In this chapter we will introduce you to 20 learning strategies that you can teach to your students to improve their learning of the foreign language. As we emphasized in the preceding chapter, extensive research into learning strategies reveals the importance and relevance of this instruction for language students. However, asexperienced teachers we know that incorporating a new approach into our instruction is not an easy task. This chapter focuses on preparing both teachers and students for learning strategies instruction. We begin by answering some of the most commonly asked questions about learning strategies. We also share the techniques and explain the importance of establishing a learner-centered environment in theclassroom before beginning strategies instruction.
I. Answers to some of the Most Common Questions about Learning Strategies Instruction
At this point, you may be thinking, “Twenty learning strategies? How do I find the time to teach 20 learning strategies in my already full schedule of teaching language skills?” And even more importantly, you may be thinking about your students: “Howreceptive will they be to learning strategies? How do I prepare them for learning strategies instruction?” Explicit strategies instruction may entail not only a new experience for you and your students, but also new roles in the learning process. The purpose of this section is to respond to these important questions and provide suggestions for getting started with learning strategies instruction. • Whatare Learning Strategies?
Learning strategies are the thoughts and/or actions that students use to complete learning tasks. We all know that good teachers use numerous teaching strategies to help students learn. We use visuals to introduce new ideas, we direct students’ attention to important elements, and we activate students’ background knowledge before introducing a new concept. Learningstrategies, however, are the tools that students themselves can employ independently to complete a language task. For instance, a student who needs to learn a list of vocabulary words might draw a picture to remember each word.
© National Capital Language Resource Center Sailing the 5 C’s with Learning Strategies
It is important to distinguish between teaching strategies and learningstrategies. Think about yourself in two different roles - as a language teacher and as a language student. Look at Table 1 below for examples of strategies you might use as a teacher and those you might use as a student. A comparison of similar teaching strategies and learning strategies
Strategy Background Knowledge Teacher Activate your students’ prior knowledge in order to build new material on whatthey already know. Through discussion, link new material to your students’ experiences and feelings using guiding questions or other activities. Have your students read a text, then summarize it to aid comprehension. Create a meaningful context for your students by accompanying new information with figures, illustrations, and photographs. Learner Think about what you already know about a topic tohelp you learn more about it. Link new material to your personal experiences and feelings.
After you read a text, stop a moment and summarize the meaning to help your comprehension Associate new information with a mental or printed image to help you learn it.
Learning strategies take different forms. Strategies like Make Inferences, in whichstudents derive meaning from context, are mental processes that are difficult to observe. Other strategies like Use Graphic Organizers/Take Notes can be easily observed and measured. What is important for the purpose of this guide is that strategies can be learned. • What is Learning Strategies Instruction?
Students who analyze and reflect on their learning are more effective learners; that is, they...