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                                                 Wendy Jones
                                       The Bournemouth and Poole College
                                                  North Road
                                                     BH14 0LS

ABSTRACT                                                   our emotional state, our beliefs and values [6, 7].
                                                           Taking this further it has also been described as “the
For many years it was felt that identifying a student’s    study of the structure of subjective experience” [8].
learning style, and teaching them with activities          The belief is that every person structures reality in
according to this style, was the most effective way of     their own way. An equally important aspect of NLP is
learning. However, with the advent of the Coffield         that it allows us to think about the way in which we
report [1], neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is          communicate with others and to adopt strategies
increasingly being seen as a way of moving learning        which make this more effective [9]. Quite literally
forward, building on, but moving away from learning        NLP can be described as
styles, not just in education but in business and
everyday life [2]. Having developed an interest in         Neuro – This is about the neurological system and
this subject and the way in which it could be used to      experiencing the world through using our senses
support teacher training in an FE College, in this         Linguistic – the use of words. NLP describes how
paper I explore its use with one cohort of 11 trainee      the words we use can change our experiences
teachers on a CFET course.                                 Programming – this is how we code or mentally
                                                           arrange experiences. It is about our thought patterns
                                                           and the strategies we use to think about
Neuro, linguistic, programming, education, learning        experiences [2].
styles, modelling
                                                           This would appear to allow us to develop strategies
INTRODUCTION                                               allowing us to use our senses, language and the
Neuro-Linguistic Programming was first talked about        way we think about the world. However, more
and explored by John Grinder and Richard Bandler           importantly, the use of these techniques should help
in the 1970’s, arising from work they did trying to find   our students to learn.
a model of human excellence (Dilts, 1999). NLP is
not one process but multi functional, and deals with
our emotional state, our beliefs and values (Dilts,        THE STUDY
1999, O’Connor, 2002). Since its beginnings it has
been moved forward and developed by many                   Having developed an interest in NLP I decided to
different practitioners, and its use in education is       incorporate some of the strategies into my teaching
well documented [3, 4, 5]. However I was keen to           and to study the effect on the learning and teaching
explore its use to support learning in, and therefore      practice of a small group of students on a Certificate
develop the practice of, a group of trainee teachers.      in Further Education Teaching course. This was a
This is particularly pertinent if one considers the        part time course where students attended for 4
view that NLP offers a positive and highly practical       hours per week for 30 weeks. The students came
way of learning which allows learners of any age to        from a wide variety of academic and subject
become more effective [5]. The decision was                specialist backgrounds. Some of the students had
therefore made to run a small pilot project to study       been teaching for some time, and others were
the effect of NLP on both the trainees’ learning, and      embarking on a new career in teaching. Two of the
their teaching practice.                                   students were teaching full time but most were
                                                           teaching in a voluntary capacity to complete the
                                                           criteria for the course. All were similar in that they
WHAT IS NLP                                                were holding down full time jobs in some capacity,
NLP has been described as “a set of behaviours,            whilst completing the course. There was a mixture
skills and attitudes that help us to understand how        of gender and ages within the group. The decision to
we organise information and communicate with               use this particular group of students for the study
others” [3] which in turn allows us to achieve. NLP is     was based on the fact that I was the only lecturer
not one process but multi functional, and deals with       teaching the group. This, therefore, reduced the
variables in terms of other lecturers using different       senses as possible were used within the session or
strategies which would make the elimination of              the activity.
variables in different styles of teaching more difficult.
                                                            The students on the course were given a short
The use of NLP in the classroom has been                    lesson on the use of language and the words we
described as complex [4] because there are so               use in order to support learning and the ability to
many strands to and aspects of its use. These are           build rapport with students. In this respect modeling
described as including accelerated learning, the use        by the lecturer was also considered to be an
of the sensory systems, language, differences and           important element [8]. Words and phrases used
styles of learners and brain based activities [10]. It      followed Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic, Olfactory and
would have been difficult to explore all these              Gustatory meanings and were used in such a way
aspects in such a small study, so it was decided to         as to build a rapport with the trainees [2]. It was
explore the use of all five senses and, to a lesser         hoped that they would either consciously or
degree, language within this study. Rapport between         unconsciously utilise similar word patterns in their
the lecturer and trainee teachers was also                  own teaching. Body language was also used to build
considered. This would provide focus and a more             rapport with the trainees [11].
valid discussion around the subject.

At the end of the study students were asked to
complete a short questionnaire which explored their         Throughout the academic year it was felt important
understanding of the term NLP, what techniques              that NLP was modeled to the students through the
they remembered being used within the session,              activities they were given, behaviours used in the
how they felt this had supported their learning and if      classroom, the language which was used and the
they had employed any of the NLP strategies in their        way in which the lecturer presented herself to the
own teaching. A copy of the questionnaire can be            trainees in the classroom. This is generally felt to be
found at Appendix A.                                        an important part of the NLP process [2, 8].

                                                            On analysing the results of the study students were
Strategies used within the classroom                        generally aware of the concept of NLP and were
In order to support learning ways in which all five         able to define the meaning. They were aware that it
senses (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory and        involved the use of all five senses and some
Gustatory) could be used in the classroom were              described the issue of language as being important.
considered. It is generally felt that people favour one     Most students could name some of the techniques
sense [7], and it is from this that the use of learning     which had been used to support their learning:
styles grew. NLP seeks to help people develop the           particularly colour, scents, brain gym exercises,
use of their weaker sense, and therefore use all five       positive learning environment and actively
senses to learn. With this in mind, when teaching           participating in learning.
methods were considered, I sought to include a
variety of methods which incorporated the use of all
the senses. Colour and shape was used extensively,          Trainees were generally satisfied that NLP had
in paper, post-it notes, and pens as were pictures          helped to make the learning process more enjoyable
and moving pictures and video clips in Powerpoint.          for them and to make learning easier. They
Posters, again, used colour and pictures such as            appeared to value the learning experience and the
smiley faces around the borders. This added the             way in which NLP allowed them to develop their own
element of fun and surprise as one would not expect         practice as teachers. This can be summed up in the
this in an academic course such as teacher training.        following comments:
Music was used to set mood within the classroom             “It enabled me to participate in the learning process
and to support certain aspects of Powerpoint, and           and learn not only from the teacher but through the
scented candles and scented pens were used to               interesting resources and my peers”
anchor learning in the students’ minds. Water was
provided to keep students well hydrated and sweets          “For me it has helped to make learning a more
and chocolate were used as prizes for specific              interesting experience and enjoyable”
activities on the course.                                   “It has made me more aware of what I am taking out
                                                            of the sessions”
Thought was also given to incorporating a wide              “It made me more aware of the activities I could use
variety of teaching activities and methods into the         in my own sessions”
programme in order to ensure that as many of the
All trainees had used some aspects of NLP in their        However, due to the small sample in the study, it
lessons and this was borne out during the routine         would be difficult to generalize this to all teacher
teaching practice observations where the trainees         training courses. It is envisaged that this study will
were naturally using some of the aspects of NLP to        be repeated on a larger scale in the next academic
support their own students learning. Colour, scent,       year, involving more trainees and lecturers in the
movement, music and active learning seemed to be          process. This will also be expanded to include the
the aspects which were used most frequently, with         use of other aspects of NLP within lessons. It is felt
all trainees using some or all of these. Some             that the benefits which the trainees gained is worthy
students had also tried to use taste by giving            of further exploration and dissemination.
sweets, chocolate or fruit as rewards for activities,
and to promote a secure and warm learning
environment in which students felt that they could
work comfortably. They also tried to use a variety of
activities in their lessons.
                                                              1. Coffield F, Moseley D, Hall E, Ecclestone K,
All students felt that it had been beneficial using
                                                                  (2004), Learning styles and pedagogy in
these techniques as they felt that it had made
                                                                  post-16 learning: A systematic and critical
learning more interesting for their students and
                                                                  review, London: Learning and Skills
helped to fix learning in their minds. They were
                                                                  Research Centre
subconsciously using scent and music to anchor the
                                                              2. Ready R, Burton K, (2004), Neuro Linguistic
students’ learning in their minds. One trainee
                                                                  Programming for Dummies, Chichester:
identified that they thought it “made the students
                                                                  John Wiley and Sons Ltd
become more engaged in the learning process, and
                                                              3. Benson K, (2006), Neurolinguistic
appealed to different learning styles”.
                                                                  programming skills for teachers, Knutsford:
As part of the teacher training course all trainees are       4. Milrood R, (2004), The use of NLP in
expected to deliver a 20 minute communications                    teachers’ classroom discourse, ELT
microseminar to their peers. It was noted that,                   Journal, 58/1, January 2004, 27-37
although trainees were not clear about all aspects of         5. Craft A, (2001), Neurolinguistic
NLP, they were using some of the techniques to                    programming and learning theory, The
support learning in their microteaching and the                   Curriculum Journal, Vol 12, No 1, Spring
communications microseminar. This would appear                    2001, 125 – 136
to demonstrate that they had absorbed the                     6. Dilts R, (1999), What is NLP?,
techniques on a subconscious level and were                       htpp://,
modeling them in their own practice.                              [Accessed 18 05 07]
                                                              7. O’Connor J, (2002), NLP Workbook,
                                                                  London: Element
None of the trainees stated that they had used                8. Young, P, (2001), Understanding NLP:
language to support learning for their students or                Metaphors and Patterns of Change,
used different metamodels (VAKOG) in order to                     Carmarthen: Crown House Publishing Ltd
communicate more effectively with their students [3].         9. Brown N, (2004), What makes a good
This is obviously an aspect which will need to be                 educator: The relevance of meta
more fully developed in future groups.                            programmes, Assessment and Evaluation in
                                                                  Higher Education, Vol 29, No 5, October
                                                                  2004, 515- 533
                                                              10. Fletcher M, (2000), Teaching for success:
CONCLUSION                                                        The brain friendly revolution in action,
                                                                  Folkestone: English Experience
This small pilot study has allowed the exploration of         11. O’Connor J, McDermott I, (2001), The Way
the use of NLP to support learning on a teacher                   of NLP, London: Harper Collins
training course. It has demonstrated that students
are satisfied with the experience they have had on
the course and feel that NLP has helped them to
learn more effectively. They have, in turn, used
some of the techniques to deliver learning in their
own classrooms and feel that their students have
benefited from this.
                                                                                     APPENDIX A

                        Neuro-Linguistic programming: Effect on Teaching

                                      Research Questionnaire

I am currently carrying out a piece of research that looks at how NLP can support learning in the
classroom. I am interested in your experience as trainee teachers having been exposed to some of
these techniques during your course. Please would you complete the following short questionnaire
regarding your experience of this and how you have used it in your own practice as teachers.

Thank you for your cooperation and assistance with this.

What is your understanding of the term NLP?

Can you outline some of the techniques which have been used within your teacher training courses this

In what way has this supported your learning?

In what ways have you incorporated NLP techniques into your own teaching?

How do you feel that this has supported learning for your students

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