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Education Bookcast

Education Bookcast is a podcast in which we talk about one education-related book or article per episode.
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Now displaying: December, 2016
Dec 20, 2016

In this episode, I review a paper from the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) about language learning and teaching. The key insights are eleven:

  1. Mature adults can learn a foreign language well enough through intensive language study to do things in the language (almost) as well as native speakers.
  2. "Language-learning aptitude" varies among individuals and affects their classroom learning success (but at least some aspects of aptitude can be learned).
  3. There is no "one right way" to teach (or learn) languages, nor is there a single "right" syllabus.
  4. Time on task and the intensity of the learning experience appear crucial.
  5. Learners' existing knowledge about *language* affects their learning.
  6. A learner's prior experience with learning (languages or other skills) also affects classroom learning.
  7. The importance of "automaticity" in building learner skill and confidence in speaking and reading a language is more important than has been recognised by the second language acquisition field since the 1980s.
  8. Learners may not learn a linguistic form until they are "ready", but FSI's experience indicates that teachers and a well-designed course can help learners become ready earlier.
  9. A supportive, collaborative, responsive learning environment, with a rich variety of authentic and teacher-made resources, is very important in fostering effective learning.
  10. Conversation, which on the surface appears to be one of the most basic forms of communication, is actually one of the hardest to master.
  11. If a learner has passed a certain threshold of proficiency in a language, then attrition of their knowledge over time is very low. However, below that threshold, learners tend to forget their language relatively quickly with time.

During this episode, I discuss each of these points, and provide a personal point of view with reference to my own experience of learning multiple languages over the years.

Enjoy the episode.

Dec 20, 2016

I wanted to share some things I learned from my trip to the US this summer, and what my own experience of running maths circles has been like so far.

This episode includes:

  • Discussion of the Summer Math Circle Institute;
  • Tips and techniques learned from the Institute;
  • My own experiences of running maths circles;
  • Potatoes with added sugar;
  • What you should and shouldn't assume about students;
  • Why Math Circles (sometimes) work;
  • Why Bloom's Taxonomy is upside-down; and
  • The role of the teacher in having a vision for the students in his/her care.

Enjoy the episode.

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