Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Using Brain Science to Design ESL Programs

I have always experimented with ESL students to try to determine which combination of ESL teaching methodologies provide the fastest and greatest amount of English Language learning and retention.

Like many ESL teachers I have used pictures, flash cards, games, drills, TPR, music, spelling bees, contests, exercises, CALL, free reading, structured reading, listening, realia, field trips, hand-on activity, story telling, individual and group work to help students learn English.

I was doing some light reading getting ready to summarize my next English Camp Teaching Methodologies when I rediscovered a reference to a group of Japanese Researchers. They have had several decades to conduct research and here are a few of their reports

Cortical plasticity for learning English rules between spelling and pronunciation during second-language acquisition. Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. Program No. 263.7 (2006).

Differential top-down modulation for language and melody-related activity in the auditory areas: An MEG study. BIOMAG 2006. 15, 65, C1-2 (2006).

Anatomical connections among functionally identified brain regions for sentence processing. Neurosci. Res. 55, Suppl. 1, S51, OS2A-8-11 (2006).

Cortical plasticity in adulthood for learning phonics rules for English orthography and phonology. Neurosci. Res. 55, Suppl. 1, S50, OS2A-8-07 (2006).

Grammar center activation in honorification judgment of Japanese sentences. Neurosci. Res. 55, Suppl. 1, S49, OS2A-8-05 (2006).

Correlation between regional grey matter volume and proficiency increase in second language: A VBM study. Neurosci. Res. 55, Suppl. 1, S49, OS2A-8-04 (2006).

Direct anatomical connections among functionally identified prefrontal regions for sentence processing. Human Brain Mapping Abstr. Program 289 W-AM (2006).

Separate neural bases of two fundamental processes during second language acquisition in the inferior frontal cortex. Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. Program No. 354.6 (2005).

Training-related increase and proficiency-dependent decrease of grammar center activation during second language acquisition. Neurosci. Res. 52, Suppl. 1, S61, O3B-04 (2005).

Activation of the grammar center in new picture-sentence matching tasks. Neurosci. Res. 52, Suppl. 1, S61, O3B-03 (2005).

Language processing specialized in the left prefrontal cortex. Neurosci. Res. 52, Suppl. 1, S4, Tsukahara Award 2-2 (2005).

Serious teachers can go to read the additional 200 papers
http://mind.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/Sakai_Lab_files/Staff/KLS_Paper.htm

As a teacher I think that the Brain mapping and understanding the modularity of brain functions will produce better teaching and learning practices. I want to be able to teach myself French or Spanish in six months!!

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