Listen Up: Writing Tips for Auditory Learners

How-To,College Writing

If you’re an auditory learner, it’s easy to feel like the world of writing help just isn’t designed for you. A Google search for paper-writing tips can turn up suggestions from color-coding to mind-mapping; those are great, you think, but when you’re one of those people who can remember names but can’t match them to people’s faces, visual cues might not be your best bet. So here, the Writing Center brings you four tips to write better if you’re an auditory learner.

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1. Know where you stand with outside noise. This can vary wildly from person to person. Some auditory learners need complete and total silence for maximum brainpower. If you fall on this side of the spectrum, try setting up shop on the library’s silent floor or asking your roommate to take their raucous conversation elsewhere for a few hours while you plug away at your paper. Some people, however, actually find auditory cues helpful to remember information or just to provide background sound. If this is how you work, try putting on some quiet instrumental music in the background– my recommendations are some Chopin or Mannheim Steamroller. You can also try putting on music which is somehow linked to the topic you’re writing about; for example, the last time I wrote a paper about the Odyssey, I put the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou? on repeat for a couple hours.

2. If your professors allow it, record audio of your lectures. For some auditory learners, taking notes just isn’t as good as listening to lectures over and over again. You can use a standard digital voice recorder (which are usually pretty inexpensive), or even the iPhone Voice Memos app, to record lectures and class discussions. Instead of reviewing notes when you’re sitting down to write that final paper, you can plug in your headphones and listen to the material again. While it probably involves a little bit of a time commitment, it can also keep you from having to constantly reference notes, and actually speed up your writing process.

3. Read aloud. In Writing Center appointments, we read student papers aloud, so writers have an idea of how their writing actually sounds. As silly as it sounds, sometimes doing the same thing to yourself in your dorm room can make a big difference. Hearing your own writing helps you realize where your style, flow, or grammar has run into roadblocks. Reading aloud to yourself can also help you edit for content: even if you think you’ve committed your brilliance perfectly to paper, if you don’t know what your argument is after reading your paper to yourself, your professor won’t either.

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4. Talk about your paper. One of the best ways for auditory learners– or, in fact, anyone– to better direct their ideas and arguments is to talk about them. By discussing your paper with someone and explaining your argument to someone else, you create a better understanding for yourself, too. This can be especially helpful for auditory learners, who might need to hear themselves explain their ideas before they can write them down effectively, but it’s a useful tool for anyone, of any learning type. And don’t worry, there’s no need to bribe a friend with food; we’ll do this with you for free right here at the Writing Center. (We’ll even provide you with food!)

Papers can be daunting– for auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners, and everyone in between. But knowing better strategies for your working and learning style can go a long way toward making your work better and better. Take these tips, try them out, and go forth and conquer the rest of your semester!

– Alex, peer tutor