Using Right and Left Brain Activities in English Language Teaching and Learning

In my English language teaching experience I’ve found it to be highly effective to use a multi-modal approach (D. Lazear) combined with multi-media based activities for maximum effect and language acquisition on the part of the learners. I’ve also found it important to develop skills and abilities seated in both hemispheres of the brain. Here is what to consider and how you might approach this.

Theory of Dual Psychology

The theory of Dual Psychology or “Split Brain Theory” as it is sometimes called, states that each of the brain’s two hemispheres operate independently, performing different functions. An inter-connective structure called the Corpus Callosum allows exchange of information and processes between the two hemispheres. Development of the Corpus Callosum is not uniform between men and women. In women, for example, information passes between the two hemispheres via a broad “super highway”. In men however, the path is more like a machete-hacked trail through the jungle, which helps to explain why women are more intuitive and emotional while men tend more to be physical and logical.

Right Brain

Functions which are primarily seated in the right brain hemisphere include:

o Insight

o 3-D three dimensional thinking and concepts

o Art, visuals, images and graphics

o Imagination

o Music

o Control of body’s left side

Left Brain

Functions which are primarily seated in the left brain hemisphere include:

o Number skills

o Written language

o Reasoning

o Spoken language

o Scientific thought

o Control of body’s right side

With an understanding of these split-brain-related aspects we can then prepare a palette of activities that aid in the use and development of both brain hemispheres fostering more balanced overall intellectual development.


Knowing how the brain functions, how memory works and determining the key strengths, intelligences and learning styles of your learners are important to English and foreign language teaching professionals. It can significantly impact in the preparation of curriculum, lesson planning, use of facilities, resources and the implementation of classroom-based activities or didactics. As such, this is an area of investigation which cannot be persistently ignored. Other didactics, intellectual development and intelligence theory models as well as their application to English and foreign language teaching and learning, such as the Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Gardner, 1984), Hermann’s Brain Dominance Indicator (N. Hermann), and the Triune Brain Model (P. MacLean), will be examined in this continuing series. Also, a selection of didactic activities and their application will be discussed in a sequence of upcoming article posts.

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