Portfolio Language Awareness

BB-assignment 1: Proverbs

" Learn a new language and get a new soul"- Czech proverb

 

I totally agree with this proverb, When someone learns a new language, that person will get insight in the sociolinguistic aspects of that language. One would get to see the way people view life. For instance, when someone learns french, that person will learn the patriotic elements of the country aswell. I I think that when one learns every aspect of a language, he or she also acquires the 'soul' ( the way of thinking) of the people who speak the language aswell.

 

“He who does not know foreign languages, does not know anything about his own” – Wolfgang

I agree with this statement, because all languages are related to each other. French, Italian and Spanish for example, are all related to the Latin Language family. If you don’t know about the comparisons you are able to make, you can't understand your own language. A lot of nouns and verbs are borrowed from the neighbouring language. Thus, I think it’s vital to understand the comparisons in order to place your own language in an international context.

 

“Swearing is made as a compromise between running away and fighting”- Peter Finely Dunne

I think this is a very fun one. The writer thought very cleverly about this one. Swearing is indeed a compromise between running and fighting. One actually hurt the person in question, without giving him a punch in his or her face. At the same time, that person is too cowardly to fight.  

 

“ Dialects are a curse to any foreigner who wants to understand a language”- K.P. Uitslag

This is a statement I made, because I experienced it myself. I work in a supermarket in my village at the moment, and we occassionaly have visiters from Germany or France. Last week, I had to help two french people, who were searching for a duster. I was taught french for six years, so I thought I would be able to understand these two gentleman. However, the two men spoke in a southern accent, which was very hard to me, to distinguish from normal French. This little accent gave me a hard time understanding their French, Overally,that’s why I made this statement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BB-assignment 2: Language learning

One can definitely learn a language. I’m currently improving my English by enhancing my pronunciation and spelling. Before that, I had to learn the basic rules of the language aswell. Thus learning a language is a cognitive process. I’m now on a more upper-intermediate level, where I am able to actually think about teaching English as a foreign language to pupils.

Good language learners have a numbre of characteristics based on a scientific study on language learning (Rubin 1975). People who want to learn a foreign language are willing to make mistakes, and eventually, want to improve on them. They are willing to put themselves in a risky situation where they have to use a foreign language as a means of communication. Metacognitive strategies                    ( organizing and planning learning new words and grammar) and cognitive strategies ( translating and analyzing a language) are often combined to support learning a new language. Furtermore, successful language learners can explain when they apply and why they apply new rules. So they are conscious about their learning process.

The above-mentioned summarized findings indirectly explain the difference between learning a language  and acquiring a language. To acquire a language is to subconsciously ‘feel’ what is wrong or right in order to communicate, whereas learning a language is a conscious process where the learner is actively learning  and applying the rules in their communication.

 

BB-assignment 3: Creatively using language

 

It is definitely possible to learn to use language creatively. Creative usage of a foreign language is a very good way to broaden the students’ vocabulary.

They first need to learn a wide scope of words and synonyms. This can be both done by letting them learn new words by heart or look up words in the dictionary which they don’t know.

A teacher can learn his pupils to be creative by giving them assignments which force the pupils to be creative. I studied journalism last year, so I know how to write an article for a paper. I know that writing an article certainly tests someone's creativity and writing skills.

I would let my students take the role of a journalist and write an article about a fictionate case. The students have to write synonyms for the same words, because an article gets very boring when the same word is used over and over again.  Of course, there are a lot of assignments which tests the writing creativity of students, but this is just an example what could be done in class.

When students get more used to these tasks, their creative writing skills will improve aswell. They just need to be encouraged to use their creative language skills in a fun way. And I think this can be done by making the assignments creative aswell.

 

BB-assignment 4: Origin of language

In order to invent or to develop a language, a language must be spoken by more than 1 person. A language is made as a means of communication between the human species. With bearing that principle in mind, we should never forget that dialogue comes for monologue. As a result, language can be regarded as an interactive process where .

On the individual level, we need people who are willing to overthink language. To be more specific, we need capable people who are able to think about structuring a language.( i.e. philosophers, teachers, scientist) 

We should teach pupils to communicate as much as we can. Learning a language is aimed at being communicative with people who speak another language. It would be logically if we teach them how to communicate first.

 

BB-assignment 5: Thinking language

We do think language, but defintely in a more complex way than when we write something down, or care about pronouncing things in a proper way. When I’m  thinking  language, for instance in my mother tongue Dutch, I don’t really care about the right grammatic constructions.

When I’m thinking language, I’m more concerned about what I’m doing at the moment. What I’m dealing with, to be precise. At the moment I’m writing this, I’m thinking about how I construct correct sentences, without making mistakes. While I’m debating in myself how I should write correct sentences, I don’t think in formal English or Estruary English or whatever. I just mix Dutch and English with each other, because thinking in correct formal Dutch or English would be too time-consuming.

Thinking language goes definitely faster, because you don’t pay attention on the grammatic rules or correct pronunciation. When I’m speaking a language ( or writing) it definitely takes longer to form senctenses, because we have to filter the information before we actually give someone the information. If we just said anything we could think of, without bearing in my mind how we communicate nowadays, nobody would understand each other.

 

BB-assignment 6: Dreaming language

 

I find it very hard to describe whether I actually dream in language or if I don't dream in language. Dreaming is a very subconscious actvitiy and many dreams are forgotten when we wake up. That's why it’s very hard to make sure if I use language while I’m dreaming. I'll state some theories why I agree that people dream language, and some theories where I state why I disagree.

At one hand, I think dreaming language is certainly possible. I mentioned above that about seventy-five percent of our dreams are forgotten. Let’s talk about the twenty-five percent of our dreams  of which we can explain what happend. Apart from the visuals,I know what someone said to me in a dream. I can reproduce what he or she said to me in that particular dream. I could say that the person in my dream needed language to tell me something. Thus I was thinking in terms of language, while I was dreaming.

On the other hand, dreams are very vague. And I’m not always possible to give a complete review of what someone said to me in a dream. Dreaming is also a subconsious event, where we are not consciously constructing sentences or thinking about the proper words. The visuals we see in dreams are based on things we have seen in real life. I don’t think words are necessary to form the visuals we see in dreams.

I do think that only deaf people dream. Because deaf people are the only persons in this particular group of disabled, who are able to see things around them. I think that seeing things when we are not dreaming, is a crucial condition for people to visualize dreams.

 

BB-assignment 7: Revising bb-assignment 6

When I compare my findings with the discussed paper of Blechner, I find that my theory does share something with Blechner’s findings, and some findings which we don’t share with each other.

He also shed a whole new light on the language of dreaming. He talks about extralinguistic dreaming. Extralinguistic dreaming encompasses the boundries of language in order to construct whole new metaphors by combining them or extent on them. I find this very interesting.

We both think that we’re not consciously constructing sentences or using words as a means of communication while we’re dreaming. I stated that we only need what we have seen in real life to actually form visuals we could dream.  Blechner’s theory compares dreaming language with inner speech, for which we do need words in order to construct sentences.

Although Blechner talks about the comparison with inner speech, he doesn’t actually state that we use language while we’re dreaming. He puts the use of language in inner speech opposite to not ( consciously) using language in dreams.

In the end, it isn’t clear for me, whether we use language while we’re dreaming or not.

BB-assignment 8: Relevancy for me as a teacher

 

For me as a teacher it is very important to raise my focal awareness of English, because I want to instruct my pupils as effectively as possible. I have to be very scrutinized about my sources.

 

Beth who doesn’t feel quiet comfortable with a politician’s speech, wants to know why she feels so uncomfortable about the political speech. She tries to find a transcription and she wants to search the transcription for inconsistencies. I should do this for myself as well, because I want to teach my students how to spot these misconceptions or I want them to teach them how advertisements can misdirect someone entirely, for example. Thus, How people can lie with language.

Another example points out a youngster who is sent out of class, because he ‘’talked at the teacher’’ He doesn’t know any other way to communicate with older people, because he isn’t taught in another way. Rather than sending him out of class, the teacher could have taken more time to investigate why he didn't  respond at him in a proper way. Thus, language awareness can be very important for recognizing errors and to provide a safe pedagogic classroom environment.

At the end, raising language awareness for my pupils is a very important matter to let pupils integrate into society. In the text the loosing of focal language education and its relevancy, is compared with the superficially using language of students. Nowadays, language education is very mechanical and focuses more on grammar and rules, than on other aspects of language. I think it’s very important to let pupils fully understand all the aspects of language in order to prepare them for a complex sociocultural and political environment.

 

P-assignment 9: theories of language

Theory 1: Integrative Grammar teaching

Site: http://iteslj.org/Articles/Sysoyev-Integrative.html

 

Background

Integrative Grammar teaching is a method for teaching pupils how to communicate creatively and while doing that, use the proper grammatic constructions.

In normal grammar teaching, there are two different methods of teaching grammar. Meaning-based L2 teaching, which is aimed at communicative and spontaneous speech, and  Form-based L2 teaching, which is aimed at proper and correct speech. The problem is, when the emphasis is on meaning-based teaching, the proper grammatic constructions tend to get neglected. When a teacher aims at teaching pupils grammar rules, the area where pupils learn to speak spontaneously gets neglected.

A solution on this problem can be integrative grammar teaching. Integrative grammar teaching combines both approaches in one theory, which helps pupils learn both sides of functional grammar-use.

 

How?

By using the so-called ‘ EEE-method. The EEE-method is subdivided in: Exploration, Explanation and Expression.

 

Exploration

In this stage of the EEE-method, the pupils have to use “Inductive learning” in order to discover a pattern. The teacher gives the pupils a set of sentences and they have to find out which rule is applied to those examples. Letting pupils explore the rules is a way  to motivate the students and to discover a language.  Moreover, this strategy activates the thinking process.

 

Explanation

After exploring the rules, the pupils are now tasked with explaining the sequences or patterns more in detail. This can either be done by using a textbook or with the help of the teacher.

Explaining the rules attached to the given sentences, makes the pupils more aware of the strategies used to find certain patterns in understanding grammar rules.

 

 

Expression

After exploring and explaining the rules behind certain sentences, the pupils now can practice their new-found rules. They can do this by talking to each other in interactive tasks given by the teacher. They apply their newly acquierd knowledge in practice. The pupils can actually see how they are able to  implement their learned rules into meaningful situations. Thus, they learn how to use grammar in spontaneous and creative speech. Thus, combining form-based with meaning-based L2 grammar learning.

 

Case-study ( rule –s after a regular verb in present simple)

In this case-study, I  briefely describe  how I would implement the EEE-method to teach my pupils a grammar rule. In this particular case, I want to teach them when to put a –s after a verb in the present tense.

 

Teacher: “Hello students, today we’re going to discover new rules! I’m going to give you an assignment, so pay attention, please.

I want you to look at the blackboard. I wrote some sentences down on the blackboard. We will discuss those sentences first in class. “

 

1)      I go to school every day.

2)      Water boils at 100 c degrees.

3)      My mother works at the IBM company.

4)      They talk to their children.

 

After letting my students take a look at the blackboard, I would ask them why certain sentences are spelled with an ‘s’ at the end, or without. In a learning conversation, I could correct my students when needed.

After discussing the rules, I would let my pupils look the rules up in their text books.

When we discovered the rules for using –s after a verb, ( an –s is placed after a verb when the noun is singular and in the third person) , I would ask them to use this rule in practice. My pupils get devided into pairs of two, and they have to converse with each other, applying the rule.

 

Theory 2: Audio-lingual theory

 

Background

This method is based on findings of the behaviourist theory. In this theory, it is believed that pupils will learn grammar effectively, if grammer is taught in a drill-like manner. Good answers are praised and faults are punished. Praisement are done by giving complement to the pupils for giving the right asnwer, whereas faults are condemned.  

I can compare this theory with training a pet or a child social behaviour.

 

How?

This method is done by the teacher who say phrases out loud. The pupils have to mimic the teacher. Vocabulary is taught in context, without any further explanation or use of the mother tongue.

There are three forms of drills which can be used by the teacher, of which the student have to respond accordingly.

 

Case-study

If I would put this method into practise, I would first use the infliction-drill.

 “ Okay, students we’re going to do some exercizes in class. You’ll hear a sentence which is put in a plural or in a singular form. Then, you have to say the same sentence out loud in the opposite form. Thus in a singular form, you tell me the same sentence,but in plural form. And in plural form when I tell you a sentence in a singular form.”

 

 “ I ate a sandwhich today with my friend.”

Pupils: “ We ate sandwhiches today with our friends. “

 

Teacher:  “ We are going on Holiday to Spain.”

Pupils:  “ I am going on holiday to spain. “ 

 

Theory 3: TPR-method ( Total Physical Response)

site:

 

Background

This theory makes use of learning a language through actions. The emphasis is on acquiring language, through extensive use of body-expressions. According to James j. Asher (1979), the developer of this method, every human being has the neurobiological characteristiscs for learning every language on earth. In contrast to the audio-lingual theory, TPR doesn’t force pupils to use the target language correctly, but has a more relaxed approach. The pupils are allowed to speak when they have gain enough convidence. This is due to the teacher will first explain what they have to do, before they have to do perform the action.

 

How?

First, the teacher explains the action and performs it in front of class. After performing the action in class, the children or pupils have to act out what the teacher performed. The teacher performs a few more actions, and after performing, he’ll command what the pupils have to perform. In this manner, He makes the exercize gradually difficult. Pupils learn how to connect English words to actions.

case-study

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Theory 4: L2 vocabulary acquisition through reading

 

Site: http://www.marshalladulteducation.org/pdf/briefs/L2%20VocabularyRdg.Coady.pdf

 

Background

This theory is based on context-learning vocabulary acquisition. Vocabulary is learned through reading a lot. This theory is based on the perception that certain words need to occur ten to twelve times in different contexts, before they are learned. However, a L2 learner first have to learn a certain amount of words in order to be able to read. This is called a  ‘vocabulary treshold’. Researches estimates, that the amount of words is around 3000 till 5000 words.

 

How?

It’s very important to instruct first graders, for example, with texts which contain known words ( basic-level words) . A teacher should also be very keen on the wide variety on how English is taught in primary schools, because this may cause a variety in the basic knowledge of your pupils. The teacher has to provide texts which everybody can understand. At the same time, the texts should be challenging enough. After reading, the teacher should ask the pupils to make an vocabulary log which they can use to study. The texts should compromise with the pupils’ experience. Examples are texts about pupils’ hobbies and interests, according to that age, of course. After reading the texts, the teacher should discuss those text in class. Pupils can place their new-learned words

 

Theory 5: Learning by Teaching (LbT)

site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_by_teaching

 

Background

Learning by teaching is a method which is used for both motivating and learning pupils. Pupils will become more aware of their learning process. They become responsible for teaching their peers, which will result in a more comprehensive feeling.

 

How?

The learners should be assigned to instruct their peers with a certain area. As a teacher, I could assign my pupils to let them teach different vocabulary assignments for instance. The vocabulary should be devided into smaller components which could be taught in small session by pupils.

 

 

 

 

BB-assignment 10: My educational background

Vmbo-tl

After primary school, I went to VMBO-TL, which literally means: “ preparatory middle-level applied education”. This type of secondary education prepares students with a vocational training and a theoretic background. I can clearly remember that in my first year of my secondary school carreer, we did a lot in class.  The first lessons we spent learning the basic verb ‘to be’. My teacher wrote down all the singular persons and all the plural persons on the blackboard. The teacher first helped us with our pronunciation by reading the verbs out aloud. After she ( in this case) instructed us, we had to repeat her. We had to repeat:  I am, You are, He is, she is, it is, etc. The teacher used the audio-lingual method to teach us the most-used verb in the English-spoken world. We were corrected if we made mistakes in our pronunciations. I think my teacher took a rather severe approach on learning us this verb for two reasons: The school’s teachers had sometimes a rather orthodox view on students, that’s why they thought sometimes that we should get drilled. The other apparant reason is because the verb ‘ to be ‘ is very important.  The verb ‘ to be’ is  used in nearly every sentence in the English-spoken world, so I think it’s very important to learn it in a direct manner.

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my old secondary school: LFC

HAVO

After passing my exams at VMBO-tl, I went to the HAVO. HAVO stands for:” Higher General Continued Education". After my HAVO I went to Windesheim University. At the HAVO, I was taught English in a more inductive way. In my fourth and fifth year, I was taught English grammar in a very rapid way. I was actually mentally challenged to immediately apply what I learned into practice.

The teacher first instructed various tenses and grammar rules. For instance, the past perfect, the present continuous, etc.

After we had been taught grammar for a few weeks ( and we had studied the theory), the teacher tested our knowledge by writing down various sentences down on the blackboard. He asked every student to explain why a certain sentence was written like it was written, and which rule was applied on that given sentence. His teaching method didn’t really follow the same exact pattern of the EEE-method, but he made clearly use of the explanation stage. We had to explain which generalization is used by a given sentence. I think this method was used, because the teacher wanted to mentally challenge us. Pupils who study at the HAVO are prepared for further educations where students are trained to become professionals ( like I’m now trained for becoming a teacher). I think these methods were used  because it’s very important that meta-cognitive processes are well-developed when pupils leave the HAVO.

 

BB-assignment 11: My own style of teaching

We aren’t allowed to teach in secondary school yet, because our internships starts in February.

However, I can give you my view on my ideas on how I will teach my future pupils.

 

Vocabulary is very important, because I found out that vocabulary is the most difficult part when learning a language. The EEE-method really appealed to me. I have sometimes difficulties with spontaneous speech, while I'm not having problems with understanding grammar rules. I think this integrated style of teaching is a very useful tool.My students will learn how to speak spontanously and they learn grammar at the same time.

The EEE-method is an example of a method where a lot of contribution is expected from the side of the youngsters. I think I demand contribution in my lessons from my students. In order to learn effectively, My pupils have to be active during my lessons. I want to become a teacher where students learn interactively. I will discuss things with my students, and I want to hear their opinion from them.

I think these benefits their leaching. Pupils who are passively listening to the teachers aren't learning anything at all. They have to be very active, and I feel that I have to be someone who give interactive assignments where I sometimes have to take more distance to my pupils. In that role, I'll be a kind of director who correct or praise students for either their mistakes or improvements.

 

BB-assignemtn 12: Commentaries on myths

Myth 1: " The meaning of words should not be allowed to vary or change"

Critics are afraid of changing language, because changing language mean that a different word or variety can miss their meaning entirely. Changes of words can occur very rapidly or they can change over centuries. However, critics came to an agreement that language should not be allowed to change or vary, because it will pollute language, and cause massive confusion.

I don't agree with those critics, because one can easily find the meaning of a word in the context that word is placed in a sentence. Moreover, words are not entirely changed. Most of the time only prefixes or suffixes are added to the word, to make an word negative or positive.

 

 

 

 

Myth 3: ‘The media are ruining English’

Blaming the media for ruining the English language, is a development from the last years. Before that, teachers and parents were the one’s to blame. People are very angry at media for not ‘polishing their dirty fingernails’. Metaphorically those critics accuse journalists for not using proper language in their articles. However, the writer of this myth states that language nowadays changes very drastically. This is represented by the cuckoo-model. The cuckoo-model is explained by the fact that a young cuckoo competes with another cuckoo and pushes it out of the nest. Changes in language go in the same manner. Critics believe that language changes mystically, without noticing.  The writer explains that journalists see challanges quickly and yet critics see this as a way too polute language.

 

I naturally agree with the writer on this subject, because I studied journalism myself last year. I know how much skill is involved in making an article short and still informational. To critics, it may occur that articles are just for the purpose of sensation and merchandise. Journalists who are working for a serious paper, want to represent society as it is. They are clever observers who pick up changes faster than most people do. That’s why they spot changes in language genuinely quick and spraid them among the masses. To critics, this may seem as a way to sell their paper, but what journalists do is just  represent society. This includes using  the afore-mentioned changed language aswell.

 

Myth 4: ‘French is a logical language’

 According to the French inhabitants and count Rivarol (1753-1801), French is the most logical and clear language that exists in the European continent. Rivarol claims that the language can’t be subject to vagueness nor obscurity. J. Duron even goes further. He doubted if there has ever existed a language since the time of the Greeks, which is so precisely, as the French language. 

 This is not true at all, when you take a close  look at sentences which are often used in the French-spoken language. In most languages word order follows the same basic rule: i.e.: subject- verb- object. The French language, however, doesn’t always follow this rule at all.

In the sentence: “Mon chien, je l’ai perdu. « , ( Mon chien= object, ai perdu= verb, je= subject) the basic rule for word order is completely ignored in this sentence.

 The idea of French being a logical language, is due to the national stereotypes, which developed in Europe centuries ago. Every country’s language got a stamp based on cultural indicators. The Italian language for instance, is according to many people, a very musical language, due to the association with opera music. For the french it would be the association with the famous French pilosophers in the age of enlightenment .

 To put an end on the idea that a language can be either elegant or not, or logical or not,I don't think  that differences in clarity and logically are not found in the language itself, but in the way the people use the language. Language on itself can't be classified as 'logic', because there are over a billion people who can lay their hand on one language.

 

Myth 6: Women talk to much

This is an interesting myth, because Nicole and me actually investigated at which points men and women differ in using language ( assignment 13). Their are two aims for talking. The first goal is to enhance your position, by using the right information at the right time. The second goal is to establish contact with others and support each other. Men tend to be more talkative when they are in public areas, where they can raise their social status. Women , however,  talk more when they are in private discussions where they are confident. Thus, when and where women and men talk, depends on the social context.

I can conclude that this myth is based on sexual prejudice. Men who think that women talk too much, are more scared of their social position. They feel threatened by women who want to use their knowledge to help them out. Men think this is an attempt to enhance their social position.

 

Myth 7: “ Some languages are harder than others”

There are a lot of criteria regarding finding a language difficult from another one. We can distinguish several criteria: geographical causes ( Holland is a neighbouring country to Germany for example), linguistic causes (English has a lot in common with Dutch), cultural causes ( people can easily misinterpret language when they are not attuned to the customs of a country).  In general, one’ll always find difficulties with learning a new language. However, learning the language structure ( grammar and rules) is the easiest part. According to the writer, learning a different vocabulary is the most difficult part for a l2 learner.

I agree on his view. Grammatic structures can take time to learn, but are generally not the hardest part of a language. Althought learning grammatic structures is relatively easy, I often find myself struggeling for the right words. One’ll always have to learn new words, but those can be learned aswell. My conclusion is that language learning takes time, but can be done when there’s proper time invested.

 

Myth 8: "Children can't write or speak proper English anymore"

Decline of a language is caused by insufficient use of lanugage by the younger generation it is said. Moreover, linguistic decline is compared with moral decline. Critics blame the rather permissive approach on teaching pupils English. They refer to the Golden Age of Literacy, when they talk about the generation which was highly literate.  However, research states that pupils in the twenty-first century are more literate than their counterparts in the twentieth century. Evidently, this so-called Golden Age doesn’t exist, because literacy in England has only been rising since World War 2. There are nowadays more universities situated in England, and more people have acces to tertriary education. 

I think those critics have to first overthink their perceptions that children can’t speak or write English properly nowadays. I also think they have to be very sure , before they speak of a so-called ‘Golden Age’, because that age doesn’t entirely exist.

 

 

 

Myth 10: ‘Some languages got no grammar’

Grammar is definited as: the basic rules for speaking or writing a language, that has to be followed by the users.

 Every language has the same basic rules, like the distinction between the user and the reciepent in a sentence.

Any language does have grammar, because a language can’t simply exist without grammar rules. People are only able communicate with each other when both the speaker/writer, as the receiver, know the exact same rules for the language.  And I can be very short on this one, because I believe it’s utter nonsense that their actually exist languages which don’t have any grammar. A language does need rules, because I stated in: bb-assignment 4: Origins of language, that people primarly invented language to communicate with each other. Grammar is a very vital part in communication. It is a compromis which people made in order to communicate with each other. '

 

Myth 11: “Italian is beautiful, German is ugly”

There are languages which are more aesthetically compared to other languages. Most people (including me) like latin languages( i.e.: french, spanish, italian) over harsh-sounding languages ( arabic, german, chinese) These interpretations are based on different factors. The first factor is a very simple one. We just prefer certain sounds over other sound elements. This is biologically interwoven in us. Another factor which is inherently connected with prefering a language above another one, is status. We like a different language above another one, because a language has earned status through political propaganda or through the images different media create. I won’t say I’m not affected by these factors, because I have a clear preference for certain languages above other ones. It’s interesting though to find out which influences affect my preference for a certain language.

 

Myth 14: "Double negatives are illogical"

 

 

 

 

 

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