8 Components of Accelerated Language Learning (Part 2)

4. Over-stimulation

  • This is not over-loading students with just information.  The accelerated learning language teacher may bombard the student with material in creative ways knowing that the human brain can often assimilate more information than we assume.
  • Using longer texts, dramatizations and the like (often carefully supported with the English meaning along one side) allows students of varying levels of ability to take what is useful for them at that stage of their learning.
  • This approach also allows for more opportunities to expose students to the rhythm and pronunciation of the new language.

5. Theory of multiple intelligences application

  • MI Theory (proposed by Howard Gardener) asserts that there are 8 types of intelligence: interpersonal, intrapersonal, logical-mathematical, verbal-linguistic, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical-rhythmic, and naturalist.  In the traditional classroom environment, the verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences are often over represented.
  • Accelerated learning addresses this imbalance by including activities that allow the activation of other intelligences.  This includes simple activities that develop visual, auditory, and motor coordination; as in Brain Gym®.  Examples of other activities include: games that involve movement, use of color on worksheets/mind maps, use of songs, raps and music, manipulation of objects and word cards, and so on.

6. The use of chunking

Chunking lessons into shorter periods takes full advantage of the attention cycle of the human brain.  We are most likely to retain information presented at the beginning and end of a session; therefore if a lesson is divided into smaller chunks, we are creating more beginnings and endings and so increasing the amount of information retained.

7. Pattern spotting and learning in broad strokes

Often accelerated learning language teachers will introduce broad concepts to their students, enabling them to learn a great deal in a short amount of time.

8. Objective setting

The student must understand clearly what he/she is going to learn in any particular lesson and how this is going to happen.  There is then a predefined goal to work towards and a higher sense of achievement at the end of the lesson (particularly if the lesson objectives are listed on the board and can be checked off as the lesson proceeds).

What’s In It For Me (W.I.I.F.M) is a key phrase to remind teachers that students want to know how subject material they are going to learn is relevant to them and their day-to-day experiences.

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8 Components of Accelerated Language Learning (Part 1)

8 Components of Accelerated Language Learning (ALL)

In terms of the instruction and learning of foreign languages specifically, accelerated learning has been and is being put to good use by language teachers across the world. Key components of an accelerated learning language lesson are:

1. The learning environment

  • A great deal of attention will be focused on the use of color, the temperature in the room(s), the positioning of furniture, background music, smells, textures, and so on.
  •  Also, posters and displays may have been carefully selected with the aim of helping students to absorb vocabulary and ideas subconsciously.
  •  Posters containing vocabulary for a unit, which may not be introduced for a few weeks, may be present in order to gradually familiarize students with the vocabulary in advance.

2.  State setting

  • This is done partly through the learning environment but also through the use of body language by the teacher, the type of music used throughout the lesson (this might change depending on the mood/atmosphere the teacher wishes to create at any given time), the tone of voice employed at any given time by the teacher, the use of color in presentation materials, and so on.
  • The emphasis is on making the student feel comfortable, relaxed and free from anxiety and stress.

3. Mnemonics

  • Frequently used to help students retain and recall lists of vocabulary.  Instead of relying on simple repetition drills, the accelerated learning language teacher will often employ creative techniques when first introducing a new topic.
  • Students may be encouraged to use their imaginations to link items of vocabulary to parts of their body or to locations in the classroom (Loci).  This injects a sense of fun and usually promotes a more relaxed and free-flowing learning environment.

Accelerated Learning Cycle

Human beings go through a natural cycle of learning every time they learn something new.  This is true whether it is a baby taking her first steps; a youngster learning to ride his bike; a college student tackling physics; or a manager learning how to increase her company’s sales in China.  There are different models of the learning cycle – some educators have proposed four phases, while others have proposed five – and the names can vary, too.  What does not vary is that learning is negatively impacted if one or more of these phases in the learning process are ignored or poorly executed.  The Accelerated Learning Cycle presented here has been recognized by various researchers, educators, and training organizations.  By applying the phases to training and curriculum design, learning becomes easier, faster and more enjoyable.

Phase 1: Learner Preparation

When learners enter a classroom or start to study something on their own, their thoughts are usually far from the task-at-hand. They may be thinking about the conversation they had last night with family members; about the essay they have to write for a psychology class; or about the management problem that needs to be solved.  Or they may simply be tired from a lack of sleep; or resentful about the time their class is taking away from the “regular” work schedule.

The first step in the Accelerated Learning Cycle is to bring the learners’ attention into the moment so they can focus on the learning ahead of them.

Phase 2: Connection

Learners bring in their entire past “school experience” – whether positive or painful – when they enter a training session or when they begin a new learning task. During this phase, learners may need to be guided to connect with the instructor, the learning environment, and the purposeful benefit of the training.  It is important to note that if the learners do not feel safe and welcomed in the class, they can set up mental barriers to learning that may be difficult to overcome. If learners do not understand the relevance of the information to their own life or job, or if they are not excited and curious about the content, they may avert the holistic benefit that might have been realized from the learning experience.

Phase 3: Creative Presentation

This is the phase of learning in which trainers share new material in ways that are interesting, challenging, and relevant to trainees’ lives.  Effective trainers use a variety of methods that draw on multiple intelligences, learning styles, and the five senses (smell, taste, sight, sound, touch). Effectual instructors know how to encourage learners to collaborate with each other; put together team projects; and observe and solve real-life problems.

Phase 4: Activation via Elaboration, Assimilation and Implementation

This is the practice phase, in which the instructor guides learners to integrate new material into their own knowledge database.  The goal here is for learners to build mastery of skills or knowledge through repetitive practices that are not tedious or dependent solely on rote-memory.  In this phase, the trainer encourages learners to experiment in a safe and supportive environment; make mistakes; get feedback; and build competence.

Phase 5: Integration

During this phase, learners review everything they have learned and celebrate how far they have come. Learners commemorate the answers they have found or the new questions they have discovered. They begin to explore how they will use the learning “back home.”  In fact, many of the lessons learned may ideally be actualized long after the initial training session is over and might even include on-going peer coaching for the empowerment of others.