English Learning Styles and VARK Questionnaire

English Learning Styles During my teaching practice, every now and then I meet students with extremely low self-confidence. Since school they have believed that they have no ability at all to learn English or any other foreign language. They are afraid to listen, they are afraid to speak, they are afraid to look stupid.

It usually takes months of patient and careful teaching to dissuade such students and to identify their best learning strategies. Very often, their past experience included only Read/Write teaching at school, whilst their individual style was aural or kinesthetic. Naturally, English was a boring and unpleasant subject and they came to a false conclusion about themselves as bad learners of foreign languages. They are really surprised and inspired when they start making progress and achieve their different life goals only changing the approach to learning.

There are many ways to learn English, and the best point to start is to know yourself as a learner. Not long ago I started investigating different learning strategies and came upon VARK questionnaire developed by Neil Fleming . The system is a guide to learning styles in terms of perception and output of information. For example, some people perceive new information the best way in graphs, others in texts and others in demonstrations.

VARK abbreviation stands for 4 main types of learners: Visual (graphic perception), Aural (listening and speaking), Read and Write (reading and writing) and Kinesthetic (learning from real things and cases). Besides, there are many combinations of learners with two, three or even all four modalities. If you want to identify your own preferences, you can answer the questions and then either read a short explanation (for free) or order a complete pdf report with detailed recommendations how to improve your learning (when I ordered my own report, it was about $15).

Here are just a couple of ideas how you could modify your English learning strategies using your profile. Just make sure not to confuse visual and kinesthetic modalities; in VARK classification “visual” means graphic perception (diagrams, charts, graphs) and kinesthetic perception is close to real life (photos, videos, films, demonstration).

Visual (graphic perception)

  • Choose English textbooks with graphs and charts
  • Use different colors to highlight the main points in your copybooks
  • Read comics in English
  • Draw schemes to remember new material (e.g. Grammar)
  • Learn Vocabulary as semantic maps

Aural (listening and speaking)

  • Listen to English audio books
  • Listen to English podcasts/ radio
  • Ask questions
  • Discuss new topics with the teacher/ group
  • Speak a lot
  • Explain different things to other students (e.g., grammar topics)
  • Record yourself pronouncing new vocabulary, then spelling it

Read and write

  • Read books in English
  • Read articles on English websites
  • Write notes during English classes
  • Organise English grammar in lists with bullet points
  • Write new vocabulary in a separate copybook/ file
  • Write summaries of new material for yourself
  • Re-read your notes


  • Discuss real-life stories in English
  • Ask your teacher for examples how to use grammar/ vocabulary
  • Memorize new vocabulary with pictures or images
  • Use new vocabulary in conversations
  • Watch English movies and TV series
  • Watch TED presentations
  • Use English textbooks with pictures

To learn English effectively, it is not enough to know your learning style only. You still need motivation, memory and self-discipline. However, the process of study can become more interesting and pleasant, and, therefore, more efficient for you.