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TEFL Masterclass – Using Coaching and Neuroscience to Enhance Language Learning

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Rachel Paling – Neurolanguage Coach, Author & Keynotes Speaker.

Rachel Paling created the method and approaches Neurolanguage Coaching ® which incorporates professional coaching and principles of neuroscience into the learning process. She globally coaches and trains teachers, turning them into certified and ICF-accredited Neurolanguage coaches. She has established the Neurolanguage Coach® network, comprising over 1000 coaches in 70+ countries.

What you will learn

By using professional coaching and principles of neuroscience, educators can enhance the learning process making it much more efficient.

Coaching explores the power of communication and when consciously connected to how to have brain-friendly conversations, we can then fully understand how the brain is impacted and affected while learning, in particular, the emotional brain and learning blocks.

In this practical workshop, I will talk about why the ability to use expert coaching conversations can assist learners to go beyond learning blocks, to provoke a more effective learning state or to enhance associations and connections. In addition, incorporating our knowledge from neuroscience and neuropsychology increases metacognition which in turn impacts performance and results.

Workshop Summary

The Journey of Coaching:

Historically, “coaching” represented a journey between two points. By the 19th century, it symbolised support in sports to help individuals surpass their boundaries. This concept evolved into life coaching in the 1970s, spreading from the US to the UK and globally. The International Coach Federation (ICF) perceives coaching as a tool for reflection, aiding individuals in understanding their strengths and strategies. Despite its diversification into various sectors, coaching’s essence remains consistent: it serves as a mirror for self-awareness.

The Professional Landscape of Coaching:

Becoming a professional coach requires extensive training. Although coaching isn’t regulated, global entities like the ICF standardise it. The ICF, founded in the 1990s, offers coaching credentials and accredits programmes. Such programmes, like the one pertaining to language coaching, integrate foundational coaching principles into language learning, encompassing goal-setting and progress monitoring.

Amplifying Training Through Coaching:

Coaching can significantly enhance training. Its strength lies in promoting observation, self-awareness, and deep communication. Adopting a coaching approach means establishing trust, actively listening, and asking thought-provoking questions. The coaching process should be a balance of structure and spontaneity. While teaching often emphasises empathy, coaching leans more towards actionable compassion.

Introducing Neuroscience in Language Learning:

Neuroscience offers insights into how brains function in the context of language learning. Recent technological advances post-1970s provided concrete evidence about brain operations. However, every brain is unique, moulded by genetics and experiences. Neuroscience also highlights the importance of neurons, present throughout our bodies, suggesting a holistic view of human reactions. Recent studies have emphasised the emotional challenges tied to learning, with anxieties affecting working memory and other brain functions. Therefore, creating a calming learning environment is paramount.

Deepening Understanding of Language Learning:

Understanding the intricacies of language learning is crucial. Educators should focus on distinctions between explicit (conscious) and implicit (subconscious) learning, debunk learning myths, and employ spaced learning techniques. While children naturally learn their native tongue, adults use more conscious efforts. It’s essential for adults to utilise both learning types for efficient language mastery. Recognising the difference between language learning and acquisition can help educators offer customised support. Research also indicates that multi-sensory engagement can enhance the learning process.

Harnessing Neuroscience for Effective Learning:

Positive emotions are pivotal in learning. Raising dopamine levels, associated with pleasure, can enhance the learning experience. When learning a new language, the brain looks for similarities with existing knowledge. Hence, using prior knowledge as a foundation is vital. Sustained focus, especially in intensive learning settings, and regular assessments are necessary. However, instead of the intimidating term “test”, using “consolidation” is recommended.

The Synergy of Coaching and Neuroscience:

Neuro language coaching blends neuroscience principles with coaching for a transformative learning experience. It employs models that shift from rigid goals to ones centred on mastery, ensuring a customised approach for each learner. Communication is key, combining active listening, potent questioning, and spontaneous interactions. Neuroscience introduces purposeful actions in the learning process, from feedback mechanisms to creating brain connections. Sharing insights about the learning process boosts metacognition, cognitive skills, and self-awareness. The exploration of the brain’s capabilities can profoundly reshape learners’ perspectives on language acquisition and self-understanding.

Reflective Questions

Have a quick think about the reflective questions below in order to get the most out of the workshop:

  1. Many teachers are already using coaching skills, aren’t they?
  2. How can we get from the neuroscientific theory into practice?
  3. Neuroscience has been around now for over 40 years what is the reason more teachers aren’t talking about it?
  4. How can we get more teachers to use it?
  • Rachel Paling (2017). Neurolanguage Coaching: Brain Friendly Language Learning. The Choir Press.
  • Rachel Paling (2019). Brain Friendly Grammar Neurolanguage Coaching. Express Publishing.

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