Today I’d like to introduce you to the concepts of connectedness* and meaningfulness. Have you ever heard of them before? If not, read this article carefully because these are key concepts to promote effective learning.
Neuroscience has shown that our brain learns better when it is able to connect different types of information. For example, if you are learning new words to name animals in a zoo, you will be able to retain more information if you try to connect this vocabulary with real life situations in which you saw animals in a zoo. This way, you can use the new vocabulary you are learning to talk about previous experiences you had. I know that you probably read this paragraph and thought, “isn’t it obvious?” Well, actually, it is not. Connecting information requires practice, curiosity, and effort. Besides, there are different levels of connectedness. Most of us are at the “surface” level, which means that we are able to make obvious connections, such as learning the word “apple” and thinking “I ate an apple today”, while few of us are able to connect information in a deeper level. For example, are you able to connect what you learn in your English class to other types of knowledge you already have, like math and history, or even to things in your daily life, like series that you usually watch or tasks you do daily?
While connectedness helps you learn more effectively, meaningfulness makes you feel happier when you learn. Meaningfulness is the most beautiful thing in the learning process! It simply means that you should study what has meaning in your life. Have you ever studied another language following a textbook? If you ever attended a language school, your answer is probably “yes”. While I love textbooks, I also understand that they can be meaningless sometimes. Why? Because they are not designed for an individual, but for a group of people. In other words, a textbook was not created especially for you. So, chances are that you will find many lessons that won’t be very interesting for you and grammar topics that you already know about. This lack of connectedness with your interests and needs may result in lack of motivation to keep learning and retaining information.
“Ok, Fernanda, but how can I have meaningful lessons to make my learning process more effective?”
Well, the answer is pretty simple: bring your world to the classroom! If you have one-on-one sessions with your neurolanguage coach® (registered US and European trademark in the name of Rachel Marie Paling) , inform your coach about the topics you want to study in your sessions, identify how you need to use English in your daily life, connect your interests to your course content. Your language sessions need to include what you need to learn and what you are interested in. This way, you will find it easier to keep your motivation up and also connect information.
What can you bring to the classroom?
Pictures of your workplace.
Pictures of your family.
Pictures of places you have visited.
Your favorite series and movies.
Your favorite book.
Pictures of the last restaurant you went and what you ate there.
Videos of your coworkers speaking English etc.
Trust me, learning a language can be so much more fun and effective when you bring your world to the classroom!
Good luck on your learning journey!
Fernanda Carvalho is a Fulbrighter, certified Neurolanguage® Coach with a Master's in TESOL. She believes in a holistic approach to language learning, which involves people's development as a whole and not only language itself. You can find her on facebook @languagenextlevel and on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/fcarvalhonextlevel .
* If you look for the definition of this word in the dictionary or on Google, you may not find it with the exact meaning that I gave in this article. So, I just want to clarify that I may be giving a different meaning to this concept, different from meanings that other people may have giving already.