The ABC of ELT

Eureka Moments of Learning.

I remember during my CELTA course my trainer talked about Moments of Learning. She described them as the point when the student became aware of some new information, idea or language point and how to use it.

Now obviously learning doesn’t happen in an instant but I can certainly think of some Eureka moments in my own development in a foreign language. Obviously when you start out it can be easier to notice these moments where you suddenly gain the ability to talk in the past or in the future but it doesn’t have to stop there. There have also been moments when I suddenly realised that a phrase I learnt right at the start is actually a passive construction or the difference between two similar words suddenly becomes clear.

Of course, I didn’t always use the language perfectly afterwards and so I was still “learning” and I didn’t suddenly learn the language I was actually being exposed and laying the foundation to have that moment but I wonder about the power of these Eureka moments.

Perhaps there is something very comforting about having a moment of sudden realisation that you just “got” something and and can do something new.

Is it possible to create moments like this so that Students can grasp hold of knowledge more? I’m not sure but here are a couple of things I’m wondering.

Dale Coulter recently talked about the difference between his planned grammar point and emergent grammar point and commented that the emergent lesson appeared to have “Stuck with the students” more than the planned lesson (they were the same grammar point) Perhaps in an Emergent situation the grammar is seen more as a eureka moment? When you have a guided discovery lessons then the language is all around the student from the start (in the text or listening) where as in an emerging moment there might be a “I don’t know how to do this…” type moment which might help students to appreciate the language? (this is all just wondering aloud)

On the other hand in a guided discovery moment I’ve certainly had students ask “what is…” so it is possible that the Eureka moment happens in the situation as well (in fact perhaps it happened at home when the student looked through the coursebook in advance of the next lesson. Who knows) Basically this is a long ponder but I do have some questions for you.

  • Have you seen/experienced Eureka moments? Was that different for your learning?

  • When do they seem to happen? Can we help facilitate them?

  • Do they help learning?

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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