My text is a German textbook for basic level German called “Vorprung”. The book starts out with interesting cartoons and characters that I enjoyed reading. It also starts out with many matching, true/false, and fill in the blank exercises which are helpful. The exercises are mostly in German, yet the instructions are given in English. At the very beginning of the text, exercises are in English and German to make it easier to understand for the reader. A lot of the exercises prompt students to look at the pictures and interpret what is going on by matching the action to the German definitions. It is wise to have a clear picture where not a lot of things are going on and this is exactly what this textbook held to. Translations are evident throughout the text. Italics and bold letters help to separate the nouns from the verbs and so on. I find everything to be very clear and easy to understand. The same exercises are practiced throughout the text. Though, at the end, students begin to get directions in German instead of English and are asked to write their own interpretations or short answer questions instead of fill in the blanks. It gets progressively harder but nothing the students couldn’t do if they applied themselves earlier in the textbook. Overall, I really enjoyed the text. Especially the short cartoons
Over time new methods of teaching and learning have become evident. Technology is one of them. With the invention of the computer and the internet many doors have been opened to methods of language learning and teaching. I believe in using all possible recources to ones disposal.
In today’s society, children and young adults have come to rely on technology for almost everything. From texting to youtube and facebook, people my age can’t go an hour without using something battery or electricly powered. Therefore, to keep students interested these operations should be used in teaching.
As I sit here writing this blog, I have received a number of text messages from classmates and friends. My father and I communicate over text messages as well. Ours, on the other hand, are written in German. I think a hip new second language teaching idea would be to allow students to use “texting technology” to teach grammar and sentence structures in the written form. Prepare a worksheet that has the image of a cell phone on it. Speech bubbles with a conversation between two friends making plans for lunch. They will say where they plan to meet, at what time, and then end the conversation with a friendly goodbye. It is common in modern day Germany to use SMS or text messaging. The students will then be given a similar blank worksheet where they will translate what the conversation was about. Perhaps you could give the students another blank cell phone worksheet and let them build their own short conversation about what they wish. I think this would be a fun exercise and something young students could relate to.
youtube.com is one of my favorite websites. You can find almost any video clip you could possibly want to find and even ones you don’t. Bringing this technology into the classroom is genius in many ways. It brings visual entertainment to a boring classroom atmosphere. When they eyes have something to see, the brain works a little harder. If you show your students clips from the target country, it connects and reinforces what you verbally teach them in the classroom. Brilliant! Another great thing is, students can go home and watch it over and over again. Of course, one must make sure these clips are appropriate. The internet is a dangerous place sometimes.
In summary, there are endless ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. One must keep an open mind and look at the interest of today. Imterests is no longer in textbooks and journals, it’s in computer notebooks and PDA’s. If we use this to our advantage, we will have little trouble influencing our youth for the better and making it easier for them to learn.
I have been giving a lot of thought to becoming a foreign language teacher. I spent a year substitute teaching and I’ve really grown to love the atmosphere of the classroom and being on the other side. German is my native language but I still have a lot to learn about the language before I can get in front of a classroom and teach it comfortably. Of course, to be a successful language teacher one must be very advent in the language itself. My plan is to spend sometime in Germany after my graduation with a Bachelors degree in German. When I return, I plan on getting my Masters degree in Education. Next semester, I’m starting to learn Spanish. I already know some Spanish by having friends who speak Spanish and working in a restaurant where the entire back house only speaks Spanish. I believe if I start learning a new language, it will help me associate with my future students. I have always loved all languages. In my life I want to learn Spanish, French, and Arabic in addition to my second language of English and broadening my German skills to the professional level of speech. There are many obstacles I will face, but I am motivated to press on no matter what. Meeting with other professionals who are teachers has helped me develop the idea of becoming a language teacher. One of my best friends teaches Spanish for Dallas ISD and says it is a very rewarding experience. It is hard to find people in the area who also speak German but I practice my skills at home with my parents quite frequently. I even encourage my father to correct me when I do not use the German language correctly.
Guidelines for language teaching would be quite helpful when developing lesson plans or recommendations for each stage of language ability. The goals for learning aren’t always evident to students. Of course, students want to be able to use the language when/if they go to the target country. Teaching skills that are useable is very important. Language is after all used to communicate ideas in a community. One could use the same scenario but look at it from different angles to teach the material from the bottom up. I am ready to start my journey to becoming a language teacher and language learner. I believe no matter what I must keep an open mind and listen to suggestions of peer teachers and professors. Two heads are better than one and a hundred heads are better than two. ☺
Grammar is a vital part of written and spoke language. The difference between written and spoken language must be understood when attempting to understand grammar points. Engaging the students in grammar exercises with the class as a whole would help with spoken language grammar. Do not ask too much of your students since they are new to the target foreign language. Hands-on exercises are more enticing for students and allow them to see the usefulness of the skills being taught, first hand. Make sure the skills are repeated and then expanded on, consistency in the classroom is very important. Utilize student prior knowledge, preconceptions, or beliefs the L2 language to real-life situations.
The value of grammar differs from culture to culture. For example, in English language classrooms the focus is on sentence structure. Putting the noun before the adjective and so on and so forth. Pro-nouns, nouns, adjectives, verbs, subjects, and punctuation are vital parts of grammar. Grammar rules must explain the use of words and in what ways they are acceptable in the written vs. the spoken language. A good way to enforce grammatical rules of another language is the repeat them as often as possible. Instill them in students by drilling them on specific grammar points. The more repetition (not too boring, of course) there is in the classroom, the better the students will soak up the information being put out. Testing on skill sets is also important. A focus on sentence structure would help students connect between the written and the spoken language. Once students grasp sentence structure they can begin to do partner work where they are communicating with one another in short sentences. Make them understand the difference between present tense and past tense sentences. In addition to that you can also practice speaking in the first person and speaking in the third person. There are many varieties of exercises you could practice in class. I would try to be more creative in my teachings to keep the students interested in the material being learned. Maybe by making sentences that are informative to their age group. If the students are interested and involved they will learn better and remember the material in the long run.
The main idea behind learning a new language is to become more proficient in and around the use of that language. This means, when hearing the language, being able to comprehend what was said then process and create output (a response) in the L2 language. Listening is a major component to learning. Teachers should emphasize listening in the classroom. This means engaging the students in listening based activities and allowing them to process the information then come up with their own ideas of what was said. Students feel accomplished when you allow them to come up with their own interpretations. After they have done this, you can go back and analyze the text together to reinforce what was happening and/or correct any mistakes the students may have made during the listening activity. When choosing a listening activity, like in many other cases of the language learning process, use something that the students may have so background knowledge in. This would allow students to feed off their background knowledge in order to understand the text in their foreign language. I would introduce a simple text, let the students work together to try and figure out what the text was about, details of the text, and so forth then come back to a class discussion. The whole class would listening to the text again, then they will probably have a much more clear understanding of the text and will be able to understand it more in depth if they heard it again. The whole point of listening is to understand. Drawing clues from what one hears to create the big picture. Of course, listening is a quite activity. This is why I agree with Mr. al-Batal’s approach to let the students brainstorm together in groups.
When I came to the United States in the fourth grade, all I could really do was listen to people speak English around me and try to figure out for myself what was being said. This meant sometimes having people repeat what was said or say it in a different context so I could grasp the true concept and meaning of the vocabulary being used. It would be helpful to students in the classroom to use the vocabulary in the listening activity out of context to broaden understanding. I wouldn’t use anything too far off from the listening text itself so students don’t get confused but I believe this would be a good way to reinforce listening.
Text-based foreign language teaching can be difficult. Many times it’s hard to make connections between a mother language and the L2 language one is trying to comprehend. It’s important to present readers with a text that is of interest to them as well as something that isn’t beyond their comprehension level.
When selecting a text, take a students background knowledge into account. If a student hasn’t had much education on the topic, maybe select a text on a lower level. If they can pick up context clues it will be easier for them to understand the text and get something out of reading it.
I noticed that when our group took on the task to read an article in French (a language that none of us spoke fluently) we went through the text searching for words that were familiar to us. Searching for information can reveal the main idea of a text. Once you get the main idea, one can re-read the text and search for details to help comprehension. Re-reading, critical thinking and considering the culture at hand are very important. Once we got the main idea it was a breeze to translate (mostly guess) the meanings of other points in the reading.
The shorter a text is the easier it will be to comprehend. Sometimes an overflow of information can be intimidating to a L2 learner and discourage them from tackling the task at hand. If a text has illustrations or picture relating to it a reader will pick up the main idea of the text much faster than if a text didn’t have any visual clues relating to it. However, sometimes pictures can be misleading and leave students guessing at the information in the text instead of reading it to find out what its about.
Group assignments can really help in the classroom. If students work together to read a text in the L2 language it may become more fun for them. Two or more heads is always better than one. They teach each other in addition to you teaching them. In turn, reinforcing the material. Just make sure the noise level doesn’t get out of hand! If someone can’t hear himself or herself think they will surely not be able to translate a foreign language to understanding.
In my opinion, vocabulary has importance in the classroom. Definite emphasis should be put on vocabulary when teaching a Foreign Language. Vocabulary should be connected with real-life situations to connect the bridge between different cultural contexts of the vocabulary.
In the Unterrichtspraxis, American and German students express the difference between the American and German meaning of Cliquen and Kneipen. Clique, in my opinion, is a group of young adults or teenagers who hang out on a regular basis and share common interests. A clique can discriminate against individuals who wouldn’t “fit it” in the opinion of the clique members. Since I have been living in the United States since I was in the 5th grade, my opinion is more American than German. Although, I have friends and cousins who still reside in Germany around my age and are also members of a group of friends or “clique” who do most things together when it comes to socializing. A Kneipe is a bar or watering hole where people go to socialize and drink. My experiences with bars in America and bars in Germany are quite different. The crowd at German bars was always more youthful. Younger people frequent “kneipen” and often go with a small group of close friends. American bars are the same except people tend to go in pairs of two or three and socialize to meet new people. Americans are in search of meeting people at the bars where Germans just go to have a good time. I believe the vibe in German bars is more “chill” and “down to earth” than the vibe in American bars where I often feel like people are judging me at a distance based on appearances.
Vocabulary in different cultures can have completely different meanings when used in the target culture. Sometimes there is no correct translation for a word from one language to another. Words can have different textual/cultural definitions. However, vocabulary is still important although it may sometimes not be concise or have the exact same definition. Repetition of the vocabulary in the classroom is very important. The more you use the word in different contexts the easier it will be for students to learn the vocabulary. Using different mediums to teach it would also help. Perhaps using power point in addition to pictures and audio examples. Using the vocabulary in English and the target language would also help define differences as well as similarities.
Language is meaning. Language is understanding. Language is communication.
Language conveys meaning, is interpreted by understanding, which creates communication. Without one of these aspects, a language would not exist. Every language has its own channel of communication. Things mean different things to different people. Every culture is unique. Things are said in English may not have the same meaning when translated into a different language. Chances are, a lot of things won’t make much sense at all. Things that could be a complement in English may be an insult in another language. Even if it’s not anything oral or written, body language is also a vital part of communication and could be misinterpreted in another culture. Religion and practice or perception of religion differs in many different cultures as well. In Germany, it isn’t appropriate to ask a person what church they go to or what religion they practice. It is a very personal matter. In contrast, Americans often ask each other what their religious values or beliefs consist of. We are a more social and more open society than the German society.
Textbooks can be very misleading when it comes to translation. Many textbooks do not express cultural value to the audience. Therefore, the reader cannot recognize what is and what isn’t appropriate to say when in the target culture. I believe that authors should research, more in depth, the meaning of words or phrases that are culturally sensitive. Then convey those meanings, in addition to the translation, to the reader. A problem with that may be that cultures and languages are constantly changing, so research would have to stay up to date.
My understanding of language is that it is complex. Language learning should be culture specific and clarify meaning well. If these things are left out, there will not be a good understanding of the language as a whole. Words and definitions can only get someone so far. One must be engaged in the target language, research vocabulary and the cultural meaning as well as its use in the target country.
In order for lower level learners to understand, points should remain very simple and easy to learn. I wouldn’t go into too much depth when trying to explain things so the class won’t get confused or overwhelmed with the material. In higher -level courses, going at a faster pace and introducing harder material would be okay.
This past Monday, Frau Rings had the entire class engaged in a language practice exercise named “The Picture Game”. It involved the whole class shouting out answers to question asked about large pictures of settings affiliated with the German culture. All of the pictures were realistic and involved some constant subject, such as a man being present in each picture or a table or chair being present in each as well. If a word is taught, for example Alt (meaning old), one could demonstrate the difference between old and young by holding up pictures of an old man and a young man and making your audience decide the difference. To make it a bit more interesting one could also include pictures of something old instead of someone. There are endless options to this exercise but one must keep in mind that learning is slow and the best way to teach something is to keep it simple and easy to understand.
Therefore, pictures that are clear and easy to distinguish from each other would be my first choice. Making the goal clear is ideal for L2 learners. If there is confusion about the pictures it might create confusion about the vocabulary taught in the exercise.
Interaction with native speakers is another great way to learn. Often people can’t fill the gap between the spelling and sounds of a new foreign language. By listening to native speakers, that gap can be easily filled. Native speakers must speak slow and proper in order to get the point across. Patience, again, is very important. The importance of oral skills in any foreign language is at the top of the list. Speaking is the most important form of communication. Once the sound of the word is understood, one can proceed to the spelling and context of it. Make sure there is a lot of praise and input from the instructor to keep students on the right path. Teaching in the target language is important. When explaining things it may be easier to speak where everyone can clearly understand.
The International Review of Applied Linguistics is a study made of people who are multilingual. As in individuals who are learning L3 and L4 languages, which means their third and fourth foreign language. The people in this study were non-native Romance language learners. They were in pursuit to acquire French, Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese (Brazilian Portuguese). The study finds that it is easier for people who have already learned one or more foreign languages to learn a brand new language. Their anxiety to learn the language is in most cases lower than people who are learning their first foreign language. I find this evidence to be true, since I am an L2 in German and hope to become an L3 in French or Spanish. I am less afraid to learn a new language since I am bilingual already. It is even easier for a learner to take on a new language if their L1 or L2 language relates to their L3. Similarities can come in handy when it comes to reading, writing, and speaking new languages. The study hopes to expand into various other foreign languages.
Bardel, Camilla. Lindqvist, Christina. (2010) “Approaches to Third Language Acquisition: Introduction” International Review of Applied Linguistics. V1. 87-90