Sunday, 30 September 2018

5-minute introduction to Stephen Krashen

I can't think of a better way to spend five minutes on professional development (as an ESOL teacher) than by spending it in the company of Stephen Krashen.

The only problem is that of hyper-choice; there's just so much online by, and about, the man that it is difficult to decide where to begin.

And so - let me decide for you . . .

1. Get a feel for the man from the first one and a half minutes of this 3-part talk:

2. Then, skip ahead to the 5:03 mark (thereby saving over three-and-a-half minutes!) and listen for four more minutes (until 9:10).

Of course, you are free to listen to the entire talk later in your own time!

Friday, 21 September 2018

What I get from Globish

I first came across the word 'Globish' (and hence the concept) in a Japanese bookshop while searching the shelves for any useful books on language learning.

Basically, it is the term for English as it is spoken around the world between non-native speakers.

It uses a smaller number of words, shorter sentences and simpler grammar.

Its purpose is to communicate messages quickly, easily, and 'relaxedly'. It doesn't fuss so much with being 'correct'. And that is what I both take from it and respect.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Introducing David Snopek, and what I got from him

I first got to know about David Snopek through his blog. I'm not sure whether it is still active, as its last post is dated March 2014. No matter - I'll just recount how and where I heard of him, and what that he had to say, or write, I found useful.

I was in Japan, I believe. And although I wasn't interested in learning Polish at the time (I'm more interested now) his free ebook of general principles intrigued me.

David was the first person I'd come across to use real material to pick up a language. Specifically, he used Harry Potter. David went into some detail explaining how to work though Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - or maybe the sorcerer's stone -  word for word, sentence by sentence, page by page.

I loved that idea. And I discovered that I could pick up Japanese copies of the series for peanuts.

In a(nother's) nutshell

If only the author of this video had gone on to create a language-learning channel, then I'd be out of a job!

  • Sink language so that it can be used on the fly.
  • 4 clear points to take you from 0% to maybe 20%
  • Acquisition, not learning
  • "Comprehensible input" - Krashen

Monday, 10 September 2018

Choose your own

Listen, Son, to what I have to say about comprehensible input. It's not something new you need to learn; you've used it in the past.

When you needed to learn Dutch after your family moved there, you did that through reading Ot en Sien and Kruimeltje. Later, when the folks returned to New Zealand and you needed to switch back to English, you read Superman comics, the Famous Five and you scoured the Children's Library shelves labelled Myths and Legends from Many Lands.

That's how you got yourself comprehensible input - by hunting down  interesting material at your level.

It’s possible thereafter to expand the difficulty limit of the material if you have a way to making it understandable (i.e. cheating is allowed.)

If you already know the story, that’s good (unless you are disinclined to re-read books or watch movies again and again). But you could get around that by seeking more by the same author, or by continuing in that genre.

If your listening is at a level where it supplements your understanding, then listen to the audiobook at the same time as you follow along on paper or the screen.

And if you read on screen, you might use an application that gives you the meaning of words when you scroll over them.
Yes, there are always means and ways.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Hurry, don't worry

There used to be a TV show: Kreskin. He was a mentalist / magician. He'd mind read and predict. Entertainment.

His show had a live audience. He'd call on members of that audience. He'd ofter tell them to "take you time, but hurry".

Now, that would make a great catch-phrase in the arena of language learning. You need to engage with focus, yet not engage your conscious brain. It's a question of focus-mode thinking versus diffuse-mode.

Monday, 3 September 2018

This is too easy!

I easily spent time on 3 languages this morning. It may prove almost too easy to learn a number of them quickly. It takes almost no effort to follow along as I listen. I hardly have to concentrate. I'm not required to remember anything. I don't need to study, look up words or do exercises. And yet I feel that I'm learning very quickly.

But let me spell out what my intentions are.

I want to get used to hearing and reading various languages. I'm talking about input. If I could achieve just the ability to listen and to read, I'd be happy. To actually speak or write languages is not my immediate goal. Output would comes after. My 'immediate' goal is to be able to understand my target languages.

At present I've only tackled Japanese, Dutch and German. You could call them my 'cheat' languages since I've already put in time with them. But I can predict that a whole bunch of others will come almost as easily. French, Spanish, Italian, and a Scandinavian language for fun. 

Their alphabets are more or less familiar to me. So are at least a hundred or more words. I'm convinced that with such a foundation my ListenRead techniques will work like a dream.

I suspect that the only difficulty may consist of mixing similar languages up e.g. Spanish and Portugese; Swedish, Danish and Norwegian; Russian, Czech and Polish.

But as long as each language has a distinctive 'flavor' (e.g. having its own alphabet) then I don't anticipate any problem.

Still, I'd happily admit that it's still early days.