Docendo Discimus

The Latin proverb, docendo discimus, means, “by teaching, we learn.” Many scholars and field experts would agree that the most effective way to learn a concept is to teach it to someone else. According to statistics, we remember:

10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear

70% of what we discuss with others

80% of what we personally experience

95% of what we teach others

  • William Glasser, Edgar Dale

Both students and teachers benefit as concepts are explained, problems are worked through, and new ideas are vetted. This method of learning through teaching can be a strong tool to use throughout your own education and beyond. HCA’s Spanish 4 Class has seen the results of this technique firsthand.

Every other week, juniors and seniors in Spanish 4 present a Spanish lesson to our second grade classes. They teach the basics, like greetings, colors, common nouns, simple sentences, and even some songs. The second graders enjoy every lesson, appreciate the interaction with high schoolers, and have fun speaking in Spanish to one another and to their high school “Spanish teachers” around campus. Over the years, we have even seen freshmen in Spanish 1 who remember their first lessons from second grade. At such a young age, these elementary school students pick up on the language quickly and learn a great deal from their upper classmen.

While most Spanish 4 students are well beyond colors and numbers in their Spanish-speaking careers, their own language studies have benefitted by revisiting the basics and strengthening the foundation. They have found that their vocabulary, and even their accents, have improved by teaching the fundamentals of the language to others. With the responsibility to teach the subject to someone else, they spend more time making sure they have it right. HCA Spanish 4 teacher, Mr. Innis, has seen his students improve and excel at an even greater rate since they began regularly teaching the children. It has been such a benefit and a joy for both parties involved.

When HCA started this Spanish teaching program, we did so with our lower schoolers in mind. Through the years, it has become obvious that teaching Spanish benefits our high school students as much as learning Spanish benefits the younger grades. It has become an excellent reminder to learn by teaching – to try to explain concepts to someone else as you sift through them yourself. From the classroom to the workforce, this method can be an invaluable learning tool. Learn as if to teach, and teach so you may learn.

Docendo discimus, “by teaching, we learn.”