How to Study
Good LL Teach
Some Good LL
Where to Aim
In recent years in the area of teaching languages there has been a shift in focus from how the teacher should teach to how the student best learns. Researchers in how people learn languages are trying to discover what goes on in the mind of the student -- how do learners absorb (internalize) - process - and output what they are learning?
We all know that language students differ in several respects:
What are some of the reasons for these differences? Factors include age, intelligence, aptitude, motivation, attitude, personality, learning style and learning strategies. All these interact together in the student. Also the quality of teaching (interesting and stimulating?), the textbooks (meeting the student's communicative needs?), and the learning environment (plenty of opportunities to interact with local people?) -- all these have an influence on the learner's progress in mastering Chinese.
So what is a learning style? Simply stated, it is how learners instinctively process the language as they learn it -- using their MIND - BODY - EMOTIONS. In this and the next article, we will focus on how the mind processes language material. Then in the last two articles, we will concentrate on the body and the emotions.
Analytical (Linear) vs. Relational
Answer the following questions:
The more 'a' answers you checked off, the more left-brain and analytical you are. The more 'b' answers you checked off, the more right-brain and relational you are.
What do these two types look
RELATIONAL: These types, on the other hand, can't see the trees for the wood! They prefer the new and novel to the familiar, tend to deal with problems intuitively, prefer loose guidelines, dreams, play with ideas and enjoy having fun with no particular goal in mind.
How do these two types of learners
differ in the way they approach, organize and deal with the language?
What different 'mindset' (mindstyles) do they have?
RELATIONAL learners prefer to begin with the whole picture, whereas analytical learners begin with the separate parts and piece them together to make a whole. Relational learners also enjoy being with their teachers and friends. They prefer learning through using their intuition, as well as through concrete experiences as they interact with people. They use their creative right-brain to make language learning fun!
What learning strategies will
aid these two types?
ANALYTICAL learners should try not to let an ambiguous learning situation (e.g. a difficult-to-grasp point of grammar) overly frustrate them, but be willing to give it time. (Time is a great clarifier of grammar and difficult vocabulary!) Don't set your goals unrealistically high, but find out from other students the average time each textbook takes to complete. Ensure that you allot sufficient time for conversation practice -- don't just sit at your desk poring over your books all day.
RELATIONAL learners should find creative ways to communicate. Think up language learning activities and games to make learning more fun! Use pictures to help you remember words. Use your intuition to guess meanings from the context without necessarily feeling you need to work out all the details. But remember that you can't achieve real proficiency in a language without being accurate as well as fluent.
Note: for the sake of simplicity, I have subsumed Linear, Left-brain and Field Independent categories all under Analytical learners, and Global, Right-brain, Field Dependent (Field Sensitive) categories all under Relational learners.