Study Strategies

Developing “learner autonomy” has been a crucial element of TEFL for at least as long as I’ve been teaching, so it’s interesting to see what seems to be a growing interest in study strategies from students, on social media and in classes.  

I’ve incorporated learner strategies in courses, such as methods for keeping vocabulary notebooks, self-recording speech, use of marking symbols on written work, reflective learning logs, including songs, graded readers & online resources etc. However, I’m not sure I’ve made the strategies as explicit as they could be, or encouraged students to experiment with a number of different approaches to find what works best for them. I also don’t think I’ve ever introduced any strategies designed to effectively organise their study time.

To address this, I’ve recently compiled a number of blog posts outlining popular strategies from business and neuroscience, which I intend to explore with students over their courses. Having these resources available as blog posts is useful so students can see the research for themselves, and lower levels can opt to use automatic translation if necessary.  These posts may work in conjunction with, or replace, the PPT I’ve been using with students for the last few months (found here).

Study Strategies to Explore:

Creating Study Time: Start by creating regular times to study, to maximise your focus. Try:

Time boxing

SMART goals

Creating a Study Plan

Organising your Study Time: Once you have a time (and place) to study, you need to organise your time most effectively. Explore methods like the Pomodoro Technique, the Zeigarnik Effect, interleaved practice, and collaborative learning to structure your study sessions for maximum efficiency. Try:

The Pomodoro Technique

The Zeigarnik Effect

Interleaved Practice

Making Notes: Note-taking is a crucial aspect of learning any language. Discover techniques such as mind mapping, chunking, mnemonics, dual coding, handwriting vs. typing, and the SQ3R method to improve your note-taking skills and enhance your memory. Try:

Mind mapping



Dual Coding

Handwriting v. Typing


Reviewing your Notes: Finally, regular review is key to learning. Techniques like spaced repetition, the Feynman Technique, and spaced repetition (yes, it’s so important it’s worth mentioning twice!) can help you reinforce your understanding and commit information to long-term memory. Try:

Spaced Repetition

The Feynman Technique

The Blurting Method

Active Recall

Let me know which strategies you like to use. Do you have any new techniques you can share?