Watch this; hear what I say; read all about it; just do it!
These phrases represent the VARK learning styles, visual, aural/oral, reading/writing, kinesthetic
So, what's your preferred learning style? You can find out (roughly) by filling in this questionnaire. Personally I like to see and hear then read all about it, write some notes and then, if there's a practical application, get on and do it. So what's my preferred learning style?
Teaching someone like me, you should probably balance the styles you use for me (maybe my Libran side coming out?), because it will all depend on the situation we're in which will work best at the time. For instance, show me a set of diagrams to explain something and you've lost me. You see, this is like mathematical drawing to me, and my brain just doesn't work that way, I'm completely right-brained! Demonstrate, then you've got my full attention! When you demonstrate I can watch and listen to your explanations, then try it out for myself. Then, after the lesson, I can write notes to reflect on my learning. There you are, all 4 learning styles in one go!
Listening skills are vital
So, how would you know all this about your pupils? Yes, you should listen, but there's so much more to that skill than the word would have you believe. In fact, Edward Marshall's webinar on listening skills, held back in June, is available in the video library for you to watch now. You could also use the VAK questionnaire, available in the Articles section, when a pupil first signs up with you. Take care, these are not definitive, but I find them useful to start a discussion with the learner about how they learn best. This way, I find my learners are very comfortable to tell me if a method I'm using isn't working. A visual/kinesthetic learner I will ask if a demonstration would be helpful; sometimes they'll say yes please, others will ask to try it out first.
So now you can see how teaching to your learners' preferred learning styles is being client-centred, putting the learner at the very centre, so that they learn in the best way for them.
You will find lots more information on learning styles on the Internet. Go to this page for some useful information on VARK learning styles.