Amanda Gillis Furutaka
Kyoto Sangyo University
Amanda Gillis-Furutaka is a professor in the Faculty of Foreign Studies at Kyoto Sangyo University, where she has worked since 1992. Before coming to Japan, she taught English in France, Portugal, China, and Brazil. She has a Postgraduate Diploma in ESL from Leeds University, an MA in TESOL from Birmingham University (and is a tutor for the distance learning programme), and a PhD in music from the University of London, Goldsmiths College. She feels honoured to be asked to speak at the Pan SIG conference because she has been a member and officer of the Kyoto Chapter and many SIGs since she joined JALT in 1988 (Bilingualism, GILE, ER GALE, CUE, THT, and BRAIN) and most of her presentations and publications have been for JALT. In recent years, she has been most active in the BRAIN SIG because understanding how the brain learns is the best way to understand how we can teach more effectively. She is looking forward to sharing some of the key insights she has gained.
The official scientific name for our species is homo sapiens (wise human), but evolutionary scientists and neuroscientists suggest that a more accurate description is homo docens (the species that teaches itself). Why? Well, although learning is universally widespread in the animal world, ours is the only species that actively teaches its offspring (Högberg, Gärdenfors & Lars Larsson, 2015; Dehaene, 2020). This presentation will draw mainly on the work of Stanislas Dehaene to explain four basic principles that lead to effective learning and the neuroscience behind each one. These principles are: 1) Help learners direct and focus their attention; 2) Foster active engagement with the subject matter under investigation; 3) Provide constructive error feedback that guides learning and does not evaluate the learner; 4) Create opportunities for consolidation of learning through regular practice and skill building activities that enable subconscious mastery of what is being learned. Examples of class activities for a variety of levels of English learners will be provided to illustrate each of these principles and it is hoped that participants in the follow-up Q & A discussion will share many more examples of their own.
Some closing comments about PanSIG2020 and looking forward to the next time we get together.