da.fr.lv.ro. en.thinking-approach.eu
The place where language meets thinking
Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and answers below will provide you with more information about the background of the project.
Why a “new” learner?
Today autonomy is one of the buzz words. However, what many people forget is that true autonomy presupposes that the learner is fully independent. He/she can and is disposed to work without the teacher. This calls for many changes not only in competences but also attitudes.
Therefore, we are speaking about a “new” learner. In our opinion, this learner should have very good problem solving skills to be able to successfully cope with the problems he/she faces.
Problem solving is a good idea. But isn’t everyone speaking about it today?
Problem solving is a very popular phrase in language teaching. At the same time, the so-called problems offered to learners are rarely different from usual language tasks. These are problems that can be solved in a standard way. Moreover, this standard way has usually been presented to learners before.
What is your understanding of problem solving competence?
It’s an ability to deal with non-typical problems. The problems the solution to which does not exist at all or is not known to the person. In order to learn to solve such problems, a person needs to be able to apply certain problem solving tools.
What are the tools for solving problems?
The tools we mean are based on the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) developed by Genrich Altshuller. TRIZ was originally used for solving technical problems, however it soon became clear that it can be used far beyond the field of engineering.
The General Theory of Powerful Thinking (OTSM) is one of the modern branches of TRIZ that helps a person learn to deal with complex problems irrespective of the field.
How is learning to solve problems connected to learning languages?
One of the problems of modern education is a shortage of time. Too much is to be learned in a very limited period of time. Both problem solving and language skills are widely accepted to be very important parts of learning.
So, why don’t we integrate learning a language and learning to solve problems? The Thinking Approach to language teaching and learning has been developed exactly for this purpose.
What is the Thinking Approach and where does it come from?
The Thinking Approach (TA) is an approach to language teaching and learning that helps us develop language and problem solving skills in an integrated way. The problem solving part of the TA is based on OTSM.
The approach has been developed by Dr Alexander Sokol. Initially, the TA was used only for teaching English in Latvia. Today, however, it is being used for teaching a number of European languages in various countries. More information about the TA can be found at www.thinking-approach.org.
What is the connection between the Thinking Approach and New Learners in the New Europe project?
The Thinking Approach is the underlying methodology for the websites for learning 5 European languages that are being developed in the framework of the New Learners in the New Europe project.
What can I learn to do working with the websites you propose?
You can develop your language skills in one or several European languages and at the same time improve your problem solving skills.
This is too general. Can you give specific examples?
For example, you will develop and test your own grammar rules for the target language. With the help of the website, you will be able to define the aims for your learning, plan the time necessary to achieve these aims, choose appropriate tasks and materials.
This sounds interesting. What languages can I learn like this?
We have developed the websites for English, French, Latvian, Romanian and Danish. If you have reached at least B1 level in any of these languages, you will be able to benefit from our materials.
I am a teacher. How can I benefit from these websites?
There are several possibilities for you. One option is to use the website as a source for materials for the independent work of your learners. Another variant is to get your learners to register on the site together with you and do part of learning online and receive your feedback and correction (no specific technical skills needed). Or you can just print the materials you find interesting and adapt them for the use in the classroom.
Can the websites be used for research purposes?
Yes, educational research has been one of the aims behind the website. Please get in touch with us and we will provide you with information for research access.
Can I use the websites for my institution’s language learning curricula?
Yes, you can freely use the website in your institution. If you would like your staff to be trained to work with the websites or some specific materials to be developed for your needs, please get in touch with us and we will provide you with more details.
Do you plan to develop the websites for learning other languages or even other subjects?
We would love to do that. If your institution is interested in participating in such a project, do get in touch with us and we will discuss possible collaboration.