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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