Teach or Learn?

What’s the difference between teach and learn?

This is a common question in class and the difference is quite easy!  A teacher teaches in a school and students learn.

TEACH – use the verb ‘teach’ to mean to instruct or to show someone how to do something.    Examples: 1).  My teacher teaches very well.  I always understand everything  2).  She teaches in a very modern way.  3). Her method of teaching helps students learn very easily.  Remember that teachers generally teach at a school or kindergarten.

LEARN – use the verb ‘learn’ for new information or skills that you get.  When you learn something it is information that was new before (but that you know and understand now).  Learning is not only something that we at school.  It happens throughout our lives.  Examples: 1). I learn how to walk when I was 2 years old.  2).  Did you learn anything interesting at school today?

Compare the difference between the use of TEACH and LEARN in these example sentences:

1. I never learn anything at school because my teacher is very bad.

2. My English teacher is very good.  I’ve learnt a lot in her class this year.

3. Our teacher learned how to use a computer.  She was taught by her students.

Past Forms
TEACH – TAUGHT (Past Simple) – TAUGHT (Past Participle)

LEARN – LEARNED / LEARNT (Past Simple) – LEARNED / LEARNT (Past Participle)

There are 2 ways to spell learn in the Past Simple and Perfect Tenses.  They are both used in American English and in British English.  So there are simply two ways to spell the words.  The regular form of the past (i.e. learn / learned / learned) is simply more common than the irregular form (learn / learnt / learnt).


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