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What Type of Learner Are You? Posted by on Jul 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

There’s learning the language, and then there’s learning the learning of the language.

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Everyone learns differently. Some people are textual learners, others are contextual; some people process numbers easily, others images and spaces. To best succeed at learning your language, you need to know the type you are and be able and willing to indulge that part of yourself.

Me personally, I’m kind of a head-in-the-clouds learner. If you want to teach me anything you’ll have to be prepared to let me do it about a thousand times. It has to get to my muscle memory, because my mind is too occupied doodling on the margins of the paper or dreaming up imaginary worlds. I’m not a fast learner, but once I learn something, it sticks. That’s because I have to drill it over and over to learn it in the first place.

So growing up and taking Spanish classes in high school, I found these kinds of exercises very difficult. I speak three languages now and I still couldn’t tell you the difference between the subjunctive and the conditional or the past perfect and the perpendicular (I’m sure I’m not mixing things up here, right?). The only way for me to learn a language is to do it. I have to speak it, write it, read it. I learn by doing, not by reading about it.

But that’s not to say that knowing the rules aren’t important.

Anyone can learn to swim by jumping in the deep end on their own. But teachers show you how to paddle so you don’t have invent that all by yourself. In order to do that, you need to learn some of the ground rules, and that’s perfectly fine. I need those rules if I’m going to get through the language.

Just don’t expect me to remember what the rules are called.

What about you? What kind of learner are you, and in what environment do you learn best?

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About the Author: Malachi Rempen

Malachi Rempen is an American filmmaker, author, photographer, and cartoonist. Born in Switzerland, raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he fled Los Angeles after film school and expatted it in France, Morocco, Italy, and now Berlin, Germany, where he lives with his Italian wife and German cat. "Itchy Feet" is his weekly cartoon chronicle of travel, language learning, and life as an expat.


  1. Abu Rose:

    I found that when I started learning Arabic, I was more of an analytical learner. I had to know everything and why it was the way it was. If I was tasked to translate an article, I had to meticulously go through it and get it juuuust right. As I’ve gone through the trials and errors of learning this language, I’ve shifted more towards the middle, between an analytical and a global learner. Now, when translating an article, it doesn’t have to be perfect and I’m content to ‘freestyle’ it a little more, while still capturing the intended meaning of the author.

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