Welcome to the September 2020 edition of Adventures in Language Learning! We had a fabulous TESOL training seminar September 7-11 with students from Germany, Bolivia, the USA, the country of Georgia, India and even Canada. What a blast! Check out their comments on our testimonials page at www.lexica.world/testimonials.
Do you remember all the visual stimulation you encountered during our dynamic week together? Well, this month we wanted to remind you of the power of vision and its importance to the teaching profession. We also have exciting news to share! Are you sitting comfortably? Great! Then let’s begin!!!
We are thrilled to continue to share with you the fascinating research of Dr James Medina from his bestseller, “Brain Rules.” The core principles of his research, with its focus on brain-compatible teaching strategies, is something you benefited from in the way you were taught during our TESOL Certification Course.
EXCITING NEWS-WERE ARE EXPANDING AND REBRANDING!
For the past year, we here at the Pure LanguageInstitute have been so privileged to train hundreds of fellow teachers and pass on to them the benefits of
our research and experience in teaching languages.While most of our alumni go on to teach English, close to two hundred of them are also fluent in other languages as well. Some of them are polyglots, fluent in more than three or four languages! Many of these teachers are using the training to teach Russian, German, Spanish, French, Signed Languages and other tongues.
Our passion for language fits nicely with our company name Pure Language. However, we are growing. As you might have noticed on our website, we are now starting our own language school, offering language classes in English, Spanish, Swahili and Low German-with more to come! To that end, we are proud and happy to announce that we will be rebranding our company. The Pure Language Institute will soon morph into The Lexica Training Institute!
“Lexicon,” as defined by Websters means “the vocabulary of a language, …” Since we specialize in training teachers to teach any language (included signed languages) it is only natural that the name of our company be the plural of Lexicon-Lexica
Stay tuned for more thrilling developments. Especially for the hundreds of our alumni who are polyglots and for those looking to learn a language or two! We will soon have an exciting, attractive offer for you!
All Hail King Vision!
This month, we will focus on vision. Let’s discuss two facts about it, briefly get into the technical side (feel free to skip to the last paragraph if you are not into the details:)) and then finally, we will see how this relates to you and your classes.
Fact #1 Vision trumps all other senses Fact #2 Presentations that contain pictures and other visual aids far outperform, in fact, information that is present in only a written or oral format.
Heh buddy! What are you looking at?
According to Medina, we used to think that the signals that crossed our retina were not processed until they reached the deeper, nether regions of our brains. If this were true, then our retina’s could be compared to a busy, yet detached, switchboard operator of days past who simply routed and rerouted telephone calls. It turns out that this is not only simplistic but totally wrong. Let’s see how Dr Medina describes the process:“Rather than acting like a passive antenna, the retina appears to quickly process the electrical patterns before it sends anything off to Mission Control. Specialized nerve cells deep within the retina interpret the patterns of photons striking the retina, assemble the patterns into partial “movies”, and then send these movies off to the back of our heads. The retina, it seems, is filled with teams of tiny Martin Scorseses.
These movies now stream out from the optic nerve, one from each eye, and flood the thalamus, that egg-shaped structure in the middle of our heads that
serves as a central distribution center for most of our senses. If these streams of visual information can be likened to a large, flowing river, the thalamus can be likened to the beginning of a delta. Once it leaves the thalamus, the information travels along increasingly divided neural streams. Eventually, there will be thousands of small neural tributaries carrying parts of the original information to the back of the brain. The information drains into a large complex region within the occipital lobe called the visual cortex. Put your hand on the back of your head.
Your palm is now less than a quarter of an inch away from the area of the brain that is currently allowing you to see this page. It is a quarter of an inch away from your visual cortex.
At the point where the visual field lies in its most fragmented state, the brain decides to reassemble the scattered information. Individual tributaries start recombining, merging, pooling their information, comparing their findings, and then sending their analysis to higher brain centers. The centers gather these hopelessly intricate calculations from many sources and integrate them at an even more sophisticated level. Higher and higher they go, eventually collapsing into two giant streams of processed information. One of these, called the ventral stream, recognizes what an object is and what color it possesses. The other, termed the dorsal stream, recognizes the location of the object in the visual field and whether it is moving. Association regions” do the work of integrating the signals. They associate—or, better to say,
—the balkanized electrical signals. Then, you see something. So, the process of vision is not as simple as a camera taking a picture. The process is more complex and more convoluted than anyone could have imagined.”
Whoa! I’m out of breath just trying to imagine all of this! Vision, our most
dominant sense, takes up over half of our brain’s resources.
Therefore, as teachers, it is imperative that we marshal this power by relying heavily on visual stimuli in all of our lessons. In one experiment. one group of students were given information in just a written in text accompanied by only oral explanation while the other group were taught the same information using pictures. The result: Text and oral presentations are not just less efficient than pictures for retaining certain types of information; they are WAY less efficient.
If information is presented orally, people remember about 10 percent, tested 72 hours after exposure. That figure goes up to 65 percent if you add a picture.* Yes, we should bend the knee before King Vision by trying our best to incorporate a visual aid like a picture, a prop, a video or just a good, dramatic gesture every time we teach something new.
In summary, our brains are wired to learn visually. We are ALL visual learners.
When you consistently incorporate this reality into any of the methods you use to teach a language, you will see excellent results.
The over 30 methods and teaching strategies that we train our teachers to use in the classroom are truly brain compatible. We would love to hear how you are using visual aids in your classes.
*References Standing, L., et al. “Perception and Memory for Pictures – Single- Trial Learning of 2,500 Visual Stimuli.” Psychon Sci 19 (1970): 73-74. Nickerson, R.S. “A Note on Long-Term Recognition Memory for Pictorial Material.” Psychon Sci 11, No. 2 (1968): 58.