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.