The world has evolved so much that you can learn anything, anytime, and anywhere. You like the sound of that, don’t you?
Are you wondering how it is possible and what it means to teach yourself?
To teach yourself means to collect, process, and keep information all by yourself, without the help of an instructor or an institution. It means no classes or examinations, just pure curiosity and excitement in studying and satisfaction afterward.
Experts say teaching is effective when learners are actively involved in the process. Self-learning promises that and even more.
Read on to find out all there is to self-learning and why you should consider teaching yourself something new.
What Does It Mean to Teach Yourself?
Self-education (also called self-teaching or self-learning) refers to education without the guidance of an instructor or institution.
In self-learning, you decide the concept/subject and scope of the study, study resources, time, and pace.
Ultimately, your learning outcome is measured by your level of knowledge and skills in the study area and your ability to apply the knowledge and skills gained.
This is way different from the conventional learning methods, where the learning outcome is measured by your test scores.
So by teaching yourself, you acquire skills and knowledge by handling your learning, theorizing, and applying all the information provided by various sources.
Knowledge is static without understanding its application. When you understand this, you’d know how to apply the skills and knowledge gained and when not.
-> Read Also What Is An Autodidact?
The Self-Learning Process
Self-learning is a four-stage process. In teaching yourself, you must be willing to learn, set studying goals, engage in learning, and evaluate your knowledge.
1. Willingness to Learn
The first stage in becoming a proactive person who can self-manage their learning independently and autonomously is being willing to acquire those skills and knowledge.
Learning on your own is a skill; you can master it.
In addition, you must be fully aware of your study habits, support network (friends and family), current status, and previous learning history, especially with independent learning.
Studying on your own requires skills and the right attitude.
You demonstrate the following to a certain degree: autonomy, self-discipline, effective communication, and the ability to take constructive feedback.
It also means you are organized and can participate in self-evaluation and self-reflection.
2. Set Learning Goals
You must define your goals and objectives right before the very beginning.
Start with your purpose for learning. The key questions are: “Why am I interested in learning about this?” “To what end?”.
Having a goal helps you enjoy the process of studying, define your scope of learning and avoid wasting time.
In learning a new language, for example, Italian, your purpose for learning may be because you want to travel to Italy and have a firsthand experience of Italian culture.
This means you’d be consuming materials that center on this aim and not other topics.
Now, formulate smaller objectives that are result-oriented, for example, “learn and use a new phrase each day”.
With these goals and objectives in mind, design your study schedule. “How many hours in a day would you devote to studying?”
“Where would be your designated studying area?” and similar questions are what you’d most likely need to answer at this point.
3. Engage in Learning
Now that you have set your goals and drafted a study plan, it is time to gather the right tools and learn. As discussed earlier, there are several tools you can adopt in teaching yourself.
You have to find which tool(s) is better suited to your study habits and the study topic.
Start from the basics and progress into more complex concepts. It is good to be thoroughly grounded in the basics but don’t hesitate to venture far in learning.
Also, having an accountability system is essential. If you don’t have one, you can build one by asking a friend or family member.
Social interaction is part of learning. You can join a local studying group or an online forum where you can interact with people of similar interests.
By joining a learning community, you will find helpful learning tips, share information, gain fresh perspectives, stay motivated, and resolve issues.
4. Track Your Progress
As you learn, don’t forget to put the knowledge into practice. Only by practicing do you hone those skills and evaluate your learning.
As we mentioned, in teaching yourself, you assess your learning outcomes by how much you have learned and can apply.
Learn, Practice. Review. Repeat.
The video below has some tips that enhance learning independently.
Key Video Takeaway
- Learn how to study. Find and maximize resources that teach how to learn your target topic on your own.
- Be flexible with your schedule but don’t misuse this liberty to skip studying. Consistency is crucial.
- Be skeptical. Always validate the information you are consuming because not all available information is correct or verified.
Tools You Need for Self-Learning
Now, self-learning is more and more conceivable thanks to the wide range of readily available and accessible resources thanks to the libraries and the Internet.
Most significantly, the Internet is a tool that has become a part of our everyday lives and is within reach.
The tools that aid the self-learning process are as follows:
It is a well-known fact that the art of reading is the foundation of all forms of learning. Previously, learning through reading was limited to reference books, textbooks, journals, and other physical reading materials selected by the instructor.
However, the Internet has widened the reach, removing every form of limitation caused by dependency on physical books and libraries.
Now, you have access to tons of articles, e-books, and journals, all of which you are at liberty to choose from depending on your learning objectives.
Here are a few reliable sources of reading materials:
These sites offer several reading resources on a wide range of topics. However, some sites contain reading materials specific to a particular study area.
Take advantage of these, and you’d find them a bonus to your learning process.
The liberty of learning on your own can be misused if your scope of knowledge isn’t defined.
So while reading, sieve through the information given and take only what you need at the moment. Remember to stick to what’s relevant.
Some students prefer videos to text because they find it more relatable to the topic in context. This is because videos help you see complex subjects without difficulty than text in your mind.
Educational videos can be an excellent tool in your self-learning pursuit if only
- They contribute to improving your learning experience.
- You keep them short (6 minutes). For materials with longer viewing time, take breaks in between.
- They aren’t the only tool for learning.
You’d find tons of educational videos on YouTube Learning, Google, National Geographic Education, TedEd, and social media channels that create and curate educational video content.
3. Online Courses
Online courses are excellent tools you can use to teach yourself. You’d find free and paid courses on Coursera, Udacity, Skillshare, EdX, Udemy, Google Digital Garage, and many others.
These online service providers offer cheaper courses designed by experienced industry instructors without compromising on convenience or flexibility.
This simply means you take top-grade courses on your terms.
-> Learn more about the 7 best websites for self-learning
-> Learn more about the 7 best websites for self-learning
4. Learning Software
Technology has made learning on the go even better than before.
With your mobile device, you can stay on track with your studies thanks to the Internet and learning software like Duolingo, Amazon Kindle, Coursera, Khan Academy, LinkedIn Learning, Evernote, Pocket, and Feedly.
Benefits of Self-learning
Here are some of the advantages of teaching yourself a specific topic.
1. Learning is More Effective
Learning independently encourages you to think about topics more intensely and link the skills and knowledge acquired to real-life experiences.
2. Self-Education Boosts Your Self-esteem.
As you engage with resources gathering and theorizing, you become more confident. Being able to teach yourself a new topic without the help of an instructor is a huge morale boost.
3. Learning is Self-Paced
In self-learning, you take learning at your pace and on your terms. This way, you can pay attention to the areas you are most interested in. In this form, studying is not location-bound or time-constrained.
4. Self-Learning Encourages Curiosity
It allows you to choose a concept you are keen on studying. Curiosity is a significant motivating factor in learning. The more you’re excited to learn about a topic, the more effective your learning experience
-> Learn More about Self-Learning vs. Classroom Learning: Which Is Better?
Drawbacks of Studying on Your Own
Some disadvantages of studying independently are as follows:
1. Time Consuming
You need to put extra effort into finding credible information instead of traditional learning, where a teacher does the finding and verifying ahead of the class. You may spend more time than necessary gathering and verifying resources.
2. Isolated Learning
You might end up learning in isolation as there are no face-to-face interactions like in physical classes.
When you don’t join a learning group, teamwork, social interaction, and brainstorming with other learners that can further enhance your learning are eliminated.
3. Difficulty in Understanding Tough Areas
Some concepts may be too complex and require an experienced professional to break them down. This might not be possible in self-learning unless you seek help where necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does Self-Learning Mean?
This is the process by which a person collects, understands, and applies information without the help of a teacher. It is a more active and engaging way of learning for students who figure out new concepts independently using various resources.
Q: Why is Self-Teaching Essential?
In this age and time where free time is a luxury not many can afford, learning is constrained by traditional approaches.
Being able to study on one’s own is a skill that needs to be learned. So that you can learn anything you set your heart to on your own, anytime, anywhere.
To teach yourself means you decide the ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, and ‘how’ of studying. Although its flexibility makes learning more engaging and exciting, it can also be detrimental.
Without clear objectives, a learning plan, and motivation for studying, learning independently will only be futile and frustrating.
However, with the information provided in this guide and other online resources, you are sure to get it right.