Using a SWOT to enhance personal learning

Using a SWOT to enhance personal learning

Using a SWOT to enhance personal learning

One of the hardest things to do alone is to effectively carry out a skills self-evaluation before setting up clear objectives towards a Personal Learning Plan (PLP).

Knowing where one is at a given time is not an easy task due to a variety of reasons, one being the difficulty in being objective with oneself – the ability to take a step back and see things as they are, without being overshadowed by emotive aspects.

It also depends a lot on how we are as a person:

A confident person and a person with lower self-esteem, will have diametrically opposed difficulties in evaluating themselves both realistically and objectively.

Embarking on this task, alone is quite a challenging undertaking.

Using a SWOT to enhance personal learning – SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis can really help in gaining clarity and setting realistic objectives and is a simple tool that can be used alone, but which can be further exploited with the help of a coach.

The SWOT analysis is a simple matrix as shown below:

EXTERNAL INTERNAL
Strengths Weaknesses
Opportunities Threats

The idea is to start out by looking at where you are now in terms of your goals, aims and objectives and to discover where effort needs to be focued in order to reach your goals.

The process is reflective and involves a certain degree of metacognition (thinking about your own thinking) in order to be able to effectively accomplish the task.

In order to demonstrate the concept, let’s take Claire, a working mum, who wants to progress in her job – this is just to illustrate an example – it could be any subject and a SWOT can also be used in other contexts.

Using a SWOT to enhance personal learning is great for strategic planning and project feasibility studies as the focus is largely a 360° approach and very analytical, but one which entails action steps and change as a consequence.

Claire has a strong desire to progress in her job, but she has never really been able to succeed due to many barriers which systematically get in the way, and which she cannot seem to surmount, at least on her own.

She has never really been obsessively nor aggressively ambitious and has always put her family before herself, but now wants to move to a more interesting job with more responsibility.

When embarking on a SWOT, it is easy to fall into the trap of being able to fill the Weaknesses section easily and then be short of Strengths – it is sometimes dialectic, in as much as a Weakness can also be an Opportunity as a Threat can also become a Strength.

She has decided to start work with a coach to be able to get things moving as she has never quite got there alone and feels that this is a good opportunity for her, both in her life and in her career.

Her coach has asked her to fill in the SWOT matrix, which she does before they meet again.

STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES are known as Internal elements that either create or reduce value, whilst OPPORTUNITIES and THREATS are known as External elements that can form barriers to learning but that are often not fully controlled by the learner.

The questions to ask are: What am I good at / what qualities or skills do I possess?

STRENGTHS

What are the qualities / skills that I need to develop that I am aware of ?

WEAKNESSES

How can I use my STRENGTHS to overcome my weaknesses, to move into new areas of learning?

OPPORTUNITIES

What hinders or prevents me from reaching my goals?

THREATS

STRENGTHS

Communication, Punctual, Telephone manner, Organised, Conscientious, Experience in the company, Motivated

WEAKNESSES

IT Skills, Foreign Language skills, Time Management, Management skills, Lack of experience of team management Gets easily stressed, Lack of self-confidence

OPPORTUNITIES

More responsibilities, Variety in new job, Learn new skills, Higher salary, Company car, be part of the decision making process

THREATS

Lives far from work, Difficulty to travel, Family commitments, Age, etc.

Coaching a person through a SWOT analysis is both a negotiated and an awareness process, predominately made up of questioning, but essentially, it must be free of judgement or preconceived ideas.

The coach decides to use another tool to complement the SWOT process, a Confrontation Matrix, which is used to offset the Strengths with Opportunities and Threat, and the Weaknesses with the same, as shown below:

EXTERNAL /INTERNAL OPPORTUNITIES THREATS
STRENGTHS ATTACK STRATEGY ADJUSTMENT STRATEGY
WEAKNESSES DEFENCE STRATEGY SURVIVAL STRATEGY

In the SWOT matrix, the coach helps the learner to offset STRENGTHS with OPPORTUNITIES / STRENGTHS with THREATS and consequently, WEAKNESSES with OPPORTUNITIES / WEAKNESSES with THREATS in order to produce a set of action steps or a PLP to help the learner progress to the next step, which, in this case, will be a set of decisions and plans to move into the new job.

The value of a SWOT is that it is a way of seeing where a learner is at a given point in time and where they need to be in the future.

It can help build a clear Learning Action Plan with specific goals, timescales and measurement variables built in.

If you intend using a SWOT analysis there are some do’s and don’ts to be aware of in order to guarantee the success of the process:

  1. Don’t expect people to be able to fill in the matrix without a clear briefing of how it will be used and the type of elements that it should include.
  2. Ensure that there is adequate thought and process time to be able to complete the matrix.
  3. Understand that the SWOT is ephemeral. That it could be filled-in today and change tomorrow. People, contexts and situations are constantly in a state of flux.
  4. Ensure that there are clear guidelines and boundaries on confidentiality. The only sharing is done by the learner – who can invite the coach/mentor to be present if they want to debrief their managers on the process and outcomes.
  5. Be aware that people with low self-esteem will naturally include more weaknesses than strengths – they will need help evoking their qualities, skills and qualities more than confident people.
  6. The process should be viewed as a positive and fun process, with benefits clearly set-out for the learner.
  7. Remember that the coach will learn a great deal from the process, which can be used as another building-block in the coach’s development.
  8. There needs to be a bond of trust between learner and coach/mentor, built before embarking on a SWOT
What kind of language learner are you?

What kind of language learner are you?

What kind of language learner are you?

What kind of language learner are you?
We learn a new language because we want to, or need to communicate with other people either at work or in social situations and some just learn another language for fun.
Everybody learns differently; some people are more visual, auditory, or kinesthetic.
But what are the other qualities needed to successfully learn a new language ?
Intelligence, determination, social skills, risk-taking or a good memory ?
Try this questionnaire to see how your attitudes can affect the way you learn.
We don’t want to put you in pigeon-holed categories, but just highlight some difficulties and some possible solutions.

What type of language learner are you?


 


Writing effective emails

Writing effective emails

Historically, the term electronic mail was used generically for any electronic document transmission. For example, several writers in the early 1970s used the term to refer to fax document transmission.

As a result, it is difficult to find the first citation for the use of the term with the more specific meaning it has today.

Electronic mail has been most commonly called email or e-mail since around 1993, but variations of the spelling have been used:

Computer-based mail and messaging became possible with the advent of time-sharing computers in the early 1960s, and informal methods of using shared files to pass messages were soon expanded into the first mail systems.

Most developers of early mainframes and minicomputers developed similar, but generally incompatible, mail applications. Over time, a complex web of gateways and routing systems linked many of them.

Many US universities were part of the ARPANET, created in the late 1960s. 

In 1971 the first ARPANET network email was sent, introducing the now-familiar address syntax with the ‘@’ symbol designating the user’s system address.

The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) protocol was introduced in 1981.

The problem with email is that we all use it, but sometimes we do not use it as effectively as we could or should.

In this podcast we respond to questions written by our listeners as we talk about some ways to improve your email writing and usage.

If you have things that you would like us to address in a podcast, please either wend them in the comments, the contact form or the request for on the front page.

 

 

How to really Learn vocabulary part 1

How to really Learn vocabulary part 1

In this series we are going to be looking at ways that we can enhance and improve our learning and perhaps crushing some of the myths about learning techniques that we learnt in school.

Every day we meet people with different techniques for learning vocabulary, but most of them revolve around some pretty shaky ideas, those being ‘if you write stuff down, you’ve learnt it.’

If only things were that simple …

This rarely works, due mainly to the fact that some important steps have been missed out – those being, actively learning the vocabulary and then actively using it.

Let’s put this in prallel with sport, to illustrate the idea.

Imagine that you are a huge cycling fan and you love the Tour de France and you would like to experience the grueling (look that one up if you like) hardships of a day riding in the mountains of the Tour de France.

So, you get all the magazines about the Tour and mountain cycling, you have the maps and you have read all the technical stuff on hydration and nutrition during a massive climb in the Pyrenees mountains in the south of France.

You have even chosen your mountain, Le Col du Tourmalet – wow! that’s a big one, and have bought a fabulously expensive ‘S-Works’ bicycle for the climb. 

You’ve seen the videos and read all the information, but that’s as far as you go – THAT is how a lot of people learn – they don’t go the final mile of training before getting on the bike after weeks of muscle and stamina building. They don’t prepare for the day that they will be climbing Tourmalet on their bike.

OK, they know all about Tourmalet, Le Tour de France and mountaing cycling – but they have no guarantee of ever being able to achieve the ascent of a mountain on their bicycle.

Listen to the podcast, N°1 in a series, to get some ideas to improve your learning.


 

How to stay motivated learning English

How to stay motivated learning English

Staying focused, motivated and driven can be tricky, especially when you have a busy working and/or family life to deal with.

Check out this podcast to find 10 golden rules for staying motivated learning English.

When we start learning something new, it can be a novel experience at the start and we want to put a lot of effort into our learning, but as time goes on, we can start to flag and at times we just cannot get the motivation to continue learning.

This is especially true if we don’t have a clear plan for our learning or if we can’t see our progress moving along as fast as we would have expected.

Try some of these golden rules.

How many are you using now?

How many come as a surprise to you?

Will you try and use some of them?


Also-web Toulouse Want a website like this one?


 

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