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Maylea Lyhan

A guide to easier learning and quicker understanding

2008 Happy Life Europe Ltd.

Instruction is when all are fast asleep and one is talking! This type of learning is the rule in most schools and universities, the majority of people just dont have any fun in learning. Textbooks are mostly boring and very often hard to understand. In addition, many teachers do not care at all whether the kids or the students do really understand what they are being taught. They simply demand that the subject taught in the classroom be filed to ones memory, and that at home when doing ones homework you will bone up on what you did not grasp at school. Yet learning can be simple and fun.

Learning and Communication


If you dont know the language, it is difficult to communicate. If you try to talk to somebody and you dont speak the same language it is rather difficult to get to know each other so well as to become good friends.

Imagine you are in Madrid and you are looking for a particular street, but you cannot read the road signs. Thats bad. And the people in the street do not know any English or Chinese. So you cannot ask them, either. Thats even worse. This is also true of written things. A book that you do not understand is a book you wont read for long, if at all. Or would you like to read a book which is written in a language you do not know? Very often there are also whole paragraphs in regular English books the meaning of which one simply does not get. And such books are hardly ever read to the last page. Alas, in school such books and texts have to be read and should be understood as well. And sometimes you may get the feeling like they were written in Kisuaheli. Fortunately, there are dictionaries and phrasebooks in which to look up the meaning of a word. And just like you would look up a word you do not know when you are in a non-English speaking country, you can look it up, of course, when you are dealing with an English text. It is important to look up a word which one does not understand, even if you believe you can get the meaning from its context. If you dont do it, you may be in for some bad surprise. On top of not understood words there are of course yet other barriers to learning which may get you into trouble.

Learning Breakdowns
Strange Feelings If you are reading or studying something you may sometimes notice that you are reacting in a very strange way. These reactions are due to very specific causes and are linked to the method of learning or teaching.

Breakdown 1:
You have the feeling of turning in circles; you feel depressed, somehow dead, bored, exhausted. How come? There is lack of mass, you have nothing you can touch. Surely, everybody knows of many times when they had to read something in the classroom or in college, or when they were being lectured which was boring them to death. Sure, it may have to do with the subject on hand, but it does also happen very often when we are actually interested in the matter. When you are studying something which exists in theory only, and you cannot get any reality on what you are learning, you will be getting those reactions. In school, university, and other educational courses this is happening all the time. Just imagine somebody will tell you how to build an engine, and you had never before seen an engine nor would you know how it was working. Or somebody is giving a lecture on astronomy using many technical terms and so on all of which are things you have never seen a clear picture of, and so you are not able to picture them very well in your mind. If you have never seen a bicycle or even just a picture or a drawing of it, you will never be able to comprehend, solely on the basis of theory learning, how to repair a bicycle. The best way to learn how to repair a bicycle is after all to have a real bicycle and do a hands-on for training.

Unfortunately, this is not possible in every case. For compensation in such instances do use photos, films, or videos. But of course, the thing itself is always best.

Excercise: Write up three short examples of things you have to learn about but which cannot be taken into the classroom. 1. ____________________________________________ 2. ____________________________________________ 3. ____________________________________________ What could be a substitute for the lack of mass? _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________

Breakdown 2 :
You feel somehow wobbly, uncertain, muddled How come ? The gradient was too steep. This means things went to fast. In the classroom, or when you were trying to learn something new, there have surely been times you did not quite get along any more. While you actually knew how it worked, you did not make it in the required time. So you become uncertain, get hectic, and eventually make many stupid mistakes, unnecessarily. The reason why is. the subject was treated at a pace that was too fast. For example, if you missed you math class for a couple of days and did not keep abreast of it at home, you return to school and dont know any longer what they are talking about. The progress you make at learning is just like in sports. If you have not mastered the basics, you will fall flat on your nose later on when the exercise gets more complex; you cannot do it, or you will be afraid of it. Likewise in music. Someone who does not know the place of the tones on the instrument he or she wants to play has no business to even try and play the latest hit without a lot of mistakes. The solution to this is to pass on with a subject or an activity only when you are sure that, what you have learned so far, you really got it. Excercise: Give one example of your own when you ran into trouble because you went ahead with something in spite of the fact that you did not quite get what went on before. ________________________________________________________

Breakdown 3:
You feel empty, drained, not quite there; you would just love to run away

How come ?

Something was not understood. And this happened, because you did not know one or several words. Here is one example: So nobody at court would know the hour of the day the king hid the gnonom. Let us take the word "king" the meaning of which is known to one and all. When we take court it might be a bit more difficult. Do we mean a court of justice, a tennis court, or the courtyard back of a house? Or maybe a court which is not a physical thing at all but is rather something more theoretical? Since we are dealing with a king it is very likely that we are looking at the latter meaning, namely the theoretical court. Up to this point then we can work with assumptions. But, please, what is a gnomon? Is it a gnome printed wrongly? Or is it an alien gnome? Or something entirely different? And what would a gnome have to do with the time of day? So: Words you do not understand will prevent you from understanding the text.

Excercise: Go figure out the meaning of the word "gnomon". Solve the riddle by looking up the word in a dictionary. (Also look up any other words of the text which you do not really understand.) Answer:

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What did we do so far? Check up what you have kept in mind in terms of information given and drills done. 1. 2. What are the three breakdowns in studying? How do you identify each one of them?

This is how you survive the breakdowns!

Do you remember learning breakdown Number 1 ? This was the lack of pictures going with the text, or lack of mass. If there is enough time and chance you can get information on virtually everything you want to know. But there are situations every now and then when this cannot be done. So, what will you do to get by then? How can you get the necessary mass, if you have neither films nor pictures to illustrate processes or mechanisms? 1. You do a drawing

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2. You demonstrate it by using objects.

Excercise: 1. Make a drawing of how you get to your office or school. 2. Demonstrate how you are packing your suitcase. Sometimes films, pictures, drawings and demonstration by objects wont be enough to really get a clear idea of something. At this point, one would basically have to have the thing itself or make the experience of it in order to be able to really understand it. If this is not possible you have to create it by yourself. And the best you can do this is by using your hands.

3. Clay Moulding Quite apart from the fact that clay moulding is a lot of fun, it offers the great benefit of allowing you to be really creative. If you do it right and you know all the tricks of it, you can easily demonstrate just anything by clay moulds.

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And once the clay mould is completed, and it is right, you will know with CERTAINTY that you have grasped the matter in question and that you are able to apply it.

Trick No. 1 Each single part you are moulding has to get a label attached to it saying what it is.

Example: You are reading about something that consists of two boards, one of them being bigger and the other smaller. Between them is situated a longer rod keeping the boards apart. To set up this contraption you must place the smaller board flat on the floor. You can then put down things on the bigger board. When you clay mould this matter, you recognise that it is a table. A well done clay mould will show exactly what it is all about. And it will do so for any person looking at it even though they did not know beforehand what it was going to represent. Excercise: Clay mould a pencil.

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Trick No. 2 When you are dealing with processes, you have to do more than one group of clay moulds.

Excercise: Clay mould a child learning to walk.

Trick No. 3 When you want to show something that does not have mass you represent it by putting a moulded circle around it.

Excercise: Make a clay mould of a pupil who is upset by his or her teacher.

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This is all going too fast for me !!

You do remember the second barrier to learning, dont you? The too steep a gradient. What can you do if all of a sudden you notice that things went to fast ahead? Well, you go back to that point at which you were still doing well and sure that you could do it. From there you move on to the next little bit and check whether any of the other two barriers to learning have come into play, and you drill it until you are certain you can do what you are supposed to do. Excercise: Look at the material presented so far to see whether you can apply it with certainty and go back to that point after which you felt no longer sure. Handle it.

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I simply dont understand it !

When you dont understand something it is always due to learning breakdown No.3 a word you did not know. This sounds very simple but it isnt because very often one is not aware that one did not know a word. Or one is thinking one would know it. Or one has the idea that the word has a certain meaning when actually its meaning is quite a different one. If for example somebody told you he went for a walk and talked to a lama wearing a yellow robe, you might think he was joking or he was crazy unless you knew that a lama is not only an animal but also a Tibetan monk. Now, you might get the idea that it is mainly difficult words one does not know or has a misunderstanding of them. But unfortunately, it is very often simple words that are misunderstood. Therefore: When you dont understand something you must check all the words in that part of the text concerned to see whether you do understand all of them correctly.

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Dictionaries When you look up the definition of a word in a dictionary you may find sometimes that you do not understand the definition of it either. In such a case you also have to clarify all the words of the definition. Or maybe the dictionary you are using is not a proper one. Because there are dictionaries which are either too complicated or too simple. Complicated dictionaries have so many foreign words or strange terms that it is impossible to understand the explanation they are giving. Dictionaries which are too simple are just giving you another similar term. And when you look up that term you find it is just replacing the word you wanted to know the definition of in the first place. So, this is to say it is not explained. How to clear words 1. Look up the word you do not know in a dictionary. 2. If there is more than one definition given, you take that one which is in line with the text at hand. 3. If there is only one single word to clear, without any pertinent text, you clear all of the definitions given. 4. After you have done this you make several phrases of your own, using that word. When there are unkown words in the definition they have also to be cleared, of course. Excercise: Clear the following words: Definition Dictionary Student Pupil Course

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Tricks of finding the words you do not understand

Trick No. 1 If you know which of the words you do not understand: Look up the words you do not understand. Excercise: In the text below highlight all words which seem to be Spanish to you. The game is as popular now as it was then when the chariots attracted as many spectators to the arenas as you can see at the Formula 1 racing today. Whether simple team, troika, or quadriga one went along with 1 HP or up to 8 HP. The chaos reigning in the streets of ancient Rome, as the records tell us, was not much different from what it is presently in Rome. Look up the definitions of these words in a dictionary and get them cleared.

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Trick No. 2 When the text overall gets to be incomprehensible: Go back in the text to that point where you still were understanding it. At the end of that point you will find a word you misunderstand or do not know.

Trick No. 3 If you do not find any word that could have caused it: Read the text out loud and clear any word you slow down on or mispronounce. Excercise: Use the text below for exercise. At the precinct the telephone is ringing. Come immediately. This is a matter of life or death. In the apartment here is a cat!, resounds from the phone. The detective says: A cat what nonsense is this! Whos talking, anyway? Answer: The parrot!

Trick No. 4 If you still have not made progress by using Trick No. 3, you must clear every single word in the paragraph concerned, no matter whether or not you do know it. Excercise: In the text below clear every single word. "Our ship is making 15 knots per hour", the captain explains. "Amazing", says Mr Miller, "and who is going to untie them afterwards?

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Yuk, Grammar ! What actually is Grammar? The definition of the word Grammar is The study of the structure and rules of a language. So, in a language it is just like in any game. You must know the rules of the game in order to be able to play it in a sensible way. The first obstacle you are running into when learning grammar, usually is learning breakdown No. 3 words. Grammar books and definitions of grammar (even when given in school) very often are composed of foreign words making understanding very difficult. What might be a fast solution? Clear those terms of grammar which you do not understand.

The Fourth Breakdown So far, did you actually just go over it, nodding your head wisely and think, Well, thats nice and easy, but it so is for babies, everybody knows this! And anyway, all this stuff is schoolteacher business! ??? In that case, you are smack up against the fourth barrier to learning which, if truth be said, is the first one, for it is preventing you from getting started to learn in the first place! The fourth breakdown is Thinking one does already know everything there is to it, anyway! Of course, you will always have some children in school who are slower to learn than yourself. As a result, the lessons are even more boring than they very often tend to be, or you get a feeling of being frustrated.

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However, there could be times it is the other way around. This is to say, you yourself are lagging behind because of one of the first three barriers to learning. In that situation it is not uncommon to think one knew everything about the subject taught at the time while in actual fact one is not getting along with it very well. In this case you might be getting some bizarre ideas, or you might turn into being a know-it-all which is very unpopular, no matter where. Such a smart aleck knows everything better in his own mind while in reality he doesnt have much of a clue about things.

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So: Unless you want to become a know-it-all concerning how to learn, just do the drills given in this booklet time and again until you are doing these tricks without any conscious effort!

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2008 Happy Life Europe Ltd.

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