The Sunday News
END of first term holidays are coming and most learners in the examination classes are looking forward to holiday lessons. “All is well that ends well”. This is a reminder that all work should be done at school, though not discouraging those who have a high appetite for private lessons. It is a fact that some learners do not concentrate much at school hoping to catch up in the extra lessons. Some have had a rude awakening when realising that they should have done better if they had put all their effort at school and trusted their all-time teachers.
It is ironical that learners spend a minimum of four years under the mentorship of their dedicated teachers only to dump them at the last minute for extra lessons, a few months before the final examinations. Have the teachers for so long suddenly become useless that they cannot make the learners who have abandoned them pass examinations? We learn all the time, not just for examinations. In this vein let us discuss other issues pertaining to learning.
Many times group work has been one of the learning methods among a plethora of others. It has helped many learners to open up among their peers, something which is usually difficult to do under the control of the teacher. There is a learning team which share the same characteristics as group work. A learning team is a group of learners who help each other learn. It is like a discussion group but it is not just for revising — learners work together all year to learn.
What is done in the team is at the discretion of the team members. Team members decide what they do. For example, they can share textbooks and help each other to learn. In a literature lesson you can take the set book and take turns to read a chapter. Then you can tell each other what is in it. Members of the team can ask each other questions to make sure they understand. Learners can ask questions about all sorts of things and then find the answers by reading or asking older learners or teachers.
Asking questions is very important. Some teachers ask learners to ask questions before they read. This helps learners to think about what they are trying to learn. Team members must all work hard and help each other. What is important in team work is that members must not laugh when one of them makes a mistake. They should look at each other’s work and help to make it better. Going through one of the resource books I use, I came across one experiment used to remember words.
The following words were written in box: paper, nose, week, sofa, rain, pen, table, mountain, animal, dog, bed, hill, yellow, chair, mango, grass, blue, desk, Mabhesikitsi, radio. Learners were asked to look at the words in the box for one minute only. They were asked to close the book and write down all the words they remembered. The next question asked them which words they remembered: Did they remember the first word? Did they remember the last word? Did they remember Mabhesikitsi?
Did they write the furniture words together (bed, table, chair, desk, and sofa)? Did they write blue and yellow together? What does this tell us? It tells us some interesting facts about how we remember. Most people remember the first and last words. Most people remember words that are different – in this case Mabhesikitsi because it is not a correct English word. Most people write words which are related in meaning together. For example, they remember table, chair, desk, sofa and bed as a group; also blue and yellow.
They might also remember and write hill with mountain, and animal with dog. How can this help us? We remember first and last things. Study and revise for lots of short periods — then there will be more firsts and lasts. We remember different, interesting and surprising things. Read information that interests you and make notes of surprising and interesting things. We remember things in groups. Write down vocabulary in groups of related words. Make notes that show how facts and ideas are related.
Have you ever asked yourself about reasons for reading? The obvious reason you can give about reading a textbook is we read to learn. But what about when we read a magazine or a story? That is different from the usual textbook reading. We read these for fun — to entertain ourselves. Reading an advertisement is different again. There are different reasons for reading. To make your reading interesting and useful, you must make reading active. You must think about what you are reading. First ask questions about the text and then read to find the answers.
What you need to know about active reading. Look over a text before you read. Look at the title and any headings. Ask yourself, what do I know about this topic? Then think about what the text is about. Ask yourself, what will this text tell me about the topic? Write one or more questions which you think the text will answer. Then read the text to try to find the answers.
There is still a lot more to discuss on reading, finding the meaning, vocabulary and so on.
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