Carol Lethaby

Teaching for success: Using what learners already know 

What kinds of prior knowledge do language learners in Brazil bring with them to the classroom and how can teachers take advantage of that knowledge to guide learners to succeed? Evidence from the fields of cognitive science, neuroscience and SLA can help us to understand the tremendous value of prior knowledge to learning. In this plenary we explore research that shows that learners who have good background knowledge will learn more readily than learners who don’t, and we examine how this applies both in neuroscientific studies of the physical brain as well as to psychological evidence from research into the thinking mind. 

We investigate the functioning of the working memory and the long-term memory and the significance of creating appropriate tasks that are challenging, but which don’t cause cognitive overload. The session connects theory to practice by showing teaching strategies and interventions that exploit what English language learners already know in order to enhance future success in learning. 

Carol Lethaby has been involved in English language teaching since 1986 and working with teachers since 1994. She lived and worked in the UK, Austria, France, Greece, and, for fourteen years in Mexico, before moving to the US in 2002.
Carol is now based in San Francisco, California and is a part-time assistant professor on the New School online MA in TESOL, as well as being an honoured instructor at UC Berkeley Extension.

Carol has worked on several textbook series for learners of English, including ‘Awesome’, ‘Next Step’,‘The Big Picture’ and ‘English ID’ (all published by Richmond ELT). Her most recent publication is a book for teachers called, ‘An Introduction to Evidence-Based Teaching in the English Language Classroom’ (Pavilion ELT, 2021). More information can be found at clethaby.com