Home » n. 49 febbraio/marzo 2007

Un breve colloquio con Nick Owen*

21 febbraio 2007 |

1. Are you in favour of any specific approach to language teaching?

I’m in favour of whatever works, and different things work for different students. I think it’s really important that teachers are flexible in their approach and bring plenty of variety to their classrooms in order to stimulate learners and connect with different learning styles. Above all, I think it important to remember that the purpose of language teaching is to develop communication skills and strategies, not only across language borders but within them too. Learning a language should not be just a dry academic exercise.

2. What’s the best advice you would give language teachers?

Have fun. Enjoy what you do. Love what you do. Or go find something else to do. Above all experiment, and take the risk of doing things in new ways. Try to change ten to twenty percent of your lessons each year. If you were a student which would you rather have: a teacher with twenty years’ experience? Or a teacher with one year’s experience repeated exactly the same twenty times?

3. What do you find most important in teaching teenagers and adolescents?

Relate to their reality and yet be true to your own values and purpose. It’s important with many teenagers to set down clear boundaries and enforce them. Most students respect that especially if it’s done with lightness and in the spirit of a good game. A lot of emerging research increasingly suggests that young people develop empathy as a result of working within clear boundaries; lack of boundaries doesn’t create empathy, it creates a me-first culture.

Perhaps the most important thing for teenagers to achieve is an emerging sense of self-discipline and personal responsibility. When a teenager moves from an “I want it and I want it now” frame to a recognition that gratification can be deferred in order to get more of what one wants in future, then that child makes a huge leap towards greater complexity in thinking, meaning making, and mutually aware emotional relationships.

Sport and the arts are good for enabling this leap in complexity. The question is how can we foster it in the language classroom? This leap in complexity is, in my view, the greatest challenge facing modern western society today.

4. What do you think about integrating ICT in language teaching and learning? How about strengths & weaknesses?

I’m no expert on this, and I don’t believe in speaking about topics of which I know very little. All I will say is that everything, used sensitively and appropriately in the communication classroom, can make a contribution.

5. You have a strong interest in Neuro Linguistic Programming. What is the general idea which makes it useful in the teaching and learning process?

On the one hand NLP is just a bunch of tools and techniques cherry picked from many different branches of science and research and applied to the contexts of communication and performance. In particular, NLP accesses the disciplines of neuro-science, cyberbnetics, linguistics, semantics, psychology, systems thinking and theory and applies them across a wide range of contexts.

Of particular value in education is NLP as a tool for accelerated learning, but this depends as much on the other ‘hand’ of NLP which is the importance of developing empowering sets of ‘healthy and open’ attitudes, values and beliefs about oneself and the world.

The tools and techniques of NLP – without the accompanying search for personal mastery implicit in the quest for the exploration of healthy and open attitudes – are generally insufficient for creating sustainable and ecological change.

To my mind, NLP has much to offer, especially in the educational context. But it is essential that the NLP practitioner is properly qualified, sensitive and ethical, understands the underlying theories and disciplines in a deep way, and recognises the systemic and interconnected nature of the body of knowledge known as NLP.

When learning about using effective NLP in the classroom it is really important to work with a properly qualified practitioner. This means someone certificated by an internationally respected moderating body such as INLPTA [International NLP Trainers Association], who understands NLP and its amazing resources, and who can communicate it, not only with a depth of understanding, but also with empathy and a deep sense of respect for the wider implications in the educational context.

A chi ne vuole sapere di più sulle applicazioni nel contesto della didattica delle lingue, consigliamo l’uso di questi libri:

- Per la PNL: Revell J., Norman S., 1997, In Your Hands. NLP in ELT, Saffire Press, London;
- Revell J., Norman S., 1999, Handing Over. NLP-Based Activities for Language Learning, Saffire Press, London
- Per informazioni sui corsi di PNL rimandiamo al sito personale: http://www.nickowen.net/nlp.htm

Segnaliamo, a cura del laboratorio ITALS, la recensione di Paola Vettorel sull’ultimo libro di Nick Owen: More Magic of Metaphor (bollettino ITALS –aprile 2005)


* Nick Owen è fondatore e direttore della NOA, http://www.nickowen.net/ e ha lavorato negli ultimi 25 anni con oltre 100 organizzazioni e istituzioni in Europa, Africa, Asia e America Latina. E’ autore di The Magic of Metaphor77 Stories for Teachers, Trainers & Thinkers e More Magic of Metaphor Stories for Leaders, Influencers & Motivators.

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