Homework in Norway - Photo: © cdl . ovh / illustration
— [http://goo.gl/Fbqjjd] English Homework in primary school in Norway_______________________(3rd grade).
It’s hard to retain new words through memorization alone. The best way to hammer a word into your mind is to use it: English in context. When you use a word, it becomes a living thing in your mind that you’ve learned and made your own, rather than a dead, memorized ”object “in your brain.
In the last few decades the shift from a teacher- to a student-centered classroom has increased the overall communicative competence of students studying a second language (L2). Educators now, more than ever, strive to create lively classes based on a communicative curriculum. Savignon (2002) believes that “a truly communicative curriculum is made up of five categories: language analysis, language for a purpose, personal second language use, second language use outside the classroom, and theater arts” (p. 11).
Theater is particularly useful in a language classroom for a variety of reasons. As many studies suggest, the greater the authenticity of the texts used in the classroom, the higher the learner’s competency (Omaggio, 2001; Lacorte & Canabal, 2002). In fact, using unedited, truly authentic texts tends to increase competency and reduce anxieties in real-world communicative contexts (Auger & Valdman, 1999; Genesee, 1987). By reading plays and subsequently acting them out, students are indirectly exposed to different registers, exemplifying differences between both classroom and non-classroom discourse and dialects. More importantly, students realize that languages are part of heterogeneous, plural communities, vital in the globalized 21st century.
Retrieval: Another kind of repetition that is crucial is what is called the retrieval practice effect. This means, simply, that the act of retrieving a word from memory makes it more likely that the learner will be able to recall it again later. Activities which require retrieval, such as using the new word in written sentences, 'oil the path' for future recall.
Context: Putting words to use, preferably in some interesting way, is the best way of ensuring they are added to long-term memory. It is the principle popularly known as Use it or lose it.
Conventional teaching methods underestimate the learner's capacity to retain new vocabulary. Some teachers believe that children cannot learn new vocabulary if the new words students are supposed to learn are surrounded by other words and therefore give them isolated words.
Traditionally, translation has been the most widely used means of presenting the meaning of a word in monolingual classes. Translation has the advantage of being the most direct route to a word's meaning - assuming that there is a close match between the target word and its LI equivalent. It is therefore very economical, and especially suitable for dealing with incidental vocabulary that may crop up in a lesson. As an English teacher I am not much in favor of presenting the meaning of a word by means of translation. An over-reliance on translation may mean that learners fail to develop an independent L2 lexicon, with the effect that they always access L2 words by means of their LI equivalents, rather than directly. Also, because learners don't have to work very hard to access the meaning, it may mean that the word is less memorable. A case of 'no pain, no gain'.
Real things: An alternative to translation - and an obvious choice if presenting a set of concrete objects such as clothes items - is to somehow illustrate or demonstrate them. This can be done either by using real objects (called realia) or pictures or mime. The use of realia, pictures and demonstration was a defining technique of the Direct Method. The Direct Method, in rejecting the use of translation, developed as a reaction to such highly intellectual approaches to language learning as Grammar-Translation.
Actions / gesture: Such an approach is especially appropriate if teaching beginners, and with mixed nationality classes, where translation is not an option. It is also a technique that has been reclaimed by practitioners of Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS), a method that promotes initial immersion in a high quantity of comprehensible input. In making use of the immediate environment of the classroom, and of things that can be brought into the classroom, the intention is to replicate the experience of learning one's mother tongue. A TPRS lesson typically involves the teacher demonstrating actions, using real objects, and then getting the learners to perform the same or similar actions in response to commands. Typical classroom commands might be:
Point to the banana.
Put the apple next to the banana.
Give the banana to Rebecca.
Offer the banana to Geourge the Curious.
Authentic texts, such as plays, or authentic situations —learning new words in context— should become increasingly important components of L2 classrooms, where language is viewed as a whole, not as bits of noncommunicative chunks (Goodman, 1986).
look after - passer på
huge - kjempestore
enormous - enorme
wheat fields - hveteåkre
a lot of - mye av
is called - blir kalt
to look after - passer på - cuidar
huge - kjempestor / kjempestort / kjempestore - muy grande
enormous - gigantisk - gigante
wheat fields - hveteåkre - campos de trigo
a lot of - mye av - un montón de
it is called - det blir kalt - se llama
Original Instruction: You can learn at least five of them.
1) She looks after her planet. (Ella cuida su planeta.)
2) I saw a huge fish last month. (Vi un pez muy grande el mes pasado.)
3) Kill that enormous mosquito. (Mata ese zancudo gigante.)
4) Do you see those wheat fields over there? (¿Alcanzas a ver esos campos de trigo que están allá?)
5) Because of you I know a lot of new things. (Por ti sé un montón de nuevas cosas.)
6) My pet is called Oliver. (Mi mascota se llama Oliver.)
Learning English deeply - English in Use - English in Context:
Ella cuida su planeta.
Hun passer på planeten sin.
... her planet.
... after her planet.
... looks after her planet.
She looks after her planet.
Vi un pez muy grande el mes pasado.
Jeg så en kjempestor fisk forrige måned.
... last month.
... fish last month.
... huge fish last month.
... a huge fish last month.
... saw a huge fish last month.
I saw a huge fish last month. (Full Marine Biology Documentary, 2 hrs.)
Mata ese zancudo gigante.
Drep den gigantiske myggen.
... enormous mosquito.
... that enormous mosquito.
Kill that enormous mosquito.
¿Alcanzas a ver esos campos de trigo que están allá?
Klarer du å se de hveteåkrene der borte?
... over there?
... fields over there?
... wheat fields over there?
... those wheat fields over there?
... see those wheat fields over there?
... you see those wheat fields over there?
Do you see those wheat fields over there?
Por ti sé un montón de nuevas cosas.
Mye av det jeg kan er på grunn av deg.
... new things.
... a lot of new things.
... I know a lot of new things.
... of you I know a lot of new things.
Because of you I know a lot of new things.
Mi mascota se llama Oliver.
Kjæledyret mitt heter Oliver.
... called Oliver.
... is called Oliver.
... pet is called Oliver.
My pet is called Oliver.
•  Auger, J., & Valdman, A. (1999). Letting French students hear the diverse voices of Francophony. Modern Language Journal, 83, 403-412.
•  Genesee, F. (1987). Learning through two languages: Studies of immersion and bilingual education. Cambridge, MA: Newbury House.
•  Goodman, K. (1986). What’s whole in whole language. Portsmouth, NH: Heineman Educational Books.
•  Lacorte, L., & Canabal, E. (2002). Interaction with heritage language learners in foreign language classrooms. In C. Blyth (Ed.), The sociolinguistics of foreign-language classrooms (pp. 107-129). Boston: Thomson & Heinle.
•  Omaggio, A. (2001). Teaching language in context. 2nd ed. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
•  Savignon, S. (2002). Communicative language teaching: Linguistic theory and classroom practice. In S. Savignon (Ed.), Interpreting communicative language teaching- (pp. 1-27). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. | Also: Communicative language teaching in EFL contexts: Learner attitudes and perceptions, and: Beyond communicative language teaching: Whats ahead?, also: Interpreting Communicative Language Teaching
•  Tarone, E., & Swain, M. (1995). A sociolingustic perspective on second language use in immersion classrooms. Modern Language Journal, 79, 166-178. | Also: Sociolinguistic Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Research—1997–2007
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