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The auditory (or verbal) modality is the second most common learning style in the school setting (approximately 30%). As you have most likely already ascertained, the auditory learner processes information better by listening rather than seeing or doing. Auditory instruction is prevalent in classrooms that use the more traditional teacher-centered/lecture style. As stated before, students typically learn best through the use of multiple modalities but, as auditory instruction is so prevalent in classrooms, it is an important skill to develop. It is also important to identify students who have trouble following verbal instructions, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, those students who greatly benefit from auditory supports. For example, many students enrolled in special education greatly benefit from audio aides as a large percentage of these students have a below-average reading level. ELLs (English language learners) heavily rely on auditory cues and support as they learn to use the language in the school setting.
Read the below passage from Lincoln Land Community College and see if it helps you identify the auditory learners in your classroom:
"They talk about what to do, about the pros and cons of a situation. They indicate emotion through the tone, pitch, and volume of their voices. They enjoy listening but cannot wait to get a chance to talk. They tend toward long and repetitive descriptions. They like hearing themselves and others talk. They tend to remember names but forget faces and are easily distracted by sounds. They enjoy reading dialogue and plays and dislike lengthy narratives and descriptions. Auditory learners benefit from oral instruction, either from the teacher or from themselves. They prefer to hear or recite information and benefit from auditory repetition" (llcc.edu).
Strengths of Auditory Learners (Fleming)
- Good at explaining ideas out loud
- Knack for understanding changes in tone of voice
- Skilled at oral reports and class presentations
- Unafraid to speak up in class
- Follows verbal directions well
- Effective member of study groups
- Gifted storyteller
- Able to work through complex problems by talking out loud
Weaknesses of Auditory Learners
- Identifying pieces that make up a large concept
- Reading complex texts
- Understanding charts, graphs, graphic organizers
- Independent work
- Following written instructions
- Writing lengthy papers
- Traditional quizzes, tests, and exams
As auditory learners make up a larger percentage of lower-level academic students, it can seem a daunting task to help these students. In reality though, there are easy steps to take and supports to implement that greatly benefit not only auditory learners but your student population as a whole.
Auditory Strategies for Both Student and Teacher (Fleming, K & Helena, Lincoln Land Community College)
- Record class notes
- Use audiotapes and textbook audio software
- Remember details by trying to "hear" previous discussions
- Participate in class discussions and group activities
- Ask questions and volunteer in class
- Read out loud
- Repeat facts with eyes closed
- Ask questions
- Whisper new information when alone or describe aloud what is to be remembered
- Put information into rhythmic patterns, such as a song or poem
- Speech-to-text programs for writing
- Sound out words
- Talk through problems; paraphrase ideas about new concepts
- Talk about illustrations and diagrams in texts
- With new processes, talk about what to do, how to do it and why it’s done that way
- Call on auditory learners to answer questions
- Lead class discussions and reward class participation
- During lectures, ask auditory learners to repeat ideas in their own words
- Allow any struggling auditory learner to take an oral exam instead of a written one
- Lessons that include a social element, such as paired readings, group work, experiments, projects, and performances
- Modulate your vocal tone, inflection, and body language during lectures
- Allow students with an auditory learning style to listen to approved music during silent study periods (lyric-free)
One of the more prominent weaknesses that affect auditory students is the ability to follow, understand, and break down larger/complex texts. Below you will find an example of a lesson plan that I use in my Civil War unit when discussing the Gettysburg Address. Though this lesson is history-based, it can also be used in subjects such as English and foreign language when reading or dissecting lengthy and complex texts.
Lesson Plan Example
(1) APK (activating prior knowledge): On a half-sheet of paper, jot down anything you know about the Gettysburg Address (what it did, who wrote it/gave the speech, what it was meant to do). When done, quietly compare with your turn and talk partner.
(2) Call on or ask for volunteers to discuss APK.
(3) Lead the discussion to background information on President Lincoln and Gettysburg Address.
(4) Have students listen to the Gettysburg Address (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC4kQ2-kHZE). Use audio only, can shut off lights, and have students close their eyes for this step.
(5) Have students watch and listen to the same video, this time jotting down quick notes on people, places, dates, etc.
(6) Pair students up and give them a handout with the Gettysburg Address. Have them work together to highlight important information and vocabulary.
(7) As a class, circle up and lead them through each line, discussing/decoding what is said/written (have students pick next reader, pick as the teacher, or have students volunteer). Have students add notes to their handouts.
(8) As a lesson closure, or as homework, have students summarize the meaning, purpose, and possible consequences of the Gettysburg Address.
How to Set Up a (Remote) Learning Space for Auditory Learners
Check for Understanding
Click on the following link to see if you hit the major points of this unit:
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