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AE 484: How to Improve Your English with Reflective Practice
G’day, guys. What’s going on? So, this is where one day usually starts. In the kitchen here, I have my new lens and camera, which I’ve been practising with like crazy, got my computer here with photos on it, and that I’ve got this, which isn’t breakfast, but it’s what I’ve been putting outside to get birds to come closer for me to photograph. So, I put it on the ground here, put it on the roof over here, and it brings birds in close so I can use this camera right here to take photos.
So, today we’re going to talk about reflective practice and how you can use it to improve your English as fast as possible no matter what your level. Let’s go!
How’s it going, guys? Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today, I’m going to chat about the fastest way to improve your English no matter what your level, guys. And I’m going to sort of draw an analogy to what I’ve been battling with recently and photography. Let’s go.
Alright, guys. So, the topic for today is Reflective Learning, Reflective Learning. I wonder if you guys have heard about Reflective Learning before. So, I’ve been researching this recently. My dad was the first one to sort of drill this into me quite a bit, and that’s because he was a high school teacher and a lecturer at university for quite a while so he had a background in teaching. But I’ve been applying this recently to photography, as well as a bunch of other things like Portuguese as well, and I’m learning Portuguese, but photography is what I want to talk about today.
So, Reflective Learning, I learnt about this from Donald Schon. Okay? So, he was an American from M.I.T., a social scientist, and he did a lot of research into Reflective Learning in the 80s and 90s.
So, there are three main kinds of reflective learning.
The very first one is Knowing-in-Action. So, this is when you do what you already know whilst you’re doing it, right? So, you imagine that you are speaking English with someone, you are using the English you already know, you are ‘Knowing-in-Action’, you’re using what you know in action.
The second type is Reflection-in-Action, and this is where you are doing that thing like speaking English, but you reflect, you think about what’s going on. So, maybe you make a mistake and you think, oh, was that the right word? Was that the right tense? Was that the right adjective that I should have used? You’re ‘Reflecting-in-Action’.
And the third kind and most important kind that I want to dig into a bit more today for you guys is Reflection-on-Action, Reflection-on-Action. And this is when you reflect on the action you’ve done, obviously, after the fact. So, for instance, if you were speaking English with someone, it’s a session where you’re practising your English, maybe you’re getting a lesson with someone, maybe you’re just having a conversation with someone, but when you reflect on that later, if you reflect on it later, that is a Reflection-on-Action. You’re analyzing what you did. Could you have done a better? What else could you have done? What were your mistakes? Okay?
So, let’s get into that a bit more, how it applies to photography for me, and how you guys can improve your English by reflecting on action. Let’s go.
So, recently, guys, I’ve been coming to Mulligan’s Flat quite a bit and you guys are probably seen this in my Instagram posts, on YouTube in the videos. The main reason is that I’m trying to constantly practice the same thing again and again and again, or I guess, variations of the same thing, right?
So, there are lots of animals here. There are lots of little birds, lots of kangaroos, wallabies, all kinds of critters and creatures, and I’m trying to really hone in my photography skills. So, instead of sort of jumping from one thing to the next all the time and not analysing what I’ve done, how I’ve done it, how well I’ve gone, I’ve kept coming to the same place, I’ve kept photographing the same things, in the same locations, and I’ve kept analysing what I’ve been doing after the fact, right?
So, these are my practice sessions. This is where I spend an hour or two walking around, getting a bit of exercise, looking at the environment, finding the animals, and honing my skills when I take shots of the animals doing the same things every time that I’m out here. You know, there’ll be a bird on a branch and I’ll be thinking about: What angle do I need? Where’s the sun? What are my settings on my camera? What is the shutter speed, the aperture, all of these technical things related to the camera that I really need to work on and improve?
And the trouble I was having at first was that a lot of my photos were out of focus. The animals were too fast. The settings weren’t correct on the camera. The photos were overexposed, they were blurred, they were horrible, but I improved a really, really rapidly because of Reflective Practice, guys. Okay? Let’s just focus on that for a sec.
Alright, so how have I been applying Reflective Practice to photography? Obviously, I’ve been doing number one: I have a certain set of skills in photography that I already know and when I come out and take photos here, I use those skills. Knowing-in-Action.
Number two. I’m reflecting in action. I’m taking photos, I’m looking at the photos as soon as I’ve taken them, I’m zooming in, I’m thinking, with the hell of a done wrong? Why don’t I like this? How could I improve this? Is there something wrong with it? I’m scrutinizing those images and I’m thinking in the moment, I’m reflecting in the moment, on what I’ve done and how I could improve that.
But then number three. I’m reflecting afterwards. So, I come out here, I do my one, two hours, however long it is, I take a few thousand photos, I go home, and I sit down, load all the photos onto my computer, and I start going through them. And I start looking at the ones that I like. I sort them out, delete the rest, and then I start scrutinizing the ones that I like and I think, how could I have improved them? Or, what I like about them? What have I done right and what could I do more of in the future?
And if I’m having specific problems like maybe the animal is too blurred, and I’ll show you some of these photos in a second and how I’ve hopefully improved. If the animals too blurred, I get on YouTube, I get on Google, and I start searching ‘how to take sharper images’, ‘I take blurry images, what do I do?’. So, I start looking at how I can improve on the mistakes that I’ve been making.
So, once I identify those mistakes and I sort of think about it, I reflect on those errors, I then plan my next practice session. I then think about next time I go out into Mulligan’s Flat, next time I go out and take some photos of whatever it is, birds, kangaroos, what thing am I going to focus on and try and improve upon? What skills have I just researched? What skills have I just learnt about in order to implement the next time that I go out? And that’s what I’m doing today. I’m out here again after spending the morning looking at a whole bunch of photos that I liked some of, but didn’t like most of it, and I’m thinking about, how can I sit down, how can I practice those, and how can I improve on those mistakes today?
And I’ll tell you what, guys, this has really helped me improve at a lightning pace. You could definitely do this by just coming out here all the time and taking as many photos as possible, but I think that would take a lot longer. In fact, you might improve, but you may not ever get to the level that you want to get to if you’re not scrutinising your own work and thinking about how to improve it in depth, and having that real reflective approach to improvement. Okay?
So, now let’s talk about this in English and how you guys can apply this to improving your English no matter what level you currently have. Okay? We’ll go up the top of the mountain. Let’s head up.
I think that was a bad idea. This hill’s really steep, guys. I’m going to have to wait for like 10 minutes once I get to the top just so that I’m not out of breath and you guys zone give me a hard time about my cardio abilities. Beautiful day though. Beautiful day!
I’ve been walking for like 10 minutes looking for these bloody kangaroos. First time ever I’ve been in Mulligan’s Flat and I couldn’t see kangaroos. I’ve come up this hill, come all the way down, these guys are here, the moment I set the tripod up and move towards it and clicked go, there’s dust and they’re gone. Anyway.
I wanted to chat to you guys about applying the Reflective Practice principle, theory, whatever it is, to your English. How this is going to help you improve your English no matter what your level is as fast as possible.
And instead of just giving you a bit of my mind spewed out, I want to try and give you some actionable… *Rosellas calling*. I want to try… Are you done? Good. I want to try and give you some actionable tips that you guys can apply to your English learning… whatever the ways that you set it up, okay? So, you’ve got a routine, a schedule, maybe you don’t even have one of these, but if you have a routine or schedule, I want you to try and apply these several tips and tricks to that schedule in order to improve your English. Okay?
Alright. So, number one. You need to define a practice session. Whatever it is, however it is that you’re practicing, when you’re practicing your English, I think you need to create a half an hour or maybe a 1-hour period at least once a week where you are actively practicing your English.
Number two. During those sessions, you need feedback. Whether it’s internal and it’s coming from you when you can work out what it is that you’re doing wrong, or whether it’s external and it’s coming from someone else, a friend, a family member, a tutor, a teacher, whoever it is, you need to be getting some kind of feedback on which you can then practice, you can scrutinize, you can improve upon.
Number three. You need to go away and practice on the feedback that you’ve just been given. What is it that you got wrong and how can you do it correctly next time?
Finally, number four, guys. You need to take this in mind and use it to organize your next practice session, and it becomes a cyclical process. You need to apply this every time you do this practice session and you’re going to get results that just compound. You’re going to improve a lot faster than if you were just winging it, you were just improvising, every single time.
So, I guess, finishing up. This is something that I always… I always get asked when I meet people who’ve been in Australia for a very long time, and they say to me, I’ve been here for nine years and my English hasn’t improved. What am I doing wrong? And I’ll ask them, how are you practising? Usually, they’ll say, I’m not. Or they’ll say, oh, I speak, but I don’t study. Or they will be studying, but they won’t be practising the things that they’ve studied.
So, that’s it for me today, guys. Hopefully, you got something useful out of this. Don’t forget to hit subscribe, don’t forget to hit that bell notification button if you would like to stay up to date with all the future episodes, and if you have suggestions, if you have questions for things you would like videos on, put them in a comment below. And now, it’s my turn to put my money where my mouth is, get out there, start taking some photos, maybe some videos as well, and working on what I’ve been trying to improve during my Reflective Practice sessions.
So, with that, guys, let’s go have a look and see what’s around today in Mulligan’s Flat.
Target acquired. I found this little bunch of trees here and I can hear them squeaking. These are these small birds that I’m after and I’m trying to get really sharp nice shots of, that I’ve been having quite a bit of trouble with recently. Let’s see how we go.