How to Learn Chinese

What’s Your Learning Style?

Did you know that different people have different learning styles? To be clear, I’m not talking about study habits. Study habits are learning strategies or behaviours. What I mean by learning style is which of your senses you use most effectively in the learning process.

The basic senses that we use in the learning process are sight, hearing and touch. If you learn best by watching a video or demonstration (or maybe even reading a book) then you might be a visual learner.  If you like to listen to someone explain something, then you might be an auditory learner. But if you don’t really understand something until you actually do it, then you’re probably a kinesthetic or tactile learner. Or perhaps some combination of those three works best for you.

What does this have to do with studying Chinese, you ask. Don’t we all need to learn the four skills – speaking, listening, reading and writing? Well, that depends on your learning objectives, which is a subject for another post. But let me give you an example of how knowing your learning style can help you study Chinese more effectively.

How it works

I know someone who is a very strong auditory learner. When this person learned Chinese, she didn’t use a textbook for the first year or so. At the end of that time she was able to have long conversations with her Chinese friends. She couldn’t read a sign in a shop window, but that was okay. Once she could speak fluently (her main objective), she started using textbooks to learn to read and to tidy up her grammar.

Another person decided that reading Chinese would be too difficult, so she just wanted to focus on speaking and listening, like the auditory learner in the previous paragraph. As this person struggled to remember words, it didn’t take long for her to realize that she needed to see things in order to learn successfully. Once she realized this and made the necessary adjustments with her teacher, her learning accelerated.

A really good classroom teacher will include things in their classes for all types of learning styles to help the different students in the class. At TenWest, many of our students study one on one with a teacher. When you are the only student in the class you can have a personalized Chinese course. Know your preferred learning style(s) and you and your teacher can really tailor things.

So what’s my style?

Although there are three basic learning styles, experts have identified other combination styles. Some add read/writing to the list of the basic three, others break it down into a total of 7 styles, as shown in the diagram.

To watch a short video about learning styles, follow this link. If you aren’t sure what your preferred learning style is, you can take this short assessment that not only helps you discover your learning style, but also provides some study tips based on your style.

For a free introductory online lesson, contact us today.

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