To infinity and beyond!

I’m going to be presenting a paper on movie read-throughs, neuroELT and cross-border teams at the 6th International Symposium on Digital Technologies in Foreign Language Learning.

The symposium will be held at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto on 29th March 2014.


The keynote speaker will be James Paul Gee, the Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies at Arizona State University. Professor Gee’s books include What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, which looks at the learning principles used in the design of good video games.

The abstract of my paper is below.

“To infinity and beyond! Using Skype group calls to do cross-border read-throughs of movies”

What happens if you bring foreign language learners — from lots of different countries — together in a Skype group call to read through the script of a Hollywood movie? Does it work? Can it improve their language skills? Are there any other benefits? In October 2013 a pilot study for a project called SkypeRead set out to answer these questions.

The idea came from neuroELT, an emerging field that combines English-language teaching with neuroscience. NeuroELT offers a number of powerful ideas, including three that are particularly relevant to the theme of this symposium:

1) Emotion drives learning;
2) We can choose a top-down or bottom-up approach;
3) Good learners are risk-taking explorers.

Participants from 18 countries registered for the SkypeRead pilot study, from Vietnam to Brazil, and from the Czech Republic to Afghanistan. Each participant chose one of two movies: “Toy Story” (Pixar, 1995) or “Ocean’s Eleven” (Warner Bros., 2001). Small, cross-border teams were set up, and each participant was allocated a number of characters in the movie. (The presenter of this paper acted as the moderator for each group.)

Participants reported that the exercise boosted their confidence, speaking skills and ‘real-life’ English skills. Participants also reported that they felt they had made deep and meaningful connections with the other members of their cross-border group. A Spanish participant, for example, wrote, “Perhaps that is one of the nicest things about all this: the feeling that one has for others.”

Published by Graham Jones

Astrophysicist and language teacher