The thinking revolution
Created: Friday, 01 April 2016 11:44
Melanie Butler asks author Marion Williams about the psychology of learning and how it can be applied to teaching a foreign language
You’re most known in EFL for championing the role of psychology in the language classroom and have recently won the Ben Warren Prize for a book you co-authored on the subject, Exploring Psychology in Language Learning and Teaching (OUP, 2015). How did you first become interested in the psychology of learning in general and language learning, and what is the most important thing it has taught you?
These are huge questions, Melanie, and involve the last 45 years of my professional career.
In 1988 I took up a position at Exeter University running the MEd and doctoral programmes in Tesol. As a qualified primary teacher and teacher trainer, I had become increasingly concerned that, while the Tesol field had a vibrant literature on methodology, it did not draw sufficiently on insights from psychology. I became particularly curious about what educational psychology might have to offer language teachers. Surely, if we knew something about how learners learn, we would be in a better position to figure out how to help them to learn a language.
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Top team leads to top ranking
Created: Tuesday, 01 March 2016 17:44
Melanie Butler asks Patrick Brook, director of the University of Brighton’s Language Institute, how he ended up running the British Council’s top-ranked uni language centre
Patrick Brook is director of the Language Institute at the University of Brighton, our new number-one-ranked university language centre based on British Council inspection reports. But being the director of a top language centre was not one of his childhood ambitions, he admits to me.
‘I wanted to work for the National Trust,’ Patrick says over coffee. But having taught English in France as part of his undergraduate degree, he headed back there to teach English after becoming disillusioned with teaching French in UK secondary schools. ‘I found it all rather challenging – a lot of crowd control!’ he explains.
LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN Language Institute director Patrick Brook and assistant director Sally Nichols (front), with vice chancellor Debra Humphris (behind Patrick) and key staff (Courtesy University of Brighton Language Institute)
He ended up moving on to Cyprus and Russia before returning to work in London. ‘In 1999 I went to do my masters in Tesol at the University of Brighton. They offered me a job, and I’ve never left.’
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