Whether you’re new to homeschooling, have been homeschooling for a while, or you’re learning how to help your children (or yourself) learn, you’ve likely encountered the verbal learning style. This learning style has to do with how people interact with words in general—spoken, written, or read. It’s also called the read/write learning style or the linguistic learning style. As you learn more about learning styles, remember to keep a broad perspective about how learning works. If you believe you’re a verbal learner or your child is a verbal learner, use the strategies and activities you’ll find here to expand on what you would already do to teach. But try not to make them the only options you use to teach your children. Using multiple learning strategies is helpful regardless of your learning preferences. If you’re looking for the best ways to engage a verbal learner, keep reading.
What is a read/write, linguistic, or verbal learner?
Neil Fleming, who developed the VARK classification system for learning styles, introduced the read/write learning style as the style that preferred the printed word for learning and conveying information. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences includes linguistic-verbal or verbal-linguistic intelligence, which describes people who can use words well when writing and speaking. Over the years, these two terms have morphed and combined. In general, they refer to the same type of learner: someone who prefers learning through reading, writing, and spoken communication. The emphasis of the verbal learner is the act of communicating through words.
Are verbal learners also auditory learners?
Because verbal learners process and retain information that they’ve read, written, heard spoken, or have spoken themselves well, a verbal learner and an auditory learner may have similar preferences for learning. However, their learning preferences aren’t identical. An auditory learner tends to have high auditory memory that is not confined to the spoken word. Auditory learners may demonstrate strong recall for spoken instructions, musical notes, and other sounds that help them associate information together. Verbal learners deal specifically with language.
Characteristics of Verbal Learners
- Have good memory for the spoken or written word
- Learn well in learning environments without a varied approach
- Benefit from discussing concepts or reading notes about material aloud
- Understand how to take good notes—often without being taught or reminded
- Retain information that has just been read
- Enjoy reading silently and/or reading aloud
- Can learn and perform well simply from reading information and discussing it
Some may say that verbal learners don’t do well with visual learning tools or may struggle to understand infographics. While people who prefer verbal learning may be predisposed toward certain learning methods—such as listening to a lecture, reading information, taking notes on information, or discussing information out loud—that does not mean they can’t or won’t succeed at another type of learning method. Different learners may have multiple learning preferences and may do well with both verbal learning methods and visual learning methods.
Advantages for Read/Write Learners
- Read/write learners tend to do well in lecture-style classes, especially when the teacher uses reading assignments and lectures from a PowerPoint with note-taking opportunities.
- Verbal learners don’t tend to require unique teaching approaches.
- Because they prefer reading, they may also have well-developed reading comprehension skills.
- Verbal learning strategies work in most situations.
- Verbal learners often learn note-taking skills quickly or automatically.
- Read/write learners can be good test takers.
- Verbal learners can be natural independent learners.
Because the verbal learning style is often the default for teaching methods, verbal learners rarely experience significant disadvantages. The lecture style is the most popular style of teaching, and read/write learners can easily take notes, follow along, and complete any required reading. A couple of potential disadvantages may include not being able to take necessary notes in hands-on or laboratory settings or finding lecture-style teaching to be boring over time.
Engaging Your Linguistic Learner
Just because a verbal learner may prefer learning in a read-and-lecture style doesn’t mean they’re automatically engaged in a lecture. Lecture-style teaching can become boring, especially if the subject matter lacks variety, isn’t engaging, or doesn’t interest your child. You can help your students stay engaged with a few learning strategies just for them.
Read/Write Learner Strategies
- Use minimal PowerPoint slides. Note-taking is an important learning strategy for verbal learners, and they will benefit more from a PowerPoint presentation that doesn’t include everything the teacher is saying. It’s tedious and pointless to write a long slide down word-for-word. When taking notes, give your verbal learners opportunities to put the information they’re learning down in their own words.
- Assign reading or extra reading. Verbal learners tend to excel with the written word. Give them more reading material that helps them process what they’re learning about. You might do this by assigning living books along with textbook material or by giving them a short biography to read alongside their lessons.
- Have them teach a sibling. Reteaching the material or teaching material from last year to a sibling is a great way for a verbal learner to review information they’ll need for their own learning. This approach requires them to read and repeat information and often paraphrase it so their sibling can understand better.
- Have them take notes in their books. Book lovers often have contradictory opinions about writing in books, but read/write learners often benefit from taking notes right on the pages that they’re reading. This gives them a direct connection between what they read and what they learned.
- Have them practice memorization with rewriting. While tedious in excess, when used in moderation, rewriting material can be a powerful tool for read/write learners to memorize important information.
Verbal Learning Study Tips
- Take notes. Whether typing or writing things out by hand, you’ll often remember information better simply by taking notes on it, even if you don’t review those notes.
- Rewrite and paraphrase. Rewriting can be a powerful tool for learning information, but paraphrasing is also helpful for recall. When you put information into your own words, you’re showing yourself that you understand it and can use it when you need to.
- Read aloud. Converting written words to spoken words will often help you to remember it. Reading your textbooks or notes aloud to yourself or to someone else can be a great way to study.
- Create mnemonic devices. Mnemonic devices mix similar sounding words or words that begin with a certain letter to help you remember information. For example, if you’re trying to memorize the US presidents in order, the mnemonic device “John and Jack caught a Bear with a Hairy Tie” can help you remember John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, and John Tyler.
- Summarize. Practice writing summaries of general information or background information that you’re learning about. A quick, written summary of events can give you context for dates or vocabulary words that you’ve memorized, adding meaning and importance to them and making them even easier to remember.
Read/Write Learning Style Activities
- Writing projects. Writing assignments take time, but they are one of the most helpful activities for your read/write learner.
- Lab reports. Verbal learners may not always benefit from a hands-on activity, but adding a lab report or quick written component to their lab activity gives them a place to summarize and explain what they learned, how they can improve, and what they’d like to try next.
- Role play. Role activities give kids a chance to act out information and talk about it in new and different ways. These activities often make them put it into their own words as they pretend to be a soldier giving commands for the next phase of the war or act out being a news reporter going over current events.
- Participate in a writing challenge. You may have local opportunities for writing competitions that your student could participate in. Or participate in a national activity, like NaNoWriMo.
- Presented reports. Presentations often include all the components of a read/write learner’s characteristics: writing a report, organizing notes, and explaining or reteaching information to another person.
How does your homeschool curriculum choice matter for your verbal learner?
Does your homeschool curriculum choice matter for your verbal learner? It may depend on your child. Because verbal learners may excel at reading and writing and have strong reading comprehension skills, a homeschool curriculum that uses simple sentences might not work well. The writing may not be challenging enough for them. Alternatively, even a strong reader may feel overwhelmed by a curriculum that is heavily reading intensive and doesn’t have many pictures to break up the text. Choosing a curriculum that is on your student’s reading level and includes an appropriate amount of visual appeal will help your student learn better and more consistently. Check out BJU Press textbooks to see how a multisensory learning experience can benefit your verbal learner!