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Educ Méd Sup 17(4)

Facultad de Ciencias Médicas "Julio Trigo López". Ciudad de La Habana

Know about your English learning process: checklists as a means of self-assessment

Lic. Vivian A. Martínez Sánchez1


A way to sort out questions students migth ask themselves to face the responsability of improving their perfomance in the learning of English as a foreing language is presented. These questions demand reflection and guide to know how to improve the learning strategies. Some answers are given aimed at guiding students in the learning process and helping them to solve difficulties, since we cannot address every need or individual query. It is not intended to replace the role of the English professor.


In language learning as in any other object of study, you sometimes do not know how to access the knowledge base; do not know what to do therefore, motivation for the subject decreases. Hence, you need orientation.

In this paper we have tried to sort out questions you might ask while coping with the responsibility of improving your performance in English to fulfill the aims of:

Understanding the spoken English based on the general linguistic regularities of the system of the English language at a pre intermediate level; communicating in oral English intelligibly through successive approximations to the correct use of the English language according to the knowledge and acquired abilities developed at a pre intermediate level; get printed information in English, of general issue, through a fluent reading according to the pre intermediate level; express your general thoughts in English through the writing of themes of limited extension according to the knowledge, abilities and habits acquired at the pre intermediate level.

We have also tried to provide some questions and some answers to guide your language learning, or just simply to help you to solve your difficulties. Of course we cannot address every need or individual query, and it is not intended to replace the role of your professor of English.

While you work, you will realize that you have to make your own reflections, and improve what you have done up to the present. Learning English as a foreign language is not a linear process. Do not ignore the opportunities you have to learn it. Do not ignore the dangers of not being aware of your own learning strategies. Otherwise, the process of learning English would be like walking across a busy intersection with your eyes closed.

How to start?

Try this checklist for discovering learning channels

How well do you know about your learning channels?

Please check statements that describe you:

Checklist for discovering learning channels.

  1. Like to keep written records.
  2. Prefer to have someone else read instructions to you when you are putting something together.
  3. Typically read things in store windows, on posters, bulletin boards, etc.
  4. Like to build things.
  5. Review for a test by reading notes aloud or by talking with others.
  6. Can assemble things correctly using written directions.
  7. Use your sense of touch to know if something is right or wrong, i.e. in cooking, putting something together, repairing something.
  8. Follow written recipes when cooking or adjusting electric appliance by using the manual of users.
  9. Review for test by writing a summary.
  10. Talk aloud when working a math problem.
  11. Can distinguish items by touch when blindfold.
  12. Quickly learned how to type or work a calculator or a Personal Computer (CP) without looking at your fingers.
  13. Look for scarps of paper to write things on so you don't forget.
  14. Prefer listening to a cassette to reading the same material.
  15. Can put something together using only the written directions provided.
  16. Memorize a phone number or postal code by saying it.
  17. Move with music.
  18. Memorize a phone number or postal code by writing it.
  19. Doodle and draw on any available paper.
  20. Use rhyming words to remember names.
  21. Use visual images to remember names.
  22. An out-of-doors person.
  23. Move easily; well coordinated.
  24. Plan the upcoming week by talking it through with someone.
  25. Talk to yourself.
  26. Love to read.
  27. Spend a large amount of time on crafts and handwork if the time is available.
  28. Plan the upcoming week by making a list.
  29. Like to feel textures (to touch things).
  30. Prefer oral directions from employer.
  31. Ask for directions when you are lost (as opposed to using a map).
  32. Prefer written directions from employer.
  33. Prefer talking/listening games.
  34. Keep up on news by listening to the radio.
  35. Prefer movement games to games where one just sits.
  36. Find it fairly easy to keep physically fit.
  37. Prefer to get a map and find your own way when in a strange place.
  38. One of the fastest people in a group to learn a new physical skill (i.e. dancing, exercise, art, etc.).
  39. Able to concentrate deeply on what another person is saying.
  40. Prefer reading and writing types of games or exercises.
  41. When you have free time you like to be physically active.
  42. When you have free time you prefer to talk with other people.

Source: Adapted from Lainson, Suzane, "People Signals - Don't Miss Them". Self, Oct. 1981. How to Help a Friend by Paul Welker, Ed. D., Tyndale House Publisher.

Now, count the number of checks in each of the three areas. Total them; figure the% of each area. The area with the highest % is the likely candidate for your strongest channel. Close scores mean you probably learn equally well in those channels. To get another perspective, have someone close to you mark the items based on their observations of you.

1 _____
2 _____
4 _____
3 _____
5 _____
7 _____
6 _____
10 _____
11 _____
8 _____
14 _____
12 _____
9 _____
16 _____
17 _____
13 _____
20 _____
19 _____
15 _____
24 _____
22 _____
18 _____
25 _____
23 _____
21 _____
30 _____
27 _____
26 _____
31 _____
29 _____
28 _____
33 _____
35 _____
32 _____
34 _____
36 _____
37 _____
39 _____
38 _____
40 _____
42 _____
41 _____



Total of all checks: _______
Percent of preferences: ________ Visual ________ Auditory ______ Kinesthetic

Pat Guild Associates * Seattle, WA 98199 * (206) 282-3420

What kind of learner are you: auditory, visual or kinesthetic?

Auditory learners

The auditory learner likes to talk and sing, whistle and hum, shout his joy or anger, listening to all that life has to offer them. He learns what he hears.

Visual learner

The visual learner tends to be a watcher. She learns best by watching demonstrations or by focusing on the details and components of a new concept. They see to understand.

Kinesthetic learner

The kinesthetic learner tends to find the confinement of the classroom an inhibitor to learning. The traditional classroom programs restrict him. He understands things when he is able to handle and examine them.


Checklist No. 2

What role do you play in an English classroom?

Please, check all the statements that best describe you:

  1. I am a passive recipient of outside stimuli.
  2. I am an interactor and negotiator capable of giving as well as taking.
  3. I am a listener and performer with little control over the content of learning.
  4. I am involved in a process of personal growth.
  5. I am involved in a social activity.
  6. I take responsibility for my own learning developing autonomy and skills in learning-how-to-learn.

If you ticked 1,3 and 4 make your own reflection. Try to benefit from different learning strategies, find them out and apply them. Now we will reproduce here some learning strategies. Adopt a range of roles. They require you to be adaptable, creative, inventive, and most of all independent.

1. Finding your own way

Discover what ways of learning work best for you. For example, how you best learn vocabulary items. Discover other ways of learning from other learners in the class, and using all senses to learn in as independent a way as you can.

2. Organizing information about language

Ask your professor to help you to develop ways for you to organize what you have learned. Make notes and charts, grouping items and displaying them for easy reference.

3. Being creative

Experimenting with different ways of creating and using language, for example with new ways of using words, playing with different arrangements of sounds and structures, inventing imaginative texts and playing language games.

4. Making your own opportunities

Learning language actively by performing tasks in class, for example, by interacting with fellow learners and the teacher, asking questions, listening regularly to the language, reading different kinds of texts and practicing writing. There is always time for rehearsal in the English class.

5. Learning to live with uncertainty

Not always relying on certain and safe answers but trying to work things out with the help of resources, for example using dictionaries. Try to keep on talking and to understand the general gist of texts, rather than every language item in them.

6. Using mnemonics

Try to find quick ways of recalling what you have learned, for example through rhymes, word associations, word classes, particular contexts of occurrence, experiences and personal memories.

7. Making errors work

Learning to live with errors, and preventing them from blocking your participation in tasks. Ask for error correction and help. Learn from the errors you make. Ask your teacher to help you estimate the relative gravity of errors. Notice errors vary according to channel and text-type.

8. Using your linguistic knowledge

Make comparisons with way you know about language from Spanish or your modern tongue, as well as building on what you have already learned in the new language both in terms of formal rules and conventions for language use.

9. Letting the context help you

Realize the relationships that exist between words, sounds, and structures. Try to guess and infer meanings from the surrounding context and from their background knowledge and out-of-class experience.

10. Learning to make intelligent guesses

Develop your capacity to work out meanings. Specifically, try to focus both on the main parts of the message and to relate these to the overall text and context. To guess on the basis of probabilities of occurrence and meaning, and try to work from what is relevant to the text and task in hand.

11. Learning formalized routines

Learn routines and whole phrases. Idioms, routinised expressions, sound sequences, dialogue extracts, are all examples of this, as are ways of expressing a variety of interpersonal functions.

12. Learning production techniques

Do not be so much concerned with accuracy otherwise; you do not develop the capacity to be fluent. Develop your paraphrasing ability, your willingness to ask for help. Make use of gestures and other devices to keep on talking.

13. Using different styles of speech and writing

Develop your ability to differentiate between styles of speech and writing, both productively and 'receptively'. Find ways to transfer your mother tongue experience of such variation to the new language.

Please let the author know if the present paper has been useful or not for you, and why. This will make us reflect upon your practical experience on this material.


Se presenta una forma de organizar las preguntas que los estudiantes pueden hacerse ellos mismos para enfrentar la responsabilidad de perfeccionar su desempeño en el aprendizaje del inglés como lengua extranjera. Estas preguntas requieren de reflexión y guia para saber cómo mejorar las estrategias de aprendizaje. Se ofrecen algunas respuestas con el objetivo de guiar a los estudiantes en este proceso y ayudarlos a resolver las dificultades, ya que no podemos abordar cada necesidad o interrogante individual. Con esto no se prentende reemplazar el papel que desempeña el profesor de inglés.


Consulted bibliography

Recibido: 9 de abril de 2003. Aprobado: 27 de septiembre de 2003.
Lic. Vivian Martínez Sánchez. Facultad de Ciencias Médicas "Julio Trigo López". Calzada de Bejucal km 7½, Arroyo Naranjo. Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba. E-mail: vivian.mtnez@infomed.sld.cu

1 Profesora Asistente.

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