About NeuroELT: Language Learning and the Brain Self Study

Neuroscience is changing the world. It is unraveling the mysteries of the very most basic elements of our profession – language, learning, and culture – and yet, because these findings are so new, they have not made much impact on our field yet. We wish, as language teachers ourselves, to change that. Let's look at how the brain processes emotion, memory, and meaning, and examine ways we can apply these findings to our classrooms.

Session 1: Why NeuroELT Matters: Our Stories, Our Growth

Curtis Kelly, Marc Helgesen, Joseph Shaules
We are English teachers, and yet we are involved in studying neuroscience, psychology and culture. Each of us will talk about our transformation from being a traditional English teacher to one that relies on these fields, and some of the problems our studies have helped us solve.

Session 2: Learning 101: An Introduction to NeuroELT

Curtis Kelly
We are in the business of memory, which means learning. And yet, most of us have just a vague understanding of how learning happens. This week, we’ll look at some of the key factors of learning, including personal relevance, novelty, sleep, movement, and dopamine release. Then we’ll discuss how these work in the classroom. And, if there is time, expect a surprise: how faulty memory is really part of a mechanism that helps us succeed.

Session 3: Do-It-Yourself NuroELT: Making your textbook more brain friendly

Marc Helgesen
English Language Teaching (ELT) textbooks are written with many things in mind: grammar, vocabulary, tasks and motivation among them. Rarely, however, do textbook authors think about brain science when crafting their textbooks. Fortunately, there are many things classroom teachers can do to make books better in light of the recently findings of brain science. This session will present seven practical suggestions for teachers interested in modifying their books.

Session 4: The Linguaculture Classroom

Joseph Shaules
Many teachers understand that language and culture are closely related, yet struggle to introduce cultural elements into language teaching. Cognitive neuroscience, however, is helping us understand the language-culture connection in the brain, thus providing hints about how to do this. We’ll see that from the neurocognitive perspective, both language and culture learning involve the integration of foreign patterns into cognitive systems, and that student nervousness and resistance is closely related to the adaptive stresses of culture shock.

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