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.