Seedbed training – effective speaking and listening skills

I ran this session a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been wondering since about a comment one of the tutors made. The topic was about why and how to develop learner autonomy. How do tutors encourage learners to work as a team and work things out for themselves? Why would you do this when it could be simpler and more effective to give learners the knowledge they need.

It depends what level learners are at, said another tutor. Lower level learners will need greater tutor input throughout the session. That’s true, I think but a ‘beginner reader is not a beginner thinker’ , I’m reminded and so much of how we learn through collaborative groupwork and good, effective communication, building self-confidence.

Walking into work this morning, I remembered how at any level, working with a group or one-to-one, how good it feels to work something out, to achieve something. Given a choice, I would probably work more on my own rather in a group. That’s just my default position. But there have been countless times when I’ve been part of a really good group of people, sharing and pooling, enabling us to do more than I could have on my own.  A group can achieve more, it seems, greater than the sum of its parts.

Even working one to one, it’s important that the tutor encourages the student to think for themselves, getting it wrong, if necessary , learning from their mistakes.

What we overlooked was that the tutor plays a key role in planning the session beforehand. This is fundamental to making a successful learning experience for adults. If they see you have set the scene beforehand and prepared well, most adults will appreciate this and respond positively and with enthusiasm. One tutor did comment that sometimes her best sessions had come without any preparation at all. While this does happen on occasion, it’s almost accidental. In my experience, it doesn’t happen very often and the opposite ezperience is likely to arise if this is the norm. Adults vote with their feet.

One of the best sessions I observed was of an ESOL tutor makIng mistakes in front of the classs, dropping papers on to the floor. I wondered what was going on? Was she feeling well? Till I realised she had deliberately planned it to elicit key words from the learners in a realistic context. There, next to, behind the …I was taken completely in. How good was that?

Tell me what you think.


3 thoughts on “Seedbed training – effective speaking and listening skills

  1. That last example is marvelous and I imagine you’d need a fair bit of confidence to do that, particularly during an observation. There are lots of interesting ideas here. If empowerment is the main objective, as many ideas as possible ought to come from the learners, but that is easier to say than to achieve.

    • How about the concept of starting “at ” where the participants are .Meaning that, can learning be enhanced if learners decided their own entry level in a specific topic? The assumption here is that adults have their own personal experiences that their bring with them in the class and what the adults do then is to link what their are learning with their life experience either at home, work, or daily life experience.”I do that myself” and that’s how I learn best. I believe this is part of developing autonomy of the learner. Once the level of entry is decided the tutors could then through the participation of the learners establish the learning outcomes.i suppose then the next step is to decide an the learning methods

      • Thanks, Gilbert. I agree with you. It also makes me think of how quickly, relatively quickly anyway, it may be over a period of months or years, adults’ experiences grow to include the new experiences,ideas and opportunities,new people which informal and formal adult learning bring our way. Education changes people. Our job is to keep people on board till they realise thisis for them. But then , am I in danger of thinking ‘I know what’s best for people?’ What do you think?

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