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What is active learning anyway?

Active Learning. You may be asking yourself: “what does that even mean?” Well, let me tell you.  It’s not simply sitting in a classroom for a few hours a day out of every week, while listening to a professor go on and on about any given topic as you take notes, occasionally raise your hand to prompt a question, or maybe even doodle (oh, come on, we’ve all done it!). No, that’s not it. To me, active learning means that you have to throw yourself into the lesson being taught and engage yourself in the classroom environment, as well as what surrounds you outside of the classroom.

In one of my courses here in Spain, the main objective is to talk. That’s it. We sit around and talk about our daily lives, about what we’ve discovered while here, about some customs, we even tell a few jokes and constantly veer of topic, but that’s the whole idea! The dynamic of it is set up for each of us to expand our Spanish skills in a natural, casual way.

But, let’s be honest here, not every class is the same, and most times one resorts to sitting in the back, half-listening and half-wondering what that day’s lunch will be. It turns out, that the most active learning takes place everywhere but the classroom.

While studying abroad, it’s essential that you go out, explore, search the city for what it can offer you, and just live it up and learn along the way. It’s so much more beneficial (and exciting, too) than passively filtering lectures and lessons, because you experience the world in a much broader scope. You get the chance to go out on the town, interact with others and converse with them without the pressure of an instructor watching, ready to grade you. Go on, try out those Spanish skills you’ve been honing!

You get the chance to visit the plazas where the locals hang out, and the tourist-y places, too, at your own pace and you learn where you can go to relax to do the homework assignment for that class that you almost dozed during. You can also pick up on the mannerisms and lifestyles of those who surround you, and you learn how they are so vastly different from you, and how they can be eerily similar, as well.

Just remember, it’s not always about learning in class that’s important, but learning about your home away from home, too. So, go out, take a tour around the city, hop on a bus and do some local sightseeing, and go check out where the locals like to relax. Just... don’t forget to pay attention in class, because that’s also important!

-Yelitza, CEA MOJO Granda, España
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