I had the pleasure of attending a workshop held by my colleague Lori Ristevski concerning the practical application of "Brain Friendly Learning" (otherwise known as effective/affective learning). During the workshop, Lori stated that this method of teaching is based on the idea that effective learning is suggestive in nature, not direct. In other words, learning takes place through a combination of different types of right and left brain functions. She stated that long-term memory is semi-conscious and that we must sidetrack people with other things in order to allow them to receive information through peripheral perception.
In order to help us understand these concepts, Lori led us through a "concert". A "concert" is basically a story read (or sung by some) out loud by the teacher. Students concentrate on understanding the story and not on "learning" new vocabulary, grammar etc. Following are the steps of this exercise and an example text for a "concert". An important principle applied to this exercise (and, I imagine, all effective/affective materials) is the repeated exposure to new material. Music is also played in the background as a means of stimulating right brain participation.A Concert
- Step 1: Read (or sing in a quasi recitative style - good luck ;-) the concert to students. Make sure to not introduce the new material before the concert.
- Step 2: Have students split up into teams. Read the concert back with pauses, the focus information being presented, for the students to fill in. Each correct answer gets a point. For example: You are working on introducing prepositions, you have read the concert and now read "John went ____ the store ___ the corner". Students shout out "into!" and "on!" and the various teams get points.
- Step 3: Have students, in their respective teams, take cards (that you have prepared) with the new words/phrases on them. Students then place the cards in the correct order of usage, or combine them with other cards to make sense. For example: Cards have been created with prepositions and nouns. Students need to then match up the correct preposition with the noun.
- Step 4: Have students make up sentences in turn using the paired up cards. For example: Student A takes the pair "into, store" and says, "He went into the store to buy some food".
Now, here's the concert text. Thanks to another colleague, Judith Ruskin, for having created this text. The target language areas of this text are verb preposition, and adjective preposition combinations.
Once upon a time there was a young man who was addicted to chocolate. He ate it for breakfast in the morning, at lunch and dinner - it seemed that he was never tired of eating it. Chocolate with cornflakes, chocolate on toast, chocolate and beer - he even boasted of eating chocolate and steak. He was married to a beautiful woman whom he had met when he was recovering from flu. She was a nurse, responsible for all the patients in the area and very content with her job. In fact the only problem these two had was his dependence on chocolate. One day the young wife decided on a plan to make her husband allergic to chocolate forever. She confided in her best friend and asked her to cooperate with her in playing a trick on her husband. She was aware of the fact that her friend suffered from rats and she asked if she could borrow some of her rat poison. Her friend was a little surprised at the request but agreed to it and gave her the poison. The young wife hurried home and started work in the kitchen, very satisfied with herself. An hour later she emerged from the kitchen proudly carrying a large chocolate cake and the empty tin of rat poison. "Darling - I've made a lovely chocolate cake for you!" she called fondly. Down the stairs the greedy husband ran and in short time he had polished it off, right down to the last crumb.
He was released from hospital after only two weeks. He never accused his wife of poisoning him, but he was always slightly suspicious of her. Needles to say, he never again touched chocolate.
Well, as you can tell my colleague is British and has that touch of famed British love of black humor...
For further information on effective/affective learning:
Society for Effective Affective Learning. UK based global association promoting effective/affective learning.
An introduction to Suggestopedia through a look at documentation on the Net concerning its theory, practice and principles.
BRAIN friendly English Learning Take a look at this exciting approach to learning/teaching English which focuses on using all areas of the brain while enjoying learning.