The Role of Attention in Second Language Acquisition

Prof. Irene Krasner (Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, USA)

A talk for the ↗︎ Virtual Laboratory
on Cognitive Approaches to L2 Instruction
Bridging Theory, Research and Practice

September 26, 2020, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
(Central European Time, e.g. Berlin, Paris, Rome)
↗︎ Link to register for free on Eventbrite


Every teacher knows that attracting and maintaining students’ attention in the classroom is the foundation of any pedagogical process, and consequently has both theoretical and practical significance. While some neurocognitive attention-management techniques are already being actively used and even, one might say “abused” in such fields as marketing and advertisement where each company is trying to “grab” customers’ attention and sell them products or services, those techniques seem to be largely unknown by foreign language teachers. The question is whether education in general and foreign language teaching in particular can be equally successful in using neurocognitive approaches to attract and maintain students’ attention. This presentation examines neurological aspects of the neurocognitive phenomenon of attention (e.g. physiological mechanisms of the brain involved in the attention process: the so-called attention physiology; the psychological phenomenon of “inattentive blindness”; selective attention: pattern recognition; the role of emotions in the process of memorization, i.e. “emotional memory”), as well as some practical applications of this research to teaching foreign languages.


Irene Krasner is a tenured Professor at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. She has more than thirty years of experience in education, with twenty-five years at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC). During her career at DLIFLC, she served as a department Chair, Academic Specialist, Project Manager, Chair of Academic Specialists’ Council, and President of a Faculty Advisory Council, Test Developer, Faculty Developer, Team Leader, and Instructor. She also served on multiple Boards and Committees, including DLIFLC Accreditation Committee. Prof. Krasner served as Project Manager for multiple projects that have been successfully implemented by DLIFLC, such as a 12-week Russian Navy Extension course, Russian Testing project, French Core Curriculum project and a massive Russian Basic Course Curriculum project. Prof. Krasner has been a frequent presenter at national and international levels, and has authored multiple articles on foreign language education. She was recognized repeatedly for professional excellence by high-level DLIFLC leadership, including Commandant Coins of Excellence and Provost Commendations. Prof. Krasner is a certified Oral Proficiency Interview tester, certified Diagnostic Assessment Specialist. Her research interest focus on second language acquisition and instruction from the cognitive and neurocognitive perspective, specifically, on the role of attention in teaching and learning foreign languages.

Recommended Literature

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The Brain from Top to Bottom, Mc Gill University. URL: http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/a/a_04/a_04_cr/a_04_cr_peu/a_04_cr_peu.html, retrieved 01.20.2020.

Cahill L., Haier, R.J., Fallon, J., Alkire, M.T., Tang, C., Keator, D., Wu, J., & J.M. McGaugh (1996). Amygdala activity at encoding correlated with long-tern, free recall of emotional information, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 93(15), 8016–8021.

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The project aims to popularize and promote cognitive and neurocognitive sciences data
and reflections applied to L2 acquisition. We believe that this knowledge is necessary for L2
instructors to increase professional awareness by developing general principles that can guide
methodological decisions in everyday teaching practice in the post-method era.

The Virtual Laboratory (a MOOC-like resource) constitutes an open collection
of recorded videoconferences, where recognized experts in the field
share their ideas and findings on a topic and in a format of their choice.

The recorded videoconferences will be available at the webspace
of the Institute of Slavic Studies at the University of Heidelberg.
They will be accompanied by reflective activities for deeper
comprehension and by suggestions for further reading.

↗︎ Detailed project description

If you are interested in presenting a talk within the Virtual Laboratory,
please submit your proposal to: maria.bondarenko@slav.uni-heridelberg.de

Letzte Änderung: 07.09.2020