Why do children love to play? Maybe it is because play is fun. But perhaps there is a more important purpose and so kids have evolved to like playing because those that liked it the most were the most successful at acquiring skills.
Playing and a playful atmosphere provide the perfect learning environment. By combining motivation to succeed with an environment in which it is safe to “fail”, plus clear and immediate feedback – 4 important learning resources are provided:
1 – An emotional reward that helps to reinforce successful behaviour
2. The opportunity to experiment and thus potentially find a better way
3. A tendency towards allowing the conscious mind to roam freely thus providing space for the unconscious to try to automate successful behaviours without the interference of the conscious mind.
4. The immediate gratification of FUN. Which reduces the emotional cost of investing in your future to less than zero.
I’m often, perhaps most often asked to help pupils when plan “A” has not worked. Plan “A” being the conventional approach a school uses to teach any subject including languages. They choose to apply this approach equally to those students for whom it is suitable and those for whom it is not suitable. After a student has been failing for some time, the thing I notice most frequently is that the person is trying too hard. Now there are lots of reasons for that and I’m not saying they are wrong to try. No one has usually given them an alternative and people keep telling them to “try harder”, so it is entirely understandable that they do. But it is counter-productive and the longer the student has been suffering the more easily it can be seen.
Adopt a playful heart when learning skills. You’ll make yourself less miserable and you’ll learn faster.