The Language of Life and LearningTM is a deck of 700 word and image cards designed for reflection and connection. The words and images help college students and other users capture and convey their experiences of life and learning. Included is a booklet of exercises designed to serve as catalysts for conversation and communication, to help students and others know and speak their minds and hearts. Decks are available for purchase (and for loan to members of the Harvard University community).
“This exercise turned small talk into real talk.” (college student)
“We got to know each other better and moved forward from the exercise as more like fellow human beings in a shared experience, rather than strangers.” (academic advisor)
“A wonderful way for students to share about themselves in a creative and structured format.” (department chairperson)
"I used the Language of Life and Learning again a couple of weeks ago with my spring transfer students, and it really is so great! It prompted a wonderful conversation that got quickly to some really important thoughts and feelings without anyone feeling pressured or uneasy." (dean)
© 2014, 2016 President and Fellows of Harvard College.
“The Language of Life and Learning” is a trademark of the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Graphic design by Graciela Galup.
Why are conversations about our thoughts and feelings important?
- Opportunities to explore and share one’s experiences are a core principle in college student development.1
- Precision in the use of language is a key factor in college student learning.2
- Effective communication about one’s concerns and feelings in a supportive environment helps to (a) relieve stress, (b) facilitate adjustment and adaptation, and (c) contribute to resilience.3
- Communication competence is associated with college students’ academic success and persistence.4
- The integration of emotion and cognition is an essential aspect of health brain development during the adolescent and young adult years.5
1 Magolda, Marcia Baxter. Making Their Own Way: Narratives for Transforming Higher Education to Promote Self-Development. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC, 2001.
2 Light, Richard J. Making the Most of College. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.
3 [a] Five Tips to Help Manage Stress. American Psychological Association. 2014. Accessed 18 February 2014. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx; [b] Lapore, Stephen J., Jennifer D. Ragan, and Scott Jones. “Talking Facilitates Cognitive-Emotional Processes of Adaptation to an Acute Stressor.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78.3 (2000): 499-508. [c] Brooks, Robert and Sam Goldstein. The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2004.
4 Hawken, Leila, Robert L. Duran, and Lynne Kelly. “The Relationship of Interpersonal Communication Variables to Academic Success and Persistence in College.”Communication Quarterly 39.4 (fall 1991): 297-308.
5 Immordino-Yang, Mary Hellen and Antonio Damasio. “We Feel, Therefore We Learn: The Relevance of Affective and Social Neuroscience to Education.” Mind, Brain, and Education 1.1 (March 2007): 3-10. Journal Compilation by International Mind, Brain, and Education Society and Blackwell Publishing. Wiley Online Library. Accessed 14 February 2014. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1751-228X.2007.00004.x/pdf
Who might use LLL and how?
Intended users include, for example: students, peer advisers, mentors, counselors, tutors, athletes, teams, captains, coaches, trainers, educators, student affairs professionals, members of a professional field, or groups, offices, organizations.
Appropriate contexts include, for example: retreats, orientations, team-building activities, problem-solving meetings, or any meeting intended to deepen the level of conversation among participants.
A word of caution and common sense... Encouraging genuine communication potentially opens the door to rude, inappropriate, angry, distressed, or simply ineffective communication. The Language of Life and LearningTM deck and exercises are intended to be used in structured settings with facilitators who can provide boundaries, interventions, and assistance for ensuring a safe and supportive context for communication.