about when it came time to revise for our exams at school. We would find out whether we were a visual, kinaesthetic or auditory learner and be told 1 of 2 things – if we were visual or kinaesthetic we should make flashcards, and if we were auditory we should record ourselves speaking the material and listen back – or have someone else say it to us. This approach to learning styles in school is thankfully now evolving, but it does mean that there are people out there who aren’t sure what kind of learner they are, and how much influence their preferred methods of learning can have on their everyday lives.


Some key features for visual learners:

– Visual learners are all about imagery.
–  Prefer to use images, pictures, colours and maps to organise information and communicate.
– Will often draw diagrams or mind maps to help explain ideas.
– Very good at deciphering visual data like maps or graphs

To help visual learners retain information:

– Use images colours and other visual media.
– Highlight important points in the text.
–  Replace words with colours and images where possible.
– Turn data and information into charts, graphs, timelines and infographics.

Some visual learners do have some kinaesthetic traits as well, making them very good at visualising 3D objects from 2D drawings and assessing if they will fit into a space.


You can identify kinaesthetic learners because:

– Kinaesthetic learners are always moving or doing something with their hands.
– Very physical learners who retain information best when their bodies are involved.
– They prefer creating things, moving around, acting or taking things apart and putting them back together.

To help kinaesthetic learners retain information:

– Do activities while learning or revising – like walking, riding a stationary bike or jogging.
– Involve them in acting out or role playing the subject matter.
– Creative interactive activities for learning.


Some key indicators for tonal leaners:

– The complete opposite of the visual learner, focussed on sound instead of images.
– Tend to have a good memory for conversations, enjoy debates and discussions.
–  Often have musical talents and can usually pick up tones, notes and rhythms easily.
– On the downside, tonal learners can find it hard to interpret complex graphs as well as facial expressions and gestures.

To help tonal learners retain information:

– Discuss the material and read it aloud.
– Audiobooks are a big hit with tonal leaners.
– If audiobooks aren’t available, record yourself speaking the material and let them listen back.
–  Play music then revising or learning.
–  Write jingles or use mnemonic devices for complex ideas.

Audio Digital

The last learning type to discuss is one that’s often left out, especially at the school level. Most people know about the visual, physical and tonal learning styles, but draw a blank when I mention audio visual. Despite its name, audio digital learners are not particularly stimulated by sound, or in fact any of the senses.

Instead, audio digital learners will:

– Use phrases like ‘that makes sense’ ‘that fits the specifications’ or ‘that sounds logical’.
–  Audio digital learners are skilled at mathematical and logical reasoning.
– Usually, audio digital learners be gifted at maths (but not always) with an ability to work with complicated or abstract information.
– They love to classify information by making lists, agendas or itineraries.

To help audio digital learners retain information:

–  Encourage exploration and discovery of the methodologies and theories behind ideas.
– Use organised lists and groupings.
– Turn material into strategic mind games or challenges.

Of course, no one brain is the same and everyone learns in slightly different ways. Some people are a combination of visual and kinaesthetic, or tonal and audio digital.

Another way of thinking about your learning style and preferred thinking methods is in terms of the left-brain, right-brain and whole-brain. We don’t have time to go into this right now, but I do have another post planned soon about the different parts of the brain and how they relate to learning, so stay tuned for that! If you aren’t sure what type of learner you are or need some help understanding your learning style and how to embrace it, get in touch and I’ll be happy to help.


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