Thursday, March 17, 2011
Learning with the lady
Image from http://www.innovativelearning.com/educational_psychology/development/zone-of-proximal-development.html
There were four parties involved in our Swiss Arabic learning: myself, the lady, the book and K - our teacher. Often this foursome operated as a threesome and learning happened.
L and I would sit on the sofa, with the laptop at hand for the listening tasks, and work through our homework. This was tough. After a days work, then cooking, the last thing you really want to do is more work. However, we were motivated enough to stay disciplined and we usually completed 90% of the work set.
What I noticed was that I was learning a lot from her, her explanations of things helped. In addition I found that talking through my thinking, vocalising my thoughts helped me 'to learn'. Equally the book was definitely an instructional aid, and although it never gave any cues for pair-work and was made for individual self study, it could, with a bit of invention, be adapted to pairwork. We varied our interaction patterns and so on. We would read explanations aloud to each other and work through tasks or questions individually and then compare answers. What we created was a developmental space, a zone of proximal development (ZPD). It was in this space that we grew as learners. Helping each other with support from the book. This is in contrast to our 'classes' where we enter a win/lose situation with correction from the teacher.
I think learning with a close friend, wife, husband, partner or similar can be stressful at times. I got a bit annoyed with L for being good, for one and I felt that she was a bit impatient at times with my pace. That said, without her I am sure my discipline would have waned, we helped motivate each other too; cups of tea and biscuits.