Home› Blog > detail

6 different types of ESL learners and how to teach them

When we begin teaching ESL English to young learners, us TEFL teachers need to be aware of all the different types of learning. Each child will respond to a different style, therefore you need to learn how to incorporate each style into your ESL plan.

Below are the 6 different styles of learning and some tips and trips on how to blend each one into your TEFL teaching plan.

Visual learners,

The visual type learners enjoy looking, looking of any sort, whether it be reading, watching, inspecting ... all kinds are enjoyed by these guys. 

They respond well to:

Information on the whiteboard


Colourful pictures


Story books with pictures

Computer graphics

Maps (eg treasure maps)




Board games



When teaching young ESL learners we can make sure visual learners are covered by having a large variety of visuals in the class plan. Flashcards are key as they do not respond well unless their eyes are focused on something. Try to make the class attractive too, lots of colours, posters, art work will make them more active in the classroom and during class.

Auditory learners 

Simply put, our auditory ESL learners respond well to sound. They follow and mimic you along with songs, stories and anything else that does not require a visual focus, something that allows their eyes to move freely while they soak up the information with their ears . 

These guys respond well to:


Listening to stories

Poems and riddles

Verbal instructions and explanations

Listening activities

Participating in oral activities

Since they respond well to sounds it's clear that songs are the obvious choice here. However, finding a song to go with every ESL topic can be a challenge so sometimes a story works just as well. YOUTUBE is a good place to start, but if Strike out there you try making your Own Yourself and Telling it with pictures and Actions. A Previous TEFL student added this to one of His classes They have time and now as a Reward Story Lesson Weekly every Friday. Works like a Charm.

It does not always need to be a lengthy song or story, sometimes sound effects are just as good. Animals, transportation and alphabet sound effects are easily accessible and add lots of auditory points to your class. Keeping those ears on you and not elsewhere.

Tactile learners

Tactile learners respond physically through touching, feeling and manipulating objects. They feel simply that they just must feel everything. They will often be the 'huggers' of the class, the ones that will not let you go when class is over. Because of this its important you give them the chance to use their sense of touch during class Have lots of teaching materials in your classes ;. flash cards, toy cars, dolls etc. are all it takes Once the word is taught pass the object round the. room and look for those that spend a long time holding the object. These are the tactiles of the class.

Tactile learners respond well to:


Songs with gestures 

Playing board games

Making models (eg with play doh or lego)

Craft activities 

Feeling in the bag activities

Following instructions to make things

Try adding guessing games into your TEFL class. Put an object into a box and have some students come up and try to guess what it is. When teaching directions, use a bling fold and have students touch and feel their way. Let them create things to show to the class. Make shows with puppets or dolls to make them more involved. There are many ways to stimulate these minds, but can be difficult in incorporate into your class. So put that TEFL training to work and be creative.


Kinaesthetic learners

These guys like to be on the go! Some TEFL teachers struggle to keep them engaged as they are usually the ones that will not stop fidgeting and distracting others. A simple yet effective way to put this to rest is to keep them moving. Adding actions , role play and movements will aid them in keeping that all important focus!

Kinaesthetic learners respond well to:

Songs with gestures 

Playing games in which they need to use their whole body (eg Charades)

Doing exercise type activities which require running and jumping

Movement activities

Making models (eg with play doh or lego)

Craft activities 

Following instructions to make something

Setting up experiments

Set up lots of activities, role plays and craft making. Even simple games like bingo work well as they are very active and interactive, (These types of games also tie in well for the tactile learners). Lastly let them be free in class, when your teaching new vocab and they want to add their own actions, even though it may disrupt class a little, in the long run things will work out for the best.

Analytic learners

These are the young genius' of the class Always finding new ways to take things apart and put them back together They enjoy analyzing every aspect of language; .. Sentence structure, spelling and grammar Therefore they enjoy more challenging activities in class, it can. be a challenge to keep these guys interested.

Analytic learners respond well to:

Well-structured and clear lessons

Information and instructions given in steps

Clearly stated goals and objectives of tasks

Activities which require thought, such as matching exercises, puzzles, missing letters, etc.

There are plenty of things to be done in an ESL class for these guys Teaching numbers and colours for example ;. Why not try putting different coloured numbers and shapes around the room then ask them to collect them up and put them in colour coordinated piles, or putting different sized objects into different boxes for large, medium and small lessons.

Global learners

Finally we have the bigger picture kids. They find it hard to focus on one topic for a long time, they like to know where the class is going and what's up next. For this learning style try putting up a weekly or monthly schedule so they know exactly what's happening and when.

Global learners respond well to:


Group activities

Story writing

Lots of action based activities

Computer games

Talking without being interrupted for correction

They do not enjoy the obvious use of language in games so try to use games that are not so language orientated. Lots of movement, objects and pair work allows them to use language in a more interesting less obvious way.

They also dislike being interrupted (who does) but as a TEFL teacher we tend to believe that correction is key. Not the case with this group of learners, interruption will quickly make them loose focus and interest in the class, they want to get moving ! However they do need correcting, so note down the mistakes and bring them up at a convenient time.


Let's go through these different styles once again:

Visual learners,

Auditory learners 

Tactile learners

Kinaesthetic learners

Analytic learners

Global learners

Now I know what you're thinking ... "how do I even begin to make a lesson plan with such a diverse class?" You're not the only one thinking that believe me. The key is to be fair. In one week try to hit all angles, start with flash cards and in-depth learning for the analytic learners then add more group work etc. later in the week for the global guys. Be creative in your planning, as it will be your best friend during your classes.

So my final piece of advice is to get to know your students. Go further then names, hobbies and interests. Try to find out what makes them tick and categorise their learning style! It'll save you a headache later on.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post. Remember to share with your friends and fellow teachers. Do you have anything to share? If so, get in touch!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The TEFL Professional Development Institute’s FREE Online TEFL Certificate is your answer to: ‘How do I teach English as a second language?’. The TEFL Professional Development Institute has been created to modernise TEFL Teacher training. TEFL Teacher training SHOULD NOT be prohibitively expensive. Education liberates the mind it is the right of every person. The TEFL Professional Development Institute aims to modernise global TEFL Teacher training and TEFL Certification….[About]

Login in

Visit Us On Twitter Visit Us On Facebook Visit Us On GooglePlus Visit Us On Pinterest Visit Us On Youtube