2014 – 21st Annual Conference, Mainz

Conference Review

Language, Learning and the Brain – Erbacher Hof, Mainz 26th & 27th April 2014

Not surprisingly with this kind of title, the conference gave everyone who came food for thought. We all know that learning happens best in a positive collaborative atmosphere, where we are asked to engage with ideas and with those around us. This was established from the outset, with a hugely entertaining keynote from Professor Marion Grein, and continued through to the final debate with all the theatre of the British parliamentary tradition. Delegates were shown practical ideas for the classroom, treated to a fascinating demonstration by Professor Margarete Imhof of how much we make up what we have heard, and encouraged through a world café event to apply everything to their own professional context. There was even a special conference song!

Thank you to everyone who helped make this such a memorable event!


Congratulations to you and the colleagues on the well-organized conference!
– Tanja (St. Nicolas School, Serbia)

Sehr gute, persönliche Organisation

Learning a lot from the other participants

The right balance between humour and serious discussions so that we could learn in optimal conditions

The 2 key speakers were excellent – keeping to the theme of the conference with their presentations, clear explanations and real life examples

I had a great weekend filled with good networking, great workshops and a nice atmosphere – probably the best ICC-conference I joined in my five years as member of the ICC.
Christoph (Studie Skolen, Denmark)

Es war meine bisher angenehmste, schönste und lustigste Tagung in Deutschland!
– Marion Grein, JGU Mainz

Very good atmosphere

Food for thought!

It started with a funny little sketch, “just to set the tone”, as Anthony Fitzpatrick told me on the second day, and succeeded in giving everybody the feeling he or she was at the right place, at the right time!

Teaching can be so boring … but so cheerful whenever you figure it out with ICC glasses! In fact, you only have to try to use a little bit more than the l 10% of your brain that is normally activated and be creative enough to give your students the opportunity to discover and learn in a positive way. Because emotions, laughter, repetition are necessary to enable the new “stuff” to enter the limbic system and be stored in your brain! “If you do not activate the two hemispheres of your mind”, as Prof. Marion Grein said, although in a far nicer way than I am doing it… you won’t be able to store it and improve your language knowledge ! It’s always the same, you have to have the right neuralconnections, and as many as possible …

And there are so many ways to build up the connections and to make teaching and learning successful: brain-jogging, stroop effects, juggling with balls while talking, using music to enhance the connections between your neurons No, I can assure you this is not stupid at all even if you are already thinking it’s nothing for you! Just relax, take it easy, you’ll remember the things because you’ll be having fun!

But most of all, do not forget that all your students are individuals and be aware of their cultural differences: you may like completing sudokus, they may dislike it …

I understood that part: teaching will always stay an act of generosity. Give your students what is good for them to progress, much of it but not too much … Just, as usual, find the right balance and do not forget that listening is an activity of your brain!

You cannot even begin to imagine at all what it’s all doing when you are JUST listening … But ask Prof. Margarete Imhof. She’ll tell you a lot about it and about the mechanisms we are all using unconsciously to understand uncomplete sentences, for instance… She spent time with us reading a wonderful story that was about a rainy day, and a cat, and a fish, and …Guess what happened? All of us managed to focus their attention differently: some just tried to follow, others remembered the structure of the text… The result was amazing! And we were just … listening

The conference finished with a debate (quite a difficult exercise for French people like me!): This house believes that brain training is another passing Fashion …

What do YOU think about that?

I was delighted to discover that my brain still has a bright future, if I take care of it and continue to feed it regularly with diversified exercises and, for sure, I am “greedy”, looking forward to the next ICC Meeting!

Not to forget: the very professional organization, the friendly people, the good food, the perfect place, and a walking tour of Mainz guided by a “real” native Mainzer knowing plenty of interesting things, all about history, stones and wine …

Thank you.