As you are probably aware, there are many different types of learners and the way learners absorb and process information differs from person to person. One of the main types of learning styles is the visual learner. Visual learners tend to remember what they see more than what they hear, and so they can be easily distracted during verbal, lecture-style lessons. For this reason, teaching visual learners requires a special approach.
In this post, you’ll find 12 fun and effective ways to teach visual learners that you can implement today. As well as ideas and strategies to teach visual learners, you’ll also find some links to free resources you can use in your lessons with these learners. First, let’s take a look at the characteristics of visual learners so you can easily spot them in your class.
Characteristics Of Visual Learners
Before discussing some strategies to teach visual learners, we first need to understand their characteristics so we can easily identify these learners. Visual learners tend to forget what they hear and remember what they see. They like to take notes, study charts and diagrams, and organize their thoughts via mind maps or graphic organizers. It is common for visual learners to become distracted during verbal lectures, so teachers should include visual stimuli as often as possible. Students who prefer to learn and think visually are usually very organized and enjoy planning projects by making lists and writing plans.
The common characteristics of visual learners are:
- They often visualize a picture in their mind when trying to remember something.
- They have a vivid imagination.
- They prefer to see rather than hear directions.
- They may closely look at the teacher’s lips when the teacher is talking.
- They enjoy board games and crafts.
- They learn how to spell words after seeing them written down.
- They remember what they see more than what they hear.
Effective Ways To Teach Visual Learners
So, now that you know the characteristics of visual learners, let’s take a look at how to teach visual learners. The ideas and strategies to teach visual learners below all have one thing in common; they all allow learners to see what is going on.
Almost all students enjoy playing an exciting game of Pictionary, but your visual learners will especially love this game. A great thing about this game is that you don’t have to purchase any expensive materials. You probably have everything you need in your classroom already!
2. Picture Books
There’s a common myth that picture books are only for young children, but this isn’t true! Picture books can be great assistive support for ESL learners of any age, especially learners who have strong speaking and listening skills but struggle with reading and writing. Visual learners will appreciate the visual representations of the story they read. Luckily, there is a large variety of picture book topics to choose from, so you can find something interesting even for older learners.
3. Activity Videos
Our fun activity videos are perfectly suited for visual learners. All our activity videos include words and pictures and are presented in a fun and engaging way that visual learners can easily enjoy. The above video, for example, is for teaching food vocabulary and shows pictures of different food hidden behind some colored shapes. As the shapes disappear, students must guess what food the picture is representing. This visual representation of the words helps visual learners to recall the word later when trying to remember it.
4. Picture Talk
Picture Talk is an excellent activity for English language learners. Pick an exciting picture and ask students to get in pairs and describe it. Try to choose images that have enough content to spark a thorough conversation. This will help your students learn to make observations based on visual evidence, body language, and social cues.
5. Graphic Organizers
As you now know, visual learners prefer to organize their thoughts and plans on paper before getting started on a new task. Graphic organizers help them do precisely that. Provide your visual learners with graphic organizer templates, or ask them to create their own! A commonly used graphic organizer is the Venn Diagram, but there are a plethora of other free organizers available online.
Most of us can think of an inspirational Ted Talk we’ve seen, but did you know that there’s also a specific category of videos for educational support? TED-Ed provides videos and lesson plans for a variety of subjects. Visual learners will absorb information via the educational video and pick up new concepts more quickly than if you simply lecture about the topic. Look for videos that include visual images and illustrations.
Total Physical Response is a technique commonly found in the ESL classroom. Did you know that this technique directly targets visual learners? Visual learners will make stronger connections to action words when they see the teacher model the behavior. TPR is a great way to teach action words, emotional vocabulary, and directions. Make sure your visual learners can clearly see you demonstrating the actions associated with each vocabulary word.
8. Word Puzzles
Your visual learners will enjoy word searches, crossword puzzles, Scrabble, and Boggle. These games allow visual learners to see and solve the problem in front of them. These games also help develop the vocabulary of visual learners as they will be able to remember what the words look like.
9. Use Multimedia
Supplement your lectures with Powerpoint presentations, with videos, images, graphs, and charts. Your visual learners will thank you! Although experienced teachers try to keep the teacher-talk to a minimum, there’s no way of avoiding lectures completely. Do your best to keep the lecture time to a minimum and use visual supports so your visual learners can remember the information.
10. Teach Visual Memorization
Visual learners may have difficulty remembering things the teacher says, so a great technique you can teach visual learners is visual memorization. If a learner has to remember facts or lists of words, you can teach them to associate these with a funny image in their mind.
11. Play Whiteboard Games
With visual learners, you should use the whiteboard a lot to help them see what it is you are teaching. There are many fun whiteboard games you can play. Use lots of colors and drawings to present the content of the lesson in a visually stimulating way.
12. Play Board Games
Board games and puzzles are perfectly suited to visual learners due to the fact that the learners can ‘see’ the words and pictures on a board game. Check out our free printable board games and board game templates that you can use in your class.