5 best techniques to boost self-directed learning

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Being self-directed is important when learning online. What does this mean?

It means that you need to be able to push yourself and stay focused.

Self-directed students have more control over their learning:

  • They can decide how to learn, what materials to use, and how fast or slow they go through the material;
  • They are responsible for their studies.

The student directs their own learning; the teacher helps.

Why should you become self-directed?

Self-directed learners:

  • find learning materials that work for them
  • are good at working with others
  • are better at applying what they learned
  • are more capable
  • continue learning throughout their lives

5 techniques to become a self-directed learner:

  1. Have intrinsic motivation
    Intrinsic motivation means learning because you enjoy it. If you’re learning English to reach a certain language level, you may stop learning after you reach that level. Those with intrinsic motivation stay curious and set high goals. They also focus on being a better person.
  2. Set SMART goals
    SMART means specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals. Make a list of your SMART goals. This will be your reminder. It can push you to achieve more.
  3. Have a growth mindset
    A fixed mindset says that a student is either good at a subject or not. This is shown by their grades. A growth mindset believes that anyone can learn even if it isn’t easy. A person with a growth mindset will try as many times it takes to learn something.
  4. Stick to good study habits
    Create a schedule and stick to it. Do it everyday until it becomes a habit. Here are some examples:

  5. Apply what you learned
    Use what you learned through a project. Teach someone what you learned. Doing this can be the reward that will make you want to keep learning.

Article updated February 21, 2024.
Sources: Extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation: What’s the difference? Kendra Cherry, verywell mind; 7 habits of the best self-directed learners, Kevin Dickinson, Big Think; and Intrinsic motivation: How to pick up healthy motivation techniques, Adrienne Santos-Longhurst, Healthline. Accessed August 9, 2019.

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Community Resources

English Online’s learning options for Manitoban newcomers are designed for self-directed learning. Whether you like learning with a group, with your peers, on your own, or with a one-on-one instructor, we have a program for you. All our classes are free. Join us today!

English Online offers the Become an Autonomous Language Learner (B-ALL) Multi-Week Workshop every term. You can check the materials in the link and register when the B-ALL workshop is offered.

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