What makes a student a “good learner”?

In this article I would like to point out the conclusions of various investigations that have been done to find out what kind of strategies, techniques and activities help a person to learn efficiently. The general conclusion is that a good learner does not necessarily have a high IQ level, but is active and just knows “how to learn”. Looking at a group of students with similar IQ´s, but still different results, the conclusion is that “the good learners” in general show the following characteristics.

They are aware of their own learning style and will look for a Language Learning Situation (LLS) that works best for them.
Here are the most common learning styles:

o Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
o Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
o Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
o Physical (kinaesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
o Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
o Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
o Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

They organize all the information they receive about the language. This means that they store it somewhere on paper, on their computer, on flash cards. They will do something to make sure it is organized in a way that they can find it again, go over it again and retain it.

They are creative and use the information they learn in new situations. In other words, if they learn how to introduce themselves to other people, after classes they will be looking for ways to practice this new knowledge. They will be taking every opportunity to practice their newly learned “hello”.

They know how to apply certain strategies of comprehension in situations where they may not understand all the words they read. This means, they will check out the context and other inputs, like imaginations (when reading) or non-verbal communication (when talking) or they will ask certain questions in order to understand what has been written or said to them.

They use certain “ memotechnics” (which is the art of organizing memory impressions, improving recall, and assisting in the combination and invention of ideas).  For example,  to remember how to write the Spanish word for “cow”, which is “vaca” and for how it sounds, it could be written with “b” or “v”, the student could remember the shape of the two horns on top of the head of the cow.

They analyze their mistakes in order to not repeat them. So they don’t just accept it and repeat it, but they really try to understand why they made the mistake and try to change their way of thinking. For example if the student says “Yo gusto el chocolate” and the teacher says that it should have been “Me gusta el chocolate”,  the good learner wants to know why it should be that way and doesn’t just accept it without knowing why.

They use linguistic knowledge that they have learned from other languages (their first language or a second or other language). Ffor example,  if they know that there are different conjugations in a certain tense for a verb in the different persons (I, you, he, we, etc.) and they ask for these conjugations also in the new language.

They use context (common sense knowledge and extra linguistic elements) in order to better understand oral messages. For example,  when the bus driver asks them something in the new language, their filter begins to work and they think he must be asking something about where they are going. They are using their common sense to understand the language.

They know how to use “oral production techniques” which means that in their communications they use techniques like asking another person to repeat what they themselves have just said (to find out if the other person has understood him well).

They have “open ears” to different kinds of oral and written expressions and know how to use that in different situations, according to the degree of formality required. This means they know that,  just like in their own language, in the language they are learning there are different ways to say things according to the communication situation. This helps them to be open to learning different options and therefore speed up the learning process.

Ideas taken from: Giovanni, A. (1996); “Profesor en acción”, part 1: “El proceso de aprendizaje”. EDELSA.

Well, I hope to have written something interesting for you and I look forward learning about your opinion. Maybe you know some more characteristics?
Have a beautiful day,
Ins.