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in the language classroom

What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming?

NLP is a set of guiding principles, attitudes and techniques
describing the dynamics between mind and language, and
how their interplay programmes our behaviour.
One of its aims is to help people to interact more effectively
with others.
It is of particular relevance to teaching and learning.

Neuro is concerned with how we experience the world through

our five senses and represent it in our minds through
neurological processes.
Linguistic is concerned with the way the language we use
shapes and reflects our experience of the world. We use
language in thought and speech to represent the world. If we
change the way we speak and think about things, we can
change our behaviour.
Programming is concerned with training ourselves to think,
speak and act in new and positive ways to release our

NLP can be traced back in the 1970s with the

research of psychologists and linguists like John
Grinder, Richard Bandler and others.
They studied successful techniques in psychotherapy
being used by psychologists like Virginia Satir and
Milton Erickson.
NLP has had an influence far beyond the field of
psychotherapy and is particularly relevant in

Mind and Body are interconnected

Your mind affects your body and your body affects your
Implications in teaching
Do something physical: sing, dance, shake your hands, a
running dictation,
Do a variety of activities.
Arrange the students in different ways.
Take a deep breath in so students break state
Relaxation activities
Say a tongue twister
Use warmers and fillers

The map is not the territory

There is the world and our experience of the world. We
differ in how we experience the world and how we
represent it.
Implications in teaching
Our learning is basically audio, visual, kinaesthetic.
We all have our preferred learning style.
Use different activities to meet the different styles.
We create mental pictures which include sight and

sound: visualization
The target language is easily remembered when linked to
such images.

There is no failure, only feedback

What did I learn from that? How can I do it differently?
Implications in teaching
Learn to equate making a mistake with making progress.
Create a safe atmosphere in the classroom so that
students can take risks and make mistakes.
Mistakes are positive evidence that learners are
Focus on the solution rather than in the problem.
Make sure our feedback is on behavior and doesnt
criticize the person.
Give feedback for future actions.

The map becomes the territory

What expectations do you have of your students?
Implications in teaching
Students live up to your expectancies.
Teachers have a lot of power. Use it positively.
Acknowledge what they are doing well.
Act as if things were going to come out successfully.
Give positive messages.
The good reason for this is it keeps the brain focused on
what you want the students to do, not on what you dont
want them to do.

The resources we need are within us

Resources are positive qualities such as sense of humour,
confidence, patience, good listening skills, and so on.
Implications in teaching
Help students to be aware of what they are good at- whatever it
is, and however irrelevant it might be to what they are learning.
The resources they have in certain areas of their lives can be

transfered to learning.
Ask your students what they think would help them to learn.

Communication is non-verbal as well as verbal

55% of our message is communicated bodily, 38% through
our tone of voice and 7% through the words we use
Implications in teaching
Make sure your verbal and non-verbal message is the
Use the three channels body, voice and words as fully as
possible in your teaching. Walk the talk.
Learners of a foreign language need to notice and
practice non-verbal as well as verbal interaction.
Communicate your enthusiasm for teaching and learning
in everything you do.
When today just isnt your day, just tell your students you
arent hundred percent

Communication is non-conscious as well as conscious

Learning is more effective when it is multi-sensory and when it
appeals to the non-conscious as well as the conscious mind.
Implications in teaching
Make the classroom a sensory-rich learning environment full
of things students can learn from consciously and unconsciously.
On the walls, display visual materials which is beautiful and
In speaking use pauses or changes of voice tone to highlight
Have frequent changes of activity during lessons, including
quiet time when students switch off.
Use storytelling, metaphor, relaxation.

Mark Fletcher, Brain-friendly learning and teachingholistic approaches, ETp Issue 2 January 1996
Jane Revel and Susan Norman, In Your Hands NLP
in ELT, Saffire Press 1998
Jane Revel and Susan Norman, Powerful Language,
ET p 2008
Judith Baker, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, ET p
Issue 38 may 2005
Judith Baker and Mario Rinvolucri, Neuro-Linguistic
Programming, ETp Issue 37 March 2005