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Repetition Helps Learning

Posted by Connie Seale , in Orality 25 May 2017 · 1070 views

Repetition Helps Learning
by Jarvis Crosby


I use the methodology of repeating things to aid in learning.


There are moments that I think repetition in an adult learning context is an insult to the adult learner. I think that by repeating what I say the adult learner will think, “I’m not stupid. I can get it the first time. You do not need to repeat.”


Recently I used repetition in a storying session as I do many times but this time I asked the learners for feedback. In this particular storying session I played an oral recording of Acts 2. This chapter of Acts was familiar to the learners. I set the context of the story, gave a couple while-listening questions, played the audio recording, had discussion, and then asked the adult learners to listen to it a second time and reflect-while-listening as to what they missed during the first listening activity.


Immediately following the last word of the story and just as I sat down after turning off the recording a learner spoke up and said, “What I missed the first time listening was….” Then immediately after that learner stopped talking another learner spoke up and shared what he missed the first time listening. The spontaneity of the learners’ statements surprised me. The first learner was a newly married young professional and the second was a retired businessman.


I use the methodology of repeating things to aid in learning. I have seen the benefit repetition instills in learning contexts and will continue to use the method.


Following this storying session I emailed those present and asked them to provide me some of their thoughts towards repeating a very familiar story. Here are the responses of those who responded:


· “The ‘second-time-listening’ also had an impact on me: what I learned was that [and then proceeded to list several things learned]” (an older adult, fluent in at least 3 languages).
· “I liked that you did it twice.
Listening 1st (with eyes closed for focus)
Listening 2nd time while following along in the word brought out points I failed to pick up in the 1st go round.” (retired professional)
· “Yes I have really appreciated listening to the Scripture passages. Especially when we hear it a couple of different times.” (recent college graduate)
· “Twice is good. I was able to get more the second time around” (construction worker)


Repetition is not just for children nor those with learning challenges. I believe repetition is a great tool to use when facilitating learning. Do not underestimate the power of repetition, even when the story is familiar. Use the tool wisely and with purpose.

New to the Orality Blog?

An oral learner is:


Someone whose most effective communication and learning format, style, or method is in accordance with oral formats, as contrasted to literate formats.
Someone who prefers to learn or process information by oral rather than written means. (These are literate people whose preferred communication style is oral rather than literate, even though they can read.)
Someone who cannot read or write (this represents about 5% of the world's population).

Did you know?


There are an estimated 4.35 billion people who are oral learners. This includes 3 billion adults, 900 million very young children, and 450 million children between the ages of eight and fifteen; all of these have basic or below basic literacy skills. They are oral learners because of their limited literacy skills.
The vast majority of missions work has been done for a literate audience. Unfortunately the vast majority of the true audience is therefore not able to connect with the Gospel.
Oral cultures are very relational - they share their lives with one another.
Most oral cultures will communicate with one another in narratives, dialogues and dramas, proverbs, songs, chants, and poetry. When asked what he thought about a new village school headmaster, a Central African replied "Let's watch how he dances".

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