Learning strategies for learners. In a learner’s language!
We’ve all heard about learning strategies and what to do to teach them to our students. The problem which arises is that not many materials are intended for students themselves. For example, how can you understand this tough puzzle:
· DIRECT STRATEGIES
o I. Memory
§ A. Creating mental linkages
§ B. Applying images and sounds
§ C. Reviewing well
§ D. Employing action
§ A. Practising
§ B. Receiving and sending messages strategies
§ C. Analysing and reasoning
§ D. Creating structure for input and output
o III. Compensation strategies
§ A. Guessing intelligently
§ B. Overcoming limitations in speaking and writing
· INDIRECT STRATEGIES
o I. Metacognitive Strategies
§ A. Centering your learning
§ B. Arranging and planning your learning
§ C. Evaluating your learning
o II. Affective Strategies
§ A. Lowering your anxiety
§ B. Encouraging yourself
§ C. Taking your emotional temperature
o III. Social Strategies
§ A. Asking questions
§ B. Cooperating with others
§ C. Empathising with others
This in fact is what learning strategies are divided into. In this article I will tell the most important person here – you, the learner – how to learn more effectively. We’re going to look at some studying habits. It’s always worthwhile to remember some of them, even if you think they are obvious.
First of all, an effective learner is a responsible learner. And a responsible learner is an autonomous learner. We won’t put down numerous definitions of what autonomy is. But you should:
· Understand that the time passes. In many aspects you should be aware of the fact that you should prioritize your learning. Admit – you can’t learn everything in 2, 4, 6 hours. You should know what’s best for you. Imagine you’re an Intermediate student. You’re focusing on a lesson about Present Perfect. Its aim is to present the tense. This becomes YOUR aim. So if you stumble upon a word like ‘insurmountable’, don’t spend an hour or so studying it. There are more important things than that, and you will come back to it, when the time comes. Also, never get distracted from the goals you have set. Not by your friends not by anything else. These are your goals, stick by them.
· Never give up. It may sound dull but it’s essential. Let’s consider the example with Present Perfect tense. Let’s imagine that you failed to understand the tense and the lesson. Remember – don’t read the materials again. Always try something new. Ask your friends, tutors, or use the Internet. Search the Web, find the material you have been reading about. There’s a different approach to Present Perfect on hundreds of sites. Still don’t get it? Visit forums. Visit englihtips. People will help you, because the best advisor is the one who understands you.
· Know when the best time for studying is for you. Look for the optimum. If you feel that mornings are the time when you achieve maximum productivity, consider waking up earlier to study a bit. If you’re more a night person – consider staying late and even studying at night. Some people will tell you that it’s bad for you because you need the sleep, but remember that it’s you who is studying and if you’re brain is doing his best at night – go for it! I even know people who study only around noon. Given you have proper conditions – why not!
· Consider music. Again don’t look at others. Try listening to relaxing music while learning. Is it helpful? It might be but it might be not. The genre which is considered to be relaxing is classical music. So launch a piece by Bach or Beethoven and let your studying begin! Yet, I know many people who learn only to their favorite music. If it works for you – let it be. Remember that you might have the opposite tendency. You might love silence. Search for a place that suits you, don’t let others bother you. This is also connected with the next point, that is…
· Choose your place. Outdoors or indoors? Silence or a bit of noise? People chatting or not a living soul near you? It’s important to choose the location which will suit your personal likes and dislikes. On many occasions you aren’t able to do so, but still try to choose what’s closest to your ideal. After all it’s not possible to visit a desert island everyday. But a short trip might be accessible!
· Vary your activities! Don’t stick to reading only. Or to vocabulary studying. Your brain needs a rest from the same things. Consider cutting up your plan of studying into pieces that go after themselves. For example: Reading- Vocabulary studying – Listening – Grammar – Reading ……
· Revise! Remember to come back to the material you had learned before. Our brains are constructed in such a way that it will eliminate the old knowledge in benefit of the new one. Do you still remember what ‘insurmountable’ is? You should give yourself at least one hour a week to revise.
· Be your own interlocutor. After learning something – tell yourself about it! Paraphrase. Use your own words. Remember about the details.
· Arrange your notes and the things you are studying. How? Group them – animals, body parts, environment. Too easy? Adjectives, nouns, verbs? Still not it? Words beginning with a “b”, “c”…? How about studying something while performing an action of some sort. Consider walking around the room. Or even doing push-ups! Drumming your fingers? During the time you have to remember something you retrieve it from your memory – ‘oh, it was when I’ve been running around my kitchen slamming the fridge door’. Also remember about the sounds – whistling, laughing, snoring, speaking to yourself in a funny voice – it works!
· Think of funny examples. Or the characteristic ones. But they should be yours. Because you will easily forget the “The path to the mountain was insurmountable”. Instead think of something like this: “I’ve been studying English and suddenly I hit myself on the head with my fist, angry that this material is insurmountable”! This example is individualized. It’s about you. Not some path to the mountain you have never seen in your life.
· Think of some rewards. It’s always easier to study when you think that there is a delicious pie waiting for you in the kitchen. But…! Only when you succeed to trudge through the first chapter.
· Have breaks! Remember – it’s impossible to study non-stop. You need a break. Think about them before you study. One hour of studying – 15 minutes break?
· Remember the ways in which you can memorize things. The basic ones are:
1. Acronyms? Wrong – Wanting Right Obviously. Nothing Great
I’m not a big fan of these. An acronym should be constructed in a great way in order not to forget it
2. Rhymes? Homophones? Right-write, eye-I… tee – three
3. Chaining? A story – strange, funny, doesn’t matter, but should incorporate the words you want to learn.
4. The Image-Name technique – for example my name is Bartosz. Imagine now a snack bar which is writing this article in a silly way (which you obviously noticed). This is called tosh. Bar giving you a tosh. Bartosz.
· Consider using flashcards. Small pieces of paper might be good for those who take advantage of visuals. Use them everywhere. Or maybe you could glue them to the wall? I know people who used flashcards as posters in their room. If you don’t get mad, you will most likely benefit from looking at the words all the time.
In fact there might be hundreds of more examples. Provided there is a need for some of them, I will gladly come back to the topic in a while.