How to learn Are You Ready? Version 1.1



How to learn Are You Ready? Version 1.1
Are You Ready?
How to learn
Version 1.1
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Are You Ready? How to learn
© 2008 Aspire Training & Consulting
Level 8, 409 St Kilda Road
First published December 2008
Cover design: Rewind Creative, 86 Glenburnie Road, Vermont VIC 3133
Illustrations: Rachel Tonkin, 118 Lyttleton Street, Castlemaine VIC 3450
Printer: On Demand Pty Ltd, 323 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne VIC 3207
ISBN 978 1 74042 754 8
Knowing how to learn
What are your experiences of learning?
Why are you learning?
How do you learn best?
How to learn better in class or at work
How to learn better by yourself
What have you learnt?
Final activity
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Knowing how to learn
Knowing how to learn is a skill. If you play a sport, you need to learn
the skills of that sport. If you play a musical instrument you need to
learn the skills of music. If you work on a computer you need to have
technology skills.
These days, things change very fast in the world. People change their
jobs many times during their life. Many people move house, or even
country, and learn new ways of living. Technology is also changing so
fast that it is often hard to keep up.
So, you must be able to learn new things throughout your life.
And knowing how to learn these things is important.
Before you read on, think about things you have had to learn in the
past. A good learning experience is when you learn well and you enjoy
learning. A bad learning experience is when you don’t learn what you
were meant to and you didn’t enjoy learning.
1. Think about one good learning experience you’ve had. Where was
it? Why do you think it was good?
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2. Think about one bad learning experience you’ve had. Where was
it? Why do you think it was bad?
Some people find learning difficult. They say they don’t enjoy learning
or that they don’t like school. But school isn’t the only place for
learning. In fact, you have been learning since the day you were born,
as learning is not just about sitting in class and listening to a teacher.
At about two years of age you probably started to learn how to talk.
Before that you were learning how to understand the language your
family spoke, even though you couldn’t speak it.
Throughout childhood you learn the way your family do things. For
example, you learn how you should behave and how to treat or speak
to other people. You also learn how to keep safe; for example, being
careful crossing a road, not speaking to strangers and so on.
So, how did you actually learn these things? You learnt by watching
and by listening.
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Dana is a four-year-old girl living in Melbourne. She can eat
well by herself using a spoon and fork. But she hasn’t yet learnt
to use a knife. One day, Dana is invited to play with the little girl
next door. She is surprised to see her friend, Mei, eating with
two sticks. Of course they are chopsticks!
How did these two children learn to eat in such different ways? They
learnt by watching their family members. This type of learning occurs
from the time you are born.
When you are a child you learn many things because you really need to
learn. You need to learn how to speak, how to behave in an acceptable
way and how to stay safe.
So, one of the main ideas about learning is being aware that you need
to know something. In other words, you have reason to learn.
Think about one thing that you learnt last week, at home, at school,
with friends, at work or on television. What was your reason for
learning it?
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What are your experiences of
A lot of the learning you do as a very young child is called informal
learning. This means that you learn by doing everyday things in your
life, and not in a classroom or by reading a book.
Later, when you go to school, the learning is more formal. This means
the teacher tells or shows you things, explains topics, such as maths,
and gives you books or activities to help you learn. You learn about
many different things that are not always part of your everyday life.
Later, at high school, learning may become even more formal. This
means there are fewer activities and more listening and reading to do.
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Think about your time at primary school and high school.
1. Did you find these formal learning experiences harder or easier
than more informal types of learning?
2. Can you give a reason why?
Many people find formal learning hard. Often, this is because they
don’t see the need to learn what they are being taught. So, they don’t
enjoy it. Have you ever felt this way?
Outside school hours you may learn in other ways. You may be
learning a sport like football, tennis or netball. A coach may teach
you how to improve your kicking, striking or throwing. Another team
member may demonstrate (show) you some skills. And you may
practise the skills to become better.
Or you may be learning how to save some music to your MP3 player
or upload a photo onto Facebook. Sound easy? Yes, but when you had
never done these things before, you had to learn them for the first time.
You may have a casual or holiday job. This would involve a lot of
learning, as you need to learn the skills of the job. When you work, you
have a goal for your learning. The goal is to keep your job and to earn
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1. Think about something you learnt easily in the past. What did you
learn and why do you think it was easy to learn?
2. Was it enjoyable to learn? Why or why not?
3. Think about something you found it hard to learn. Why do you
think it was hard to learn?
4. Was it enjoyable to learn? Why or why not?
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Why are you learning?
To help you learn you should know why you are learning. What is
it that you need to know? What is your goal? Having a goal is your
motivation or your reason for learning.
If you don’t have a reason for learning, then you may find learning
hard and not enjoyable.
Some young people find learning maths at school very hard. Yet when
they get a part-time job that requires them to use maths, such as
handling money, they find it easy. This is because they suddenly have a
reason for learning or knowing some maths.
Rama really doesn’t like maths classes at school. In fact he
‘switches off’ during class and dreams about his next BMX ride.
Then one day Rama gets a Saturday job on his BMX delivering
pizzas. He has to handle money and give change to the
customers at their homes.
Rama needs to be sure he gives the correct change and has
the right amount of money when he arrives back at the pizza
restaurant. One night he made a mistake and got into a lot of
trouble with his boss. After that, Rama saw for the first time that
he actually had to use what he had learnt in maths class. He
now understands that he really does need to know maths.
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It isn’t always easy to see the reason for learning something. For
example, there really was a reason for Rama learning maths in class,
but he did not realise it at the time!
Perhaps you are still at school and don’t see a reason for learning a
certain subject. One way to make it easier to learn is to think about
what jobs, or what people, may need that knowledge. You may need it
yourself one day if you get a job that requires that knowledge.
To help you learn even better, you should have a goal or a plan in your
life for what you need to learn. For example, what job would you like
to get? What sport would you like to play? What would you like to be
able to do better? If you have a definite goal or plan, this helps you to
learn as you know you are one step closer to your goal.
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1. Think of one skill you have. It may be cooking, playing chess,
using a computer, driving a car – in fact any skill at all.
List your skill here:
2. How did you learn this skill?
3. Why did you learn this skill?
4. Was it easy to learn? If it was, then why? If it was not easy to learn,
why did you keep going?
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How do you learn best?
Even when you have a good reason for learning, it may still be hard.
For example, you may want to travel to a foreign country and need to
learn the language spoken there. This is a very good reason to learn
– so you can communicate with the people and enjoy your travels.
However, it is also quite hard to learn another language, so to help you,
what you need to know is how you learn best.
Complete these two sentences by writing in your responses.
1. I find learning hard when …
2. I find learning easy when …
Being an active learner
Some people find it very hard to learn by just sitting in a class and
listening. They prefer to do activities or discuss the topic with others.
They also like to find things out for themselves or be an active learner.
Sometimes the place where you learn has an impact on how people
learn. Are you like this? What can you do to make learning easier?
It is always a good idea to ask questions about anything you don’t
understand. To ask questions, you need confidence. You may ask a
teacher, a coach or a friend. Asking questions is a very important part
of learning and it shows you are interested.
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You can find out more about a topic by researching in a library or
using the Internet. Doing research is a common way to learn.
You can also talk to other learners or have a discussion. You may be
able to set up an online chat room with other learners so you discuss
what you are learning or any problems you may have.
Another good way to help you learn, is to find a way to use what you
have learnt in class, outside the classroom. Give it a try. Put what you
have learnt to some practical use at home or in your workplace. In the
following story, Madison does exactly that.
When Madison leaves high school, she wants to get a job in the
media, working for a newspaper or television station. Recently
she has been learning about Australian history at school.
Another of her subjects is media studies. Madison decides to
make practical use of what she has learnt in both subjects.
She goes to an aged care home and asks the manager if
she can interview one of the older men about his wartime
experiences. Jock, who is 89 years old, is happy to help.
Because of what Madison has learnt in history, she knows what
she wants to ask about the war. Jock tells her many stories,
which really make history come alive for her.
Madison then uses her media studies knowledge to interview Jock
again while filming. She has also learnt how to edit the film, so
she turns it into a short documentary. Madison shows her family,
friends and her teacher when she is finished. They are impressed.
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Knowing where to find information
When your grandparents went to school they often had to learn facts
by heart. For example, the dates of important things that happened in
history. These days, many people think that learning facts by heart is
not so important. The important thing to know is where to find the
facts. This is another way to learn.
All around you there are ways to find information and places where
you can learn. There are books, libraries, people to talk to, the
television, newspapers, magazines and the Internet.
Imagine you have been asked to learn some facts about the following
topics. Where could you find out about each of them?
1. How to bake a cake
2. The first man on the moon
3. The telephone number of your school or learning centre
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4. The telephone number of the nearest police station
5. The capital city of Italy
6. The longest river in the world
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How to learn better in class or at
No matter where you learn, there are some things you can do to help
you learn.
Learning in class
Are you a classroom learner? If so, here are some things you can do to
help make learning easier.
Be prepared – before each class try to go over what you learnt in
the last lesson. Most types of learning builds on what you learn in
each class. So if you don’t keep up, you may get further and further
behind. If you have notes from a previous lesson, re-read them. If
there is anything you don’t understand, write down a question you
can ask the teacher.
Don’t be hungry – make sure you have eaten before you go to
class. It is very hard to concentrate if you are hungry. If you have
morning classes, have a good breakfast before you go.
Have everything you need – check if you need a textbook, pens or
paper or anything else for each class. Having to borrow things or
finding you can’t write because your pen has run out of ink won’t
help you to learn.
Be comfortable – always wear something comfortable and suitable
to class. If you are too hot in class, you may get drowsy (sleepy) and
lose concentration. If you are cold it is also very hard to concentrate.
Ask questions – at the end of every lesson, check that you
understand what you have just been taught. Is there anything you
don’t understand? If there is, you can ask questions in class next
time, or arrange to meet your teacher at another time.
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Learning at work
When you have a job you may need to learn many new skills. You may
have to learn some of them quickly so you can be a good worker. Here
are some things to do to help you learn at work.
Take notes – after you have been told how to do a task, it is a good
idea to write some notes for yourself. Keep them somewhere easy
to see or find. You may prefer to draw a diagram to remind you
how to complete the task. Next time the same task is given to you,
check your notes or diagram before you start.
Sara has just started work in an office. She is given clear
instructions about how to send business emails. Sara knows how
to send personal emails at home but the instructions for sending
business emails are different. So Sara makes some notes and
sticks them over her workstation as a reminder.
Things to remember when sending a business email
Check that the address is correct
Make sure the subject line clearly tells what the email is
Check that any names are spelt correctly
Set the email out like a letter
Be polite and formal
Sign off with ‘Yours sincerely’ and your full name
Use the spellchecker to find any spelling errors
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Ask questions – if you are unsure about your instructions, ask
questions. Don’t be embarrassed. It is always better to ask a
question than to make a mistake, especially if there is the risk of
Watch someone doing the job – if you are still unsure how to
do something, ask if someone can demonstrate the task for you.
Often being told how to do something isn’t enough. You may need
to watch someone doing it, to learn the right or best way to do
Practise – if you have some free time at work, it is a good idea to
practise the tasks you have learnt. This way you’ll become better
and more efficient (quicker) at what you need to do.
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1. Have you ever been nervous or afraid to ask a teacher or someone
at work for more instructions?
2. What was the result of not asking?
3. Why is learning to ask questions important?
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How to learn better by yourself
There may also be times when you need to learn something
independently (on your own). To do this, you’ll have to plan and also
decide the best environment to learn in.
Planning to learn
Are you learning something for school, studying for an exam or
learning things for work? Here are some suggestions to help you.
Plan your time – it is a good idea to plan your study time and
have a weekly timetable. Work out exactly when you can study. Be
realistic. If you find studying hard, start with short study times and
gradually study for longer periods. Try to stick to your plan.
Plan the ways you study best – do you like to write lists? Do you
write study cards for yourself? If you are a person who doesn’t
remember things by reading, perhaps you can draw diagrams
or pictures of what you are learning. These may help you to
Leo is studying carpentry and is learning how to use a skill saw.
He learns that using any saw involves safety as well as knowing
how to use it and what to use it for.
Leo finds that the best way for him to remember everything is to
draw pictures of how to use the saw. He also draws cartoons of
what may happen if he doesn’t use the skill saw properly. Doing
the cartoons helps him to remember the safety rules.
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Plan how to work out something you don’t understand – if you
are learning on your own, you don’t have a teacher to help you.
So it’s a good idea to plan how you’ll work something out on your
own. For example, you may try to put the information into your
own words to help simplify the topic.
Plan who to go to for help – if you have family members or
flatmates who are willing to help, you can get them to test you on
what you have been learning. They can ask you questions from
your book or notes. Or you can just tell them everything you can
remember that you have learnt – pretend you are teaching them.
Your learning environment
Here are some ways to make the environment you learn in one that is
good for studying.
Be comfortable – just like when you are in a classroom, you need
to be comfortable – not too hot and not too cold. You also need a
comfortable place to read or write. This is not always easy if you
share your home with many flatmates or a have a large family. Try
to find at least a small, quiet space where you are comfortable and
away from other people.
Don’t be distracted – try to find a place where you are not
distracted. You shouldn’t be able to see a television, watch people
out the window or be interrupted by the telephone.
Have enough light – you should have good light to read by, so you
don’t have to strain your eyes. If the light is not good, your eyes
may become tired and you may also get sleepy and find it hard to
Have snacks close by – having some snacks to eat as you study
means you are less likely to get up and look for food. If this
happens, you are likely to lose your concentration.
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Play background music – some people find that they can’t study
if the room is too quiet. They prefer to have some music on. This
can be a good idea; however, try to play music without any words,
which can distract you.
Take breaks – it is important to take short breaks every half an
hour or so. Walk around or do some stretching exercises. This
helps you refocus after taking a break.
Stick to the task – if you are working on a computer, try to finish
what you need to do before starting something else. For example,
don’t check your email until you have finished your study.
Otherwise, you may be tempted to waste time sending emails and
become distracted.
1. Make a list of all the things that stop you from learning well.
2. Now next to each thing on your list, say what you could do to help
you learn and make your learning easier.
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What have you learnt?
Put a 9 in the box when you have learnt these things.
You should understand why you need to know what you are
It is important to have a goal or reason for learning.
Try to be an active learner by asking questions and by trying out
what you have learnt.
Work out the ways you learn best by thinking about times when
you enjoyed learning something.
Learning includes knowing where to find information.
If you are in a class, check that you understand what was covered
in the previous lessons.
If you are at work, learn by watching more experienced people do
their tasks.
If you are studying, plan your study time carefully.
Wherever you are learning, make sure you are comfortable – not
hungry and not too hot or cold.
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Final activity
Name: ____________________________
First, choose something that you want to learn. It can be for a job, a
hobby, a game, something on the computer or something at home.
Then answer the following questions.
1. What would you like to learn?
2. Why would you like to learn this?
3. Where can you learn this?
4. Where can you find out more about what you want to learn?
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5. When can you practise or study what you are learning?
6. What can you do to help you learn?
7. What may make learning this hard?
8. What may make learning this easy?
9. Why do you want to be successful at learning this?
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For the trainer: You may wish to ask the learner questions or
require some demonstration to confirm that the learner:
has completed the work you require
has understood the main concepts of the topic
can apply the relevant skills as outlined in the What have
you learnt? section.
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