Friday, May 29, 2015

How to Improve Memory and Recall

Maurice Hazan "Memory and Language Acquisition"
It is the end of another school year. Summer vacation begins. When your students return in the Fall, will they retain what you have worked so hard to help them learn this past few months?

Neuroscience is proving the common wisdom: we remember what has meaning. There is so much clutter in our daily experience, if our brain remembered every single perception we would be overwhelmed. The stress of receiving a "fire hose" of new information is familiar to many of us when attending a conference or gaining initial exposure to a new field of study. There must be a way to help encode meaning, and then being able to recall quickly in the appropriate context.

The mechanics of meaning are no longer mysterious. There is no such thing as a person being "naturally good with languages" or "not able to learn languages." The repetition of meaningful, engaging input will allow the student to produce oral and written output that is comprehensible and expressive. What a great feeling that is! Basically, it is fun. It is amazing. This instant success, repeated many times, builds the positive framework for learning. A student becomes a lifelong learner by learning how to learn, and have fun doing it.

Even for a student who has been struggling all year, your kindness and supportive efforts have added a positive meaning to the experience of learning a new language. Regardless of your teaching method, the interpersonal connection has enormous impact.

When your school administration questions the need for face-to-face instruction versus a video or online program, remind them that students are physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual beings. The online tools available today are extremely powerful. The ability to communicate instantly with anyone in the world, 24/7, on the Internet, is what makes it possible for you to read these very words.
But can a computer or tablet do what a teacher does?
Improving memory and recall begins with the emotional context of learning. When a classroom is welcoming, fun, engaging, and challenging in a positive way, the learning process is enhanced for all students, for all academic subjects. Language learning is especially dependent on the demeanor and response of the teacher as well as the overall classroom environment. The topic that is being learned is the very way we connect with one another.

The visuals that form a foundation of QTalk curriculum, are colorful and engaging. They allow a teacher to remain in the target language, and promote instant comprehension and recall for students who then are primed to spend their time outside of class practicing and sharing what they are learning.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Teachers can make classroom immersion easy and fun

With group language classes at the beginning level, classroom management is everything. Here are these students - whatever age - and they are asked to make funny noises and listen to a teacher say things that sound like nonsense. Laughter, teasing, embarrassment, or just fear of looking and sounding stupid, can lead to student behavior that distracts the other students who are trying to pay attention and learn something.

Next, you, the teacher, are in disciplinarian mode, instead of fun, engaging dialogue and interactive mode. Now no one wants to talk, and the quiet classroom is under control but the students aren't learning to speak and understand the language.

What happens next? Often, teachers feel they must switch to English (or the students' first language) to explain  or translate. The immersion concept goes out the window, at least for now.

So how do we get to immersion with beginning students, especially when a group of students vary widely in their level of interest in language learning?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Revolutionary new Visually Speaking app will transform language learning worldwide

NEWS UPDATE:  Maurice's new Kickstarter project is for the revolutionary new Visually Speaking app, Maurice has a prototype working for English but now needs help to bring the app to an implementation stage with the proper support and scalability to go worldwide and forever change language learning. Maurice's mission is to increase peace, joy and positive human connections by making it easier for every person to learn a new language. With your help he can do it. Please go to for details and the link to the Kickstarter campaign as well as project updates.