Learning by doing

There’s no question that some people learn better by sight (visual learners) or by hearing (audial). But at some point, learning requires that you practice the skills you want to use. I wrote earlier about the value of typing in programs so you get used to physically typing the key combinations that may be unfamiliar but that you need to get right for your programs to work. Lately, I’ve been finding the same thing with Egyptian: I’d gone a few weeks into my course and I stalled. Now, for two weeks, I’ve been methodically copying out all the exercises, looking up the recommended steps for writing simplified versions of characters as I go. It’s another form of “act as if…” If you go through the motions of being a scribe, you become one. So as you work on your language, or anything else, make sure your practice makes you work through the mechanics of what you’re learning – how it comes together – and then your thinking and your automatic memory can work together all the better.

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About G Barto

I've been learning languages more than 20 years and teaching them for at least 15. Here I share the joys and frustrations of teaching yourself new languages.
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2 Responses to Learning by doing

  1. Niall Beag says:

    “There’s no question that some people learn better by sight (visual learners) or by hearing (audial).”

    Really? As far as I’m aware that’s still very much an open question. According to the American journal “Psychological Science in the Public Interest”, no-one has ever given any decent justification for the existence of learning styles that can be taught to.
    [Pashler, H.; McDaniel, M.; Rohrer, D.; Bjork, R. (2008). “Learning styles: Concepts and evidence”. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 9: 105–119. doi:10.1111/j.1539-6053.2009.01038.x.]

    The authors make it clear that they’re not saying that learning styles don’t exist, just that if they do, we don’t know how to teach to them.

    It may be that you’re taking too short-term a view of what “learning” really is — you’re talking as though “learning” is just the initial exposure, but as I’ve been discussing with Yousef over on my blog, practice has to be viewed as an integral part of the learning process.

    Perhaps some people are better at memorising images or sounds, but I wouldn’t consider that “learning”….

  2. Glen Gordon says:

    Doing is definitely part of the learning process. When I made my little model of an Etruscan temple in Sketchup, it brought up numerous questions that I might not have confronted had I not started up the project. What colours should a typical Etruscan temple be painted? Did Etruscan temples have elaborate religious murals inside like their tombs did? What nicknacks would be typically placed in the temple? How is the architecture linked to Asia Minor? Etc, etc, etc. Even if my model proves inadequate to others, I can take away these new questions which serve as new goals for further learning. This is how we can create a cycle of self-inspiration and learning, like a scholarly snowball of questions rolling down the hill. Watch out below! ;o)

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