In my last article I delved into more detail about building the “resilience muscle” from Guy Claxton’s four Rs: Resilience, Resourcefulness, Reflection and Reciprocity. Let’s take a look now at building Resourcefulness and the secrets to learning more effectively.
Resourcefulness is about bringing all your resources to bear on your learning. Though it can be, this is not so much about external resources, but internal ones.
Unless you were incredibly lucky at school, you probably developed lots of poor learning habits. We get into the habit of being spoon-fed information, but students who want to be spoon fed all the time are rarely able to make much use of what they learn. Much more important is having an approach to learning that engages all of one’s resources.
Practising being resourceful is:
Questioning: Asking why? How come? Don’t just accept information but delve deeper into why things are so. The more time you spend with a fact, the more detail around it that you explore, the more likely it is you will understand and retain information.
Keep an Open-Mind: Your desire to box information using your existing models can inhibit learning. Allow yourself to be open to things working in ways you don’t yet understand. If it doesn’t make sense or fit, watch out that you don’t simply reject it.
Be playful: Have fun with your learning! Try out new ideas, be a little crazy. All young mammals, including humans, play instinctively. Play IS learning. Play IS practice for life. Don’t just allow yourself to play a little, play all the time! (Why not practise your vocab with Match Mania?)
Be imaginative: you can use your imagination to think up new ways to approach problems, but also new ways to use things you’ve learned. For example, what could you do to embed our Word of the Day sentences in you mind using more of you imagination? Get creative, don’t just accept them the way they’re sent to you!
Integrate your knowledge: your memory is associative. Find links between things you are learning. Try taking notes in mind map form rather than linear form. Use colours. What does a word remind you of? What other verbs relate to this one and how are they used? I highly recommend reading Tony Buzan’s books on Mind Mapping and Memory.
Use your whole body: Of course you need to use your mouth to speak; you won’t get far just reading and listening – but also try involving more of your body. Michel Thomas has a wonderfully physical way of teaching students about Spanish accents and stress by telling them to think of ‘pushing down’ to emphasise the syllable. Language has a physical aspect and it’s more than just making sounds with your mouth.
Let your subconscious work for you: language acquisition is a human instinct. It reduces with age but the machinery is still there. Listen to plays, radio stations, audio books, whatever you can whenever you can. You don’t need to understand it all. Remember what we said about Fog? Expect fog. Let the language soak in. Play tapes before bed and let the sounds enter your dreams.
What other resources can you bring to bear on your language learning?