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Published on April 15, 2020

Which Learning Approach is the Best for You? Here’s How to Know

Which Learning Approach is the Best for You? Here’s How to Know

As a person who is always looking for ways to enhance learning, it is a common occurrence that sometimes, the hacks and amazing tips you find online end up being useless.

What’s explained like it’s a magic trick does nothing at all. Instead of speeding up your learning, it even slows you down and makes things worse.

Does this mean that these online articles are lying to us?

No, neither are these articles false nor are the learning tips useless. The fault is in your choice of the learning approach.

Do you want to find out why and how? Well, you’re in the right place!

What is a “Learning Approach”?

A learning approach is a pretty self-explanatory term. Any learning method that you use to gain knowledge is a learning approach.

The difference here is that a learning approach is categorized based on the goals that it helps to achieve.

So, if a learning approach has proven to help memorize facts, it will be defined all around this characteristic instead of the way the brain work, the information is retained or any other scientific explanation.

Now what happens here is that a learner is expected to opt for a learning approach that suits the learning aims. This is what ensures that the process itself will prove effective.

Each learning approach is best suited for the respective objective and works seamlessly for the learner regardless of their learning style.

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6 Types of Learning Approaches

Since learning is technically boundary-less, it is only right if there are numerous learning approaches to match various learning goals.

It is best to be aware of all the available options so that you can choose the best one as per your objectives.

1. Behavioristic Approach

If you have a faint idea about the behaviorism theory in learning, you’ll understand this approach very easily.[1]

Basically, as the name suggests, this approach is focused on behavior for the most part. Any sort of learning that is aimed towards a change in behavior is learned best by this approach.

Several skills require a change in behavior rather than the retention of information. It is mostly used in practical learning.

The behavioristic learning approach emphasizes repetition and reinforcement. To elaborate, you can look at the 8 types of learnings introduced by Gagne. These include:

  1. Recognition: The stage where the learner gets a signal of new knowledge or occurrence
  2. Stimulus: The learner reacts to the received information
  3. Multiple discrimination: In this learning, the individual reacts but the responses are carefully chosen to be most relevant to the information received
  4. Concept learning: Based on the stimulus activated by the information, the individual understands the meaning instead of the information itself
  5. Verbal chain learning: Based on whatever information is received, the learner associates a certain verbal pattern with this new knowledge
  6. Motor chain learning: In this type of learning, the individual follows a chain of actions that they deem necessary
  7. Acquisition of rules: This is an extension of concept learning where the learner behaves as per the understanding by creating certain rules in their head
  8. Problem-solving: the learner creates rules after understanding the concept and then uses the entire information to come up with something creative

All these types technically define the types of behaviors that any new information can stimulate.

2. Social Learning

Social learning is very closely related to the behavioristic approach. In fact, it is an extension of the same concept.

However, the social learning approach involves the observations of others’ behaviors instead of focusing on the behavior of the learner. For example, children do what they see their parents doing.

This approach also emphasizes the fact that students of any age and in any environment will do as they see, not as they hear.

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Learn more about social learning in this article: How Social Learning Helps You Learn Faster

3. Constructivist Approach

Constructing basic knowledge is what the constructivist learning approach is all about.

Skills that require the learner to be creative should be practiced using this approach. This technique puts a lot of focus on reflection and reevaluation. This encourages the learner to brainstorm by creating connections and links in their minds with prior knowledge. It also puts the learner in charge of the route that the learning takes.

4. Cognitive Approach

The cognitive learning approach is focused on memorizing and remembering. Don’t misunderstand to be a process of cramming information. Instead, it is a deep method that allows the brain to understand the information and then remembers it for long-term.

It is a great learning method to use for anything that involves the memorization of bigger pieces of information. But, at the same time, you want a solid understanding of every bit of knowledge that gets imprinted in your mind.

5. Experiential Approach

When you learn something by doing it practically, you are following the experiential learning approach.

There are various categories of experiences that teach you something. This may be an observation of an event, being a part of an occurrence, purposely trying out a new skill or process, or reflecting on any of these experiences.

Whatever the case, it is generally important that the learner is an important part of the experience. this leads to first-hand learning.

6. Humanist Approach

The humanistic theory is based entirely on the concept of goodness for all. It aims for a united world that is at peace, where there is an even spread of knowledge, and the learners gain skills and knowledge that have positive effects.[2]

Now, you may have already guessed that this approach works best for group tasks. Learning that has spiritual grounds or aimed towards a community will be done right with this learning approach. This technique starts by encouraging the learner to focus on the right versus the wrong.

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Moreover, the humanistic approach has two forms:

Pedagogy is the mere transmission of knowledge which is basic learning. However, andragogy makes things interesting by putting all the learning control in the hands of the learner.

Hence, this method is well-suited for leaners that are highly motivated and do not like to be controlled.

How to Apply Different Learning Approaches?

So, how can you put these learning approaches to use?

Well, the wheel is in your hand. You can use any of the approaches wherever you think they fit best. But, here are a few examples to give you an idea of what works best in which case:

Behavioristic Approach

This learning approach can be used for anything related to behavior. Improve your emotional stability, practice anger management or go for other self-help skills.

Also, tasks that negatively trigger you can be handled with this technique.

Social Learning

There’s a lot in this world that requires you to interact with other people. Any skill that falls under this umbrella is learned best by social learning.

If you want to learn PR management tactics or marketing strategies, social learning is a great option. Similarly, this approach is also a successful method to gain the skill of managing client services.

Constructivist Approach

The constructivist learning approach is useful for creative skills such as the production of a film or writing a novel.

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Cognitive Approach

Since this approach is aimed towards tasks that require memory, it is a wonderful technique to use in research.

Let’s say you wanted to create a business plan that would prove successful in the coming decade. You could use the cognitive approach to do some historical research and find out consumer behavior before finalizing your plan.

Experiential Approach

Anything that requires a practical outlook should be tackled with this learning approach.

So swimming, playing instruments, and painting require this approach. Even if you observed and memorized all the instructions, you’ll not do well unless you get in the field yourself

Humanistic Approach

The humanistic approach can be used in any skill, the only difference is that the learner is mostly in control. So skills that the individual is highly motivated to learn will work best with this approach. It works even better for community-based or spiritual learning.

Anything from cooking to coding to calligraphy can be learned with this technique as long as you’re ready to be in charge with responsibility!

The Bottom Line

Multiple learning approaches can be used simultaneously to learn one skill or fulfill one task. For example, the cognitive approach is suitable for learning chords of a song whereas the behaviorist approach is needed to actually play these chords on an instrument.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment and try out all the different learning approaches and techniques. As said before, there is no right or wrong. It all just depends on your personal style and goal.

At the end of the day, the learning game is all in your hands. You can boost it or leave it stagnant. The best advice for you is to avoid the latter. As you age, a continuous effort will keep you on the track to betterment!

More Tips to Help You Learn Faster

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] A Journey Through Psychology: Behavioral Approach
[2] web.cortland.edu: What is Humanistic Psychology

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers

7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers

What are the hardest languages to learn? It depends on what your native language is. If it’s English, you’re in the right place.

When you peel the onion back to the beginnings of language formation, such as by studying the language families tree below, you will be able to see where different languages branched off. Now, you may be able to notice why Spanish has similarities with languages like German, Italian, French, etc.

That’s why the hardest languages to learn for native Korean speakers will be different from those that are hardest for native English speakers like us. Today, we’re going to focus solely on the hardest languages to learn for English speakers (hint: they’re located in different branches on the language tree).[1]

Language tree

    If you’re looking for official statistics, the Defense Language Institute (where they teach members of the CIA foreign languages) has organized languages into four categories, the 1st Category being the easiest, and the 4th Category being the hardest languages to learn for English speakers.

    • Category 1: Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese
    • Category 2: German, Indonesian
    • Category 3: Hebrew, Hindi, Persian Farsi, Russian, Serbian, Tagalog, Thai, Urdu, Turkish, etc.
    • Category 4: Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Modern Standard Arabic, etc.

    Before we take a closer look and see which of the above are the most difficult languages to learn, you can check out this TED Talk with John McWhorter to help you get inspired to learn a new language:

    1. Mandarin

    Number of native speakers: 1.2 billion

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    Country with the greatest number of speakers: China

    It may be the most widely spoken language in the world, but it is particularly challenging for English speakers. It is often spoken of as being the hardest language in the world to learn (and certainly the most difficult language on this list!).

    First, since Mandarin is a tonal language, you can have a completely different meaning of a word just by changing your tone. Just take a look at this visual of the four tones, and you can begin to imagine the difficulties this could cause English speakers[2].

    Mandarin tones in one of the hardest languages to learn

      Add to that thousands of characters, complex systems, Chinese dialects, and the language’s richness in homophones,[3] and you’ve got one of the hardest languages to learn in the world.

      2. Icelandic

      Number of native speakers: 330,000

      Country with the greatest number of speakers: Iceland

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      While the Icelandic language has not changed much since the island was settled in the ninth and tenth centuries[4], it continues to add new meaning to old words. It also doesn’t help that there are fewer than 400,000 native speakers who you can learn and practice with.

      3. Japanese

      Number of native speakers: 122 million

      Country with the greatest number of speakers: Japan

      Japanese has three independent writing systems[5]: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Before they can start writing, Japanese learners need to learn thousands of different characters in these writing systems. It is, however, significantly easier to learn than Mandarin!

      4. Hungarian

      Number of native speakers: 13 million

      Country with the greatest number of speakers: Hungary

      Most languages spoken in Europe come from the Indo-European language family shown in the tree above, but not Hungarian. It is, instead, a Finno-Ugric language[6] in which words are formed in an isolated manner.

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      In other words, it’s one of the hardest languages to learn because the word order is nothing like how English speakers normally structure words or sentences. For example, “with my [female] friend” is combined into just “barátnőmmel.” If you’re confused, don’t worry. So are we.

      5. Korean

      Number of native speakers: 66.3 million

      Country with the greatest number of speakers: South Korea

      Korean is a language isolate, which means it isn’t linked to any other language family root. It also has seven different speech levels that native speakers flip back and forth to depending on the formality. The image below just begins to scratch the surface of the complications caused by the speech levels and the use of honorifics[7]:

      korean speech levels: how to address other people

        6. Arabic

        Number of native speakers: 221 million

        Country with the greatest number of speakers: Egypt

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        Despite having 221 million native speakers you can potentially learn from, Arabic is still one of the hardest languages to learn. First, vowels are not included when writing. And, to complicate things further, most Arabic letters are written in four different forms, depending on the placement of the word.

        7. Finnish

        Number of native speakers: 5.4 million

        Country with the greatest number of speakers: Finland

        If you’ve ever watched The Lord of the Rings, you’ll know about the strange language the elves speak. The Finnish language is what the author J.R.R. Tolkien based the Elvish language on[8]. Finnish, like Hungarian, is a Finno-Ugric language in which grammar complications are taken to the extreme, which makes it difficult for English speakers.

        Furthermore, just when you’ve got the hang of translating Finnish to English, you’ll quickly find that modern Finnish speakers have their own way of expressing emotions that’s different from the traditional translation!

        The Bottom Line

        The hardest languages for English speakers to learn depends on a number of different factors, not just one. The number of speakers, the language’s origins, its similarity to English, and other factors contribute to determining how much difficulty you’ll have learning it.

        However, what’s important is not which is the hardest language to learn. As with learning any language, it comes down to how passionate you are about learning, how you’ll deal with psychological fears, and who you will go to for help.

        Every language will come with its own challenges, but it’ll also come with its own rewards, experiences, and fulfillment. Remember, whichever language you decide to learn, your time will be well worth the investment.

        More Language Learning Tips

        Featured photo credit: ORIENTO via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Soho Press: THE PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN FAMILY
        [2] MIT: Mandarin Tones
        [3] Wikipedia: Homophonic puns in Mandarin Chinese
        [4] Iceland: Language
        [5] Dartmouth: Japanese Writing Systems
        [6] Britannica: Finno-Ugric languages
        [7] LingoDeer: Korean Speech Levels
        [8] Omniglot: Quenya

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