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Different kinds of knowledge

watch video about different kinds of learner knowledge
In the last step, you discussed things that teachers need to know in order to inform their teaching practice. Let’s think about learners now. What kind of knowledge do your learners have? When we think about this question, often the first thing we think of is the knowledge they have of English. They know these words, this grammatical structure. They can say this or write that. This is just one type of knowledge, linguistic knowledge. Learners have linguistic knowledge from other languages, too– their first language, languages they speak at home, other languages they learn at school or are exposed to in everyday life. Linguistic knowledge of other languages can help learners to see how English is similar or different.
As a teacher, it’s important for you to recognise that previous linguistic knowledge of English can help learners to build patterns or make predictions or hypotheses about sounds, structure, meaning, and use. There are many different ways of thinking about knowledge. One broad way to look at this is to consider the world knowledge that learners bring to the classroom. This could be generally accepted facts about the world we live in or specialist knowledge about particular subjects, communities, or aspects of life. In the field of sociolinguistics, socio-cultural knowledge is valued. This covers knowledge about communities and social practices and how language is used differently by different members of society in particular situations and for specific purposes.
It’s important to consider and respect the different kinds of knowledge learners already have so that we can help them to expand their knowledge of English. Linguistic, cultural, and social knowledge may be easily transferred from first to second languages. Or there may be new linguistic forms, new cultural norms, and new social practices which learners need to be aware of to help them use a second language, building on what they already know. And that’s where we come in as teachers. Consider, too, that some of your learners may know more about some things than you do. So, going back to my first question, what types of knowledge do your learners have?

Claire talks about different types of knowledge.

As you watch, think about the different types of knowledge that your learners have.

Types of knowledge  
Linguistic knowledge Knowledge of English and of other languages
World knowledge ‘General’ knowledge or specialist knowledge
Sociocultural knowledge Knowledge about communities and social practices, how language is used by different groups of people, in different situations, for different functions
  • What types of knowledge do your learners have?
    Share your ideas in the comments below.
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