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The importance of learning to learn and how it can change our lives

how to learn

One of the most important competencies and one that can most radically lead to change in our lives is learning to learn. This competency, or skill, which can be developed over time, has a very significant impact on aspects such as personal wellbeing, our productivity and effectiveness. Therefore, we can say that learning to learn will improve our quality of life.

In this article we’ll explain what is learning to learn and how you too can develop this skill.

What is “Learning to learn”?

On the one hand, it means that someone is aware of the complexity of learning, is able to analyse what they learn, in what way they do it and what the processes are in which they manage to go on learning. On the other hand, learning to learn implies that this knowledge helps them to adjust their learning processes, in the following three phases: planning (goals); monitoring (reflecting throughout the process to know whether they are on the right path); and evaluating (reflecting again, and evaluating the final outcome).

In turn, learning to learn is directly related to active learning, through which the student is able to adapt their learning capacity over time and more or less by teaching themselves, with practically no dependence on third parties, and without any theory. It could be said that active learning is a learning method that focuses on the participant and encourages their continuous participation, through discussions, collaboration, involvement, practice etc. 

In E. Martín and A. Moreno’s book, “Competency for learning to learn”, they state that learning to learn is a metacognitive activity. It’s not enough that students or pupils just learn well. Learning to learn also implies reflecting on what has been learned. Sometimes, to encourage reflection, at the end of a topic some teachers or books add questions such as: What have you learned? Did you enjoy it? These are examples of questions that a student should ask themselves when finishing a topic, chapter, or learning step, so they improve their learning and manage to learn to learn.

As for schools, teachers should always organise their lessons with a reflective focus, without forgetting the emotional side of learning to learn. For a person to want to carry on learning, they must feel able to do so. This means having taken part in positive learning activities, in other words, having succeeded in them. Otherwise, when a student or person fails a task, as well as not learning what was taught to them, or that they wanted to learn, they also learn that they don’t know how to learn. 

Outside of school, or at least, outside of compulsory education, when it’s the student who’s interested in learning about a topic, learning to learn, or following an active learning methodology, can be the decisive factor in how and how much a student learns.

How to learn to learn in 6 simple steps

learn to learn

  1. Get planning: Before anything else, you should analyse how you are going to tackle the task of learning. What goals do you want to achieve? How do you intend to meet those goals? In this way, you’ll avoid feeling lost in the learning process.
  2. Choose subjects that motivate you: If you don’t like what you are going to learn or study, you’ll lose motivation and it’s highly likely that you won’t complete the learning, since it becomes an ordeal.
  3. Use different learning techniques: These make processing the information faster and easier for you. Here are two effective learning techniques: Active observation: this technique can be used both in watching how others carry out the same task, or through making mind maps. Memorisation: Since every person is so different, you should create your own mnemonic rules, in other words, what works best for you. For example, you could draw a story that you have to remember.
  4. Collaborate: If you exchange information with other people, you’ll spot your own mistakes as well as those of others, in what you’re going to learn. At the same time, you’ll be building on your social skills.
  5. Significant learning: This step refers to putting what you’re learning into practice. It means applying what you’ve learned in your day-to-day activities.
  6. Evaluate what you’ve learned: Learning to learn involves being able to assess the successes and failures of a learning process. In this way, we’re able to see where we’re not making progress (if this is the case) and therefore, know if it’s necessary to change the decision-making process or learning techniques… to make this process more effective.


The future looks more promising for those people who know how to continuously broaden their learning. At Epitech, we train our students following the active learning methodology. Learning to learn is one of the fundamental pillars of our education methodology.

We invite you to visit our website and discover our courses and training programmes. If you want to ask any questions or get information about a course or programme, contact us without any commitment. We’ll be delighted to help you!

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