In order to recall the right word to use it is important that you know how you learn and remember things. Once you know what kind of learner you are you can adopt suitable approaches for learning and remembering which should help you recall the right words more easily.


There are many different types of learner, but the simple questionnaire that follows will help you consider which of three basic learner types you might be. Knowledge of your learning style should help you choose suitable techniques for learning and recalling the right words to use while speaking and writing English.

To make your learning style easier to identify, general, everyday activities rather than classroom activities are referred to in the table below.

Complete the questionnaire below by choosing one Preferred Approach (Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic) for each of the Activity Purposes

  Activity Purpose Learners’ preferred approaches
Visual learner preference Auditory learner preference Kinesthetic learner preference
Preferred Approaches to Activities
To operate new equipment… I read instructions I listen to explanation I try it for myself
To get directions… I look at a map I ask for spoken directions I follow my nose and maybe use a compass
To cook a new dish… I follow a recipe I call a friend for explanation I follow my instinct, tasting as I cook
To choose from a restaurant menu… I imagine what the food looks like I talk through the options in my head I imagine what the food will taste like
To deal with faulty goods… I write a letter to the company I phone the company I send or take it back to the store
To enjoy leisure time… I go to museums and galleries I enjoy music and conversation I play sport or DIY
To celebrate with gifts… I choose books I choose music I choose tools and gadgets
To shop I look and imagine I discuss with shop staff I try on and test
To choose a holiday I read the brochures I listen to recommendations I imagine the experience
To choose a new car I read the reviews I discuss with friends I test-drive what I fancy

Adapted from :

For further exploration of your learning style visit the questionnaire at the site above or search the web for “learning style questionnaires”.

Matching approaches to learner types


As you saw in the learning styles questionnaire, someone with a visual learning style prefers things they can see, including pictures, diagrams, demonstrations, displays, handouts, films, flip-charts, and so on. They will more easily perform a new task after reading the instructions or observing someone else do it first. These people also work well from lists and written directions and instructions.

Someone with an auditory learning style prefers listening to the spoken word, whether it is their voice or the voice of others, as well as sounds and noises. They will perform a new task best after listening to instructions from an expert. These people are happy hearing spoken instructions over the telephone, and can perfectly remember the words to songs that they hear.

A kinesthetic learner has a preference for physical experience - touching, feeling, holding and doing. In other words they prefer practical, hands-on experiences. These learners prefer to perform a new task by trying it out and learning as they go. They like to experiment, are hands-on, and never look at the instructions first.


Adapted from :


  Activity Purpose Learners’ preferred approaches
Visual learner preference Auditory learner preference Kinesthetic learner preference
Preferred Approaches to Activities
To teach someone something I write instructions I explain verbally I demonstrate and let them have a go
To confirm understanding you’d say “I see what you mean” “I hear what you are saying” “I know how you feel”
To ask someone for assistance you’d say “show me” “tell me” “let me try”
To help someone achieve the task you’d say “watch how I do it” “listen to me explain” “you have a go”
To learn a new skill I watch the teacher I talk it through with the teacher I work it out as I go along
To remember things I write notes or keeping printed details I say them aloud or repeat words and key points in my head I do and practice the activity, or imagine it being done
To concentrate I focus on the words or pictures in front of me I discuss the problem and possible solutions in my head I move around a lot, fiddle with pens and pencils and touch unrelated things


Using appropriate learning style approaches to remember word family members

Recalling Word Families

Once you have an idea of which leaning style suits you best, you can apply appropriate strategies for learning and remembering the English language. One such element could be, for example, word families. Word families are groups of words with similarities of meaning and often of appearance.

An example of a word family:

noun adverb adjective verb
memory memorably memorable memorize

The word family table above might be useful for a visual learner to learn and recall relationships between the word family members. However, it is important to remember that all learners are individuals, so other approaches might suit different visual learners. As a learner and someone who needs to be able to recall vocabulary while speaking and writing you will need to try different approaches for yourself. As we have seen, auditory and kinesthetic learners will need to consider different approaches, although some overlap may occur. Below are some more specific suggestions for the three different learner types we have looked at.

Visual language learner approaches Auditory language learner approaches Kinesthetic language learner approaches
Read tables of information Listen to audio recordings from text books Use educational computer games that involve movement
Make mind maps Read aloud and listen to yourself Feel how your arm moves as you draw and write accurate language
Draw up or read lists Listen (and speak) to native English speakers Feel how your mouth moves while you read aloud accurate written language
Draw and read diagrams (Watch and) listen to English language instruction videos Relate an action to a word or phrase
Read subtitles and relate them to the pictures Listen to native English speakers reading aloud Play physical games and add language elements to particular actions
Relate pictures to text Listen to the radio, podcasts etc Copy native English speakers’ body language as they say certain expressions
Watch language related videos and programmes Make your own recordings and listen to those Act out scenes from films or plays


Try a few of the suggested approaches from the table that are suitable for your learning style, as a way to learn and recall word families. If a particular approach works well, try using it on another area of English language such as irregular verbs, their past tenses and past participles, or noun and verb collocations. As you find which approaches work best for you, you will be able to use them to learn lots of different things.

Copyright© 2012-2013 UGC ICOSA Project, Hong Kong. All rights reserved.