LANGUAGES WITHOUT LIMITS
I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
What is multi-sensory learning?
All of us learn through all our senses. Some of us learn better through one sense than another. Some pupils learn best through visual approaches; others through auditory approaches; yet others through a combination of the two.
For some pupils the written word is not an optional extra but an integral part of their learning process. Many pupils enjoy work which involves an active, physical response and learn well where such methods are employed. One of the advantages of using visual, audio and tactile materials to support textual ones is that the resulting mixture of styles means that teaching will be appropriate for a wider range of learners. It's not all that difficult, just look at what you're already doing, see what senses are already being used, see how the task could be extended to use at least one other sense too. Try to involve all the senses from time to time. Some examples:
Sight text, pictures, graphics
Sound listening to teacher and others, to recordings, videos; talking, shouting, whispering, singing, rhymes, story-telling, clapping rhythmically to indicate syllabic stress, etc.
Touch handling objects, making things, describing shapes, gesturing, using computer keyboard, etc.)
Taste sampling food and drink, 'savouring the language' (articulation? intonation)
Action manual and physical activity; games involving manipulating objects or moving about.
Why should we provide multi-sensory learning opportunities?
We need to accommodate different learning styles; not everyone learns best in the same way.
The most common reason for failure to progress in second language learning is lack of opportunity for consolidation. Insufficient familiarity with core material makes it impossible for a pupil to perform as desired and quickly results in lack of confidence, often leading to lack of motivation and behavioural problems. It is better to offer learners half a dozen two-minute activities which will allow them to consolidate what they have learned rather than one ten-minute activity which may not sustain their attention. The keys to success are: small steps, frequent repetition, and a wide variety of consolidation activities before productive use is expected.
Games are particularly useful in mixed ability classes since they are essentially repetitive in nature - thus aiding consolidation of language recently presented by the teacher. Their randomness and unpredictability help to maintain motivation and to sustain the interest of quicker pupils. However, it is important to ensure that all the generic language (rules, instructions etc.) is clearly understood and can be used by all pupils. Unless learners are confident of their ability to use the games-specific vocabulary they will be tempted to stop playing the game or to revert to using English.
Some pupils find face-to-face communication very difficult and do not like to be the centre of attention. Using games in language work helps to divert attention away from the individual to the materials being used and this can allow pupils to participate who would otherwise be too self- conscious to do so.
What materials can I use?
Almost anything that learners can handle can be used to engage and motivate them. Some examples:
Picture cards can be used:
Photocopiable visuals can be used instead of (or to supplement) the cards, in any of the ways listed above. In addition, they can be:
Dice and spinners and other 'randomisers' can be used:
Stile Trays can be used in conjunction with sheets of 12 visuals:
Language Master systems and cards can be customised to provide a source of practice and revision of all the core vocabulary for a unit of work. They can:
ICT And, of course, there are many other ways to make learning more active and multi-sensory using computers software that is rich in visual, auditory, animated, interactive and randomised approaches...
POINTS FOR REFLECTION
Research published recently by Wake Forest University School of Medicine suggests that the neurons in the brain that respond to sensory stimuli 'have the capacity to amplify their signals when confronted with stimuli from multiple senses'.
...as a species, we remember 20 percent of what we hear and 30 per cent of what we see. Combine these senses and recall is dramatically increased to 70 per cent.
IT'S AN IDEA: TOUCH & TASTE
Gather a selction of everyday items representing a range of different textures, shapes, colours: rough, smooth, hard, soft, round, square, etc. Use your foreign language assistant to run small group workshops in which learners learn words to describe the objects.
A similar workshop can be used for exporing vocabulary like 'sweet', 'sour', 'salty' etc. along with phrases for likes and dislikes, expressing pleasure or disgust, etc.
Maximising the potential of multisensory materials
[Links last checked 28.7.11 unless otherwise indicated]
Learning and Teaching Scotland
Teaching the target language through the lyrics of melodic music
Pupils learn Spanish by dancing
Multisensory learning in inclusive classrooms
Strategies for Learning: Sensory Learning Styles
Listening practice with vision and textual support
How music helps language learning
More about "the Mozart Effect"
Article: The sense of touch allows us to make a better connection between sight and hearing
Tools for generating your own active/interactive activities
Verbs and music
The power of multisensory learning
The Quality Improvement Agency's definition of multi-sensory teaching
Researchers at the University of Michigan, investigating the effectiveness of pictured-based and word-based strategies for vocabulary learning, have concluded that the picture-based method leads to a better performance (except for cognate words). For the full report see: L2 Vocabulary Acquisition in Children: Effects of Learning Method and Cognate Status, Claudio Tonzar, Lorella Lotto, Remo Job. Language Learning, Volume 59, Issue 3, Pages 623 - 646. See the abstract here:
Some nicely illustrated vocabulary sheets available to download from the publisher of Collins Easy Learning Dictionaries.
Twenty movement activities and games for elementary classrooms
Multi-sensory learning and creativity
Learning languages through games
Active learning strategies in classical languages
The best language learning games (that are not online)
[6.8.11] Online training materials for MFL teachers
[12.8.11] BBC Class Clips
[4.9.11] Teaching methods for dyslexic children
[13.12.11] Touch helps make the connection between sight and hearing
[16.1.21] Learn language faster with gestures
[2.2.12] Multisensory approaches
[16.3.12] To learn a new language, you've got to move more than your mouth!
[24.7.12] Pinterest – Multisensory learning
[16.6.12] Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
[16.6.12] Getting started in French
[29.8.12] Sensory integration techniques for the special education classroom
[15.10.12] Folk music and Languages