Language Learning|April 13, 2011 8:52 am

Language Learning: 5 Strategies for Visual-Spatial Learners

Asian Kid1 1024x682 Language Learning: 5 Strategies for Visual Spatial Learners

 

This post is part two of an 8-post series providing language learning strategies based on Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. If you are not familiar with the theory, click here to read a quick overview.

What Are Visual-Spatial Learners?

Visual-spatial learners are people who are very aware of their physical surroundings. These people tend to like subjects like architecture, and they make great navigators. Reading maps is easy for them, and they quite enjoy using them. They are often visual daydreamers, and they enjoy activities such as putting together jigsaw puzzles. They learn best when taught through drawings and verbal and physical imagery.

Learning Strategy 1

If you are a visual-spatial learner, you will be very comfortable working with photographs, models, drawings, videos, and various charts and graphs. One great technique for visual-spatial learners is to use vocabulary flash cards that have pictures instead of words. Take food vocabulary words, for example. Instead of using flash cards with the English word “apple” on one side and the Chinese word “pinguo” on the other side, as traditional flash cards do, find, or even better, make flashcards that have a picture of an apple on one side and the Chinese word “pinguo” on the other.

Learning Strategy 2

Make use of online vocabulary games that use pictures. You’ve most likely played these kinds of games before. What you do is click a square, which reveals a hidden picture. Then click on another square, which reveals a hidden word. The idea, of course, in the end, is to match all of the hidden pictures with their corresponding words (in your target language, of course) using the least amount of clicks possible. You can find these types of games for free, and you can find them in language learning software programs. If purchasing an online course, find one that includes lots of these types of games and activities.

Learning Strategy 3

Yet another great language learning strategy for visual-spatial learners is to draw pictures. For example, draw a picture of a dining room. In this picture, include every relevant item you want to learn in your target language. For instance, draw a table and include all dishes and utensils, such as chop sticks, plates, glasses and bowls, along with, of course, chairs and the table itself. As you’re drawing, think in your target language, not in English. When you are finished, keep the drawing and refer back to it, viewing the items you drew and calling them by their Chinese names.

Learning Strategy 4

Models are everywhere. You can find models of cars, ships, buildings, human anatomy, and pretty much everything else. If you are a visual-spatial learner, get a hold of these models and use them as study tools. Your mind may not be great at making connections between written words, but when you look at a model, or doll, in the human form, you will be able to look at its different features, like a nose, for example, and easily be able to recall that feature in your target language.

Learning Strategy 5

It may not feel like studying, but watching television may be a great way for you to learn. Visual-spatial learners, when watching television, have an innate ability to watch a program and understand what is going on, even if they can’t understand the language. Of course, you do want to know the language, and that is the point. Once you have built up a significant amount of vocabulary knowledge, you will be able to watch TV programs in your target language, hear the vocabulary words, and relate them to what is happening in the show, cementing their meanings in your mind.

Final Thoughts

Using Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences is a powerful way to design your personal language learning strategy. When using it, you must understand that the particular learning styles best for you are the ones that you will gravitate towards naturally. In addition, you must understand that you can, and should, use more than one style. Finally, only you can decide which learning styles are best for you. Visual-spatial learners learn most effectively using imagery, such as photographs, models, and drawings. If you are a visual-spatial learner, use the 5 techniques outlined above. If not, choose from the other six learning intelligences.

Bye for now, and good luck with this and all of language learning endeavors!

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2 Comments

  • Oh, yeah… would work really well, if the only words one needed to learn were nouns and certain verbs. How would you illustrate “what” or “that”? How would you illustrate “comprehend”, “certain” or “word”? Ah.
    So, sure, your suggestions work for as long as one studies a language at the picture book level. But you are not talking to children here (or their teachers), are you?

    What about mind-mapping?
    What about using colors to separate the different word groups, for example using blue for masculine words and pink for feminine words? Or green for adjectives, red for verbs and so on?
    What about illustrating the text a bit more than “apple – apple”?
    What about comic books?
    What about calligraphy? Having tried to imagine, ponder and visualize how you would paint the word “return” will make you remember it.

    Don’t forget that written words are pictures, visual impact, too, in itself.

    I came here with hopes to find something that I can use, but your suggestions are pretty worthless for me. As said, they could have been useful and fun when I was 10, but I’m quite a bit past that…

  • Hi Ketutar,
    “What about mind-mapping?
    What about using colors to separate the different word groups, for example using blue for masculine words and pink for feminine words? Or green for adjectives, red for verbs and so on?
    What about illustrating the text a bit more than “apple – apple”?
    What about comic books?
    What about calligraphy? Having tried to imagine, ponder and visualize how you would paint the word “return” will make you remember it.”

    Those are great suggestions. Thanks for sharing!

    About you seemingly being upset that this post does not offer more, notice that the title is

    “Language Learning: 5 Strategies for Visual-Spatial Learners,” not

    “Language Learning: The Only 5 Strategies You’ll Ever Need To Master Any Language”

    Have a Good Day!

    Ryan

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