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Skills of effective learners you should be teaching your students!

As a teacher, your ultimate aim is to empower your students to reach their full potential. You want to see them excelling in class, making steady progress throughout the year, and developing the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the future. However, this can be a challenging task if your students don't possess the essential skills required for effective learning. Effective learners possess several key skills that are vital for success in the classroom and beyond.

In this article we’ll discuss what these skills are and strategies ,you as a teacher, to help your students develop.


1. Active listening:

Active listening is the ability to fully engage with and understand what is being spoken or communicated. It involves paying attention to not just the words being spoken, but also the tone, body language, and context of the communication. Active listening is an important skill for effective learning because it enables students to understand and retain information more effectively. It also should be practiced and reinforced regularly in a classroom setting.

There are several ways that teachers can develop active listening skills in their students, such as:

  1. Modeling active listening: Teachers can demonstrate active listening themselves by paying attention to their students, making eye contact, and showing interest in what they have to say.

  2. Pair and group work: Teachers can put students in pairs or small groups to have them practice active listening and communication with each other. For example: have one student speak about an interesting incident or a funny story to his/her friend, notice the reaction the reaction of the second student and afterwards ask him/her to summarize what they heard.

  3. Active listening worksheets and activities: Teachers can use worksheets and activities that focus on active listening, such as matching audio to transcriptions, completing sentences or identifying keywords.

  4. Use audio-visual aids: such as videos, podcasts and audio recordings to help students practice active listening in a variety of different contexts.

Sample activity:

Listen to this episode of "6 Minutes English Podcast" by BBC, and answer the following questions:

  • What is the episode about?

  • Why is food waste a serious problem?

  • According to the UN, 1/3 of the food we grow is thrown away. How can we stop this?

  • What are some new words that you learned in this episode, what do they mean?

2. Time management:

Time management is important for students because it helps them to prioritize tasks, meet deadlines, and achieve their goals. When students have good time management skills, they are able to balance their academic responsibilities with their extracurricular activities and personal time. This can lead to better grades, increased productivity, and a greater sense of accomplishment.

As a teacher, you can help students develop time management skills by:

  1. Modeling time management: By managing your own time effectively in the classroom and being punctual, you can set an example for your students.

  2. Teaching planning and organization: Teach students how to create and use a schedule, calendar, or to-do list to keep track of their assignments and responsibilities.

  3. Prioritizing and goal setting: Teach students how to identify their most important tasks and set realistic goals for completing them (for more details on goal setting and prioritizing, read our article here)

  4. Teaching techniques and strategies: Probably one of the most common ones is the Pomodoro technique, and it’s when they break down their work into 25-minute intervals with short breaks in between. This helps divide the load of tasks and gives breaks to help you regain energy.

  5. Encouraging self-reflection: Encourage students to reflect on how they have spent their time and to identify areas where they can improve their time management.

  6. Time management workshops: Organize workshops and sessions on time management specifically for students, where they can learn more about the different strategies and techniques they can use to manage their time.

  7. Incorporating time management into your class: Incorporate time management strategies into your lesson plans, for example, giving students a set amount of time to complete an assignment or project, to help them develop their time management skills and give them specific suggestions for improvement.

Sample activities:

Schedule challenges: Challenge students to create a schedule for a busy day or week or month, and then have them stick to it as closely as possible.

Check out our free 30 Days Writing Challenge, where we have students write different pieces everyday for a month to improve their writing skills.

Time audit: Have students track how they spend their time for a week, and then analyze and reflect on where they can improve.

Use our template to help your students track their time.

Use a journal: Encourage your students to get a journal and start writing their goals for the day, to-do-lists, plans and so on.

(Download our digital journal for free here, it comes with motivational quotes, daily to-do-list, SMART objectives and much more..)

3. Note-taking:

Note-taking is the process of organizing and summarizing information in a way that makes it easy to review later. It is an essential skill for effective learning because it helps students to understand, retain and recall information more effectively. It also helps students to identify the most important information and to make connections between different pieces of information.

To take full advantage of this skill, teacher need to:

1. Teach note-taking strategies: Teachers can teach students different note-taking strategies, such as the Cornell method, the outline method, or the mapping method.

The Cornell method: a note-taking strategy that involves dividing a page into three sections: a cue column, a note-taking column, and a summary section. The cue column is used to write keywords or phrases that summarize the main ideas of the information being presented. The note-taking column is used to write detailed notes on the information. And the summary section is used to write a brief summary of the information after the lecture or reading.

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The outline method: a strategy that involves organizing information hierarchically, using headings and subheadings to indicate the main ideas and supporting details. This method allows students to identify the main ideas and to organize the information in a logical and easy-to-follow structure.

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The mapping method: a strategy that involves using visual diagrams, such as mind maps, to organize and represent information. It is a way of creating a visual representation of the information, where concepts are represented by words or images and are connected by lines or arrows, and also helps identify the main ideas and supporting details.

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2. Using visual aids: Teachers can use visual aids such as diagrams, charts, and graphs to help students organize and understand information.

3. Providing opportunities for practice: Provide opportunities for students to practice taking notes, such as during lectures or while reading texts.

4. Critical thinking:

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze and evaluate information in order to make informed decisions. It involves questioning beliefs, examining evidence, and considering alternative answers. It is an essential skill for students because it enables them to think independently, to solve problems effectively, and to make well-reasoned decisions.

To help students develop this skill you can use one the following activities:

  1. Encouraging questioning: Encourage students to ask questions, to challenge assumptions, and to seek evidence to support their claims in debates.

  2. Providing opportunities for discussion: Provide opportunities for students to engage in discussions and debates, where they can practice evaluating different perspectives and arguments.

  3. Using critical thinking questions: Use critical thinking questions to prompt students to think more deeply about the information they are learning.

  4. Encouraging self-reflection: Encourage students to reflect on their own thinking processes and to identify areas where they can improve their critical thinking skills.

(For more on Critical thinking, check out research by our teacher Rayen Guendouzi on promoting critical thinking to enhance speaking in a classroom here)

5. Self-directed learning:

Self-directed learning is the ability to take responsibility for one's own learning and to find resources and opportunities for growth. It involves setting goals, seeking out information, and reflecting on the learning process. It's a critical skill for students because it enables them to become more independent and self-motivated learners.

There are several ways that teachers can help students develop self-directed learning skills, including:

  1. Encouraging autonomy: Encourage students to take ownership of their own learning by allowing them to make choices about what they want to learn and how they want to learn it.

  2. Teaching research skills: Teach students how to find trustworthy information and how to evaluate them, so they can learn independently and reduce their reliance on the teacher.

  3. Incorporating self-directed learning into your class: Incorporate self-directed learning into your lesson plans, for example, by having students create their own projects or by giving them choices on how they want to present their learning.

  4. Helping students to set learning goals, and providing them with the resources and tools they need to achieve those goals.


It's your duty to help your students develop these skills, through a variety of different teaching methods and strategies. By providing your students with the right tools and support, you can help them to become more effective learners, and ultimately achieve their full potential.

What about you, how do you help you help your students develop new skill away from the curriculum you’re teaching, and what other strategies have you used? We’d love to hear your thought.

If you enjoyed reading this article, feel free to share it with others.

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