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Independent learning is when you, as a learner, set goals, monitor, and evaluate your own academic development, so you can manage your own motivation towards learning.

In other words, independent learners take responsibility for their own learning. They are self-motivated and accept that hard work in the present is worthwhile to achieve future success.

Let’s check these 5 tips you can use to become an independent learner.

1- Read actively

You will need to be an active reader, paying close attention to the words you are reading and their meaning.

Sometimes you’ll come across a concept in the textbooks that you don’t understand. Don’t be afraid to read outside the course material. Search for the full reference and research the theory online until you fully understand the concepts.

When doing research, try to draw from a variety of different sources. Note that you learn something new by finding mismatches between a statement you evaluate and your current inner understanding.

2- Find a balance between making time for studying and having a life

Procrastination is natural and everyone does it, but an independent learner knows they need to build studying into an everyday habit. Don’t fall behind by not spending enough time studying.

Look closely at how you’re spending your time for a week. Then decide if you’re committing enough time to study. When you’ve got a big deadline coming up, adjust your schedule to make studying more of a priority.

3- Try new study techniques

Don’t get stuck with the same methods. But an independent learner understands that certain techniques may be a better fit for different subjects and modules. 

You must be willing to try new study techniques, and regularly re-evaluate what you are doing for effectiveness.

4- Work out a study-plan

Analyze your strengths, weaknesses, and special interests.

For example, think: what is your weak area? Is it vocabulary, speaking, writing, reading, listening, broadly grammar? 

Suppose you realize that grammar is your problematic area. Now you need to break this down further to decide what aspects cause problems: relative clauses, past tenses of verbs, word order in a sentence?

Once you’ve decided what your specific problems are, you can draw up a list: 

  1. A) Which needs to be addressed urgently? 
  2. B) Is there a natural, logical order in which to tackle them?
  3. C) What goals could you realistically set yourself?
  4. D) How will you know when you’ve achieved them?

Don’t be afraid to return to the basics if necessary. It may give you more confidence, in the long run, to ensure you have a firm understanding of basic concepts and techniques.

Don’t make a study plan too ambitious but set smaller consecutive goals you know you will be able to achieve in the short term, and keep a record of what you have done.

Once you’ve achieved the target, the process of planning can start again. Your needs and priorities may have changed, so think about them and then set yourself the next target.

5- Ask for help and share your knowledge

Knowledge retention and reuse can effectively exercise overall positive cognitive development.

Cooperative learning is a well-established technique for enhancing learning. Students often understand what other students misunderstand better than instructors for one thing, and the act of teaching itself becomes a learning experience. 

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain

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WEEKLY VOCABULARY

Weaknesses: a quality or feature regarded as a disadvantage or fault.

“You must recognize your product’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Effective: successful in producing a desired or intended result.

“Here are four strategies that proved to be extremely effective in my classroom.”

Schooling: education or training received, especially at school.

“He was naturally studious, however, and supplemented his scant schooling by night study.”

 

PHRASAL VERBS

Get by

My french isn’t very good, but it’s enough to get by.

Join in 

We’re studying English grammar. Why don’t you join in?

Point something out (to somebody)

I didn’t realise I’d make a mistake until Charles pointed it out to me.

Turn round 

When I touched him on the shoulder, he turned round.

Sort something out 

There are a few problems we need to sort out.

IDIOMS

Chicken and egg situation: It is impossible to decide which of the two came first and caused the other one.

Run around in circles: To be active without achieving any worthwhile result.

Back against the wall: Be in a difficult situation where escape is difficult.

Scrape the barrel: You’re using something you do not want to but you’ve no option.

Separate the wheat from the chaff: You separate valuable from worthless.

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