3 Important Considerations For EFL Learners And Teachers
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If we’ve said it once we’ve said it a hundred times: learning a language is hard. We know this – some of us even from our own experience. But there are a few things we can be aware of that will help us understand this better and so be better equipped to help our students.
- Short term memory
Short term memory plays an essential part in the learning process. In order for language to be learnt, it needs to be transferred from your short term memory to your long term memory. This can be done by sufficient and regular repetition. However, it needs to be remembered that your short term memory capacity is limited –it can hold from three to five items.
So we need to make sure we engage in activities which involve repetition and we don’t overload our learners with language.
Automaticity occurs when we don’t need to think before we speak; in other words, we don’t need to formulate what we are going to say before we can say it. Automaticity is one way our brains deal with the limited capacity of our memories, because it is just as easy to remember chunks of language than individual items.
Basically, if you teach your students chunks of language or formulaic phrases, they are more likely to get to a state of automaticity than if they are learning single words.
There is only so much that can be covered in the classroom. In order to learn a language, the learner needs to be exposed to as much of the language as possible. This often means taking responsibility for their own learning and engaging with the language on their own, in their own free time. This is not always easy – due to time constraints, motivation, or not living in the country that speaks the language – but the more exposure to a language, the better the learner will be at speaking the language.
Encourage your learners to work outside the classroom. Assign projects that require them to look information up on the internet or introduce them to music, movies or books they may be interested in.
As teachers, it is our responsibility to help our learners as much as we can. Being aware of the learning process helps make us aware of different methods and activities which will help them progress on their language learning journey.
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