Apperception in Language Teaching


(A Great Learning Starter)

Muhammad Farich


[First teaching story]

I came to the class, walked in and have a seat. I prepared my stuff, thought that I would teach something in this class, Grammar. Realised that grammar is not easy for them, Systematic explanation was prepared properly. With my flat face, I started to talk. I give my best explanation by the structure, details, examples and reinforcement. After all, I tried to keep my eyes on them. I socked, my students were upset. Some of them were sleepy, even slept. I imagined a professional presenter of myself, but …


[Second teaching story]

I walked into the class in hurry. I planned to bring many stuff then acted as I falling down. All students were shocked. One of them came to me and offered his help. “Can I help you, sir”, he said. “Can you?” I reply with strange expression. He confused, “I offered my help, sir?” “Is that the way to offer? Or you want to show your ability to help me and I looked so weak?” I argued him further. He finally realise, he didn’t know how to offer a help politely. Other students just listened and learned from what they see. After that, I tell them how to offer help as the material I planned. 



From the story above we could see the differences between the teacher who guides and the teacher who present. Guider needs to involve the participants on his way. Directing them by their own then they do it unconsciously (or even consciously). But presenter needs to be chased by the participants. They prefers to pull in front than push behind, or even better hold beside. That’s why we should give the participants (students) the good guide before they start their journey in the lesson. Because the great beginning reflects a great ending.



“Today we know that school is the most boring activity for our kids. They prefer playing games to sitting in their classroom for studying anything.  So what we need as teacher is merely making a great start before lesson.” (Joshua, 2011)


Teacher can’t just give the students bare lesson in his/her class. Otherwise, students may give their bare attention. In the modern life context, people can’t live conventionally. So does the way how students think. They need variations, innovations and creativity. So that, something new has to be innovated.



According to Herbart in his research starter;

Apperception (assimilating new information based on previous perceptions) is an activity experienced on a regular basis by just about everyone. Herbart labeled the concept as a theory and extended it to the philosophy of pedagogy, more specifically, knowledge acquisition. Herbart contends that in order to learn a concept, a person needs to relate (by assimilation) that concept to what he already knows. Apperception is related to application in that what cannot be applied cannot be perceived.


“The essential of apperception is like a bridge connected the students’ world to the lesson.”


How to do

Every teacher has their own ways to do apperception based on the students’ situation and context. Each class has its characteristic. So the teacher should use the apperception at the time. There are some ways to do apperception as follow, but teacher could improve and develop the ways by the time, next.


Strange and unpredictable acting

Teacher may set an acting in the beginning of the class, even before the students realise that the lesson has begun. For example is the second teaching story. Students don’t know that the lesson has been begun by the teacher since he entered to the class. For the other example, teacher may bring something in his pocket which is very attracting the students’ attention. Then they are curious and teacher ask them to guess. He uses that thing to connect the thing in the lesson.


Fun and interesting story

Students like fun, interesting and unique story, especially for young learners. So how about the older learner such as high school students? We even could do better for the higher learners. We just find their character and preference. Adult learner could be attract by the other gender story and other challenging story. The important is how the teacher direct the story to the lesson.



Teachers usually use this brainstorming for the learning apperception. In some learning contexts, brainstorm also help students more clearly understand about what will they do and they also have something to use in the learning. Such as the contextual vocabulary brainstorm, students can be directed to the lesson focus and in the same time they get the vocabulary that will be used in the lesson.



Students love game. They naturally learn faster when they are playing. By the fact of the massive development of online game and majority of the students are the players, it shows that students learn game faster than lesson. Involve students to the game and direct the game to lesson means we direct them to the lesson. Even we could see still there are some teacher who couldn’t control the students. It must be our attention to be evaluated.



To erase the border of outside world and the lesson, teacher server the apperception as bridge for them to be crossed. Teachers should keep flexible in every situation and use that situation for giving the best apperception as the great starter in the learning process.



Herbart. “Herbart & Apperception” Research Starters, Inc. 11 Apr, 2017

Joshua. 2011. Apperception: Taking off before starting Your Lesson. accessed on 11 Apr, 2017

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