Learning something new (and not die trying)

When was the last time you learned something new? And by ‘new’, I mean learning something really new. If I had to answer this question, I wouldn’t have a clue. Until last month, when for the first since a long time, I started learning something from absolutely zero. I (re)discovered the three key things of learning. And the frustrating phases you go through as a newbie. I rediscovered three conditions that make you persevere and not give up.

(*this is originally a Spanish expression ‘… y no morir en el intento’)

As teachers as well as educational designers, we are very busy teaching others. And at a certain point, we might forget how it feels to be a learner ourselves. That’s why I think it is very helpful to learn new things yourself every now and then. Ok, I hear some of you thinking ‘I learn something new everyday’. Sure. But I mean really consciously learning something new. From zero.

I’m lucky enough to be in such a situation since a month now. Lucky? Well, I feel very unhappy and frustrated at times! My hands and fingers do things I don’t want them to do, I even heard myself say ‘It’s not me, it is the stupid things that won’t work!’, and the sound it should produce, was still far far away. Any idea what I’m learning? The picture of this blog post should say anything 😉

I got through some typical learning phases. Curiosity, frustration, imagination of what the world would look like once I master this skill, frustration again, some feelings of success, and frustration again when the teacher added a new ‘cool’ thing to the skill.

Imagine this:


Wanting to do this:


Why I didn’t throw in the towel (yet), is for these three reasons:

I learned from a master example

I took the first steps of my castañuelas career in class. The teacher demonstrated what we had to do. And we repeated – or at least tried to repeat. So far nothing new. This class takes place once a week and we all know that practising once a week is not enough. So we made a video of the teacher demonstrating the skill. And practised at home.

One of the important things I (re)realised here, is that having a master example close at hand during learning is key. You can repeat a video over and over again and watch it at your own pace. Also, I remember wondering at a certain point ‘What is she doing with her hands?!’ Analyzing the video helped me produce the first ‘good’ sounds with the castañuelas.

But there is two more reasons why a master example that you can consult at all times during the learning process is very important.

I know the end goal

The example video shows me what I am learning towards. It shows: this is what you should be able to do if you master it.

I test myself

Thanks to the video, I can test myself and say if I’m doing well or not. Do I produce the same sound as the teacher in the video? I’m I still holding my hands in the right position? Self-evaluating is important in learning since it enables the learner to adjust where needed.


Soon, I will write about the 4C/ID-model and how this model is helpful when designing learning tasks for learning skills.

I have to go back to studying now  😉

“A estudiar! Hasta pronto!”


What new thing did you recently learn or would you want to learn soon?

And what are for you the most important things when learning?

Leave a comment below!


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25 tools voor in de les

Het is alweer een tijd geleden dat ik de blog met 23 apps en tools voor in de (taal)les deelde. De lijst was dan ook toe aan een update. Vandaag deel ik met jullie 25 tools voor in de les. Bij elke tool staat een kort voorbeeld voor gebruik in de les.

Bekijk hier de lijst met 25 tools voor in de les.