quinta-feira, 21 de junho de 2012

The Importance of Reviewing

By Kane

Depending on your point of view regarding the acquisition of another language, successful learning can be attributed to a number of factors: Materials studied, Appropriate level of said material, Teaching style/method and effectiveness of it with regards to the students learning style, Frequency of lessons; Comprehension of material and ability to practice it in class.

All of these have to do with the class itself. If a class is once or twice a week the opportunity to learn new material and practice it is quite small/short for the material to be a real part of a students skill set.

I know!

This term in the English language encompasses a wide range of 'knowing'. The Greek language has two words for what we say in English 'know':

1. Oida
2. Ginosko

Ginosko is more like an objective knowledge or mental understanding of what is going on. Oida is a subjective knowledge which is acquired from experience.

I believe from our own consideration, forgetting our experiences of getting kissed the first time is much harder than forgetting what Miss Monteith taught us in Physics class last Wednesday afternoon.

Learning or understanding objectively (ginosko) English material isn't really that hard. Actually using it effectively in either daily conversation, writing emails etc. is another matter entirely. So how do we get our new information from something we know (ginosko) to something we know (oida).

This is not totally analogous to a discussion about how to transfer information from our short term memory to long term memory yet it does share some similarities, but simply knowing something (ginosko) and being able to recall it from our long term memory still does not give us what many commonly consider fluency. Consider your own native tongue. We really don't 'think' about what we are going to say, we just say it. The words are just magically there (unless we are thinking of a particularly elusive/difficult word). 

How does this happen? 

Well, I think a lot of us make a mistake in considering what language is. Is it a subject or a skill? Objectively it's a subject, so we have to study it. Subjectively it's a skill, so we need to practice it. It's at this point we as English Instructors fail our students.

Our classes, teaching methodology, materials may be off the hook fantastic, our students can leave the class with 100% comprehension of all the new stuff they learned. 100% ginosko. Use this new material next week in a conversation with a new client... and it's at this point, this juncture I say, Reviewing is the real key to acquiring language skill. It's reviewing that takes I know (ginosko) to I know (oida).

A big hurdle to overcome is that reviewing or practicing the same stuff over and over is boring. At a university setting the students would complain to the Professor that they're not learning anything new. In a private business setting, students would just drop out of class. So just like any business the old (many would argue erroneous, myself included) phrase the customer is always right, needs to be changed to 'the customer needs to be educated'.

Students need to understand how pivotal and vital it is to review material. To practice it repeatedly until it IS second nature to just 'say it like that' without thinking. Only then with their English skills really start to take off. 

Teaching ginosko is easy. Encouraging students to spend the time, everyday to practice and review material for it to become oida is the hard part.

The tragedy is that reviewing/practicing class material takes all of 5min a day and would save hours and hours of having to repeat the same material a few months or years later because their ginosko is gone and their oida just never happened.

Taking a page from long term/short term memory discussions, the first review of material must take place the next day (24hrs). It the first 24hrs that are the most critical for memory retention. Next a few days later and then 1 week later, or thereabouts. But, nothing will beat review/practicing material everyday.

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