Image: brain being infused with energy

We know you want to acquire new skills. It is after all how you get on in any career, not just for jobs in restaurants or contract catering, for instance. 

And it can be frustrating when, no matter how hard you concentrate, no matter how determined you are to get the most out of your training, sometimes it just doesn’t quite work. Well here’s some consolation: it may not be your fault – it may just be that the training doesn’t suit your learning style.


Everyone learns in different ways. Some are suited to hearing logical explanations of why something works in a classroom setting, while others like to work online, at their own pace, discussing examples of when something worked well. There are many other different styles or 'models', including combinations of the above styles. Take this online learning styles test to find out which category you fall into.

Here are five questions you can ask yourself whenever you’re getting the feeling it’s not sinking in as well as it could. Try changing the way you’re learning it and see if it makes a difference. It could be the difference between getting a qualification or not.

1. Auditory, visual or kinaesthetic

Some learn through hearing, others through seeing, and a third group through doing. So, try all three out and see which works best for you. Do you like to have an expert explain it to you? Do you like to read about it or see a graphic representation of the topic? Or do you learn best by doing something, making mistakes, and trying again?

2. Classroom or coaching

While many people engage best with a formal, classroom style of learning, such as in a college, others are more comfortable with less structured, on-the-job coaching. Increasingly, training providers are recognising that people learn best when theory delivered in a classroom is reinforced in a practical setting over time. It's the classic exams vs. experience debate.

3. Intensive or slow-paced

Some people like to see the entire picture and learn a whole subject in one go. It helps them to see how everything fits together. Others prefer to have topics broken up, and drip-fed to them over a longer period of time.

4. Social or solitary

You might be one of those people who learns best on their own in a quiet room, or you might find it better to be in a lively, energised space with people to bounce ideas off. If one method isn’t working try the other.

5. Reason or storytelling

Finally, there's the division between logic and intuition. Some people prefer to understand exactly why something works. If they have a rational explanation, they can fix it firmly in their minds. Others engage better with a subject if they're told stories about times when it did work. It fires their imagination and helps them picture themselves using that skill or knowledge.

Bear in mind that neither approach is right or wrong, and also that your preferences may vary depending on the subject matter and your mood at the time. The important thing is to be aware there are different styles of learning, so if one approach isn’t working, just try another one.

Related articles:

 - How to get the most out of training
 - How to train up with out shelling out
 - Hospitality qualifications
 - What are transferable skills? 

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