T.A.O.L. wrote: Dypet Rod wrote:
T.A.O.L. wrote:Hey Dypet,
Thanks for the quote xD.
Also, the ones that actually were speaking english with their family or knew people that spoke english and conversed with them had higher grades on english tests than those whom only had the study book to learn it.
I also noticed it myself that I'd get higher grades more easily simply by practicing enough to apply the "correct" sentence structure.
You're welcome, brother/sister (I remember you since the Yahoo groups, but I'm not sure of what your gender is xD)
I haven't heard of this method before. At least not by that name.
But as for the grammar rules, although some people may like having them for quick reference like you said, learning grammar and learning to effectively communicate in a foreign language are quite distinct things, I would say.
Many, like me, are strong in the idea that the quickest way to becoming fluent in a language is to engage directly in context and communication. And your last paragraph is a small proof of that
Many teachers and schools still insist in teaching a foreign language by using the student's native language as a reference, and working with translations like that. Giving lists of words in English and their respective translations in the student's native language, etc. And a lot of grammar rules and explanations along with that.
What I think is, this is basically treating the language as if it was math, as if it was some kind of code to be deciphered, as if the sentences were a math operation to be solved, etc. This is not really natural. Especially considering that, when we were children, grammar was not the first thing we learned, and we didn't have any way to work with translations in order to learn new words xD
When we were little, we learned and recorded new words by association and repeated use, only. Like, when we saw water, we learned that the name for that thing we're seeing is "water". When we saw a ball, we learned that this object is called "ball". Then by repeatedly hearing "water" and also attempting to say "water", we learned to say it and effectively recorded this new word in our minds. When we were thirsty, if we just said; "Mom! Water", this was enough for our mom to understand that we wanted water haha. Then with time, we learned each time more new words and our communication became more sophisticated and complete.
And this is exactly the most natural way to learn a foreign language. By natural association and making use of it, not by translation and too much grammar rules. All it takes is good resources for association (for example, if you don't know what a specific word means, look it up on Google images, instead of looking up its translation), and a competent teacher to establish communication in that language with the students using the new words that they have learned.
Also, seeing other people communicate in English everyday, be it in movies, cartoons, comics, etc, will assure that we will naturally know how to construct sentences, where to fit certain words and so on, with no need of formal grammar explanations for all this.
Many learners may be excellent when it comes to grammar and writing, but weak when it comes to direct communication, because enough practice of this skill was not applied. Imagine if a native speaker approaches us and asks quickly: "Excuse me, do you know what's the quickest way for me to reach (place)?" The answer needs to be fast, and there is not enough time to think of grammar rules at this point. Also, fluent speakers, including native ones, don't necessarily have knowledge of formal grammar rules, even though they are fluent. Because again, grammar and communication are two different skills.
This is also why nowadays I'm no longer fond of tools like Duolingo. Duolingo may feel like you're playing a game and be fun, but it ultimately works with translations and memorizing of grammar rules. Also, it does not provide practical use of what has been learned, such as showing the user a small story/dialogue that they are supposed to read/watch and interpret.
Sister. First thing I noticed that you brought up Duolingo (more about that later in the message).
Indeed following actual conversations rather than played ones are better, but I think its effectiveness would be somewhat increased if you have at least a bit more extensive word knowledge.
I had a very hard time with sentence structure, not only because of 'stupid grammar rules' but because I was learning from a german sentence structure to a french/english sentence structure.
It gets confusing. Anyhow.
Learning to write out 'to have' and 'to be' were one of the first things along with 'what time is it' not 'how late is it' as would have been a direct translation of my own language into english.
They were also about speaking proper British english, and later on, we were also taught american and told that on the test, if we were to write american we had to do the whole test in american. No mash-ups.
I do believe that learning it in a more natural way, is important. And that early on listening is important. And also that the vocabulary of using things like 'to be' and 'to have' or 'to put' or 'to play' probably could be emphased a little more especially if they're asking for sentence structure.
Perhaps it may sound silly, but what if one were to look at childrens stories for young children in another country?
Or you take a subject of your liking that has some words in it that you do know and you go listen to that?
Also, haha, yeah you're talking about the mathematical approach to language. I still have some tests laying around that I made for language class.
But since everything has to be like that, actually, my points would get lower if I made a mistake in writing a sentence. It wasn't even about spelling.
Spelling? pff 2 fingers in my nose. Although some words do confuse me and that causes me to mess them up.
I struggled to get even a passing grade in that class. But when I had practiced enough with different sentences (that were NOT in the books ...) I even scored a 9/10 once or twice. It became easy.
K now you said Duolingo.. actually I've been using it for practice for not too long, for learning a different language, and honestly, I don't even pay attention to the hit grammar box before starting a lesson. I have read it once or twice and though sometimes it gives a bit of useful information, most of it is not something that is useful to me. (Senseless blabber more like).
But right now, my vocabulary in that language is very limited. Though, I do like the flashcards they have now on Duolingo. But thats about it.
And yep definetly not that practical if you think about story/dialogue type of things.
Oh! before I forget to add. If you have words such as.. already, or immediately, I bet those would be hard to interpret if you don't have a dictionary or translation or something of the like. Though, pictures can be helpful, there is not much difference between football hooligans, agression, terrorists, violence in demonstration. If you were to look up agression in such a way it may be possible to associate the wrong thing.
Well, when I mentioned practical communication/conversations, I also meant played ones xD They are every bit as good, as long as there is a clear situation represented, and balance in vocabulary according to what the student is able to understand.
Word knowledge can also be very increased with the approach I described. Say for example, a class about colors. Many different things can be shown to the student (Apple, cellphone, t-shirt and so on), and sentences can be built like "The apple is red. The cellphone is black" "What color is the t-shirt?" "What color are your shoes?" (Pointing to the student's shoes if he/she doesn't know what "shoe" means).
Of course, for questions, there must be a prepared example of a dialogue so that the student knows what this question is about when he/she is asked that.
Sentence structure can also be learned naturally, with extensive repetitions. One thing most courses do wrong is teaching several different structures all in one lesson. For a 'verb to be" class for example, they often throw in "I am, you are, he is, she is, it is, we are, they are" all at once, and the student is likely to quickly forget all this afterwards.
But if they properly apply what is called deep learning, say there is one lesson specifically elaborated to teach only "I am" and "you are". Repeated examples can be shown to the student like:
"You are a doctor."
"Are you a doctor?"
"You are a singer"
"Are you a singer?"
"You are NOT a robot"
"Are you a robot?"
With enough repetition, it won't be difficult for the student to get the conclusion that when we ask a question using verb to be + I or you, we must place "am/are" on the first position in the sentence. This therefore dismisses long, boring grammar explanations xD. The secret is to combine deep learning (gradual learning of small bits of information) with enough repetition, plus a situation (real or played) that makes sense and is interesting.
And yes, early on listening is very important. LIke you said, when you read that book, most words had no meaning for you. This is also because vocal intonation and expressiveness plays an important role in helping us understand the effect of a word.
I once followed a German lesson online where the narrator said like "Der Riese ist GROOOOOOẞ", which made it easy to understand that he was talking about something big haha xD "The giant is big"
Also, what you suggested about stories for children or a subject of one's liking is not silly at all. It is excellent, and it complements what I mentioned about adding a context/meaningful situation. As long as there is enough expressiveness, graphical help, meaning and balance in vocabulary, anything can help immensely.
The main purpose of a language is to be used in active communication in each person's routine. So teachers need to make the language be as useful for the students as possible. Therefore it is very important to work with subjects that the students are actually likely to use in their lives.
For example, what's the point of teaching the names of wild/African animals in a beginner class, if the student doesn't work in a zoo or doesn't have the need to use these names of animals in his real life? It makes more sense to teach the names of things they probably have in their home and that they use everyday, such as dishes, furniture, appliances, computer, etc. Anything else that's less useful for them personally, they can learn later.
And yeah, when a school works with a very specific method that's not the ideal one, we often just have to go with the way they work in order to get a good grade. Good to hear you've managed to score a 9/10, though
. Being personally in touch with the language in our routine, be it by watching movies, videos, etc is also an important part of learning. After all, that's what a language is meant for. To be used in our personal lives.
I didn't know that they now have flashcards in Duolingo. I have used it in the past to learn mostly German and also some Italian. And sure, it is possible to learn something with it, but since the user only works with translating single sentences, it is quite limited.
Based on what I learned with it, if you make me a question in German right now, I may be able to understand it (it's not guaranteed though), but I most likely won't know how to answer it. Unless it is a kind of question that gives you options, such as "Magst du Katzen oder Hunde?" or "Bist du ein Lehrer?"
Now, my favorite part. As for words like "immediately" and "already" (adverbs) or "beautiful" and "ugly" (adjectives), sure looking them up on Google Images is not enough to understand them, but yes they can still be almost perfectly understood without translations.
In order to better explain how, here's a brief description of one of the English lessons I have developed so far:
I have a lesson specifically created to explain "He is/She is", and physical traits.
First of all, it is important to understand the context of each personal pronoun. When we talk about "he" or "she", we're talking about a man or a woman who is not present at the moment of the conversation. In other words...gossip.
So instead of making up fictitious names of men and women in random examples like "Mary goes to work everyday" (which just makes the lesson boring anyway), it makes more sense to talk about real men and women that the student actually knows, or is likely to know. Celebrities.
Let's say things like "Britney Spears is blonde". "Katy Perry is brunette". It's more interesting, the student may have something else to say about that celebrity thus encouraging active participation, and when we give an example like "Britney Spears is NOT brunette. She is blonde", it's easy for the student to notice that we're talking about a woman, and that the word "she" probably refers to a woman. And this is reinforced with more repeated examples, with other celebrities and traits.
And with dialogues such as "Is Britney Spears blonde or brunette?" "-Blonde. SHE is blonde"
As for how to explain adjectives, I do it by presenting opposite adjectives in pictures. Say for example, "tall". I can show one picture of a tall man, and another picture of a short man, side by side, and describe it by pointing and saying "tall, short".
Then, examples can follow. "Michael Jordan is taaaaaaaaall (vocal emphasis xD). Danny DeVito is short". With pictures of these celebrities as well.
The very same thing goes for "beautiful" and "ugly". I can show the student a picture of a celebrity who is known to be beautiful, like Megan Fox, or simply one picture of a Disney princess and another of a fairy tale "witch", and describe it as "beautiful, ugly". You can also say the word "ugly" in a tone as if you were disgusted.
Of course, there are other more complex words, too. Untangible kind of words, like "kind", "mean", "worried", etc. But once the student has built a solid foundation of simple, more tangible words, these more complex words become easier to explain. Suppose a student is already able to understand most of the words in this dialogue:
"Hey Julie, here's a flower for you"
"Aww, thank you. That's a beautiful flower. You are so kind
Other similar examples can also be given to reinforce the meaning of "kind".
In conclusion...yes, it's possible to learn something with every method. And one can also argue that by using translations and grammar explanations, one can learn faster. But "faster" most of the time opposes "fluent", since fluency really depends on deep, gradual learning and engaging deeply in the language.