Japanese Learning Strategy for Visual Learners

Learning new languages, such as Japanese, can be tough, but using techniques that work with your learning style can help make this process easier. Do you have trouble learning new words just by hearing them? Do you have a knack for spelling? If so, you may be a visual learner! Visual learning is one of the four main learning styles or methods that people use to understand new information2. While many people have some idea of which style works best for them, they may not know how to use that style when studying – especially when it comes to learning new languages.

So, what does Japanese learning for visual learners look like? Take a look at our strategies below to find out how visual learning can help you with your Japanese journey!

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 What is a Visual Learner, Actually?

Simply put, a visual learner is someone who learns best by seeing something, as opposed to hearing it (auditory learners), including movement along with the information (kinesthetic learners), or actively reading/writing information (reading/writing learners)5. This much seems pretty obvious, but there’s more nuance to this style of learning. Many visual learners have similar characteristics, such as being detail-oriented, preferring to read directions instead of hearing them, being good at spelling, and getting distracted by “visual disorder” or during long lectures; many also like to take notes during meetings or classes, make plans ahead of time, and organize their thoughts in lists3.

Loving to read and having good concentration also tend to be characteristics of visual learners3. Of course, everyone is different, but these traits are usually a good baseline for seeing if someone is a visual learner.  

If you’re not sure if visual learning is the style that best fits you, or if you think you may use more than one style, try taking this online questionnaire. By answering questions about different scenarios, you can see how you usually learn information and how this corresponds to a certain learning style! If visual learning is your style, continue on to our strategies below to see how you can use visual learning to improve your Japanese learning!

 Japanese Learning Strategy One – Use Pictures, Not Just Words.

The first Japanese learning strategy for visual learners is the most obvious one. If you learn best through seeing something, then try to make the information as visual as possible! This could mean including pictures of objects on flashcards, making diagrams, watching Youtube videos or mapping ideas’ relationships to each other. It could also include watching videos that visually explain concepts, such as grammar or kanji3. One channel that does this well is Dogen on YouTube. (There are also some fun comedy sketches there too!)

Another idea is to write down explanations so that you can look at them while you review; this is especially helpful if you are using a textbook that doesn’t provide detailed explanations or if you come up with your own way of remembering something. (Even if you do use a detailed textbook, adding in your own notes as you learn is a good approach!)

Using visual mnemonics is also very helpful; a good example of this is a guide to learning hiragana and katakana! Lastly, if you find it hard to stay focused during lectures where not much is presented visually, try focusing on your teacher’s mouth and face3; seeing their expressions while giving information can be a good visual that will help you remember what they said later on. If you want to practice your listening skills, then Marugoto has some listening activities with visual cues! 

Japanese Learning Strategy Two – Update Your Note-taking

As mentioned before, many visual learners find taking notes to be very helpful when learning; seeing the information presented in text form often makes the lesson easier to absorb. However, there are some techniques that you can apply to your notes to make them even more effective! The first is to include pictures; this can mean actually inserting pictures into your notes if you are taking notes electronically, or drawing your own if writing them by hand. This can help to break up huge sections of text, make ideas easier to find, and present more information visually. Trying to write in Japanese will also help to break up your text; if you’re typing notes, try out typing in Japanese.

Doodling is something that you should do as well! Doodling can be an additional way to keep your mind focused while listening to a lecture and keep your mind from wandering4. The next technique is to include more color; color-coding different information (such as blues for grammar, greens for vocab, orange for cultural notes, etc.) can help different sections stand out visually from each other; underlining and making stars next to important points is a good idea too2! Speaking of sections, playing around with organization is also something that can be very beneficial; your notes don’t have to be on a strict list! 

japanese learning strategy for visual learners

You can draw arrows to different points, including text boxes, create diagrams, or even write at an angle! It’s also smart to leave blank spaces in your notes so that you can add more information later if you need to4. Essentially, the more you play around with how you organize your notes, the more you’ll be able to figure out what works best for you!

Japanese Learning Strategy Three – Give your Study Area a Makeover

Where you choose to study can have a huge impact on how well your study time goes. Most of the time, visual learners find that having a tidy, distraction-free area gives the best results3. This usually means having only the essentials out on your table or desk, putting things in designated areas, not having your phone out, and putting things away once you’re done with them. It also helps to have all of your notes organized and in one place.

If you’re using a computer, try to limit how many tabs and applications you have open; seeing numerous things running can be stressful and distracting! For example, instead of having a dictionary tab open, try downloading a translator directly to your browser. We recommend browser extensions like Migaku. The main feature uses loaded dictionary files to define text with tooltips allowing you to create instant Anki flashcards

Most visual learners also find that studying alone helps when trying to focus on reading and reviewing3; this is because noises and movement can be distracting when trying to concentrate2. If you’re someone who enjoys listening to music while studying, try listening to music without words, such as classical music or soundtracks, or songs that you are already very familiar with2. This will help you minimize the time spent paying attention to lyrics, which can interfere with your learning process.

Japanese Learning Strategy Three  – Give your Study Time a Makeover Too!

Speaking of reading and reviewing, a great Japanese learning strategy for visual learners is to go over and revise the notes you take fairly soon after a lesson1. So, try to schedule your study time right after you finish a class! Seeing and making changes to your notes while the lesson is still fresh in your mind is very helpful in making sure the information stays with you1; the longer you wait to go over your notes, the more you will forget! Next, when reading over lessons or notes, try to take a break after 25 minutes; your brain tends to have trouble taking in information after that1! When taking your break, do something completely different to let your brain reset; this can be stretching, taking a walk, using the restroom, eating a snack – whatever your body needs1.

If you are studying for the JLPT and going over practice questions, this break can also help you to mentally separate your practice sessions. Rewriting your notes and creating outlines of different topics can be helpful as well.

Additionally, when reading, it helps to skip ahead and look at the chapter titles and main points before reading the sections1. Seeing the important points beforehand can help you keep the sections straight as you read through. Lastly, review, review, review! The more times you are able to see the information, the easier it will be for you to remember it4.  

Additional Learning Japanese Strategy Tips for Visual Learners

1. Pay particular attention to any diagrams, charts, pictures, or symbols used in your textbook or lecture5; these tend to be especially helpful for visual learners and will help you to quickly get a good idea of the information presented.

2. If you think that you may use more than one learning style (such as being a visual and reading/writing learner), then it might be helpful to look at techniques for those styles as well!

3. Make sure your writing is neat when taking notes; taking notes is helpful, but you have to be able to read them afterward 2

4. Flashcards can also be a great way to study; you can add pictures, color-coordinate them, and review them frequently to keep the information fresh in your mind2! If you prefer to use online flashcards, Anki is a great resource to use for Japanese! If you use the Genki textbooks, there are also flashcard apps that go along with the lessons!  

5. Using a whiteboard can also help when trying to keep information straight. It’s especially helpful for making diagrams or trying to demonstrate the bigger picture.

6. Try drawing pictures to help you remember kanji; if there’s an image that you can associate with the character, then it will be easier for you to remember. The University of Tokyo also has lessons that break kanji into different parts

7. Be consistent. Find a method that works for you and keep with it; playing around with techniques can be fun, but it can also be distracting if you keep concentrating on trying new things instead of learning2.

8. Don’t give up when creating new habits! Starting a new strategy can be hard, and the effects might not be evident at first5; however, practice makes perfect, and the more you use these strategies, the easier they will be to do.

Conclusion on Japanese Learning for Visual Learners

Learning and studying can be arduous tasks for anyone. It can seem overwhelming to be presented with a lot of new information and not know how best to process it! However, taking the time to understand what learning style fits you and how to use that style to your advantage will make studying much more effective.

If you find that you still need a little bit more help, why not check out some of Coto Academy’s classes? By accommodating a variety of different learning styles, these classes are sure to help you achieve your Japanese language goals. Either way, with our guide to Japanese learning strategy for visual learners, the days of zoning out during class and struggling to learn are over!

What is a visual learner?

Simply put, a visual learner is someone who learns best by seeing something, as opposed to hearing it (auditory learners), including movement along with the information (kinesthetic learners), or actively reading/writing information (reading/writing learners)5. This much seems pretty obvious, but there’s more nuance to this style of learning. Many visual learners have similar characteristics, such as being detail-oriented, preferring to read directions instead of hearing them, being good at spelling, and getting distracted by “visual disorder” or during long lectures.

What's a good tip for learning Japanese if you are a visual learner?

Flashcards can also be a great way to study; you can add pictures, color-coordinate them, and review them frequently to keep the information fresh in your mind2! If you prefer to use online flashcards, Anki is a great resource to use for Japanese! If you use the Genki textbooks, there are also flashcard apps that go along with the lessons!  

References

1.      Columbia State Community College Tutoring and Learning Center. “Study Tips for the Visual Learner.” Columbia State Community College. www.columbiastate.edu/tutoring-learning-center/ap-study-skills/study-tips-visual-learner.html.

2.      Klaphake, Aiyanna. “6 Study Tips for Visual Learners.” Bethel University, 18 March 2019, www.bethel.edu/blog/study-tips-for-visual-learners/.

3.      LLCC Center for Academic Success. “Characteristics of Learning Styles.” Lincoln Land Community College. www.llcc.edu/center-academic-success/helpful-resources/characteristics-learning-styles.

4.      Valerie. “Visual Learner: Characteristics, Study Tips, & Activities.” homeschool blog, 28 September 2021, blog.bjupress.com/blog/2021/09/28/visual-learner-characteristics/.

5.       WLU Study Skills & Supplemental Instruction Centre. “Understanding Your Learning Style.” Wilfrid Laurier University. https://web.wlu.ca/learning_resources/pdfs/Learning_Styles.pdf


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