Audio-lingual method, inescapable

20180514_085625Second language teaching in New Zealand is something I’d always thought I could do, and now are doing at the present with an institute in town. My students are genuine first learners or I surmise, “false beginners”. And oddly enough, most of them are Chinese, though I did have one student that was from Columbia.

They’ve had the benefit of English learning but, possibly had not had the chance to speak much, or at all. I feel that some of them have quite high affective filters. But, the biggest thing that’s letting them down is the way that they’re learning, which is through the Audio-lingual method. (Which is “repeat after me!) Being a good CELTA, I have tried to have them learn through more productive methods. Sadly, having them produce anything is to wait a long time to produce. Another thing I’ve seen, and have proved again is that any material that they have in their hands is instantly translated into Chinese, sometimes through translation software. Good if you want speed, bad if you want learning. Thanks Google.

/dʒózəfs dʒǽkət ɪ́z tú lɔ́ŋ/

Still, teaching the chants, pronunciation and rhythms of speech takes me back to when I was teaching Elementary school in Korea. I even taught my current students what a schwa (/ə/) was when pronouncing the reduced form of a vowel. Still, I’ve managed to write fluently using phonemic speech most times, with, few errors.

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Adventures in CI, atomic fission was the key

Think of the above as a S<>S interaction, with the neutrons, the TL

I had just finished my 4th grade classes, and I tried out my new interaction patterns on the class.

These were essentially changing a weakly dialogic class to something that was more student to student. Drawing on my knowledge of chemistry, I played the role of catalyst. Initiating the reaction but remained unchanged by it throughout. The task in this case was simply asking and answering a question, this going down the line of desks to the end. I had initially envisaged mad scientist style, one row of students asking the target language (how’s the weather?) with the row behind them giving them an open answer (It’s sunny) but it was hijacked by my KET, she made it by column, not row. It still worked either way. Not a bad start, but the experimentation continues. The students in pairs again, ask about the target language, as seen in the short film seen in class. Again, I initiated it, but had no part in the saying of the target language, all the input was from the video.

What was the yield? Most of the students spoke, a few did not. Those that didn’t felt it too embarrassing, but obviously their affective filter. Clearly something is needed to penetrate their ‘lead sheilding’. But the net effect was it was initiated by me, but the speaking was done on the whole, by the students. An experiment in sound if you will.