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How should languages be taught? watch

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    (Original post by llys)
    Not a topic to rant about how they are taught currently, but concrete (if possible, constructive) ideas re: what you think would work and make/keep languages interesting at school.

    I'll start. I think languages lessons should be 30 minutes per day, but pupils should have them 5 or 6 days a week.
    Phase 1: For the first half year, teaching should be similar to the Assimil series, i.e. intense focus on assimilating vocabulary (the most common 800-1000 words or so) and basic grammar. Emphasis on listening, reading and speaking (repeating). Pupils must use the language in class, but it doesn't matter if they make mistakes.
    Phase 2: half a year where no new vocabulary is introduced, but the current vocabulary and grammar is consolidated by using the language in many different contexts with the vocabulary and grammar acquired in phase 1. Emphasis on producing language (free speaking/writing/interpreting).
    Phase 3: Increasing vocabulary (up to 2000 words) and grammatical complexity. Emphasis on all four skills (listening, reading, speaking, writing).
    Phase 4: etc. (increasing complexity)

    So basically: initially acquire basic vocabulary fast, then consolidate by using it in all kinds of situations (get confidence speaking), then increase vocabulary further, then consolidate by speaking/writing, and so on.

    What do you think?
    This sounds a lot like what my English teachers were attempting to do, back in the day, but frankly, all that 'consolidating' was pretty boring and repetitive in practice.:erm: Which age group are you talking about here?
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    My friend wrote her thesis about this kind of language teaching that, while it has its flaws, sounds very good. It involves total immersion by a native speaker for several classes in the curriculum and some additional formal grammar lessons outside the class. They are testing it out in Austria at least.
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    (Original post by Anatheme)
    I disagree about the learning vocab then grammar bit. Just no. Both should never be separated, otherwise you just don't get the right way of learning a language and may get bad habits when making uncorrected mistakes. It may work for European languages, but try it with Arabic and let's all have a laugh at the guy who will have tried that.

    Being in the right environment works all the time. It's not always necessary for some languages (I'm thinking English), but it helps so much that no-one should learn a language without going to the country where it's spoken at least once. I don't think there's a perfect way of learning a language, it's all down to how one learns a language, and different methods will work for different people. I'm better at learning vocab when it's directly in context and there's no way you'll make me memorise lists of words if you don't give me an example. Also, lots and lots of translation should be done both from the target language to English and English to the target language, it helps pick up the idioms from a language to another. Heavy use of media and cultural resources such as novels, films, plays, music works very well because it's not boring and opens up your horizon or a culture/country/language (well, when you get the right thing, I mean Camus isn't exactly exciting :ninja:).
    Maybe that wasn't clear - I wouldn't separate vocab and grammar, nor memorise lists of words*. You should check out Assimil Arabic with Ease, that's the kind of "first phase" I'm talking about. Assimil is FUN and doesn't involve any memorising of vocab or grammar; you just.. pick it up.

    *Although I think at some stage some memorising might help pupils, if they can or have to use the words as soon as they learn them and continuously from then on.

    (Original post by Jelephant)
    I've been trying out Rosetta Stone for a few weeks, and the way it's designed to teach you is through sounds and images but without actually having an english translation, so you are supposed to pick it up the way you did your first language as a baby. I'm not an expert so don't know how this will affect long term bad grammar habits or whatever, but I'm finding it a lot more interesting and useful than back in the days of standard grade German were we pretty much just had lists of words to memorise
    Exactly - there is nothing more off-putting.. Rosetta Stone sounds interesting, haven't tried this myself yet..

    (Original post by gingergooner)
    Whatever about it, the main thing in school that got me a nearly fluent French speaker were exchanges to French speaking countries, Liege in Belgium, Aix-en-Provence and Danieu (both in France). Other than that, I would just suggest reviewing constantly vocab and verb knowledge through tests to instill it in someone's memory. Another thing we did was to learn some of our History and Geography in French in years 9-10. It really wasn't that hard to learn it in English afterwards for GCSEs in year 11, it was all in our head anyway it was just a case of explaining what we already knew in English rather than French.
    That sounds awesome.
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    (Original post by hobnob)
    This sounds a lot like what my English teachers were attempting to do, back in the day, but frankly, all that 'consolidating' was pretty boring and repetitive in practice.:erm: Which age group are you talking about here?
    Probably 7-14, possibly 7-16.
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    (Original post by llys)
    Maybe that wasn't clear - I wouldn't separate vocab and grammar, nor memorise lists of words*. You should check out Assimil Arabic with Ease, that's the kind of "first phase" I'm talking about. Assimil is FUN and doesn't involve any memorising of vocab or grammar; you just.. pick it up.
    Maybe I should try it, then, 'cause learning Arabic is far from fun.

    (Original post by 21:13)
    ¨
    Uni students who don't know what a noun is? :eek3:
    You'd be surprised how crap uni students are at grammar sometimes
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    Personally, I think that they should stop teaching kids silly, useless topics when they first start learning a language. I can still remember the word for pencil sharpener in Spanish, but I have no idea how to ask for directions.
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    (Original post by Hattie1992)
    Personally, I think that they should stop teaching kids silly, useless topics when they first start learning a language. I can still remember the word for pencil sharpener in Spanish, but I have no idea how to ask for directions.
    Not that this is necessarily my opinion, but it could be said that these things are taught to children because they are familiar objects to the children and things that they will recognise.
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    4/5 hours a week, all in the target language, and a few exchanges.
    Grammar as everyone goes alonggg
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    Maybe my ideas would be more suited to A level students or students with quite a bit of knowledge of the language already, but ideally at my school I would love to be taught 100% of the time in the target language. The immersion just helps me get 'in the zone' for the language and I feel that at the stage I'm at now (French and German A2) teachers can explain to me what a word means without having to tell me in English. I also think that it would be great if authentic target language articles/clips from TV and radio were used, rather than those incredibly contrived and fake listening excersises and letters in text books!
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    I think immersion in the language is the most important thing, whether that's listening to the radio or watching tv, or actually going to the country. Just learning it in a classroom isn't enough.
    Also, particularly at A-level, having lots of lessons is important - I have an hour of German every day Monday-Friday, so I'm constantly having to work at it and improve.
 
 
 
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