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How to teach yourself Italian… Step 03: Learning Style

You know now where you want to go (Goals) and where you’re starting from (Assessment), now you need to start getting specific on the HOW.  Just like when planning a trip, you have the choice of going by foot, train, car, plane, boat (or often a combination of several modes of transport) there are different methods and activities that you can choose from to help you learn a language.  A great way to decide which method(s) you choose is to consider your goals as well as your own studying preferences or learning style.



Learning Style

The various learning styles are the common ways that humans have of acquiring and processing new information.  Your own learning style is the methodology that you prefer and that is most effective for you.  It is possible to have a very strong dominant style, or to have a combination of strengths, and to fluctuate and change over time.

In any case, it is important to understand what learning approaches exist so that you can better understand your own current learning style and find activities that both cater to your natural tendencies and challenge you to improve where you have more difficulty.




If you’re not sure, think back to previous learning experiences and classes growing up…

Which classes were your favorite?  Which classes did you not enjoy so much? Specifically, think not only about the subject matter, but how information was presented to you and how you were expected to show what you had learned.

Perhaps your favorite classes were determined not just by your preference for the subject matter— but by how closely the teacher’s teaching style corresponded with your learning style!

Questions to ask yourself…

Did the teacher lecture? (Aural/Verbal)  Were you expected to just listen?(Aural) Take notes? (Visual/Verbal)

Were there a lot of visual elements? (Visual) Maybe pictures and graphs on a projector? (Visual) Notes on the chalkboard/whiteboard? (Visual/Verbal)

Did you do a lot of reading? —either from a textbook or more narrative stories? (Visual/Verbal)

Were you expected to follow or create steps, rules, and formulas? (Logical) Were you asked to show your steps, how you got there? (Logical)

Did you watch a lot of films? Presentations? Listen to songs? (Visual/Aural)

Was it lab? (Physical) Were you were asked to build or otherwise do something with your hands? (Physical)

What were the tests like?  Mostly written? (Verbal) Oral? (Verbal) Were you expected to give presentations or do a project, either alone or in a group (Verbal/Aural/Visual/Physical)

Did the teacher encourage working alone/silently or was there a lot of emphasis on discussion and group work with your fellow classmates? (Social/Solitary)


Again, an ideal study plan will include a lot of your dominant learning style so that you can learn new information easily and remain encouraged, but will also include some of the more personally challenging activities to push you and help you grow.

Language — just Verbal??

You may have answered all of the above questions and determined that Verbal is NOT one of your dominant learning styles— Don’t be discouraged!  Learning a language will give you the opportunity to develop in this area and strengthen your cognitive abilities in general.Also, learning a language is a verbal endeavor but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate all of the other learning styles and use them as a bridge to greater verbal capabilities! For example…

Visual Learners

Seek out materials that combine words & expressions with graphics, images, and visual representations. This is something I try to do all the time on Via Optimae! In particular, you’ll want to check out:

*Not currently available on mobile devices

Aural Learners

Use the natural rhythm and cadence of sentences or practice with songs and other media to help you memorize new vocabulary and structures.

  • Claudio Baglioni – Amore bello (Coming soon!)
  • Ligabue – Il Sale della Terra  (Coming soon!)
  • Neffa – Quando Sorridi  (Coming soon!)
  • Marco Mengoni – L’essenziale  (Coming soon!)
  • The most-used nouns digital magazine* 

*Not currently available on mobile devices

Physical Learners

Anytime you can associate a word or phrase with a physical action or representation, then you’re on the right track. Look for recipes or other projects in your target language and practice reading and saying aloud the words as you perform each step.  Also, use flashcards or play games where you can physically sort, move and organize words and sentences.

  • Etiquette – Labels (free to all subscribers!)
  • An example of Flashcards with Games (on Quizlet)
  • L’insalata caprese & Italian food prep terms  (Coming soon!)

Logical Learners

If you’re a Logical learner— then let Grammar be your guide!  Learn the rules of word and sentence formation (as well as the exceptions) and use this knowledge to deduce new structures and create ever increasingly complex sentences.

My learning style

As a Verbal/Logical learner, I learn information best when I can organize information into groups and I am best able to retain information when I put it into my own words. That’s why I love a good worksheet, with dedicated space to organize my thoughts and put them into writing.

If that sounds appealing to you too, or if you’re visual, you’ll want to print and complete this free Language Level Self-Assessment worksheet:
Share your results with me and your fellow Via Optimae readers!:
Click to tweet:
Tweet: Ciao @AlexViaOp! My learning style is: _____ #languagelearning
Buono studio!

Alex on www.viaoptimae.com

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This (your website) was given to me by my tutor and it is clearly one of the best Italian websites I have ever seen, and I have visited many. Again thank you so much!