A few weeks ago I attended a seminar on embodied cognition (see, for example, Pouw, van Goug, & Paas, 2014, for a discussion; or Holme, 2012, for an excellent article situated in an L2 context). Professor Fred Paas began his talk by questioning whether there was such a thing as talent, and suggested that success was rather a result of practice. As an L2 practitioner, teacher educator, and researcher that really resonated with me because practice is definitely an important aspect when it comes to mastering a new language, and also because it bascially means that everyone can learn an L2. One piece of his talk I found particularly interesting, however, was when he proposed that in schools, physical activity and learning are usually kept as two separate entities, and therefore children’s learning and development are unnecessarily restricted. In my experience, many L2 teachers tend to shy away from utilizing kinaesthetic aspects in their classrooms (especially in EAP contexts); however, if you have ever had the privilege of witnessing a teacher making effective use of movements in his/her classroom, you probably noticed immediately that most students not only enjoy moving around but also learn in the process. In fact, I would argue that they learn much more effectively than in a traditional (unmoving) classroom because multiple modalities are engaged. Do you make use of movement in your classrooms? If so, it’d be delighted (and moved) to hear from you!
Pouw, W., van Gog, T. & Paas, F. (2014). An embedded and embodied cognition review of instruction manipulatives. Educational Psychological Review, 26 (1), 51-72.
Holme, R. (2012). Cognitive linguistics and the second language classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 46(1), 6-29.
I am a Lecturer in TESOL at the University of Wollongong in Australia. I blog about L2 learning, L2 teaching, L2 teacher education, and research.