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Archive for the ‘How we learn’ Category

Buddha’s Brain is the title of a book by an American doctor, Rick Hanson, who has studied Theravada Buddhism for many years.

In his book, Rick tells us how our brains are “wired” to remember negative situations and events much more clearly than positive ones.

In other words, if you fail a test, you will remember it much longer than you will remember all the tests you passed.

If you tried to speak to a foreigner and then forgot your words and felt soooo embarrassed,  you will probably feel this same way again the next time you try to speak to a foreigner and the next time and the next.

This is important information for anyone who is trying to learn something difficult — like English. Why?

1. Learning is faster and easier when the brain can work freely. When negative experiences from the past cloud our brain, our natural learning ability is blocked.

2. When we’re studying English or trying to speak in English and we get anxious (worried is the word most native Thai speakers would use), we’re really in the past and not in the present.

3. Knowing that this anxiety is not about the present moment frees us to let it go and, when we do this, our knowledge can come forward. This is when we find we know more than we think we know!

4. There are ways to be present. Ways to bring our mind into the present and release the past. Meditation helps whether you do it by sitting for a time each day or taking a few seconds many times a day to become quiet.

In future posts I will write about some of Rick Hanson’s strategies for releasing the mind from past experiences. For now, just know that your worry is not about you and what you know but about past experience. This will free you to learn more, faster and more easily.

Have a gorgeous day!


George Lucas, the man who gave birth to the Star Wars movies, has a big interest in education. Not just any kind of education! Education that is creative, collaborative, exciting and fun.

He has a superb organization called Edutopia and I’d love for you to go to his website and read everything that interests you.

It will be good English reading practice and I bet you will find something that you want to see in your own education system.

There is also a great learning styles quiz to help you understand how you learn and then give you some tips on how to study.

Here’s the address:


In English, the term “pep talk” means a speech to inspire people.

So today, I want to give a small pep talk.

Every student I’ve ever had knew more than they thought they knew. It’s true for you as well.

You know more English than you think you know.

Your English is better than you think it is.

Trust yourself.

We are taught to always be improving. We’re told to study study study. We’re pushed forward by our families and our cultures.

So we always focus on how we need to improve. We say our English isn’t perfect. Our English isn’t good. We need to learn more, study harder.

It’s okay to have the desire to improve. It’s good to want to study and get results.

And…the one thing that always helps us learn is acknowledging* our current abilities. Appreciating* what we do know. Trusting ourselves to build on what we have already learned. Having confidence in our knowledge. Relaxing.

This is an attitude. The attitude of building and expanding the knowledge we have gathered over years of study, not the attitude of we’re never good enough.

Every student I’ve ever worked with knows the feeling of not being good enough.

This little pep talk is to say: We’re always good enough. And then there’s more to learn.

Enjoy this beautiful day…. Trust yourself.

* If you don’t know these words, look them up at

Ok. So we all……have different learning styles.

We’ve talked about visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Here are a few more.

Logical: We could call this type of person a systems-thinker. Someone who is logical likes to understand how information and facts link together. This learner wants to know why things work as they do, to get the full picture in order to understand or learn. Memorizing won’t work as well as understanding how something works or how things fit together.

If you are a logical learner, make lists, draw diagrams, set up systems for your subjects. Don’t get lost in analyzing things.  Set goals and decide what steps you need to take to get to them…then follow the steps.

Social: A social learner does best when interacting with others. Talking about a topic, working as part of a team, pairing up with a friend to study. All these strategies will help a social learner.

Solitary: The opposite of a social learner, a solitary learner is happier studying by him or herself. Quiet places are where a solitary learner can focus and study best.

So now you have an idea of different learning styles.  There is a test to find out yours at this website:

Enjoy this new information about how you learn. Use the tips and you will find studying and learning to easier and more effortless.

Auditory learners take in information through sound and rhythm. They are often quite musical   and may play an instrument, sing, dance or write poetry.

If you are an aural learner, maybe you can study better when you have music playing.

If you can record a lecture and listen to it later, it may be better than taking notes.

Studying in groups where people can talk about a topic can be very useful.

Read aloud. The sound of your voice may be useful in remembering information.

When you have a choice of how to make a report, consider giving a talk rather than writing a paper.

Watch and listen to videos about topics you are learning.

Any time you can turn information into sound, you will find studying and learning easier.


The visual learner.

As I said in my last post, we all have different ways of learning. We all use several learning styles but one will be the most important.

One of the learning styles is the visual style. A person with a visual style learns best when he or she can see the information, especially in a chart or graph or picture. Visual people see pictures in their minds. When they hear the word “panda” they actually see a panda in their minds.

If you have a visual learning style, using films, pictures, flashcards, maps — any kind of image — will help you.

Look to You Tube or search the web to find film and pictures about a topic you are studying.

Use color! When you are taking notes, use colored pens. Highlight in different colors to draw your attention. Organize your work in different colored folders.

Use symbols or pictures when you’re taking notes. You can draw a picture or diagram rather than write word for word.

Organize your notes and plans for any essay in a mind map, chart, graph or picture.  Here’s another place for lots of color.

Try then out if you feel you are a visual learner! Enjoy your English!

Good Morning super English students!

Check this out! ( “Check out” has two meanings in English. It can mean to look at something or if you borrow something, like when you go to a library and you sign your name to get a book, you are checking out that book.)


This is a wonderful diagram about learning styles.

In many schools, teaching looks like this.

The teacher is at the front of the room.

Students sit quietly in rows of desks.

The teacher talks. Students listen and take notes and learn.

However, many students have trouble with this way of teaching and learning.

This is because there is more than one way to learn. Different people have different ways of learning. We call them different learning styles.

Some people learn easily when they read about a topic.

Others learn better when they can see charts, graphs, pictures, diagrams.

Some students find listening to a lecture or a discussion the easiest way to learn.

But most students learn most easily when they can do an activity that goes along with the topic, when they can have an experience with whatever they are learning.

There is an old saying from the Chinese philosopher, Confucius.

I see, I remember.

“I hear, I know.

I do, I understand.”

Think about yourself. What way do you like to learn? Maybe there are several ways! In future posts I will talk about different learning styles, ideas for study and how to help yourself get the best grades for you!

Til then, love your English! Enjoy! Have fun!