Training of trainers – NFL and interactive methods in Youth work – ACHIEVE

Lesson 34 – Training aids: Analogies – text

text lesson

Analogies in learning

The analogy method in learning is the teaching of a new topic by connecting it with familiar information. For example, we might rely on portraying the white blood cells of our body as soldiers in our defence system. Here we use the analogy of soldiers (known information) to help teach the concept of white blood cells (new information).

How does the use of analogies help?

Using analogies is an effective strategy as learners tend to find it easier to understand a topic when trainers form connections between the new content and what has already been taught.

Imagine explaining the function of white blood cells as “the white blood cells are part of the immune system. When a germ micro organism enters the body, the cells are triggered to ingest these microorganisms through action of various enzymes.”

It is simpler to explain white blood cells as “soldiers defending our body from invading structures and instead of using bows and arrows or guns, they use enzymes.”

As we make use of analogies that are familiar to students, we increase retention and retrieval of information and thus improve and strengthen the learning process.

How does learning take place?

While using analogies, the trainer is trying to superimpose the traits or similarities of a familiar topic on to an unknown one. “It is like this” or “this is similar to…” are some examples on how we can use analogies to explain concepts. Learners who are familiar with the known information (vehicle) will try to comprehend the new information (topic) by understanding the similarities between the two. The use of analogies makes information more concrete, provides a structural framework for learning the new schema and helps in the assimilation of the new information.

Points to consider

While teaching with analogies, trainers should consider the nature and characteristics of the topic and the vehicle, their similarities and if there is more than one vehicle for a particular topic. In other words, a topic may have several analogies that will help explain it, but it is up to the trainer to choose the one that explains it best. Research tells us that learning is at its best when at least two vehicles are used to teach a topic.

Another important aspect is how you introduce the vehicle in relation to the topic. You can use the vehicle before going on to the topic (pre-topic), or talk on the topic directly and bring the vehicle in later (post topic), or intertwine the two. Using analogies creatively can greatly enhance learning and retention.


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The training program “Training of Trainers” is an educational product that is currently missing in the partner countries – Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania. Due to the early stage of development of the youth sector and youth work in these countries the educational materials aimed at non-formal learning are still limited and insufficient. The lack of adequate educational framework for training of youth workers in the field of formal education leads to inefficient use of the capacity of professionals.

This course fills a gap in the youth sector, namely the need of methodologies for the preparation of trainers, who are able to train youth workers. This course will set the basis for the preparation of teams of trainers of youth workers. The course will serve the goal of development of youth work in the participating countries and other interested parties. A large number of youth workers can be trained according to the methodology at national and international level to use and promote non-formal learning as a tool to enhance the realization of young people in the labor market and increase their social cohesion.

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