The following article refers to the concept of ‘effective learning’ along with some practical ideas for classroom use.
At the beginning of each set of suggestions there is a definition concerning the general principles of effective learning/teaching.
A. Effective learning requires professional preparation and organizational skills on the behalf of the teacher and the learner.
* Start your lesson by defining its goals and aims to the learners. In other words explain and ask the group to try and imagine what should be achieved by the end of the specific lesson or series of lessons.
* See to the lesson as a whole. To achieve so you may design an outline of the lesson/s and share it with the learners. For further ideas also see one of my previous articles about ‘Mind maps’ and their use.
* As a teacher try to identify your difficulties before teaching the actual lesson/s. Create strategies to overcome them and at the end of the lesson/s try to evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts.
* Generate and increase motivation at the beginning of the lesson brainstorming some unusual and ‘crazy’ questions. It ‘prepares’ the students’ ‘learning systems’ to carry on with the lesson in question.
* Make sure you establish a positive learning atmosphere among the learners but in terms of physical conditions too.
B. Effective learning requires skills such as gathering and managing information on behalf of the teacher and the learner.
* Ask the learners to write down all the information needed for the lesson/s which follow. Such preparation helps them to perceive information easier.
* To facilitate the learning process further the teacher may design an outline of the lesson, something like an outline map. The learners may take notes easier and understand the key points faster.
It is important to remember that the human brain is naturally associative, so it is always looking for links and connections. The concept map idea facilitates this.
* Make sure you provide space for regular study breaks in order to maximise intake and production.
C. Effective learning requires effective practice, elaboration, and integration of various learning skills.
* Recycling and revision help students to store information faster and more accurately. Encourage the learners to repeat the necessary points of various lessons immediately as they return from a short break, then in one day, two days, one week, one month, and six months. These reviews are just the right thing to do and it takes a short time to complete.
* For effective learning the students need to know how to summarize and paraphrase, rehearse and present, simulate and role-play.
* An interesting task is to ask the learners to design and explain their concept maps to other members of the class.
* Realistic productions such as the design of a video clip, the production of a mini sketch, the recording of a song or even the use of social network facilities such as FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE surely help and facilitate effective learning.
* Another interesting task is to ask your learners to explain the subject to younger students so they understand it better. For example, the students may be asked to design various posters illustrating the tense system or the relation between specific words (collocations) etc.
* Ask the learners to design a mock test, or other exam type exercises, for their fellow students and work on them either at home or in class.
D. Effective learning requires team spirit and team learning as well as association with real life needs.
* At the end of each lesson ask the learners to work as group and build up the finalised concept map including key points and points which need further practice or further understanding.
* Ask the learners to relate what they have recently learnt with the ‘real life’ language they need to communicate in English. Is the language taught used in the real world?
* Teach your learners and yourself to evaluate your learning / teaching performance.
What did you do well? What could you have done better?
Akis Davanellos has been a school owner and Practitioner Teacher for twenty three years and he holds an MA in ELT from the University of Warwick. He has written a number of articles in local and international journals and he has worked for international and local publishing companies presenting professional and commercial seminars and courses. He has also been involved in forthcoming book evaluations and piloting. He is the initiator and the main materials designer of the IGUANA PROJECT publishing house, the initiator of the Iguana Project Educational Support System for schools (I.P.E.S.S.). He has also developed the ‘e-enilikes’ method for adult education and various e-learning programs for distant learning.