TEFL Learning Techniques

Learning is the process of gaining or acquiring knowledge while technique comes from the Latin word technicus which means execution or performance of some artistic work or a scientific procedure being used [Orford American Dictionary, Mac OS X dashboard]. So ?learning technique? is the art or even the science of acquiring knowledge.

How do we make learning scientific? Experts have come up with some ideas. First, they have isolated different learning techniques. Second, they have defined the qualities of those people using such techniques. Third, they have constructed tests to determine individual learning techniques.

Oxford (1990) has defined 6 learning strategies or techniques:

1 Cognitive strategies allow the learner to manipulate language material in direct ways: through reasoning, analysis, note taking, summarizing, synthesizing, outlining, etc. There have been studies conducted to verify this and three of them are within the EFL settings: Ku (Taiwan), Oxford, Judd and Giesen (Turkey), and Park (Korea).

2 Metacognitive strategies involves a lot of personal work and determination. This means learner defines his/her own needs and work on learning accordingly.

3 Memory-related strategies enable learners to learn and retrieve information in an orderly string. They relate stimulants to memory. For example, a certain smell should remind one of a certain word or phrase, or a certain sound will stimulate another idea. 4 Compensatory strategies help the learner make up for the missing knowledge. For example, using synonyms, guessing the missing letter or word or miming.

5 Affective strategies such as identifying one?s mood and anxiety level, talking about feelings and rewarding oneself for a good performance. Also, using deep breathing and positive self-talk have shown significant influence in ones language-learning ability.

6 Social strategies help the learner work with others and understand the target culture and as well as the language. This method stimulates one to find means to use the language they are learning, to ask for verification when needed and to work with others in order to learn.

Others list this down in a different fashion. Judie Hayes in classified learning techniques as:

1 Auditory Learners learn better by listening and speaking. They learn better when they need to report, converse with one another or listen to facts and details.

2 Visual Learners are the one who cannot just learn through the things they hear. They need to see pictures or visual aides for them to learn and remember points and ideas.

3 Tactile Learners are students that learn more if they write down their thoughts. Having their hands be able to practice how to write a certain idea or lesson will help them understand and remember them.

4 Kinesthetic Learners also involves their sense of touch but these are those that needs to have not just their hands moving or writing the learning points but they will have to involve their whole body in the action in order for the whole learning to take place.

5 Global Learners are the ones who never like being bored. They fidget or shut their minds off when their interest has been lost. They tend to

6 Analytic Learners like the cognitive strategy; analytic learners focus on details and are logical. They tend to want to work on projects or worksheets by themselves or on their own.

There are a lot of websites that offers tests to help you determine what kind of Learning Technique is best for you. One of them is

Determining one?s learning style is a new science in itself, as psychology is still a very young science. There is no style or say technique or strategy in learning that is better than the other. Or none that we can say will work for everyone.

As learners, the key is to have that determination to find and define our own personal learning technique. Find means to enhance them according to your personality. Ask your teacher to apply the technique you prefer to help you learn better. Most of the time, the teacher, even with the knowledge of the individual learning techniques of his/her student, he/she cannot employ each method. The learner should then try and be more willing to work and flow with the whole class in learning.

As teachers, instead of choosing a specific instructional methodology, we should find and employ a broad instructional approach that answers both the student?s accuracy and fluency need. A teacher should also be determined not to favor one technique from the other but to use all the techniques for every lesson as much as possible.

No technique is the best nor the worst. The difference will be based on the student?s personal feelings about learning and the teacher?s personal feelings about teaching. If both are determined to learn and teach, they will then be assured of the result they are aiming for, effective learning.

Author: Emily H. Ta?amor

Date of post: 2006-11-20