One never goes wrong following his feeling….I don’t mean emotions, I mean feelings, for feelings and intuition are one.
~ Albert Einstein
Language Learning Unlocked
This is a significant new book on the ELT scene which is interesting for educators, parents, caregivers and life-long language learners everywhere. A major part of its significance rests in its exploration of social and emotional learning, something that has been officially ignored in traditional education. A major cause of this ignorance has been an imbalanced left-brain view of education which has treated the heart of learning as not only irrelevant, but also a nuisance.
A quest for authenticity in education
Perhaps the greatest fear of traditional establishments was the idea of independent learners upturning systems, as famously expressed by Pink Floyd in The Wall. Andrew Weiler has used his life-long quest for truth to look deeply into topics that have also inspired Howard Gardner, Daniel Goleman and Mario Rinvolucri amongst others. It’s not enough to pay lip service to fostering creativity and emotional/social intelligence in education. We need to understand it on deeper, humanistic levels. That’s why you need to read “Language Learning Unlocked”.
‘Language Learning Unlocked’ gives us new insights into attention, awareness and engagement. It also guides us gently into the inner reality of the learner. Whether this learner is a baby, child, teenager or even our own inner selves, we’ve got to connect, feel and empathise with the feelings and experiences therein. As teachers and adults, we may ourselves be somewhat cut off from our own feelings or self-understanding. Such disconnection must be unblocked to enable a free-flow of synergy through the class or through one’s own mind and heart. Only then can rapport and empathy thrive. Only then can learners access their own creativity, connectivity and purpose.
‘Language Learning Unlocked’ explains how feelings are directly correlated with levels of motivation. A major argument in the book is that while ‘whole-brain’ learning is optimal, left-brain domination blocks natural language acquisition. Whole-brain learning refers to integrating both hemispheres for optimal brain power and learning success. However, despite the fact that such integration is natural, our traditional methodologies have relied heavily on polarizing left and right brain abilities, as well as exaggerating differentiated functions of the brain.
What Andrew Weiler does in this book is:
1) Take us from limited views of ‘the brain’ into a more intuitive grasp of ‘the mind’.
2) Make the case that intuition plays a much larger role in language learning that we would care to admit.
3) Show us that our intuition should inform our logic and not the other way around.
4) Explain the power of ‘knowledge transference’ across experiential levels of the mind.
5) Describe the influences of home and environmental factors and how they shape the developing brain and subsequent learning experiences.
This brief summary is just a tiny drop in the ocean of information in ‘Language Learning Unlocked’. For teachers who have been trained mostly in systems and methodologies as opposed to social and emotional approaches, it may prove unsettling at first. Yet it should serve as a revelation in the light of teaching and life experience. For teachers like me, who have been exploring such issues for a long time, it serves as a welcome validation.
Language Learning Unlocked shares a deep awareness of life and learning. This is a book that we should not only read. It’s a book that should be used as a reference point for designing new courses, class materials, and exploring new ways to elevate class dynamics, personal learning journeys, and pedagogical awareness.
I believe that Andrew Weiler will continue to support teachers everywhere with his insights, and I look forward to some more online initiatives or publications that will guide us towards reclaiming our natural awareness of what learning really is.