Did you ever think of what is your best language learning method? Here at We Languages learning, teaching and education are topics close to our hearts. Making sure our students learn in the best way for them and can retain the knowledge they acquire with us matters.
This is important because our students can then directly apply what they have learned in their own lives. This is our ultimate goal.
Fortunately, we are not alone in our quest to understand the way in which individuals learn best. It is a subject well researched.
Dr Malcolm Knowles' research
American educator Dr. Malcolm Knowles (an expert in adult learning who conducted much research into this area) spoke of how adults learn best when the subject matter draws on their own experiences. His research said a student’s background knowledge is a useful resource to aid their continued development and encouraged teachers to incorporate this already-gathered information into their lessons.
Dr. Knowles also said that adult learners have better experiences when what they learn is relevant to their personal and professional lives.
He wasn’t alone in this approach to learning. Jean Piaget, the infamous Swiss education theorist, also spoke about how learning can only take place when new experiences are linked to old ones and are shown to the learner in this way.
Language learning as stepping Stones
It can be useful to think of our learning as the process of walking across a series of stepping stones.
Let’s imagine standing on one stone awaiting to take a leap to the next. Visualize this first stone, with you atop it, as the accumulation of your life’s current knowledge, know-how, experiences, and references.
It is likely to be much harder to take the leap to the next stone if it is too far away and looks extremely different from the one we are currently standing on. If we don’t see the similarity we might not see the value for us to keep moving, or we may be put off.
It has to relate!
As we learn more about each stepping stone and link each new learning to the previous, we can see the purpose of the next step. Slowly we can keep hopping along with those stepping stones and progressing.
What is your language learning method? Try to imagine it like walking across a series of stepping stones!
What’s your learning style?
There are lots of different recognized learning styles in the education sphere and it is likely that along the way you have acquired certain tools and techniques that help you learn more effectively.
Maybe you’re a visual (spatial) and verbal (linguistic) learner? I know I am.
As a child when I was revising for my school examinations, I used to learn by writing and rewriting information onto pieces of paper. I would arrange the facts and figures into specific formations, using varying colors and patterns. I would then stick these up all over my house, much to my family’s dismay - after all who wants to be in the bath surrounded by reams of paper detailing the intricacies of the French Revolution!
Then when I was taking the exam I would recall these papers into my memory and I would remember specific details by envisioning where the words were positioned on the page, by their color and location. It’s fascinating to look back upon and realize that I fit the description of a visual and a verbal learner entirely.
The way in which words and the written form were at the center of my learning style is not surprising considering my love for it.
So where do you fit within the learning styles?
Different types of learners
Aural learner - using music when you learn
Are you an Aural Learner and find that using sound and music helps boost your learning? Or maybe you make up songs and rhymes to help you learn new skills.
Apparently incorporating music and rhyming into learning is specifically helpful in terms of language learning. The musicality and repetition of songs mirrors the intonation, stress, and pronunciation that are inherent in all languages.
With this in mind, when using music to learn the student is able to retain the new information, grammar and vocabulary through these helpful rhythmic structures. According to the British Council, an organization created to boost language learning in the UK, musicians often find it easier to pick up new languages for these exact reasons. With their ear attuned to rhythm, musicality, and intonation it makes sense that these individuals can master specific sounds, patterns and enhance their aural memory more easily.
So look out for those rhythms and patterns in your language classes!
Logical learner, learning in groups or alone?
Or maybe you are more of a Logical learner who finds logic, reason, and the use of systems an easier way to retain information and progress in your learning process. This one will specifically resonate with the mathematicians out there.
Learning in groups can also be a great way to aid development. It is understood that collaborative, group study allows individuals to watch those around them and develop from their classmates' experiences, as well as that of the teacher.
Here at We Languages sessions are undertaken with a trusted coach on both one basis or in small groups, so whatever you find works best for you there is something to suit your needs.
If you are more of a solitary worker then one-to-one sessions are a must. These will allow you to gather the information from your helpful Japanese coach and then head off to work independently to continue your learning process.
Tailoring programs and sessions to suit the individual learner is of the utmost importance for us and ties in with our student-centered philosophy at the heart of WE. Whatever type of learner you are, there’s a perfect way for each of us to learn and we know that our capacity to progress and retain information is hugely boosted when it is relevant to us and our lives.
When we are engaged and interested we retain MORE
A study by Stanford University in the USA found that learner engagement and interest is a higher indicator than assessment scores when predicting someone’s learning performance.
You will know from your own experience how much more information remains present in your memory, for longer when you come out of a lesson that really interests you. Learning by rote isn’t at the fore of our teaching techniques, and arguably isn’t the best way for learners to gain knowledge and insight that can be useful for them in their lives.
Stanford’s research found that engaged learners are likely to achieve more with their new skills than those that aren’t, both personally and professionally. It can be interesting to recall learning experiences you have had, either growing up or as an adult, and think about ones that you enjoyed and ones you didn’t.
As a curious person myself I find that when working with a tutor (in whatever I am learning) that allows me to ask questions and will go where my mind and curiosity leads I always learn better. That way sessions can take you anywhere and always remain interwoven with your interests and life.
Our coach, Kiyo, speaks of how she helps her students learn by repeating expressions many times during sessions to aid understanding. She also encourages the students to ask as many questions as possible so that learners remain engaged and interested. Having an open and free environment where students can be curious and learn in an uninhibited way is a key part of her ensuring lessons run smoothly and enjoyably.
Are you ready to find out YOUR best language learning method?
Learning with us - what our students say
With students from all over the world, it is fascinating to speak to learners throughout their journey and find out how the WE way has helped them. Speaking about his progression with learning Japanese with us, Fabio from Brazil, said:
“Thanks to my Japanese’s improvement, I can currently participate in meetings with my customers and colleagues without using any words in English. Since my business partners can speak in their native language, they are usually more comfortable and open to discussing their business with me, so I have access to more important information than when I arrived in Japan. It also helps me in my daily life in Japan, clearly understanding the news on the TV, on the internet, and whenever I need to use a service by phone in Japanese.”
How incredible is that - well done Fabio!
When asked about how learning Japanese has made a difference in his life, Derek from Australia, told us:
“I am using Japanese more and more, every day! Japanese has changed from being a series of sounds I could not understand to being able to comprehend the meaning of what people are saying to me, and then being able to talk back! That progress with the language is very satisfying. Japanese is a fantastic language to learn. Learning Japanese can seem daunting at first, but with practice and effort, and the rewards of succeeding, it becomes less daunting and a lot of fun. The team at We School has been fantastic in its efforts towards my Japanese study. They have helped me improve from an elementary level of being comfortable in Japanese.”
Find your learning method with our Japanese coaches!
Our commitment to YOU - Our Approach
Our commitment to helping you meet your dreams and goals via a student-centered approach is unchanging, and will always remain at the center of all the sessions we deliver.
We work with language learners since 1996 and so we know a lot about how to keep you at the center of everything we do. We have developed our Metrix system which allows you to organize your values and interests so that they can be applied to your language lessons. By integrating what is dear to you into your learning and development we ensure that all experiences are relevant and personal to your day-to-day life. At We, each lesson is customized and tailored by our friendly coaches and the entire team to make sure you have the best experience learning Japanese.
Understanding the way in which we learn best, as well as being experts in the matter being taught, is entirely necessary and so it has been a pleasure to share more information about this in today’s blog. We hope it has been interesting to you and wish you all the luck along the way with your development.
Evolution and self-improvement is our goal and we will do this along with you as you set out on your Japanese learning journey.
Discover the best way to learn English and Japanese languages with our content partner, the revolutionary magazine Hiragana Times!
Author: Alison, WEs English coach and feature writer
Alison has an Education Studies and English Literature BA Honours, a Masters in Journalism, a yoga and pilates teacher certification and is an experienced copywriter and journalist.
She has worked with adults and children internationally as a teacher and a community educator and now works with them in the UK as part of her social enterprise aiding individual's holistic development.
With a passion for education, language, culture and travel Alison is preparing to relocate to Japan later this year to teach within the public school as an Assistant Language Teacher.
She is excited to be on the WE team and looks forward to sharing perspective, information and learnings over on the blog, whilst developing herself by learning more about Japanese life language and culture.