Tuesday, April 17, 2012

828. Learning a language? At any age I think



One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “A few years ago I taught English to recently retired people, most of which had earned a university degree and worked as such professions as they had studied. Nice people, very nice. And we had fun.

We had two classes per week. They had enrolled the course to improve their English, to have their time engaged with something useful, and some of them had sons or daughters in an English-speaking country.

I was mainly concerned with having them speak and practice English. Adults can learn, even acquire a language, as H. D. Brown and Stevick put it (you can read posts #815 and 824).

Nevertheless, can oldies learn and acquire a language? I’m after this finding. I would say yes, but I cannot give you a qualified yes, or at least they can, but up to what extent? My old students did learn anc acquire English but the course was short. We tried hard to have all the class in English. If a student explained something in Spanish to someone else, I said to the former student to please explain that same thing in English.

Almost at the beginning of the course I specified some goals and points to take into account.. The goals and points were as follows, more or less:

1.     Make up realistic and naturalistic circumstances within the class, like An the airport. Create, make up the necessity to speak in English.
2.     Hand out worksheets with useful expressions and work on them.
3.     Have them speak however they can.
4.     Have them participate, also by turns, because a few hardly ever participate.
5.     Describe pictures from an illustrated magazine. Both I and they describe colorful two-page pictures, by turns.
6.     Exploit grammar, topics and vocabulary they’ve already learned for years. Some of them have a somewhat advanced level.
7.     At the end of the course they should think they’ve done something worth to do; they should have learned effectively.
8.     Hand out some worksheets with stories invented by me. They like stories.
9.     Take into account this ‘process’ of learning (and acquiring!) English: first they say or respond with words, later on sentences, and later on conversations.”

/ Photo from: nightingalehealthservices com. happy old marriage. The couple on the picture were not students of mine.
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