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.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why learn a language?

I find that I have to remind the students about the importance of learning a language.It is difficult for Americans since we are not using a language everyday. However, with modern means of communications people could easily find a penpal and write via email. Learning a language not only opens us up to new cultures and ways of thinking but it helps us to define our words better, enlightens us to the mechanics of a language, and  helps us to communicate better in our native tongue. I have seen articles that say learning a language helps improve our intelligence. There are many reasons why it would be convenient to learn a language. I think here in America we would need a strong influence in the early years to faciliate learning a language. There are many things that could be done to improve this. There is plenty of space in a the mind for learning 2 or 3 languages, it just has to start early.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Learning Verbs and Association

I have noticed that students learn the verbs that are closer to english than those that are farther away. This is probably due to associations. Students can associate the new words with those that they already know. Thus the students are using prior knowledge. For example learning the verb utilizare is easy since it is close to the word utilize which they may or may not have heard.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Learning Verbs

Verbs are the actions words that make up the language. Go here, do this, don't do that, swim here, etc. They are actually the easiest to learn if they are accompanied by movement. When I have students learn verbs by moving with them. They pick them up right away.  Levanta el brazo, lift up your arm. There is a direct correspondence between the words and the movement. Kids get it very quickly, and I would say adults do as well. But when you try to learn the verbs through worksheets, it just doesn't happen.