360 – Making the Most of Personal Learning 1

Free Resources: PDF Transcript | Quiz & Vocab


Hello everyone, Tim here with another Skills 360 podcast. Hope you had a fantastic summer and now you’re feeling refreshed and ready to get down to work. We’ve got a great lesson today on making the most of personal learning.

And here’s some good news for everyone interested in personal learning: the Skills 360 podcast is now available as its own channel in iTunes. Just head over to the BEP or myBEonline websites for the free subscription links.

Okay, now I mentioned personal learning. And I’m guessing that if you’re listening to this, you must be a pretty motivated learner. Am I right? You are keen to improve your language ability, your communication, and your overall business skills. And you’ve decided to tune in to a podcast to do those things. That’s great. But does it stop there? Is that all we have to do? No, not if you want to make good progress, so lets look at some ideas to make the most of your personal learning.

Let’s start with goals. Now, I went on a lot about goals and how to achieve them in a previous episode of Skills 360 series. Anyone remember what makes a good goal? Well, in case you don’t recall, let me jog your memory: goals should be SMART. That’s S-M-A-R-T. And what do those letters stand for? S is for specific. M is for measurable. A is for attainable. R is for relevant. And T is for time-sensitive. So make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. If you do, they’re SMART goals. Feel free to look up our previous episodes, if you want more on setting and achieving your goals.

Now, your goals can be big or small. Whatever works for you. I mean, one of your goals could be to devote one hour every day to studying English. That’s pretty straightforward. Or your goal could be to develop your skills enough to attain a high score on an English test such as TOEIC or BULATS. Achieving a goal like that will most likely mean you will have to set many smaller goals (to achieve it).

Great. Now your goals can be a part of something bigger, part of what we call a personal learning plan. To create a personal learning plan, you need to sit down and figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are, which skills you want to develop, how much time you have, how much money you can commit, and what exactly you want to accomplish. Then you can create your plan. This will help put some method behind what you’re doing.

The word “personal” is very important. Your learning should suit you, your interests, your schedule, your abilities, and your SMART goals. There are gads of online tools that can help you do this. You can use bookmarking tools like Delicious, social networking tools like Google Plus, as well as YouTube and SlideShare. In fact, if you think about the online tools that you use for business, communication, and entertainment, these are probably all useful in building a personalized learning plan. If you want to take it up a notch, you can try the new “Course Builder” tool on mybeonline.com.

All right, now one thing to keep in mind is variety. Variety in what? Variety in everything. You should be varying your type of input, the source of that input, and the difficulty of your input. Your type of input could include both reading and listening, as well as vocabulary work and grammar, if that’s up your alley. The source of your input could be radio, television, podcast, newspapers, and face-to-face interaction. And the difficulty could range from materials created specifically for language learners to those targeting native speakers. In a word, mix it up. Listen to some of my 360 shows, work on a couple of BEP podcasts, then hone your listening with CNN or BBC. Then maybe switch over to some Video Vocab lessons and read some business reports from Bloomberg or CNBC. You get the idea.

Another point I want to make about your input is that it should be relevant and interesting. I mean that it’s relevant to you personally and your job. Studying what is not relevant or interesting will make you bored. And being bored will make you unmotivated. What you study truly has to be useful.

Great. Remember to set SMART goals, and build a truly personalized learning plan that has a variety of input that is both interesting and relevant to you. Keep those things in mind and you’ll be on the road to success.

That’s all for today. If you’d like to test yourself on what we’ve just covered, have a look at the myBEonline.com website. There you’ll find a quiz about today’s show as well as a complete transcript. Next week, we’ll look at how to maintain your progress and keep on track with your personalized learning plan. So long. And see you again soon.

Discussion Questions

1. What are the different things you do to study or practice English?
2. What aspect of English would you most like to improve?
3. What do you find are the best online resources for studying English?

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