How We Learn | A Book About Learning Strategies | Language Reading Challenge Language Resources

Welcome to the eighth official Language Reading Challenge Update and Linkup! As a quick recap of what we’ve read so far this year, you can check out the previous months’ challenges here:

January // Book about the culture of the area you’re studying
February // Book in your target language
March // Travel book or travelogue related to region that uses the language you’re studying
April // Book about the language that you’re learning
May // A language course book
June // A book written by a language blogger
July // A book about the history of a country or region that speaks your target language
August // A book about the history of a language that you are studying
September // Read a book originally written in your target language

The guidelines to participate are available here and you can find out what we’ll be reading over the next few months, as well.

This month the challenge was to read a book on learning strategies. This didn’t have to be a book about language learning (although it could be), but about learning in general. To fulfill this month’s requirements, I opted to read How We Learn by Benedict Carey.

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey

To be fair, I was a little unsure about this book when I chose it for this month’s reading challenge. It wasn’t my first choice for this month, but I was able to check it out at my local library which kind of made the decision for me. That and the fact that I really wanted to read something outside of the realm of language learning and I didn’t want to choose much of what I could find under the “bestselling” categories (but that’s another story for another day).

To make a long story short, I was pleasantly surprised.

Benedict Carey, the author of How We Learn, is an award winning science reporter for The New York Times. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and also has a couple of fiction books to his credit.

The Way We Learn is split into four sections:

1 // Theory. This section is a bit more scientific than the rest, but still fairly accessible. In this section Carey discusses the biology of memory and the power of forgetting.
2 // Retention. In this section of the book, he shares how to set up good habits.
3 // Problem Solving. As a part of this third section, Carey shares his believe that distraction may actually be beneficial to learning and how to quit while you’re ahead.
4 // Tapping the Subconscious. Finally, Carey closes with how to “learn without thinking” and the consolidating role of sleep.

Overall, the books sought to share how to make “learning more a part of living and less an isolated chore” which I found he did quite well. This is definitely a big part of language that deters new learners. They don’t enjoy the learning process and so by making language study less “isolated” and more “habitual”, we can become more effective learners.

I always enjoy exploring beyond the usual resources, reading books published in different genres, seeing what I can take from them and apply the information offered to the things that I’m doing. This book gave me ample opportunities to do just that and after reading it, I had quite a bit to reflect on regarding how I approached my language studies. I found myself constantly highlighting sections of the book (don’t worry, I was reading it on my Kindle!) and taking notes.

The book, despite being packed with tons of useful information, wasn’t too dense or intimidating and was an enjoyable read. If you’re interested in reevaluating your current learning strategies or giving them a bit of a refresh, I would definitely recommend The Way We Learn.

Title: How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why It Happens
Author: Benedict Carey
Pages: 274 pages
Publisher: Random House LLC
Publication Date: September 9, 2014

Language Reading Challenge Linkup

1. Share your post discussing the book that you’ve read this month in the comments below. Submissions unrelated to the theme or links to your homepage will be deleted.

2. Link back to this post as a part of your post.

3. Follow the hosts: Shannon from Eurolinguiste.

4. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE: Please visit the site of the person who linked up immediately before you and leave them an encouraging comment! If you do not do this, you will be removed from the linkup.



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