Brain-based learning refers to teaching and learning approaches, methods, and intentional strategies that use myriad styles and types of activities—especially as they relate to cognitive development—and how students learn differently as they age, grow, and mature socially, emotionally, and cognitively.

Brain-based learning, first noted by Leslie Hart in the 1970s as brain-compatible learning, is driven by the general idea that learning can be improved and more efficient if educators base how and what they teach on the neuroscience of thinking and learning. What parts of the brain connect to make learning more efficient and productive, as well as long lasting, in the brain’s memory? This question shifts the emphasis from past educational practices of following the latest teacher’s standards, or established conventions, to knowledge about how to think and how to learn. Intelligence for all children then is the ability to learn and understand any information.

For example, it was commonly believed that intelligence was a fixed characteristic that remained largely unchanged throughout a person’s life. However, recent discoveries in cognitive science have revealed that the human brain physically changes when it learns, and that after practicing certain skills, it becomes increasingly easier to continue learning and improve those skills.

This post is excerpted from my book ¡Andamio!, where you can learn more about ELL success through brain-based learning. Get your copy here.