Author Topic: Cohort Learning  (Read 938 times)

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Offline omid

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Cohort Learning
« on: April 29, 2015, 05:47:48 PM »
There is psycholinguistics research that suggests that when you hear language stimuli, your brain activates a cohort of things that are related to what you just heard. That is, when you hear a word like 'court', for example, your brain will not only activate the different meanings of 'court' but it will also activate a range of words that are semantically (among other ways) related to it, such as 'lawyer', 'judge', 'law', 'defendant', etc. Our brains activate not only what is included in the language stimuli but also what is somehow related to that stimuli (i.e., a "cohort" or things). If you are interested, you can read more about this here:
http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Psycholinguistics/Models_of_Speech_Perception


This has influenced the practice of language teaching in a number of ways, the most salient of which is the area of L2 vocabulary. There are some resources that arrange vocabulary items thematically so that when learners learn a new item and they have activated related concepts in their mental lexicon they can quickly learn that word in their L2 as well. One example of this is the English Vocabulary in Use series by Cambridge University Press. (http://www.maltassist.org/English_Vocabulary_in_Use_Pre_Intermediate.pdf) You will see that vocabulary items are restricted to a certain level of difficulty for each textbook and then organized thematically. I have had great experience with this book! This is a great resource to tell your students about, and a great new way to approach teaching vocabulary to L2 learners.



Offline jjreyes

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Re: Cohort Learning
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2015, 02:21:54 PM »
Hi Omid,


Your first point is VERY interesting! I am intrigued about how this process and definitely will consider reading the article. Taking into account what this research suggests, what implications for language teaching do you see? How does this inform our approach to reading and writing instruction? The only thing I can think of is the implementation of web maps for vocabulary teaching. Do you have any other suggestions?


Great post!  :notworthy [size=78%] [/size]

Offline omid

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Re: Cohort Learning
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2015, 09:44:54 PM »
Hi JJ,

I think this does not need to be limited to vocabulary teaching. Another way cohort activation could be used for reading/writing is in pre-task activities in general. For example, if students are going to read or write a passage, the teacher could give them a priming activity that does not necessarily have the exact same language as what they will read/write later in the task itself, but rather is thematically related (i.e., is in the same cohort of meaning) as what they will be doing in the task.

Another interesting teaching-related point about cohort activation is that it work cross-linguistically, meaning that if the students activate a certain area of meaning in their L1 they are faster to process similar information in their L2 than if they don't. I think this is huge for more beginner levels! A lot of the times our students at those levels might not get a lot of activation because they have limited L2 and we insist that they do not use their L1 in the classroom, whereas doing so might actually be helpful because it will give them the activation that they will need for better L2 learning.