Teaching Styles & Learning Styles for English

How to be Effective Languae Teachers

All of us do not learn in the same way. Our personality, our way of thinking, our preferences for pictures, sounds or actions determine our learning style. Whether we want to learn a language like English or French or whether we want to learn car driving, motor racing or cooking delicious food, we can improve our performance by analysing our own learning styles.

We can become efficient learners if we understand our way of learning, evaluate our own strengths and weaknesses, learn from past experiences to plan for the present and future and continuously try to become better learners with each experience of learning.

Teachers do have their own preference for specific learning styles, and that influences their teaching styles. If they want to make their teaching more effective, they need to understand their students’ learning styles and adapt their teaching strategies accordingly.
Everyone needs to learn how to learn. But teachers have to do something more. They also have to learn how to help others learn. Good teachers do more than this. They go one step further and help others learn how to learn.

Whether you are beginning an elearning program, teacher certificate course, a special program for disabled learners or a course for the corporate world, it is necessary to understand the participants’ learning styles and your own teaching styles. If a team of people are involved in the courses whether they are formal degree programs or informal quality improvement programs, it is necessary to understand the teaching styles of all those who are asked to teach. A good balance can be arrived at by using the skills and preferences of different teachers.

Once the teachers are assigned to specific programs they need to find out answers to these questions:

What are the ways in which people learn?

What are the ways in which the particular age group of the students they teach learn?

What are their students’ preferred ways of learning?

Then they need to find answers to a few introspective questions:

What are the ways in which teachers learn?

What are the ways in which a teacher of my context can learn?

What are my preferred learning styles?

What are my preferred teaching styles?

Putting these two together they should find ways of adapting their teaching styles to their students’ learning styles. They also need to find ways of helping their students extend their horizon and learn to learn from styles other than their preferred ones.

There are a number of steps that are involved in adapting teaching strategies to learning styles of particular groups of learners.

Step 1: Identifying the learning styles of students
Step 2: Grouping them according to similar learning styles
Step 3: Identifying about 5 major styles of learning
Step 4: Planning classroom instruction according to these 5 styles of learning
Step 5: Preparing homework tasks which suit at least 10 learning styles and giving options to students
Step 6: collecting feedback from students
Step 7: Evaluating students’ achievement through classroom observation and test performance
Step 8: Reflecting on the plan and evaluating classroom instructions based on students’ performance & feedback
Step 9: Modifying and revising plans for future use
Step10: Replanning, teaching similar groups and reevaluation

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How to be Effective Languae Learners

To be effective learners everyone needs to learn how to learn. Whether we want to learn for pure pleasure, career advancement or self-development it is important to understand ourselves, our way of learning and our preferred learning styles. Once we teachers learn how to learn we can pass on this knowledge to our students and help them become life long learners.

To be effective learners we need to analyse ourselves and find out our interests, our capacity to learn and our limitations. Nobody can force us to learn what we don’t want to learn and nobody can stop us from learning what we want to learn. Hence it is necessary to begin with learning what we are interested in and for some reason if we have to learn something we are not interested in we need to find ways of developing interest in that subject. A thorough understanding of our strengths and limitations would help us approach the task of learning fully armed with strategies that enable us to build on our strengths and overcome our weaknesses.

There are a number of steps we can take to become efficient learners. We should analyse our past experiences of learning, learn lessons from it and plan for the present. While undergoing the learning experience we should be fully aware of the processes and use this awareness to plan for the future keeping in mind what does or does not work for us.
While analysing past experiences of learning we can ask ourselves how we learnt. We can try to find out whether we learnt more from listening to lectures, reading books, solving problems, memorising and reciting information, memorising and writing answers, making notes and summarising articles, reviewing and asking ourselves questions about what we read, etc.

We can also find out if we prefer learning from a teacher, learning from a variety of sources, sitting in a quiet place and working alone, working in study groups with friends, planning a number of brief study sessions or planning one long study session. After identifying our preferences we can evaluate our past experience and change what can be changed for effective learning.

To evaluate our past experience we can ask ourselves which of the past ways of learning has helped us, which need to be changed, which are within our control and which are not, what other ways of learning can be considered and if we need to and can change our way of learning. Keeping all this in mind we can plan for the future. Our future plan should be based on answers to the questions regarding what we did right, what could be done still better and whether our plan was suitable for building on our strengths and overcoming our weaknesses. Finally we need to think over and decide if we have achieved whatever we planned for and the degree of our success is just what we expected to achieve or more or less than our expectation.

If each learning experience is carefully planned by evaluating past experiences we would be continuously sharpening and polishing our learning skills. With internet facilities and virtual classrooms there is no limit to the sources of knowledge. We are our own limit and the more we can extend our internal limits the more we can learn.

The more we learn the better we will be as teachers too. We can adapt our teaching strategies to suit different types of learners. Learners can be visual, verbal or tactile. Visual learners prefer to see and learn, verbal learners prefer to listen and learn and tactile learners prefer learning by participating in some activities. Learning styles are also determined by learners’ personality types and the preferences of extroverts and introverts, global learners and sequential learners are quite different.

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