Monday, 23 May 2011

Anchoring (ii): time management tools

Last week I suggested we need to anchor our learners' expectations with appropriate numbers.

One of those numbers is 80%.

That's not the number of students who fail to use the present perfect correctly, but a reference to Woody Allen's oft-quoted suggestion that 80% of success is showing up.

This number applies to language learning too.

It takes discipline and effort, showing up day in and day out.

But how do we help our learners meet that  requirement?

There a number of tools available to help them manage their time better, particularly if they are hooked on the internet, like the majority of my clients, and seemingly lack will power.

One way to get them off the internet is to lock them out for set periods of time. 

There are a number of programmes that do this, the most popular being Freedom, which blocks the whole internet, or Anti Social, which takes out social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

LeechBlock, a free Firefox extension, performs a similar function in reverse, allowing you a set amount of time on the internet each day.

Once you have blocked out the distractions, you may want to employ Francesco Cirillo's Pomodoro Technique made famous by ELT's Lindsay Clandfield.

This technique involves breaking down tasks into manageable 25-minute chunks of concentrated effort, followed by a 5-minute break.

It's ideal for language learning.

There are many timers you can download to help you, but Focus Booster is designed specifically for the Pomodoro Technique and is the most helpful and aesthetically pleasing - and it's free.

Of course, apps and gadgets are distractions in themselves, but they may also be a spur for your learners, getting them to appreciate the value of discipline and just turning up.

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