One thing leads to another. An old adage, and certainly one that is true for us. No one ever sat down and said, out of the blue, “Hey let’s make a monthly magazine for teachers all over the world that connects neuroscience to language teaching!” Nope. It started as a trice-yearly newsletter for the 120 members of the JALT BRAIN SIG and slowly grew. No one ever sat down and said let’s get the authors of an issue to do presentations together, and make a joint conference with TESOL, and sponsor authors in India, Nepal, Russia, and other countries to join our conferences in Japan.
Nope. No “out of the blue.” In each case, there was always one thing, like a priming charge, that led to others, and then a big blast. And guess what? That is what happened with this issue. The priming charge was the issue topic itself–Teaching Language Learners about their Brains–and the big blast is coming from our head editor, Stephen M. Ryan.
Stephen was working on his article for this issue about teaching his college students about the brain. While writing about the difficulty finding articles and videos at their level, he began to wonder: “I read every article in every issue. What if I were to rewrite them in easy English? That would be good for my students; maybe for other teachers’ students too.” And boom! It happened.
He wrote an article on teacher-student relations, based on the topic of our October issue, and he liked it. We liked it. We applauded and he decided to write more. Then one thing led to another and Julia Daley made a special section on our website for Simplified English articles. We also wondered why we should limit these articles to students.
Some non-native speaker teachers might like to avoid the jargon as well. After all, isn’t that what we are already doing on a higher level? Taking cryptic research in neuroscience and making it accessible to teachers? Providing a similar accessibility to less fluent readers of English is just one more step in the same direction.
So, even though, currently, we just have one Simplified English article on the site, stay tuned! We will certainly have more in the future, and maybe videos or podcasts. Maybe a book. After all, one thing always leads to another.
As for this month’s issue, we have two articles about teaching the brain to children, by Eric Chudler and Mirela Ramacciotti. Both provide a bounty of resources. We have two more articles about teaching the brain to older learners, such as high school and college students, which are also resource rich. These were written by Stephen M. Ryan and Marc Helgesen. We have one more by Lydia Rickard that covers all these levels, and Josh Brunotte has joined us again to write about teaching mindfulness.
Our Deep video is an illustrated summary of John Medina’s Brain Rules, a great starting point for teaching anyone about the brain.
Curtis Kelly (EdD.) is a professor at Kansai University, a founder of the JALT Mind, Brain, and Education SIG, and producer of the MindBrainEd Think Tanks. He has written over 30 books and given over 500 presentations. His life mission is “to relieve the suffering of the classroom.”