Learning a language in a traditional classroom situation is not always available to those wishing to learn. This is when distance teaching comes in place. There are three modalities for this category:- - distance teaching (mimicking the face to face teaching)
- teach yourself
- and the learning software.
In distance teaching and in using the learning software, the student does not have much say in the learning process. What they should study has been chosen for them, and all they do is follow a pre-established program. On the other hand, when students decide to teach themselves, all the learning decisions fall upon them. Most of the time, they are unsure of where to start, which learning materials to choose, and in these cases, learning how to learn a language could be extremely useful.
A language is learnt not for the sake of knowledge but to be able to use it, and this is communicative competence. Learners who decide to teach themselves should be able to choose and learn what is relevant to them and fulfil their communicative needs. They must be taught to take these kinds of decisions based on their objectives by giving them the tools allowing them to analyse such needs and expectations, and how to describe them. They should be able to self-organise their learning based on their intuition of what linguistic competence and language learning entail.
Linguistic competence is the knowledge of what a language is: Vocabulary (a word, the meaning of a word, collation) grammar etc
How language is used (correct text, appropriate text, communicative acts etc)
What understanding, expressions, and translations are etc
They should know what learning behaviour is, the process of language acquisition, which learning technique can be used to learn a specific thing.
Students should be taught to discover their own learning style, so that they can choose appropriate learning materials and the time and duration of each learning session.
Learners should be trained at becoming experienced decision makers through practice.
They should be able to analyse their language needs and discover the ways to satisfy them.
They should define their learning objectives considering the skills they already have and certain learning hurdles like the time availability.
They should learn to experiment with the diverse methods available and manage their learning program adequately.
This training can be given before the student even starts learning a language. It should then be open and easily re-usable by learners because it is independent from a specific language study. They are not even obliged to decide which language they wish to study at this point.
The only disadvantage is that learners might perceive the training course as a useless activity and a waste of time. They should be made aware of the advantages of such a practice so that they can see a course in learning to learn as a long-term investment as it is applicable every time they decide to learn a new language.
Would you be prepared to follow a learning to learn course, and why? Please do let me know in the comments