Do you suffer from ‘I already know it’ syndrome? Over the last year I’ve come across quite a few students of English who don’t write down a useful collocation, phrase or idiom because they tell me “I already know it.”
In most cases, they don’t know it.
For me, ‘knowing it’ means you are already using it in your English conversations.
For some students, however, ‘knowing it’ means they’ve studied it before, and therefore they don’t need to write it down again.
But studying is not the same as learning.
“But We’ve Done That Page Before”
One day this semester I was looking at a regular B2 – Upper Intermediate coursebook that had a lot of phrases in it. I thought to myself: “How is it that my C1 – Advanced level students don’t speak with these phrases..?”
It’s partly ‘I know it’ syndrome. They already did that page during their lower level classes, and so now that they ‘know it’, they want something new.
Some students are certainly making progress, but because they are going through the levels, and not truly revising, retrieving and using the language they are studying in real life, they are not really learning nearly as much as what they think.
As I wrote last time, I’m now taking a break from using coursebooks, and one reason for this is to implement a new system that takes students from exposure and ‘studying’ the language, to actually retrieving and using it.
But if you do have ‘I know it’ syndrome, and you’re studying with a coursebook, here are a few pills you can take to help you get better:
- Revise what you did in class when you are coming back home on the bus or as soon as you can. This will help you remember what you did.
- Write down a summary of what you’ve studied today. Research shows that summarising can help improve longer-term learning better than simply ‘going over’ your notes.
- Do extra quizzes and tests to help you ‘retrieve’ the language you’ve studied. More on this another time but this is probably the biggest gap in what you’re doing – many people might study something, but without being ‘made’ to remember it or retrieve it, it gets lost, basically.
- Speak English every week for at least a few hours. If you’re doing the bare minimum, and talking about a wide variety of topics with either a native speaker or someone who speaks English very well, then you’re also going to hear all the best collocations you need as part of your interactions. You’ll also get a real life chance to use them – sometimes you won’t really know a word, phrase or structure until you have the chance to really use it in real life…
- Do you have real friendships and connections in English? This is by far the best way to learn and you’re actually using the language that you’ve studied.
What do you think? Have you ever had ‘I know it’ syndrome? How did you get over it? Please leave a comment below and feel free to add your own advice.
And have you heard the Bush Administration’s view on ‘knowns’..?!