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11. Learning by doing

B Today we are going to talk about learning by doing.

T Learning by doing?

B Yes, at the British Council our students are encouraged to practise and improve their English by using all of the skills.

T Which means they are always actively involved in the lessons

B Yes, they speak, listen, read and write

T This is because we see language as a tool for communication

B Not simply a list of grammar rules to memorise.

T And what’s the reason for that approach?

B Well, learning by doing is particularly effective because learning a language is a bit like learning to ride a bike or play a musical instrument.

T What do you mean?

B It’s not enough to learn the theory … you have to learn the skills by practising them. Try learning to ride a bike without a bicycle.

T Or learning to speak English without actually speaking

B Yes, a bit like when children start to speak their first language. T They listen, imitate, experiment, even make mistakes

B And as a result they understand the rules instinctively, years before they start to learn them formally.

T Exactly, their development always depends on using the language.

B And students at the British Council are always given the chance to use their language skills

T Even beginners?

B Yes…From the start, all of our students use English as a way of learning the language, because all our lessons are taught in English.The teacher obviously modifies their language for the students’ level and lessons are based on communicating meaning rather than isolated grammar points.

T And the structure of the lessons means that students are frequently given the chance to do real life tasks in English. This allows them not only to practise their English, but also to reflect on their progress and ask for advice from their teacher.

B So learning English is not so much what you know, but how you use it.