Event opening speech at University of Guadalajara, Mexico on how experience of the pandemic provides opportunities for change management processes in higher education.
July 2021, Spanish sub-titles, 17 mins
In a world full of myths about learning languages, there are some fundamental truths.
There are two ways to learn a language
we can learn in a language, or we can learn about a language
In is the natural way – just like we learnt our first language
About is the unnatural way – what we call traditional language teaching
Learning in a language enables you to have one unique powerful thinking system
Learning about the language usually means you have two disconnected systems in your brain
One system is additive – the two languages work together
Two systems are subtractive – one language can work against the other
Learning in a language helps you think creatively and develop new ideas
and now, research shows the advantages we experience if we learn language in a natural way
These are how we perceive the world around us and solve problems
how we think more flexibly and deeply
the way we remember things
how we filter and process information
and how we understand, relate to, and communicate with other people
Learning the unnatural way – learning about a language – is now the most common approach in our schools
Learning the natural way – learning real things and language at the same time, has become the signature language learning approach of the 21st century
One positive experience of 2020 has been to recognise how inter-connectedness underpins not only our health and security, but also how we teach and learn. Education in 2020 became a profound stress-test where inadequate teaching approaches failed to migrate into rapidly introduced hybrid contexts. It revealed the success of integrated approaches such as CLIL which promote multiple types of inter-connectedness. 2021 brings us a window of opportunity to realize meaningful and sustained improvement in education. Now we can move forward with even more certainty on how to realistically systemise bilingual education in our schools and universities.
The 2020 experience of the rapid transition to remote teaching has been demanding for both educators and students. Studies in different countries indicate certain needs that now need to be either introduced or enhanced in teaching. These apply to physical-presence class teaching as well as HyFlex contexts where teaching and learning is applied through synchronous online, synchronous in-person, asynchronous, or variations of these.
Advances in technology continue to reveal scientific understanding of the advantages on mind and brain for those who know more than one language.
A 2020 update review of the landmark 2009 meta-study on neuroscientific insights into languages and creativity produced for the European Commission, has just been published in Finland.
The Impact of Language Learning on Mind and Brain reveals six key advantages for people who use more than one language.
The advantages relate to our neural architecture, our memory, how we think, learn, understand other people, solve problems, and safely navigate the information-rich digital world.
The scientific evidence-base on languages, mind and brain has expanded in the last decade.
This science provides insights on the design of educational practices. One of these is to re-think the teaching of languages as separate subjects. Another is to consider providing opportunities for young people to learn topics through an additional language.
This paper provides a succinct summary of the key issues involved in understanding success drivers for languages in education. It argues that knowledge of more than one language, even if partial, can provide people with advantages not accessible to monolinguals.
Marsh D., Díaz-Pérez, W., Frigols Martín, M.J., Langé, G., Pavón Vázquez, V., Trindade, C. (2020) The Bilingual Advantage: The Impact of Language Learning on Mind & Brain. Jyväskylä: EduCluster Finland, University of Jyväskylä Group
Wherever we are located in the world, COVID-19 continues to have a profound impact on our societies and lives. Lockdown is one experience widely shared globally. This has resulted in sudden closure of schools, and educators striving to find ways to support students online, through TV or radio, and sometimes through delivery of food and printed material to students homes.
For educators it has involved a sudden and steep learning curve in designing and managing non-physical-presence teaching and learning.
Even though some of us have been successful in transitioning from physical-presence teaching to online, reports from different countries during March-September 2020 reveal that the experience of remote schooling is leaving many students in difficulty or even stranded.
If education was not good before COVID-19, it cannot transition effectively as online learning. However if teaching quality has been high quality, and if students have access to online resources, much can be achieved.
Successful transition often requires profound changes in navigation of learning pathways, and structuring of learning processes. Now that the extent of the problem is being recognized effective pedagogies will soon emerge.
NEXUS 2020-2025 is a new generation expert team exploring pedagogical methods that enable successful development of global competences through a fusion of subject and language learning. Involving people of all ages NEXUS aims to show how specific teaching activities can support learning outcomes according to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2022 Global Competence descriptors.
Today, disruptive learning calls for disruptive technologies. Combining augmented and virtual reality to produce powerful and safe CLIL learning environments has been a dream for bilingual education teachers for over a decade. Now it is increasingly within reach with iCLIL where knowledge and competence-building go hand-in-hand with dynamic immersive learning experiences.
Global Positioning Generation Z (GPZ) is a CLIL-based learning resource for developing global competences. It enables young people (16-18 yrs) to look at how to make the environment a better place. Essentially asking ‘what is your position as a Generation Z global citizen (born 1995-2015) towards climate change?’ the resources focus on knowledge, attitudes, values and skills in developing environmental awareness and identifying opportunities for action.