Learning and teaching are age-old phenomena, but that doesn’t mean that innovation has no place in their realm. In fact, finding new and more effective ways to learn and teach is crucial in our ever-changing world. Various methods and tools have found their way into education, and here at Moomin Language School we make use of the ones we deem to be the most beneficial for early foreign language learning. Today we wanted to talk about two of them: digital tools and spaced learning.
Digital tools as the teacher’s aid
Digital tools have famously entered the education sector in recent years. They bring many opportunities to teachers and students, but may also cause some confusion. What kinds of benefits can digital tools have for learning? Can digital tools be harmful for children?
Digital tools can amp up children’s engagement and motivation by bringing variation and gamified activities to the classroom. They can also enhance learning by providing the required repetition of the new information, leaving the teacher enough time to connect and problem-solve with the students. Another way digital tools can enhance learning is by giving students a pressure-free environment to practice their new skills before having to use them in a group setting. Digital tools can provide instant feedback and progress monitoring, making them useful aids for teachers. They are also a great way to start teaching children ICT skills, and invaluable facilitators of remote learning and teaching in the time of the New Normal.
Some parents and teachers are hesitant about using tablets and smartphones in their children’s learning for fear that they will be harmful to the children. Nothing is good in excess of course, but as long as screen time doesn’t displace other healthy habits such as sleep, exercise or meaningful interactions between peers or parents, there is nothing to worry about. We’ve written about screen time before for example in this blog post.
Giving the brain some space
Spaced learning has been around for quite some time, but it has become more mainstream only in recent years. It is based on the notion that we forget most information unless we revise it. With revision, we forget less information at a slower pace until the information is stored in our long-term memory where it can potentially remain indefinitely. Spaced learning offers our brain this revision.
Simply put, spaced learning means putting space (i.e. time) in between learning instances. If you have an hour each week for studying, research shows that you are better off dividing that hour into six 10-minute study sessions, for example, instead of spending one continuous hour once a week. Multiple short study sessions give your brain a chance to mull over the information between the sessions. At the same time, having to recall that information at the beginning of each session keeps your brain actively working on what you’ve learned. However, putting too much time in between study sessions can lead to you completely forgetting the information and having to learn it all from scratch.
Using spaced learning in your teaching doesn’t mean that you need to completely restructure your school or kindergarten week; oftentimes it isn’t even possible. You can start by adding regular revision of previously learned information into your lessons either within the exercises for new information, as separate revision tasks, as pop quizzes (that don’t affect students’ grades – the aim is to learn, not to evaluate), or by asking your students to do their homework in multiple parts on different days. Or you can use a service such as Moomin Language School which is designed to facilitate spaced learning.
In Moomin Language School, children learn a little but often with the learning application which prepares them for the teacher-led playful lessons. The learned content is revised periodically to ensure learning. The application gives children feedback and a chance to practice their pronunciation with the help of an American English native speaker model. It helps children build up courage to use their new language skills, while the time limit makes sure children use the application just the right amount.
This text is based on our fall webinar series: The New Way to Teach Languages. The fourth and final part will be held in December – you can find the signup form here:
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