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TESOL/JALT Symposium on Mind, Brain, and Language Education

JALT QR code

A TESOL Symposium and Conference in Kyoto, Japan - EVENT POSTPONED TO 2021

The Symposium which is a unique event in Japan and the region bringing together world leading experts on the topic of brain research and ELT to discuss the topic and its implications for teaching foreign languages, is postponed to June 2021. The event will be an introduction to the International NeuroELT conference, providing professional development opportunities for everyone in the ELT world. 

TESOL International Association, Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT), and JALT’s Mind, Brain, and Education SIG, with the support of the Kyoto JALT Chapter, are joining forces to host the first TESOL - JALT conference on brain research and language learning. Bringing together some of the world’s leading experts in the field, this brain-friendly event will provide insights on how neuroscience and psychology can reshape language teaching. Expect to be surprised.

TESOL gratefully acknowledges the support of its Sustaining Partner, National Geographic Learning.

National Geographic Learning


Saturday-Sunday, June 2021 (dates will be determined.)

Note: The TESOL Symposium will take place on the day before the JALT Brain SIG conference. 


Kyoto Sangyo University
Kyoto, Japan

Registration Information

Early Registration Fees (Before 20 May 2021)
  Two-day Registration
One-day Registration
TESOL/JALT members  ¥12,000 / US$110  ¥8,000 / US$75
Nonmembers  ¥15,000 / US$135  ¥11,000 / US$100

On-site Registration Fees
(after 20 May 2021)
  Two-day Registration
One-day Registration
TESOL/JALT members  ¥14,000 / US$125 ¥10,000 / US$90
Nonmembers  ¥17,000 / US$150 ¥13,000 / US$115

For complete symposium registration information, please click here.  

Symposium Presenters and Presentations

The Spark of Learning: Principles of Emotionally Engaging Teaching
(Sarah Rose Cavanagh, Assumption College, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA)

Traditional views of education assume that reason should reign over emotion, and that the classroom should be a quiet, dispassionate space where students and instructors impartially engage with facts, figures, and theories. However, the field of education is beginning to awaken to the power of emotions to capture attention, mobilize efforts, and enhance memory. Cavanagh will present a wide range of evidence suggesting that targeting emotions in your presentation style, course design, and assignments is a highly potent teaching strategy.

Sarah RoseSarah Rose Cavanagh 
is a psychologist, professor, and Associate Director of the D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption College. Her research focuses on the connections between emotions and quality of life. Sarah is author of 
The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion and HIVEMIND. She gives keynote addresses and workshops at a variety of colleges and regional conferences, blogs for Psychology Today, and writes essays for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Moving towards Embodied ELT: Haptic Vocabulary and Pronunciation Teaching
(Michael Burri, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)

Based on the notion that vocabulary and pronunciation need to be taught together, the presenter will introduce two techniques that promote form-focused vocabulary work and intelligible pronunciation: (1) the Butterfly, and (2) the Rhythm Flight Club. The techniques are part of an innovative haptic system that combines movement and touch to actively involve the body and brain in the language learning process. Following an overview of the theoretical underpinnings of haptic teaching, the workshop participants will experience the techniques in a variety of engaging tasks and small group settings.

Michael BurriMichael Burri is a senior lecturer in TESOL at the University of Wollongong (Australia). His research interests include pronunciation instruction, teacher education, innovative and context-sensitive pedagogy, and non-native English-speaking teacher (NNEST) issues. Michael has published several open source papers and given more than 40 presentations on haptic teaching. He served as TESOL’s SPLIS Chair (2012-13), and in 2015 he was the recipient of the TESOL Award for an Outstanding Paper on NNEST Issues.

The Neuroscience of Language: A Mind, Brain, & Education (MBE) Perspective
(Julia Volkman, Harvard University (Extension School), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)

Learning a language (or two) happens effortlessly for the infant child. All they need to do is hang out with people speaking the language and, boom, they learn it. But when young and older adults try to learn a language, we’re sometimes like fish climbing a tree. The goal may seem rather unachievable. Yet, what we know about the mind, brain, and education can simplify the learning process and lighten our load. We will take a transdisciplinary view of how the mind, brain, and body work together, particularly in language, and translate that knowledge into useful classroom practice. Topics include plasticity/pruning, neural networks, neural correlates of language, dynamic development of skill, embodied cognition, the biology of stress, and more.

Julia VolkmanJulia Volkman is Teaching Fellow for the Neuroscience of Learning Course at Harvard University (Extension School), President of Maitri Learning (an educational publishing company), and a Mentor Montessori Early Childhood teacher.  Her research focuses on the development of literacy and aligning teaching methods with scientific understanding. She writes, presents, and consults on neuroscience and pedagogy in the US and abroad.