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Agile learning is a flexible way to learn English with minimum viable learning outcomes.

You have probably heard of Agile project management in connection to software development. It is a way of working in which feedback can be acted on very quickly at each stage of the development cycle. In general, there is a short-term goal, which is defined as minimum viable product (MVP). In other words, this is a basic version of the software, which can be further developed in the future product development steps. This is an advantage because you are not restricted by the plan which was outlined at the start. You can create shorter development cycles (sprints), in which continuous testing and feedback supports the implementation of changes, in order to make the best possible product.

How could this have any relevance to language training? I think it could have quite a lot of relevance if you think of learning English as a project with defined goals. Rather than being a captive of the plan outlined at the start of the course, it is better to create shorter more flexible learning cycles with continuous testing and feedback. Let’s call these SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). These goals should establish our MVP,or let’s call it our minimum viable learning outcome. Having established this result, we can continue to perfect the skill or task though the ongoing feedback and implementation of changes and improvements. These cycles can also allow for the fact that goals can frequently change, and we need the flexibility to react to these changes.

For example, if one of our course goals is to improve presentation skills in English, a minimum viable learning outcome would be to learn how to structure a presentation, use functional phrases, and improve delivery. Having achieved this minimum skill level, we can later add more advanced features, such as rhetorical speech, use of body language, and perhaps some more experimental techniques, such as those used by our favourite TED presenters. By first establishing the basic minimum viable learning outcome, students will gain a lot of confidence that they can later build on.

To sum up, the main principles of the agile learning is that it is collaborative, incorporates continuous testing and feedback, helps you focus your efforts, and increases the chances of achieving your overall goal.

Photo by Roman Yusupov on Unsplash

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