should we talk about how we learn?

Well, I think we should.

Because I’ve seen many times that it does make a difference – when you share the responsiblity of learning and studying with your students. When you are not the only person who constantly tries to figure out how this group and that individual student would learn something better. When the students think and decide what works best for them – and thus help you to find the most appropriate materials and resources for them.

That’s why I am sure it’s a good idea to spend a lesson (or half a lesson, or even just 10 mins of a lesson) discussing different ways of acquiring new material, letting your students reflect on their own experience and their own learning. I guess such a lesson could be good when you start a new course, or when you finish one – so that you students may study in a more conscious manner. And surely, you are in for quite a heated discussion! After such a lesson your teaching-learning process will never be the same: you&your group might start watching and discussing a TV show, or regularly discover a new “word of the day”, or the students would take turns retelling the week’s news, or …. anything else, but something will definitely change – and you just need to support the initiative!

What could take place at such a lesson?

First, offer your students to take a test – to find out what learning style is more characteristic for them (audial, visual, kinesthetic). In some cases it would be enough just to discuss who your students think they are (judging from what they remember most and pay attention to: if what they remember is more like a picture or a combination of sounds).

Then, when you are clear about who is who, it would be logical to show various techniques good for different types of learners. (For instance, if we take vocabulary learning: pictures or mental images for the visuals, voicing a word and listening to it for audials, imagining the “feeling” of the word for kinesthetics.)

Then it would be great to take a look at different sites and/or books that help to learn independently.

Then – to ask some of the students to share their experience and to tell what worked for them (for some vocabulary cards may work wonders, for others – listening to audiobooks could be the only way they like and use…). You could also add here some stories from other students (from other groups, from Internet, from somebody you know, from yourself learning some language).

2 more important points to discuss would be

– homework: why it is necessary to do?

– and mistakes – is it good or bad that we make them?

Would you discuss the process of learning and ways to improve it with your students? Why/ why not?

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About Svetlana Urisman (Englishteachingnotes)

I am an ADOS and an English teacher (and materials writer) in a language school in Moscow. I have been an ADOS and a teacher trainer for almost a year now and a teacher for about 5 years. I am keen to share some ideas and materials I've developed in order to take them further and not to forget or lose them You are welcome to use any materials represented in this blog, and I will be happy to get your feedback afterwards if you take them to your classroom! ;-)
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