Thursday, March 5, 2015

Integrating TPR into the Foreign Language Class

This article discusses the success of using TPR in a Spanish class for just 20 minutes a day. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Learning Those Conjugations.

Learning Those Declensions

The link to the article above gives some tips on learning those conjugations. Take a look to see if it helps.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review of the TPR strategy for teaching a langauge

Interview with James Ashner

The above link takes you to an interview with James Ashner. With the beginning of a new year its always good to refresh your memory with the strategies that work. Ashner's method works when it comes to teaching a language. James J. Asher

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Math and Education   

Click on the link above for an interesting read about Math and education. The author brings up some points to think about.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Language and Meaning

If a foreign language student is languishing in class and all of a sudden is immersed in the country of the target language, I am willing to bet that same students starts to pick up the language immediately. What is the difference?, all of a sudden there is meaning attached to the words. So many times I see students who are just saying words and don't really mean what they are saying; they are just going through the motions. I recently did an activity which I saw to be successful because it involved meaning. 

The students had to think of a situation where they would use Che cosa fai? What are you doing? After doing this for a number of expressions, they would  tell  each other the situation and they would have to respond with the Italian.  For example, the situation is this.... you are walking in the mall and the person ahead of you drops their wallet... you could say to them aspetta. (wait).   This way they were using their imagination and responding with higher level thinking. I believe it was successful not only from their test scores but because I had a couple of students tell me that the situation helped them to remember the Italian.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Learning a Language with Gestures

I used this technique a little last year, I have to get back to it in a more systematic way. To put it bluntly - it works. The ease with which a student picks up the phrase when connected with a gesture is incredible. Its simple, point up and say arriba, point down abajo. Touch your tummy - tengo hambre. I taught the kids 7 expressions with ease in 10 minutes. At the end of the class I asked them again, there was immediate recall. The same the day after. They always understood, they were not always able to produce as some of the words were difficult to pronounce. However, if I continue doing this I can see the pronunciation coming with that. This is a great warm up that is complementary to any language class. I also asked the kids for an appropriate gesture for the word - they are great with that, plus it takes the pressure off the teacher.  This is a perfect example of right brain learning and it connects the body with the words.  I really need to develop this more. If they learned just 10 expressions a week this way for the whole year, they would learn a lot of language, language that is really learned, not just for a test. I am going to do more research on this to see whats out there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Learning a Language with the Right Brain

I see it happen, a student naturally and full of enthusiasm responds in Italian or Spanish with a  spontaneity that makes the language easy and fun. Its the same spontaneity that you see with a little child learning their native language. You know the expression or words are learned by the ease and facility of their expression, it wasn't forced but motivated and prompt. It can be hard at times to get that right brain learning in the classroom, but that is the direction to go, that is where real language learning takes place. Students have to participate though for this to happen, if they don't let go and speak the language with naturality and meaning the right brain learning can be just as forced as the left brain learning. I think when the element of surprise is added the right brain comes to the for front. I changed up my classroom and asked the students to describe the changes in Italian, I could see their brain spontaneously reacting to the situation. Change and variety are good when it comes to learning a language.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Learning a Language Online

There are numerous options out there to learn a language online, I wish I had the time to review each one.
However, I just discovered two sites that I like for their simplicity, accessibility (free) and the coverage of basic vocabulary to get started in any language.  Try. Learn a Language and Digital Dialects and see what you think. As I run across more online software I will post it on the site.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Learning the Verbs in a foreign language 1.1

Its been a while since I posted on my blog, but I feel the need to get back to the art of learning a language. Once again I am returning to the subject  of learning the verbs. Its not very easy to learn speak the language when all we know are the nouns. Hey dog, cat there! desk here!. Its like we are speaking like a 2 year old. But when a person doesn't master the verbs - thats where we end up. I know that teaching the old way of declining the verbs just does not cut it. However, using the TPR method is very slow and time consuming although it does work. Its not conducive to the school environment where we have to meet deadlines, and "cover" material - meaning follow a curriculum. If I could toss the book and just use mastery learning than it would be a whole different story. This year for example, as of January I started to get into the book seriously. I have seen the frustration level of the students rise, because the book offers so much material and little time to understand it. Its a dilemma I face each year. Well, that is where I am at this time, I will find a way.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

First Month of School

Its always fun to see the fresh new faces eager to learn. There are high expectations and the mystery factor is present for the first couple of weeks.
I have already started using TPR activities and the students are thriving. I need to continue with these activities and build upon them. I am going to try and build my own stories instead of using the ones from "I can talk". The students need stories that are more relevant to their lives.   This shouldn't be so hard.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Learning the cognates helps to learn a foreign language

I find the easiest way to learn cognates is to take a newspaper written in the target language 
and begin circling the words you recognize. You could then determine the ending of the of cognate and make the pair. Once you understand the pair, they become easier to recognize. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Language and Cognates - The quick access to language

Language can be quickly learned if you understand some of the mechanics behind the language. In romance languages there are many cognates which are words that are similar to English except for the ending. In Spanish for example, words that end in idad generally convert to ity. Communidad becomes community; eternidad becomes eternity; deformidad becomes deformity. As long as you understand the ending you can immediately translate into English or Spanish. There are 5 or 6 common cognate endings in Spanish for example. Knowing the ending means knowing the meaning. Italian, French and probably German works the same way. Therefore, it is important to understand the cognates in your target language and you can increase your vocabulary tremendously.

Monday, May 16, 2011

TPR - the Natural Way to learn language

I know what it takes to learn a language. The spontaneous path of action with words is natural and works the best. The TPR movement is on the right path. TPR stands for Total Physical Response and means exactly what it stands for, learning by totally physically responding to a situation with language. However, getting that methodology into the classroom with 25 students who are apathetic is a different story. If they are not observing or motivated than the best of techniques will not work. There has to be student motivation for any learning. But assuming that you have student motivation, than the learning process can begin. The total physical response of combining language with movement is the quickest,  most automatic way to learn phrases and vocabulary. I think when I use this method, I need to slow it down as I may go to fast for the students. The TPR boards that I have for class are good but I need to write my own script as their script is redundant.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Learning vocabulary in a foreign language

I think that vocabulary learning is a matter of perseverance. If we just took a small number of words like 5 a day, we could learn 1500 words a year. That is quiet incredible considering that most people have a basic vocabulary of 5000 words. By learning 1500 words you would be more than on your way to becoming fluent. So how bad do you want to learn the language? 5 words a day is not that much. What is the best method for learning those 5 words, well each person has to find what works for them. For some it will be graphic visual methods, for some it will be by listening, for others it may be writing them out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Listening and learning a foreign language

I think that listening is the most underrated of the five senses for learning  a language. When children are learning
a language for the first time, they are constantly listening to their parents and siblings. They are not visually learning the language with flash cards (the written word), nor are they reading it. Those are things that happen 4 or five years after having listened for the first years of their life. Aside from listening they are also involved with their bodies in the listening environment. Johnny open the door, a command followed by a movement. Listening combined with movement is the surest way to learn a language fast. This is the basis of the TPR  language learning movement. The difficult part is taking that concept and putting it into the classroom in an organized manner. It is difficult but it can be done. James Ashner and others have developed a semi system, but I do believe the system needs to be perfected.  Its is a ashame that students are taught to learn a language through worksheets and a text book, it will not happen. This is why students go through 4 years of a language and 10 years later don't remember it. Their learning was never right brain automatic learning.