HOW do we learn?

The answer is not, unfortunately, as simple as by using method X or Y. The human brain is complex and it varies from individual to individual. However, this is not just something we believe in or something we have seen throughout the years we have been teaching. Ultimately, science is proving that personalised learning is essential in order to become an inclusive society that accepts all types of learners. 

Lara Boyd neuroplasticity.jpg

Doctor Lara Boyd, a brain researcher at the University of British Columbia in Canada, presented the results of  her work at a TEDx talk in 2005. The talk is called 'After watching this, your brain will not be the same', and it centres around neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections. While this may sound complicated, there are very straightforward ideas she expresses that explain why personalised learning is one of the three pillars of our teaching philosophy. Here are some we would like to transcript for you:

  • 'Every time you learn a new fact or skill, you change your brain [...] These changes are not limited by age.'
  • 'Long-term memories take time and what you see in the short term does not reflect learning.' This confirms that, although it sounds like a dream come true, the idea of learning a language in a short period of time is simply unreal.
  • 'Patterns of neuroplasticity are highly variable from person to person.'
  • 'The primary driver of change in your brain is your behaviour [...] Nothing is more effective than practice at helping you learn, and the bottom line is you have to do the work.'
  • 'There is no one-size-fits-all approach to learning. There's no recipe for learning.'
  • 'We have to consider [...] personalised learning. The uniqueness of your brain will affect you, both as a learner and also as a teacher. This idea can help us understand why some children can thrive in traditional educational settings and others don't; why some of us can learn languages easily, and yet others can pick up any sport and excel.'
  • 'Learning is about doing the work that your brain requires, so the best strategies are going to vary between individuals. They're even going to vary within individuals.' What we see here is that not only are each of us different in terms of learning, but we are also different when we are small children, or teenagers, young adults or later on in life. The key is adaptation to each person.

At Tea Time Idiomas, we are continuously learning from our students, from other teachers, and from the world around us to be able to offer our students the best experience in language learning. We encourage you to spend 15 minutes watching the video of Dr. Lara Boyd, and take these lessons to better understand yourself and others.