Language learning skills

This section is designed to reflect on and develop your own learning skills. How and in what environment do you learn best? What is self-assessment and why would it be useful to practise it? How can you use your language skills and knowledge to learn something new?

The aim is to

  • learn to identify your own strengths and areas for development as a language learner
  • learn to set goals and evaluate their own learning
  • understand the importance of feedback and assessment in learning
  • to learn to know and use the most appropriate means and tools to develop language skills
  • to understand how language learning outside school supports learning and to reflect on how it could be strengthened
  • to reflect on the possibilities for language learning and study beyond upper secondary education.
Polku alkaa omista vahvuuksista ja kehittämiskohteista. 1. Millainen kielenoppija ja kielenkäyttäjä olen nyt? 
Omat toiveet, motivaatio ja merkityksellisyys. 2. Mitä haluan tulevaisuudelta ja minkälaisia taitoja tarvitsen?
Laaja-alainen osaaminen: Kyvyt ja tahto esittää kysymyksiä.
Jatkuva oppiminen. 3. Miten ylläpidän ja kehitän kielitaitoja lukion jälkeen elämän eri osa-alueilla?
Polku päättyy jatkuvaan oppimiseen.

Language learning skills and strategies

Language learning skills are both concrete ways of learning a language, such as memorising or listening to music in the target language, and an understanding of the types of environments or spaces in which you learn best. The latter refers, for example, to the habit of listening to music to improve concentration, or thinking about difficult issues in groups.

Study skills are also the ability to assess your own learning, develop your own study skills and set goals for your learning. It is also important to learn how to give and receive feedback and how to evaluate the feedback you receive.

In learning, it is important to find the motivation and ways of learning that suit you. It is also important to get feedback on your own learning and skills for two reasons: to better understand what you know now and to understand where you could improve and what you could do in the future. Motivation can be self-motivated or linked to specific goals.


Self and peer assessment

As a learning skill, self-assessment is the observation of your own learning. It helps you identify your own learning strengths and areas for improvement. It helps to find new ways of learning that work and motivate you, and to apply learning strategies that have worked well in the past to learning new things. Peer assessment provides a different perspective on your own learning and helps you learn to support others in theirs.

Self and peer assessment also helps to set goals.


Giving and receiving feedback

An important part of learning to learn is learning to give, receive and process feedback. Feedback helps you to understand your own strengths and areas for improvement, and to learn to identify and articulate your skills. Reviewing feedback provides a good basis for reflection on what learning objectives could be set and how they could be achieved.

What is good feedback?

Feedback should be clear, constructive and encouraging. The starting point for giving feedback is what the performer can do. Feedback can also be given at different levels: it can be holistic and focus on a broader issue such as the structure of the text, the communicative quality of the presentation or the fluency of the speech, or it can look at the performance in more detail, such as the intelligibility of pronunciation or the appropriateness of the word choices in the register.


Setting and evaluating goals

The studies teach you to plan your own learning and set goals for your learning. Setting goals clarifies the workload and helps to schedule your studies – also so that they are realistic and do not overload you. Setting goals helps you to monitor and optimise your own learning.

Targets can be set for different time frames, for example according to how your own skills compare. Should you consider your own skills in relation to the second or third year of upper secondary school, the requirements of a summer job or the language needs of possible further studies?


Setting objectives clarifies the skills you want to acquire. Evaluating the achievement of objectives allows a critical examination of the means used to develop language skills. From time to time it is very useful to look at what works and what doesn’t, or even whether the objectives have changed along the way.

Multilingualism as a language learning skill

When you start learning a new language, you don’t start from scratch. Multilingualism can be useful for learning new languages and developing existing skills. For example, learners already have knowledge of how text works and how to communicate, as well as knowledge of other languages’ vocabularies, structures and how to express hesitation.

All of this is used to learn a new language. For example, knowledge of the vocabulary and structures of different languages, as well as knowledge of different communicative strategies and textual skills, can facilitate the acquisition of a new language. For example, English can be helpful in learning German because of the similarities between the languages.


Lifelong language learning

After high school, language skills are developed in leisure time, further studies and working life. This section looks at how to actively develop skills after upper secondary school and how language skills develop in different areas of life.

Development of language skills in leisure and hobbies

In addition to learning at school, it is useful to consider how and where you learn a language in your free time. In particular, English plays an important role in media and popular culture, for example, which contributes to supporting and motivating its learning at school. In the same way, you can look for material in other languages that you know. Hobbies can also be a way of learning to learn, i.e. finding new ways and tactics of learning that suit you.

It is not always obvious where you can use your language skills in your free time. It may also seem that there are few opportunities to use different languages in your everyday life or that they do not match your interests. Seeking opportunities to use and learn languages in one’s everyday life maintains and develops language skills, new learning and a sense of competence as a language user.


Development of language skills in studies and working life

A wide range of language skills are needed for work and study. Different languages are used in different situations and for different purposes (e.g. breaking the ice, everyday interaction in the workplace, presentations) and require different levels of proficiency (short conversations vs. demanding written reports). Instead of descriptions of individual language skills, we can talk about negotiation and interaction skills, for example.