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Learning through activities

February 17, 2009

Hello again,

The learning strategies we teach our student are usually related to specific aspects of language use: how to memorise vocabulary; how to plan a writing task; how to understand a language structure. But the direct application ...

...of learning skills is not the only way to learn. We can also learn indirectly. Perhaps when we learn indirectly we learn different aspects of the language but such approaches also have their place.

Nowadays it is so easy to find instructional material on DVD, video, the Internet. This means that schools can easily incorporate activities into their timetables. How this is done will vary considerably. It is already a standard feature of summer programmes, where students typically engage in sporting activities in the afternoons after formal lessons in the mornings. But during the academic year an activities afternoon could easily be built in. The advantage is that many activities can be done with a minimum of equipment and materials.

So what could be offered? Much will depend on the interests of the learners and teachers. Groups might like to learn country dancing, for example. Showmehowto dance.com offers instructional DVDs for several different types of dance. Or for those interested in Scottish country dancing, see: this site for examples.
Exercise routines are also freely available but if dancing and exercise seem a bit too energetic, then yoga might be worth a try. Training DVDs are available from beginner to advanced levels so it would be easy to get started. For those with a creative streak various crafts can be learnt, from bead stringing to origami.

If the school has adequate cooking facilities, then cookery classes are a very enjoyable way of learning about other cultures’ eating habits and enjoying the results. The range of cookery DVDS is enormous.

The contribution to English language learning through such activities may be oblique, but I think it is valuable. It helps boost learners’ confidence in listening skills. It gives rise to natural questions and discussion about the activity and it involves all the senses.

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