Visual thinking and studying

Visual thinking and studying

I discovered a great English expression: “in my previous life I was a teacher”. It doesn’t mean the person went into trance and found out they were a teacher in another life, but before practising their current profession, they practised another. I love expressions. So in my previous life I was a singer in Greece. I had a thousand ideas for if one day I would break through. But it was also a hard profession, because you had to perform every night and I also wanted to finish my studies. Good music is very healing though and in my current ‘life’ I am a writer and before that a healer. So I’m back in music to share it now.


Visual thinking

I would like to tell a little bit more about people who think visually. In images less than in words. It is a way of learning just like learning with words and texts, but not easy for many children and also adults. As you maybe know, the left hemisphere of your brain works with words and the right with images. The images go real fast, while the words are slower, but it’s so hard to remember all those images you’ve seen. That is because they have to be processed and … that processing is done in the left hemisphere. The images have to become words and then enter into your memory.

That’s how it works and for that you need your whole brain. Problem is only that no-one has a totally working brain. Oh it may seem so if a student who thinks in words, learns much faster and easier. But the fact that someone thinks in words doesn’t mean he or she is more complete than others. We’re all functioning on half brains! Scientists say it, don’t they? Our brains have much more capacity and they can’t understand why we don’t use the rest. Yes, I told you in the previous articles and videos: because they’re stuck. We can’t force them to work without healing them in the proper way.

Now in another ‘previous life’ I was a language trainer. For 25 years I have taught languages, cultures and study skills. I have always been open to learning strategies and that had become more or less my specialty. I thought (and still think) everyone has the right to learn new things and if one way doesn’t work, then the teacher should try another. And so I did. With some people I just went into grammar, because they asked me to do so and they learned real fast that way. With others I showed them some new sentence and then let them find by themselves how the grammar worked. That made them feel heard and seen and so they picked up the lessons fast as well.


Learning strategies

I also looked very well at the ways people learned other languages. And I saw that people who learned by their right hemispere, so by listening to mothertongue speakers and then imitating them without reading a lot, learned a lot slower and less accurate. When they arrived at some point halfway the language, the learning would stop and then they went to look for a school. At most schools of Dutch language the teachers are no language teachers, but primary school teachers, social workers (!), teachers of math or people with some bachelor degree in something totally irrelevant.

Most teachers never explain any grammar, saying in Dutch there are no rules. Well, there are, you only have to find them by looking into the grammar for Dutch as a second languge. These most teachers also tell their students to ‘work by themselves’, because that’s the latest fashion and so they don’t need to become tired explaining and helping. Newcomers in our country have to find a way to learn the language by themselves, because at school they learn nothing. They’re not lucky at all, because Dutch is a difficult language. And so people find ways to learn Dutch.

So I understood you can learn in many ways. If I have to learn a new language, I take the grammar, learn it by head and then make sentences by myself. A bit autistic maybe, but that is my way and it works for me. Since about 25 years it is in ‘fashion’ that learners of a new language should be immersed into it. I have taught hundreds of students who felt they were drowning that way. They felt they lost control and dropped out. For adults there is at least a little bit of tailor-made education, but children and teens have to learn the way the book and their teacher happen to teach. If they can’t make it, they’re called dyslectic if they’re lucky and otherwise they’re told they have AD(H)D, learning troubles or autism in some way. In mental health they have heaps of books with ways to categorise all the mental troubles they found in other people.

What I am actually saying is that yes: there are more ways to learn new skills. You can hang post-its on your walls with the names of objects in the house in the language you’re learning. Or math formulas on your toilet paper. You can put on the radio with talking programs at night while you sleep, so you learn a bit without doing anything. You can visit a scientifical museum in order to learn physics and chemistry or search for information on the internet. And many other things as well! But in my experience those things only work to make learning easier. They aren’t ways to really learn a skill or a subject. In the end you do have to sit and learn rules and everything. With the left hemisphere!



If you really want to learn, you have to take up books and sit and study. But then that right half of your brain says: “Well no, I’m not gonna do this. Do it by yourself!”. What is the solution then? Go to a lower level of school? Get home education? Drop out totally? Study instead of sleeping at night?

The answer to this question is that it’s time to kiss the half of your brain that has been sleeping, awake. You can help yourself in some way to do that, but it isn’t easy. The fact that you probably aren’t good with words has affected a part of the brain I always talk about: the area of Wernicke and you may have to unlock all the words you have trouble with, one by one. You can also come to me and let me free the words for you. That will awake the sleeping left hemisphere much faster and more effectively. Plus there is something else you will need:



And that isn’t something magical like a wonderformula for dyslexia and visual thinking. It’s a shift in point-of-view. People with a strong right hemisphere of the brain are a bit instable, insecure and hence afraid to admit they’re wrong. That is a much more important cause of learning difficulties than the fact that they think visually. One way that will help you overcoming those inhibitions is by working on the left hemisphere. That is where your emotional stability is situated. If you regain that, you won’t have so many problems in learning or studying.

I always hear right-hemisphere people say: “I am good as I am”. They say it in order to become more self-assured, but it doesn’t let them develop themselves. Don’t sink more and more into your feeling ability. You already have that well developed and that is great. Now it’s time to go on and learn to think in logics and to be emotionally stable. Maybe it sounds hard the way I say it, but really if you want to be successful in life, you need that left brain half. Of course nobody has the right to attack you, but if your left brain half isn’t developed, you easily feel attacked. Stable people can handle a lot more criticism without losing it. And that is exactly the factor you need for success: standing strong. That is impossible if you hesitate to develop yourself.


Better than saying you are dyslectic, it is to say you find language or math difficult and are trying to master it.


Don’t think you can’t do it. You can! Everyone can learn new things and so can you. One of the ways to develop your left brain hemisphere is by reading, but that is difficult for visual thinkers. What also works really well is making puzzles like sudokus, crosswords and so. Then you don’t have a whole page of letters, words or numbers to struggle yourself through, but just a few and you have to combine numbers, think very logically and straight in order to make them. I was quite dyslectic too, but I taught myself to scan pages. At first I couldn’t do it at all, but then one day I scanned five books in one afternoon. Plus I remembered what I had read! And I know more people who taught themselves to read, while they had been thinking their whole life they were dyslectic, had ADHD and I don’t know what more. Better than saying you are dyslectic, it is to say you find language or math difficult and are trying to master it.

Another advise I can give you is to eat left hemispere things, like cocoa or chocolate (not too much if you don’t want cholesterol problems), bananas (they really make you smart), fruit in general and ginkgo biloba (e.g. drink it as tea). Plus food with iron in it, like apple juice, concentrated blueberry, blackberry or elderberry juice. Iron gives both your brain and body the strength to fully function. It literally chases minerals and other nutrients through your blood, calling them to work. It’s like an army general.

Here is the music I promised. You deserve that after having read this whole article! It’s eastern music, because that helps your left side of the brain to wake up. This is Yasmin Levy for you, an Israeli singer with roots in Sefardic Spain and she sings Imre Kero (I want to go) for you, a traditional Ladino song. Ladino is a Spanish dialect spoken by Jews in Spain. She’s got a terrific orchestra there, but I unfortunately don’t know who they are:



I have the lyrics of the song for you:

I Want To Go

I want to go to Jerusalem
to eat its fruits, to drink its waters.
I lean onto Him
and in Him I trust
and the Lord of all people.
And I see the Holy Temple in front of me
it looks to me like the crescent moon.
I lean onto Him
and in Him I trust
and the Lord of all people.
And they’re forging it with precious stones
and they’re cleaning it with precious stones.
I lean onto Him
and in Him I trust
and the Lord of all people.



© Natassa Vassiliou (2016)


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