In the following lines I would like to paint a picture of my personal learning philosophy; now that in class we’ve been talking about background to language learning and teaching, my understanding of learning philosophy has changed and become clearer for myself. First I will begin with a description of my own preferences and then go on to what I would like to realize in class with students.
For me it is important to have a certain learning environment, which normally consist of open space, space around me to place papers, pencils, pictures, words, texts-everything I’m working with all around me to be able to take and use anything at anytime. Besides I need to have a calm environment, without television sounds, radio, music or people talking loudly; and – if possible – an open window nearby – fresh air helps me thinking.
I’m a naturalistic and intrapersonal but as well word smart and interpersonal multiple intelligence learner, and the way I learn best is repeating words, making notes, use words in different contexts, underline or mark in different colours and have somebody with whom to talk about what I am doing.
For sure I have got certain preferences and just cannot be watching and listening to the television while doing homework or reading a text; at the same time I continuously see pupils working exactly like that, and it seems possible and normal for them – which means that my students as well could be learning this way without any inconvenient for them.
But when the teacher just works the way he/she likes, prefers, knows it helped him/her to learn, he/she could be equivocated thinking that the students would feel the same, would have the same preferences. Talking with language learners makes me realize again and again how much variety exists concerning learning styles and intelligences. There are so many different possible combinations that while planning a lesson I have to reflect on all of them, or try it at least and have my planning be open for different learning styles by offering students various options to choose for learning a certain subject. It is like going a certain path and seeing all the others crossing and moving away from, going parallel or in zig zag. There are so many different ways to learn and teach.
Without knowing about the learners’ needs, how will we as teachers know which materials and topics are suitable for our learners; choosing the approach to teaching and assessment. To plan our lessons we might want to include interaction patterns, language and skills, learning strategies and as well pay some attention to the learners’ personal needs, to decide about the pace of lessons, the activities and the types of feedback e.g. (see: TKT Course. Modules 1,2 and 3, chapter 14, p.79ff). “Meeting the learners’ needs helps to motivate learners, making their course more relevant to them.” (ibid) The connection that needs to be made between teachers and language learners is the one that tells them about the others ways of learning. If I make Jeanny walk around in a mingle all day long and face her constantly with interactive activities training her reading subskills while she is a logical intelligence and likes to work on her own, I will just demotivate her in my classes – without even knowing why she would not respond positively to my lesson plan.
Instead what I want as a teacher is make students goal-orientated and working straight ahead on their own way, offering them a variety of activities from which to choose: Then they could feel like being a main part of the direction classes take. Besides as they get to know about the others’ learning styles and multiple intelligences. This is the metacognitive part of language learning and teaching. By the way teachers who are aware of their own learning preferences and their multiple intelligences and who discuss them in class can give an authentic example for students and as a conclusion are more transparent for students.
The essential part and characteristic of my learning philosophy is the way students work autonomously, working at stations, working project-based or project-orientated. They should learn to work in collaborative groups and I would like to make them communicate with each other, in the way that they could get a feeling of being responsible for the goal the group has in common: learning something new. And last I just want to mention rapidly some characteristics about learning intelligences; that could be helpful to know while making students working at stations; here below I’ll share a list with you that I found on Adrianas blog:
- We can work in small groups (interpersonal) to do a variety of tasks such as gather information, organize what we already know, and brainstorm etc (verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical)
- We can research additional information using the internet, the library, books, multi-media centre and resources (verbal/linguistic)
- We can classify, sort and organize the information according to a variety of attributes (logical/mathematical)
- We can use software simulations and manipulatives and communicate our learning in written form (visual/spatial, verbal/linguistic)
- We can work in groups to communicate the steps and processes involved to solve problems (verbal/linguistic, interpersonall)
- We can create a musical selections and jingles to memorize key points and facts (musical/rhythmic/body/kinaesthetic)
- We can reflect about learning tasks and think about the process involved (intrapersonal)
(found on Adrianas wordpress-blog; see: http://arh1980.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/learning-styles/#comments)