Learning Styles

VAK (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic)

OK in my last post I talked about the 9 talents and that there are 9 learning preferences. There is another and easier model which can also be useful to help with  finding out your students learning preference. This model is:

VAK (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic)

  • Visual – People who prefer to be shown how to do things
  • Auditory –  People who prefer to have things explained to them
  • Kinesthetic – People who prefer to have a go themselves�
    N.B. Kinesthetic style is also referred to as ‘Physical’, or ‘Tactile’, or ‘Touchy-Feely’.

According to the VAK model, most people possess a dominant or preferred learning style, however some people have a mixed and evenly balanced blend of the three styles.

The Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic learning styles  provides a simple way to explain and understand your own learning style (and learning styles of our students).

As with the 9 talents there are questionnaires that we can use before training to determine the learning preferences of students however there is a faster (but more controversial) way:

Eye Accessing Cues

Eye Accessing Cues was developed by two highly innovative Americans, Dr. Richard Bandler & Dr. John Grinder.

Take a moment to consider the following questions

  • What was the colour of a favourite toy, or item of clothing, from your childhood.
  • Remembering a distinctive sound from your past, perhaps a whistle or a school bell. How clear is it?
  • What do you think of first when you remember a particularly happy event or emotion that you have experienced?
  • How does feel to relax in a warm bath or shower?
  • What would your name look like in coloured neon lights above your front door?
  • How would your telephone sound if it were ringing underwater?

Each of the questions above causes you to access a memory or to mentally construct an experience. As you relax and run through the questions again. What do you notice, if anything, about the movement of your eyes?

Ask a friend the same questions, making sure that you are looking at his/her eyes as you are asking. What do you notice specifically about your friend’s eye movements?

The effect that you might be notice is whether people are using vision, sound or kinesthetic to trigger their thinking.


The eye pattern diagram above represents the eye patterns right handed person.

When we think about things visually (or make pictures if you prefer) our eyes tend to move upward.

When we look upward and to the left (or to the right as you look at him/her) we are most likely to be remembering pictures of things we have seen before. This is described as accessing Visual remembered or Visual recall (Vr).

When we look up and to the right (or to the left as you look at him/her) we are most likely to be accessing Visual construct (Vc) and constructing pictures of things he has never seen before, imagining how something could look.

When people think about things auditorily i.e. sounds including spoken words, their eyes will tend to look left and right as they look towards one ear or the other or their eyes may move rapidly from ear to ear.

When we look toward the left ear we are most likely to be accessing Auditory recall (Ar) and remembering sounds we have heard before.

When we look to the right ear we are most likely to be accessing Auditory construct (Ac) and thus imagining, or constructing, sounds he has never heard before.

In the lower quadrant we have Kinesthetic (K) on the right, and Auditory digital (Ad) on the left.

When we look down and to the left we are most likely to be accessing the Auditory digital channel – the channel in which we hear the words we say to ourselves inside our own minds.

And last, but not least, when we look down and to the right, we are most likely accessing Kinesthetic, our feelings.


So when you are asking questions to your students notice their eye movements. If they look up most of the time then their learning preference may well be Visual so switch your training style to use more of pictures and use more demonstrations to show them how to do things. If they look to the left and right then use more questions and words to explain how to do things. If they look down more then switch to letting them have more hands-on.

The above is not an exact science and there are other ways you can detect people’s learning style but hopefully it has given you a taster. You can find out more about this fascinating topic by reading a great book on NLP. Get it here …


One Response to “VAK (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic)”

  1. Hi Stu…nice post.

    Posted by Tim Carter | May 17, 2011, 5:38 am

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Reading Material

The best (training related) book I have ever read is Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century by Colin Rose. Here is a link:

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