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Learners’ Views of Learner Training

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  1. Learners’ Views of Learner Training Sally Logan sallyl@languages.ac.nz

  2. Learner Training Programmes • ‘primary goal of all approaches to learner development is to help learners become better language learners’(Benson 2001). • the goal is to make learners more active and independent in their learning (Dickinson 1992).

  3. Reasons for Learner Training Programmes • It can’t be assumed that learners know how to learn • Learners may not understand the process that happens in class and so won’t necessarily transfer these strategies to their own learning. Blind v informed training. (Wenden 1986) • Learners are more able to find and access resources to focus on their individual needs.

  4. Learner Beliefs and Learner Training • Who is responsible for success in learning – teacher or learner? • Learners have opinions about what is the best way of learning. • Learners should be able to use their own ways of learning but teachers can ‘persuade’. • Learners comfort levels may differ depending on the level of independence expected of them.

  5. Research Focus • How important learners think learner training is. • How useful they think this particular learner training programme is. • If they incorporate learner training strategies taught in class into their own learning outside the classroom.

  6. Context Private language school in Auckland, NZ Students • 10 • Swiss, Korean, Brazilian • 10-week FCE preparation class Teachers • Cambridge DELTA, 4 years experience • Cambridge CELTA, 2 years experience

  7. Lessons Focused on: • Goal setting – skills • Goal setting – language • Vocabulary • Grammar • Reading

  8. Data Collection • Questionnaire 1 – importance of learner autonomy and learner training (week 1 of course) • Lesson evaluations – after each lesson • Questionnaire 2 - summary of opinions of lessons (week 9) • Interviews – 4 learners (week 10)

  9. Results – How important do you think learner training is? Before starting the course, all the learners thought independent learning and learner training were important to some degree. 9 out of 10 rated 4 or 5 (5 = very important)

  10. How useful do you think this learner training programme is? • 8 out of 10 – all lessons useful • 8 out of 10 – agreed that the lessons had good ideas for how to be a better language learner • ‘I didn’t use to have any technique and tool to just study and here (at LIL) well it’s well organised. Well it make you improve that’ Learner G.

  11. Main reasons why the lessons are useful • New ideas of how to learn ‘It was useful because is good to know how to organize your notes and realize how we are learning vocabulary’ Learner G • Opportunity to self evaluate and plan learning ‘It’s the first time I really thought about my problems with the grammar and I know I have to learn it quickly’ Learner A

  12. Other reasons why the lessons are useful • Collaborative nature ‘It was very useful because my classmates gave me some ideas of how to improve my grammar and vocabulary by myself’ Learner G • Motivating ‘It gave me a motivation to study hard’Learner E

  13. Reasons why the lessons aren’t useful • Already knew/used the ideas/strategies • Time constraints ‘Very useful, I hope I will remember and learn in this way. But it spends a lot of time to do all this thing with just one word. I’m not sure if I’m perhaps a little bit lazy to learn a new word in this way’ Learner B • Preference for own way of learning ‘I already had my way to learn new words’ Learner A

  14. Importance of the teacher Learners need support: • ‘we don’t know whether it’s false or right what we have done’ Learner A • ‘after (teacher) said to us it’s the goal till Friday, until Friday you make some exercises. But after this Friday nobody ask … if you reached your goal. And so the sheet was in my backpack and I forget it’ Learner J

  15. Do learners transfer techniques to learning outside the classroom? Learners predicted they would use: • ‘Noticing’ techniques – using authentic text • Study techniques e.g. recording vocabulary, reading for gist before detail etc. • Resources: people, books, LC At the end of the course, all learners said they used some of the ideas/strategies but …..

  16. Summary Generally thought the lessons made them better language learners. They were useful because: • they gave them new ideas • an opportunity to self evaluate • a chance to discuss ideas and get new ones from others The students said they used some of the ideas, techniques and resources suggested in the lessons when studying on their own.

  17. Summary However: • learners need support • may still believe their own way of learning is better • may think ideas are good but not use them because of time constraints or they believe their own ways are easier/better.

  18. Implications • Do learner training programmes - they are useful/motivating even if they don’t provide something new. • Find out what learners have done already. • Provide opportunity to discuss ideas/beliefs. • Give ideas but don’t expect all to be ‘converted’. • Keep ideas simple. • Continual reinforcement is needed. • Most students still need teacher support. • Use learner evaluations of lessons – provides useful feedback.