Hearing is the second most common means of acquiring information.

Most people use hearing to reinforce the visual information they receive. When you see a hummingbird at the feeder, for example, you can also hear its distinctive chirp and the whir of its wings. You could hear the hummingbird even if you could not see it.

As I am writing this chapter, my back is to the window. I noticed earlier that the sky looked gray, the clouds heavy, but it was the sound of thunder and the patter of droplets on the windowpane that let me know the rain had come.

In a formal learning situation, a teacher may add an auditory component by lecturing about something the student has read in their textbook or by talking through the steps as she demonstrates how to work a mathematical equation, mix chemical ingredients, or assemble a project. The auditory part of the lesson complements and reinforces the visual portion.

For some learners and in some situations, the auditory component is primary. It may come first or be more important or have greater impact.

The act of reading aloud to a small child is an example of auditory learning as the primary means of introducing new information. The child hears the story and may not understand until later that the words he sees on the page are another way of telling the story. Hearing is essential because he can't fully appreciate the pleasing rhymes and rhythms, alliteration and assonance, unless he hears the way the words work together. Appealing illustrations may play an important secondary role, acting as visual aids to what the child hears, but the auditory experience of storytelling is most important.

Imagine going to a play or musical performance. Here again there may be visual elements--costumes and sets--that enhance the auditory experience, but in this situation what is heard is an almost indispensable part of the experience.

An auditory element provides great reinforcement to any learning experience, but the auditory aspect is powerful in its own right and should not be overlooked. If you've ever had a song or annoying jingle stuck in your head for days, you know how effective audible learning can be in helping you instantly recall lyrics and impressions years after you first heard the information.


Just as sight-based educational activities are more than just textbooks, hearing-based learning experiences are more than just lectures!

Let's brainstorm again. Here's a start-up list of auditory learning activities:

  • Tell stories or read aloud
  • Read poetry
  • Listen to good music

Can you add to the list or fill in details that would work well with your child?

Complete and Continue