Auditory Learning Vs. Visual Learning: Characteristics, Uses And Methods

Last Updated on October 9, 2023 by Editorial Team

Learning means grasping information from various input sources and processing it to arrive at a finding if simply put. Input sources can be auditory, visual, tactile, or a combination of these. Fleming introduced the VAK model of learning[1] and proposed that the brain uses one or a combination of three main senses – Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic. Let’s explore in this post various aspects of auditory and visual learning, which are the two main learning styles predominantly used by students.

I. Visual Learning

What is visual learning?

Employing visual formats to extract information constitutes visual learning[2]. In this style, the students learn when they receive information by seeing. Several visual inputs like diagrams, videos, flowcharts, books with illustrations, presentations made on PowerPoint slides, etc. are provided to the students to grasp the concept. These sources offer graphic aids that help students internalize and retain concepts in mind.

When Visual Learning works

It works best for children who need to build phonological awareness[3]. Illustrating the word or concept through pictures or other visual modes helps dissolve the auditory barrier to learning. Even when not suffering from any learning difficulty, the preschoolers who are yet to learn by words or texts, build a mental association of pictures and eventually develop concepts.

And on building reading skills, they love reading. You can find students quite involved in reading and taking notes if the visual learning style dominates their tendencies toward gaining mastery. With continual trials and tests, the teachers find out how to create a mix of visuals and auditory clues to ensure easy learning.

How visual learning is imparted – a few examples

Visual learning is one of the pedagogies that have been in regular use. All conventional modes of education adopted in schools involve books, taking notes, picture comprehension, etc. Once started under supervision, the students tend to become autonomous in their approach and start doing activities for learning through visuals naturally. Some of the ways they build up concepts through visuals are:

  • Using photos or clicking pictures
  • Overlaying text with colored pens or underlining important lines
  • Learning through flashcards
  • Use of mnemonics
  • Lip-reading
  • Use words in parts
  • Capture photographs
  • Drive thinking into visual learning by using cue words like ‘show, outline, illustrate’ in questions

Here is how to conduct a session for visual learners

In a typical visual learning class, the focus is more on demonstrating and showing. Teachers can demonstrate processes first and then ask students to repeat them. It works a lot in teaching how to write, draw, or create models.

Color-coding the information helps build associative memory. Instructors can organize information by color-coding it. They must decide the code beforehand and maintain consistency in the choice of the color used for overlays.

Allowing students to take notes or to answer questions with relevant diagrams are some of the supportive measures to include in the teaching method.

Provide visual alerts to drive the learners’ minds to locate important information from the text or picture so that they can concentrate on the crucial parts.

II. Auditory learning

Auditory learning is the learning style that allows students to grasp concepts by way of listening. Sound works as a medium for the students to absorb and retain concepts. Interestingly, the auditory learner tends to read everything aloud.

Usually, early learners pick the words spoken to them and try to use them by themselves. A child listening to rhyme and repeating it or rote memorizing is a common sight in preschools. By using auditory supports like rhythmic beats, claps, etc., and linking new ideas with them, learning can be made easier.

How auditory learners grasp concepts

The auditory learner picks the concepts in ways that enable aural connections. Reading out things aloud even when alone is a tell-tale sign of a student who learns by hearing. They may tape the lesson and play it back later. Some of the techniques[4] used are:

  • Frequency-distribution: By changing the frequency of the identical tunes, learners’ attention is drawn to the topic, or the difference between the two things is explained
  • Signal-detection: A sound-based cue is given as a signal to signify a start or end, or to grab attention
  • Time-related judgment: Learners pay attention to the time when the sound is produced and draw inferences
  • Spatial-hearing: By understanding the source of the sound, the learners try to learn differences and about the properties of things

Identifying an auditory learner

As a teacher, it may help a lot if you know the learning style of the kid. The educators recognize various learning styles and aim to work on the most suitable pedagogies instead of stressing out the kid to adjust to conventions. To identify an auditory learner, you can pay attention to some characteristic cues.

The learner using auditory means to acquire knowledge mostly read out aloud everything even when they are reading alone. They prefer to ask to come again when they are confused. There is a distinct tendency to participate in lectures and discussions, but they refrain from learning by sight.

The auditory learners can follow the verbal instructions and they prefer the feedback given to them verbally. Since their auditory reception is quite pronounced, they become distracted by noise easily. Teachers may employ this tendency to get distracted in teaching through sensory noise and apply it to build reading skills[5].

Teaching interventions for auditory learners

How to teach students who prefer to learn by hearing? It may sound tricky, but with practice and individualized programs, may turn out to be a feasible trick. The type of intervention to be chosen depends upon the skill the teachers want to build.

To build and strengthen phonological skills, saying words in syllables works the most often. Teachers may also use phonics principles and strategies of reading the words aloud to help students learn about different sounds within words.

While building math facts, the teachers sew the facts into a rhyme or sing. The use of DVDs and recorded lessons for repeated practice helps reinforce the concepts strongly.

Working knowledge of processes and the phenomena that take place around us is imparted through discussions, stories, and elaborate explanations. The diagrams are explained and discussed through Q & A sessions. Oral assessment helps in checking the proficiency level in a justified manner.

This brings us to the tools one can use to impart auditory learning, which are:

  • Recorded lectures and conversations
  • Seminars and group discussions
  • Debates and arguments
  • Use words like ‘Discuss, state or describe’ in questions to help students in concept recall
  • Voice and speech modulations to put a point across distinctly

Auditory learning vs Visual learning – Key differences

Auditory LearningVisual Learning
Processing commands and gaining knowledge by hearing informationGaining knowledge by seeing visual inputs such as diagrams, graphs, etc
Discussions and recorded lectures are predominantly used for learning the conceptsIllustrations, books, and pictures are the main tools used for learning
Mostly, all instructions, questions, and concepts are read out aloudColor-coding concepts, drawing pictures, and seeing the tasks’ demonstrations beforehand are the ways of learning
Sit in the class from where you can listen clearlySit in the class from where you can see clearly
Main interest lies in music, rhyming, talking, and participating in discussionsMain interest lies in using flowcharts or drawing patterns to understand relationships


How do children learn? This question has been a matter of discussion for ages. If you observe closely, some children learn better through visual modes and others through auditory inputs. A single method is not to be used discretely; sometimes, a combination of multiple learning approaches may work too. So, what learning style suits your child? Observe and apply, and make learning stress-free for little angels.


  1. Yuliani, N. D., & Najmiah, L. (2019). Students’ Learning Strategies Based on Their VAK Learning Style. Intensive Journal, 1(1), 41.
  2. Raiyn, Jamal. (2016). The Role of Visual Learning in Improving Students’ High-Order Thinking Skills. Journal of Education and Practice. 7. 115-121.
  3. Derby, Katelyn, “The Effectiveness of Visual Phonics to Promote Phonological Awareness in Preschool Children With and Without Speech Sound Delays” (2020). Dissertations, Theses, and Projects. 326.
  4. Wright, B. A., & Zhang, Y. (2009). A review of the generalization of auditory learning. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences364(1515), 301–311.
  5. Söderlund, G. B. W., Åsberg Johnels, J., Rothén, B., Torstensson‐Hultberg, E., Magnusson, A., & Fälth, L. (2021). Sensory white noise improves reading skills and memory recall in children with reading disability. Brain and Behavior, 11(7).

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