Reflections on “Embodied Cognition” in English teaching
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小学部刘丽群 Helen

Since I have perceived the idea of “Embodied Cognition” and “Embodied Learning”, I observe the practice of applying the idea into the English teaching in class. I will explain briefly the definition of |Embodied Cognition and Embodied Learning and how it has been applied in the English class and how this idea of teaching influences students’ ways of thinking and learning.

  I. Definition.

Embodied cognition, the idea that the mind is not only connected to the body but that the body influences the mind, is one of the more counter-intuitive ideas in cognitive science. In other words, the works of brain or mind is actually influenced by the movements our body. The ways of learning that based on “Embodied Cognition” is called “Embodied Learning”.

II. Case Study.

Class: Class 8, Grade 1   

Lesson: Chapter 3, Part E Talk about toys.

Student Book: Longman Welcome to English 1A

Objectives: Ss can use the sentence pattern:

I have_________ and ________.  

She has________and ________.  

He has_________and_________.

Teaching procedures are as follows:

1. Greeting.

The teacher greets the Ss with questions like “How is the weather?” “What’s your favorite toy”. Then the teacher has the Ss stand in two lines and sing a song “heart and star”. The Ss hold a card of heart in their left hands and a star in their right hands. They wave the cards of hearts and stars when they sing the song. They can practice the sentences of “I have… She has… and he has…”. Their movements along their songs help their body to remember the sentences and can improve their impressions about these sentence patterns.

2. Presentation

The teacher shows some pictures those present students’ toys and leads the students to describe their toys by using the sentence: I have _______ and ________. After presenting the examples, the teacher asks the students to take out their cards with some toys on, and work in pairs. The students should tell their partners what toy they have and how many toys they have. The action of students’ describing pictures by themselves can put the students into more real situation of communication. According to the theory of cone learning, the immediate use of the learning content can help them remember 90 percent of the knowledge. Therefore, the student activity of telling their partners about their toys has effects of their memory and minds.

Then, the teacher asks the students to looking into their desks, take some objects and tell their partners what they by using “ I have_______.” Their actions combined with their use of sentence pattern improve their studying efficiency.

As to the sentence of “She has________. / He has ________.” The teacher arranges the presentation of some pictures of cartoon characters to arise students’ interests. Then the students use the sentences to describe the pictures of their classmates which show their toys.

The last part of this lesson is that the students work in teams to look at the posters on the walls and describe these posters. There are 6 pictures, so when the team is finished they switch to the next pictures. The students talk and walk, walk and talk until they finish all the tasks.

This lesson is designed based on the idea of Embodied Cognition and the teacher leads the students perceive the way of embodied learning. Our body has memory and it helps the learners to learn the knowledge faster if they get involved in the activities of using what they’ve learnt. 

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