With the start of summer break, many students are left with the question “What do I do to keep all the language that I studied this past semester?” An answer is independent study or self-study.
Independent study or self-study is a learning method where what is studied is decided by the student. This is done outside of class and without a lot of supervision. Since the student is in control, they decide what is valuable to study for their learning goals.
Students can use a variety of resources to make the content more focused on topics they enjoy or find interesting. With the internet, there a ton of resources available from podcasts, online lessons on YouTube, blogs, quizzes, and social media.
Reminder that independent study is more than just review.
What are the benefits of independent study?
There are many benefits to independent study, and I will talk a bout a few below. Benefits like a flexible study schedule, working at your own pace, choosing topics that interest you, and being able to boost your self-esteem are seen as valuable by many students that choose to do an independent study.
Students can have a flexible study schedule. Students have more ability to choose what time of day they study and for how long. And during the time they set aside for study, they can choose what they study and how long they study it for. This gives the students options for review and mastery that they may not have during regular class time.
The flexibility around how students schedule their study time helps with students learning at their own pace. As mentioned above, it helps students make time for review and mastery that they may not have been able to do within their regular class time. They can even learn about topics that interest them more. Students that work at their own pace can take the time they need to feel confident in the information they studied.
This leads us into the next benefit: the ability to choose what topics you want to learn about. In language study, there are so many different topics and a lot of vocabulary that one needs to learn, and sometimes the topics in class do not go as in depth or topics that students are interested in are not part of the curriculum. Students can focus more on vocabulary around hobbies, sports, lifestyle, and design to name a few topics.
Self-study can boost a student’s self-esteem. By taking the time for the extra review and practice, students can become more confident in their language abilities. Podcasts and YouTube videos in English can help with listening and speaking skills, and with listening to different varieties of English. Blogs and quizzes help with reading and writing. Social media can help with writing and cultural elements of language learning. Some social media applications allow for exchanges of voice memos or video calls which can allow students to practice speaking too!
What are the challenges of independent study?
The biggest challenges with independent study are that the student is responsible for being consistent and disciplined to do their studying, and there is not a lot of supervision. For students who are used to having an instructor determine assignments and deadlines, it can be hard for the students to settle on what they plan to do.
Don’t let the challenges of study discourage you for moving forward. Use resources available to you or reach out and ask for help. Just because independent study is centered around a student learning outside of class and there is not a lot of supervision, there are still people who can help give guidance and advice when you are stuck.
Tips for your independent study
Create a consistent and effective workspace.
Having a workspace that is used for only study helps with recognizing that studying should be happening. Also having a comfortable and enjoyable workspace helps with the attitude one has when it comes to studying. Studying may not be a person’s favorite thing to do, but by making the place that it is done in effective can help with progressing someone’s studies.
Start a routine that includes independent study.
Just like how having a consistent workspace helps get the mind to recognize that it is time to study, so does having a routine that includes independent study. By making study a regular part of the day, it kickstarts the brain to know that it is time to focus on the material being studied. A routine that plans for study can make it easier on the student to include it since the student isn’t trying to squeeze random study into whatever time they have left over. But don’t feel discouraged if you don’t have a lot of time to study as meaningful study can be better than study for longer periods of time.
Don’t be afraid to have fun with your studies.
Don’t be shy to go out and have fun. Language allows students to meet new people and try new things, so don’t get stuck at home. Make fun a part of the independent study as using the language for hobbies, activities, and socializing can help with all aspects of a student’s language learning journey. Learning vocabulary for topics that interest students or are relevant to other studies can be beneficial as it makes the language learning process more personalized. Fun can be motivating and challenging. It’s not all about the books, especially when students are on break.
If you’re stuck, reach out to past instructors.
Past instructors have seen students work. They know what the students can do and can give advice on where to improve. While students may not get a full brief like what they would get in class, teachers are willing to talk to students and help the students who ask out when the instructor is able to. Send a quick question or set up a time to meet. Don’t expect for a whole lesson, but guidance can help direct a student to progress.
Independent study is useful, but to make it effective students should investigate how to make the most of their study. While there are challenges that come with self-study, there are many tips alongside the ones mentioned in the article that can help students to overcome the challenges and be successful. While the article is focused on language study, much of what is mentioned can be applied to other areas of study as well.
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