Do fun and meaningful learning experiences walk hand in hand? A student’s perspective

Julia is my CEFR-B2 student. She’s 16, loves animals, plants, and is a huge fan of Games of Thrones, and Harry Potter. Biology, and psychology interest her.

I know what you’re thinking. I have too many students named Julia. Actually I have just two and they’re both very bright young ladies. My other student Júlia talked about curiosity and changing the world. Read her text here. This time this Julia shares her feelings about class and meaningful learning experiences. Hard to disagree with her, don’t you think?

A teacher has to know that students are people who have feelings, feel exhausted, feel laziness and feel pressured. So, what teachers do most of the time is make the students act like robots that always need to be focused, seeming to want to study all the time and never be tired. But that’s all wrong, sometimes people learn more watching a movie or reading a book that they choose, and not paying attention all the time in the class, especially when they put slides, this kills everyone!

People who work with education do not know about education, because they think that learning is the same way for everyone, but some people like to lay back in the chair and only listen to the class, or some hyperactive people need to move their body to pay attention, and we have a lot of examples. Teachers should study more about psychology, neuroscience and pedagogy! Teachers have to understand more about their students to be a good teacher. Teachers should listen more than talk. Teachers must have to ask their students about what they want to do in the class, because this makes the kids and teenagers more excited and interested in the class. All the teachers need to use things that their students like to make the class interesting. If you are a teacher, try to ask what is more efficient to your student’s learning.

Speaking from my experience, I’ve had a biology class that my teacher brought some flowers (we were learning botany ) and we cut them apart to see all the parts of the flower and write their names on our drawing of the same flower. I learned better this day and all my classmates said the same! I still know the parts of a flower, not only because I love biology and I find it easy, but because I saw the parts of the flower with my own eyes!! And the best part: I was doing everything with my friends and talking to them about the flower, this made us have fun and learn at the same time. Why not have fun and study?


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Julia playing with her classmates: Camilla, Lorenzo, and Heitor

Well, I have to thank Julia for this very insightful text and I hope it helps teachers of the world answer some questions, such as:

1) how can we make our lessons more fun to make sure learning is really happening?

2) is it really that difficult to bring the real world into the classroom, like her biology teacher did?

3) how can teachers be better prepared to cope with the needs of tens of students in class and still make things more interactive?

4) how can we communicate with and respond to our students’ wishes and demands?

If you are running out of ideas, check my last entries with great tips to have a great semester and to have fun activities for your students.

6 fun games that promote Autonomy, Choice, and Engagement – my ACE concept

5 activities to get your students to speak more in class

13 Tips to Help You Start a Great Semester and Keep on Track

Hope you have enjoyed reading Julia’s testimonial and that you can share your views with us.

Published by

André Hedlund

André Hedlund is a Chevening Scholar from Brazil, MSc in Psychology of Education from the University of Bristol in the UK, and a pedagogical consultant for National Geographic Learning. He has been an EFL teacher for over 15 years and has worked both as an academic coordinator and a CamLa (Cambridge and Michigan Language Assessments) examiner at a Brazilian Binational Center. Currently, he is the president of an ONG called Partners of the Americas Goiás and the representative of the Brazilian TESOL's Mind, Brain, and Education Special Interest Group in the Midwest.

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