KNOWLEDGE Sub-competency

Learning Differences:
Styles, Disabilities, Strategies, and Processes


1_AP _ Marti’s notes (about my essays and outlook)
2_AP _ Suggestopedia drawing inserted here, showing interconnectivity of ideas                                         (my belief in the powers of….)
SLA_Elka's notes about my Grammar paper

My drawing for the Suggestopedia approach to learning and knowledge of learning represents the unfolding of knowledge revealed. In the last image, I show transitions from and between L1 and L2 (or 3….). It is my responsibility to discover which learning style my students need and prefer, what their strategies for learning are, if they have any learning disabilities, and what processes might be most effective for their optimum learning environment.

Different personality types use different learning styles: for example: analytical, intuitive, reflective, impulsive. Though a class will have students with different styles, they can all learn successfully with a teacher’s guidance. Varied approaches and inclusiveness in class - helping them take advantage of their styles - will engage them and facilitate their learning. Cognitive (direct learning), metacognitive (learning how to learn), affective (controlling emotions), and social (learning how to learn with others), are four main categories of learning strategies. A strategy of mine I used in my internship classes, was to play music during breaks and before class, and to explain how my choice of music was deliberate (as much as they could understand verbally, and then to dance and move with them). Looking at Palmer’s, “We teach who we are.,” I say, yes, but we also need to be able to teach to who the students are, for them to achieve excellence.

There are biological differences among students, some of which may take longer for the teacher to perceive, if they are not physically evident. As with us all, students vary in their productive times throughout the day. I haven’t had much experience needing to determine these factors in my teaching - although certainly in my own learning! Simple aspects like needing snacks, water, etc., are easy to accommodate. I have found a loosely organized class to be most productive for the students, as long as I have established guidelines which protect everyone’s opportunity to learn. 

With students whose command of the target language is advanced enough, I bring these aspects of learning into a general discussion. It is empowering for the students to know that you are aware of their styles and strategies, respect them, and are eager to learn how to help them take advantage of their innate abilities.

Learning disabilities can be very difficult to assess. A student may have a particular kind of disability which is not necessarily an indicator of intelligence. A lesser intelligence is often inferred from the term disability, and I prefer to say that they learn differently. If I were to see a student struggling, and could not find a solution for them, I would seek professional help to learn how
that student needs to learn, and whether or not they do have a specific disability which can be addressed. It is crucial that the student be bolstered and informed in such a way that their self esteem remains high. A disability is rarely a barrier to learning if a teacher can learn how
to teach effectively.

Processes of learning language have many variables: the context of the learning experience (informally at home, or formally in a clasroom), the age of the student, the number of languages the student speaks and how and when they learned to speak them; are just some scenarios of  learning environments. Short and long term memory processes lead to different outcomes. One student may learn quickly, and not remember it over the long term. Another may take awhile to remember, but be able to recall it over a much greater period of time. Primary memory may slide into secondary memory, leading to more permanent retention of language.

Students who have learned more than one language will process their learning differently than
those who only have L1, and are learning a new language in school. The target language may be syntactically different enough from the L1 that the student struggles a great deal. Phonology recognition plays an important part in language acquisition. I have found that speaking a target language aloud helps to embed its patterns of syntax. Register and tone impart linguistic information. 

I see an open road ahead toward acquiring knowledge as I need it: at first glance, seemingly Sisyphean; I refuse to believe that!