This article shows the result of more than 15 years of research on Language Education and Teaching and 20 years of experience in the classroom, always seeking innovation and application of new techniques for the most varied types of students, from children, teenagers to adults, in groups or individual lessons.
A few years ago, I started to study the field of Neurolinguistics and its application in the classroom, still considered at that time ‘impossible’ or ‘unrealizable’. The initial results were so positive and satisfactory that I started to explore the real potential of Coaching and NLP techniques, applying them in the classroom, and later training teachers with this methodology. To my surprise, the discovery and elaboration of my own methodology generated empathy, collaboration, and experimentation. The more techniques I applied in the classroom, the faster and more effective the results were. This method is intended for all those who are looking for new learning, wish to ‘learn how to learn’, and be surprised by its effects.
What is Education?
The Education process is one of the most important and perhaps the most complex of all human achievements. Real learning depends on the student’s personality, discipline, objectives, intentions, and actions, culture, experience, and knowledge. All of these variables must be evaluated and taken into account. This is true for teachers of languages and any other subject. In this way, I have always believed that we must adopt a particular and specific methodology so that we can obtain the desired results. Learning a new language can be challenging, especially in the first stages, it is advisable to treat each student as a unique individual, with their characteristics, needs, potential, peculiarities and apply the precise methodology to them.
How our brain learns a language
Have you heard: that learning a foreign language can increase the size of your brain? This is what a group of Swedish scientists discovered when they used brain imaging to monitor what happens when someone learns a second language. The study is part of a body of research that uses brain imaging technologies to better understand the cognitive benefits of learning. Tools like MRI tell us if we need knee surgery, for example, but it is already able to reveal what happens in our brains when we hear, understand, and reproduce foreign languages. The MRI study showed that learning a foreign language has a visible and physical effect on the brain. Two groups of young adults were evaluated: the first, whose mother tongue is Swedish and speaks only that language. The second, whose mother tongue is also Swedish, but has Arabic as a second language. It was possible to evaluate that, while the brain structures of the first group remained unchanged, students who studied the second language for two months have a growth in the hippocampus and areas of the cerebral cortex. It was concluded that learning a new language changes the shape of the brain and develops it.
Language learning and processing are generally dominated by the left brain, which is adept at tasks involving logic and analytical thinking. However, a recent study mapped the flow of brain information during the processing of Mandarin. It was found that, in the understanding of Chinese speech, there are neural dynamics between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. In the right hemisphere, there was a change in an important region for the processing of music by recording different tones. Although the implications are not yet clear, the study supports an emerging theory — connectionism — that proposes that knowledge be distributed in different areas of the brain. Gang Peng, deputy director of the Center for Language Research at the University of Hong Kong said: “Pitch processing is crucial for music, but also crucial for the processing of tone language tones. Based on our results, it is reasonable to assume that all languages use both hemispheres because of their musicality. “
The intelligence of the human being is a topic studied and described by many but still remains a little confusing. If asked to define “what is intelligence” most people will probably refer to a form of innate and widespread ability that allows us to assume that intelligence is fixed from birth. Howard Gardner, in his book “Frames Of Mind” (1983), argues that, instead of considering intelligence as a unitary faculty, we should consider the possibility of different types of intelligence. He suggests that there are at least 7 different types of intelligence. According to Gardner, everyone has a little bit of seven inside them. However, each person has one of these types more developed and that overlaps the others. And, as a teacher, knowing how to identify the way my students learn, allows me to create an easier environment to teach and to obtain results much faster and more effective.
There are countless tests of intelligence that can be applied in the classroom, however, if you want to know a little more about what type of your intelligence, there is this little online test that allows you to get a sense of the subject:
Multiple Intelligences Info and Free Test - Personality Max
Exploring the Different Types of Intelligence Howard Gardner, a graduate of Harvard University and a developmental…
The area to which theorists have devoted and still devote most attention is memory. Perhaps the best-known models are Atkinson and Shiffrin. This model describes the memory process in terms of a “sensory record”, in which stimuli are initially recorded from a short period of time before being passed on to short-term memory if you are paying attention to them. Because of a small memory capacity of, about 7 new words at a time, for example, it is necessary to find an effective way to do this ‘essay’, which can be a form of repetition or a more elaborate exercise, this means that the new vocabulary will be remembered for longer.
At a certain point in my career, I felt the need to develop my own methodology in order to demystify alienations, failures, and limiting beliefs of students and teachers. To summarize my way of teaching, I have below some professional values and principles that I take to the classroom, in addition to the choice of renowned materials, which help me a lot:
:: create a sense of belonging
:: make the subject relevant to the student
:: involve the whole person (mentally, physically and emotionally)
:: develop your own identity
:: encourage self-esteem
:: involving feelings and emotions
:: minimize criticism
:: encourage creativity
:: develop knowledge of the learning process
:: allow choice
:: encourage self-assessment
What is a good teacher?
Being a teacher is directly influencing your student’s learning. Studies show that schools face a dilemma that, although they can identify elements that classify a good professional, being a good teacher requires a little more than just “getting to know the subject”. As a director and coordinator, I recognize as a good teacher one who:
:: creates a relaxed atmosphere and pleasant atmosphere in the classroom
:: maintains class control, calmly and assertively
:: presents work in an interesting and motivating way
:: makes it clear what students should do and what they need to achieve
:: helps students to overcome their difficulties
:: encourages them to raise their expectations
:: demonstrates personal talents and knowledge
There are undoubtedly many factors that affect the success of language learning, which were not addressed in this article. What I tried to demonstrate here is that a new type of methodological approach can be used, make sense and, above all, improve learning and gain effectiveness. Seeing my students getting results from their efforts, personal and professional fulfillment is to understand that my journey is being well accomplished, this is the fuel that makes me return to the classroom every day.