LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||07/ABR/2006 9:00 AM|
|Assunto:||Uma nova abordagem|
There are possibly more theories about language learning than there are world religions.
There is a lot of talk about immersion, learning as a child does, etc. Immersion can be an extremely frustrating experience. There is nothing quite like trying to ask a question when you don't speak the language reasonably well and the person to whom you are speaking doesn't speak your language. How do you go about asking why "A" is said instead of "Z"? If immersion is so wonderful, why does Rio Grande do Sul have so many German-Brazilians who do not speak Portuguese well? In the USA, I've met dozens (maybe hundreds) of immigrants who have lived there for decades without learning basic English. If acquisition is so wonderful, why do children make so many mistakes in their speech? And each time that they make a mistake, doesn't the mistake become more difficult to correct? A few months ago, a plumber who has been speaking Portuguese for over 50 years told me, "Achemos o problema." Achemos? He's had a lifetime to learn to conjugate "achar" through acquisition and the man is saying "Achemos o problema."
Something that probably most can agree on is the child's ability to disregard criticism and talk anyway. To learn a language, you have to be very receptive to criticism. You are going to make mistakes and errors. Lots of them. If you avoid communication in an effort to avoid criticism, you are going to have a very difficult time. And yet we often see this in the classroom. Students who make mistakes are students who are making an effort to learn. The best way to avoid mistakes is to keep your mouth shut, never ask questions, never volunteer, and never experiment. Is this fear of criticism related to culture? Could be. Perhaps each time we learn from a mistake or error we are one step closer to speaking the second language well. Too simplistic? Too obvious?
Women tend to be more talkative than men. Women also tend to be better linguists than men. Do you think there is a connection?
I wish I could remember where I read this, but somewhere I came across an article about second language learning among Brazilian Indians. The author wrote that it was a common practice for a learner to listen. Listen. That was the learner did. When the learner felt comfortable with the second language, the learner would speak in it. How on earth does that work?
People learn in different ways. I've yet to hear about a language theory that deals with this truth. Perhaps there is a way to (1) learn which method works best for a particular student, and (2) then guide the student in the learning process according to the method that is the most effective for that student.
There is something very wrong with language teaching in Brazil. I don't expect Brazilian teachers to speak perfect English, but many I've met simply can't carry on a simple conversation. And they are teaching? Yes, they are teaching; they are teaching their mistakes.
Brazilian schools often dedicate very little time to language learning. "Yes, we offer English classes! Yours is every Tuesday morning between ten and eleven." One or two hours per week may be common, but the behavior in the classroom greatly reduces even that limited time. I haven't visited an English class in a Brazilian school for years, but I certainly remember how the young students would ignore the teachers, gossip, greatly cutting into the time the teachers had for teaching. If I were to teach minors, I'd be before the judge on murder charges within the first week. One morning in a public school in Poços de Caldas, I was considering bringing an AK-47 to school the next day. The bell rang, and as the kids left the classroom they were giving me hugs or kisses. Great kids. Terrible language students. Adult students I've observed, are not like that. They are paying for their classes, they have a goal/need, and they want results. Adult students can be fantastic learners. They came to class prepared, they were active in discussions, they asked questions, and they showed enthusiasm.
I have many more questions that I have answers. When I get more answers, I'll open a school. Why not? Everyone else is doing it.
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