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Understanding the VARK learning styles

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Understand VARK learning styles
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Let’s develop our understanding of the VARK learning styles.

VARK. It is a mnemonic. Specifically, it’s an acronym. And it isn’t intended to be pronounced “Vee-Ay-Ahr-Kay”. It’s intended to be pronounced vark. Like bark, shark, or lark. Remember, mnemonics is about ease and speed. It isn’t always the case, or even achievable, but the whole point of mnemonics is to make things easier to remember; which in turn means that we can be quicker, more productive, and more proficient. In this instance, it’s quicker to pronounce vark than it is to say V.A.R.K. So, it’s called VARK.

Try it yourself
What does VARK stand for?
Understanding the different VARK learning styles
Who invented VARK?
How do you use the VARK model to teach or study?
The Mindfulness Mnemonics stance to understanding the VARK learning styles
Syncretism
A little lesson using VARK
Extra Study Aid
Summary

Try it yourself

If you really want to, try it. Pronounce VARK as if it were a single word, like bark. And then pronounce each individual letter, V.A.R.K. and see which way is quicker.

See, this is why it’s called vark; because it’s quicker.

What does VARK stand for?

VARK stands for:

Visual
Auditory or Aural
Read/write
Kinaesthetic

And it refers to a way of analysing the different learning styles of people. The theory is that every person better receives information in one of these ways.

In knowing this, one application of VARK would be that when you are teaching or coaching someone you tailor your delivery style to their preferred learning style. Then again, it may well be that you have highlighted that someone can improve their ability to receive information in one of these areas. So, in order to improve their abilities in that style you would conduct focused training in that particular learning style. Alternatively, VARK can be a useful tool for getting to know yourself and your own learning preferences.

Understanding the different VARK learning styles

What is Visual learning style?

Visual learning includes everything that you process with your eyes. Magazines, pictures, websites, videos, and posters are all examples of information that you process using your eyes. As long as the information is presented well, a picture could be all that a visual learner needs in order to fully understand a subject.

What is Auditory or Aural learning style?

Auditory or Aural learning is related to everything that you process with your ears. Radio, music, speaking, sirens, whistles, alarms, ringtones, and so on. Someone that is an aural learner is someone who is good at dissecting, identifying, absorbing, and analysing information using sounds and their ears.

What is Read/write learning style?

Read/write learning is simply about reading and writing. These learners best digest and process information when they can read and/or write it. So, it may be that they need a well written text like a book, or instruction manual to fully understand a topic. Or, it could be that they best demonstrate their understanding when they successfully write or type out what they know about a subject.

What is Kinaesthetic learning style?

Kinaesthetic learning is for the person that likes to be more hands-on and engaged. Kinaesthetic learners like to learn by doing. These learners develop and perform best through practise and repetition. That could be said for all the types of learning style of course; that it needs practise and repetition. But these leaners need to do the actual task at hand.

Who invented VARK?

Neil D. Fleming created VARK. Neil Fleming is a teacher from New Zealand. You can learn more about Neil and VARK on http://www.vark-learn.com

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How do you use the VARK model to teach or study?

Use VARK to teach

What came first, the chicken or the egg? The teacher or the student? Does it even matter?

When it comes to teaching or coaching VARK can be a really powerful and useful model to use. Because it is a quick and simple way for you to remember all these important elements of learning. So, when you are delivering a lesson or a session you can make sure that you have the resources and materials that you need in order to be able to cater for your student(s) and their learning styles. Then should they start to struggle you can adjust and switch to a different learning style to better suit them. The key to success, as with a lot of things, is about being prepared.

Use VARK to study

Do you know someone who is always watching TV? Playing computer games? Reading books? Writing stories?

Why do you think that is? Well, it’s very likely that they always do these things because they enjoy doing them, and it is probably linked to the way that they learn best.

So, if you find yourself always doing the same things, and never reading a book for example, or never trying a new activity then that could be simply because it is a learning style that you struggle with. This is a great way of identifying where you can make improvements to your knowledge and skills. It means that you can consciously dedicate time to studying and working on it.

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Mindfulness Mnemonics – A resource to improve, health, wellbeing, and performance.

The Mindfulness Mnemonics stance to understanding the VARK learning styles

Reality is, all of these learning styles apply to everybody. So, don’t get fixated on the fact that you, or someone else, demonstrated that they were more of an auditory learner than a read/write learner once. In order to learn anything successfully and proficiently you have to be flexible and you have to evolve and adapt. You have to change and you have to grow. Otherwise, you will just be repeating the same old things again and again and neglecting the other important areas of a subject or skill.

A good way to approach learning and practise then is that it is a lot like spinning plates. You get one going, and then you switch to another one, and then another one, and so on. And then eventually you will have all these different plates spinning at the same time.

So, as was stated before, if you are good at one style of learning like visual learning, then focus on getting better at a different type of learning like read/write or auditory.

Syncretism

On top of all that, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that, until you are actually applying all of these things you may well not being doing the thing you want to learn anyway.

Let’s suppose, for example, you wanted to know how to juggle.

Well you could watch a video of someone juggling, and that would fall into the VISUAL LEARNING category.

You could have someone verbally explain how to juggle to you, and that would fall into the AUDITORY LEARNING category.

Someone could encourage you to read a text about how to juggle and then you could write about it in your own words, and that would fall into the READ/WRITE category.

But, you wouldn’t truly know and understand how to juggle until you actually started doing it and could successfully juggle. And to do that, you have to apply and endure KINAESTHETIC LEARNING.

You have to actually try and do it, until you can do it.

A little lesson using VARK

I had to come up with something a little bit ‘out there’ so that a large number of people can try it out easily. So, what you are going to do is learn to count from 0 to 3 in Klingon. Yeah, as in the people from Star Trek.

VARK Visual learning style

Here are the symbols for Klingon, including the numbers 0 to 3. So, these contribute to the visual learning experience.

Klingon visual VARK learning style

VARK Auditory learning style

And here is the audio for how to count from 0 to 3 in Klingon. Courtesy of http://www.omniglot.com

VARK Read/write learning style

Again, here are the symbols of Klingon, including 0 to 3. So, you can use those to practise reading and writing.

Klingon visual VARK learning style

But, I’ll be a little bit more helpful. Here is the way to pronounce 1, 2, 3 in Klingon with a more literal pronunciation(Using English).

0 – pagh – pronounced “pargh”

1 – wa’ – pronounced “wah”

2 – cha’ – pronounced “cha”

3 – wej – pronounced “wedge”

Clearly the information you have here you can use to practise reading and writing.

VARK Kinaesthetic learning style

Now, this is the point. If you want to learn how to count to 3 in Klingon. Or learn anything for that matter, you have to do it. You have to physically and mentally pull everything together to make it work and make it happen. And no one can really do that for you other than you.

That is why in order to learn something you need to do whole package. You need all the parts working together in order to synchronise.

Extra study aid: Klingon Teacher

Here is a video by Klingon Teacher explaining how to count to 20.

Now this study aid obviously doesn’t fall into just one type of learning style. It falls into several: Visual, Auditory, Read/write. What it doesn’t really fall into is Kinaesthetic.

But you could argue that it falls into a kind of vicarious kinaesthetic category. Because you get to experience Klingon Teacher putting all of these components together in action.

Understanding the VARK learning styles summary

In conclusion, everyone has a unique relationship with all the elements of VARK. Everyone has their very own specific learning style. This is why it’s so important to be mindful of all these different elements when communicating with people; if you want to communicate effectively and successfully of course.

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