Few of us would question that learning should be enjoyable. How a learner feels about learning will not only affect their approach to it but ultimately their chances of success later in life.
What do we mean by enjoyable learning? Learning through games, the use of humour? – yes these play a role but to simplify “enjoyable” to a question of delivery and content is not to pay attention to its fundamental ingredients – those which lay a successful foundation for learning:
Love and belonging – everyone needs to feel loved not only at home but also at school too. Having a strong sense of love and belonging encourages us to trust, to take risks, to ask for help, to learn. Appreciating learners for what they are and not for what they should be, for what they have done and not for what they could have done are key to developing this sense of belonging. Learners need to have a strong sense of where they have come from – a foundation on which to build, record their developments and remind them of this history.
Identity and the individual – learners are different. No two learners are the same. All learners have their strengths and weaknesses and should be encouraged to talk about both. Sharing your feelings, interests and enthusiasms with your learners will encourage them to express themselves and their desires more freely. Showing them that you too have made mistakes and how you coped with these setbacks will help them come to terms with who they are, have more confidence when faced with failure and become more resilient learners.
Dreams – without dreams, perhaps there would be no learning or development. We have all had dreams some of which we have turned into reality, others of which have changed the people we are and yet others which are still dreams – distant and remote. Learners need to have dreams – not of the impossible kind but positive, achievable; real aspirations which can become goals to be achieved over a period of time. Setting manageable goals is key to that feeling of success and achievement but difficult for learners of a foreign language. Talk to learners about where they are and where they would like to be – help them set realistic goals to help them get there.