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Teaching MFL in only that language

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by neanderthal, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. First off - forgive my ignorance if my question is something that has been addressed within the last 20 years. I am basing this on my experience of learning languages and watching my current staff teach. I am the Head of an international school in Asia. The hardest posts to fill are always local language teachers (despite being in a currently of over 1 billion who speak the language - there's a clue to where I am!) as they tend to lack understanding of modern teaching methods. Currently we stream our language groups into 3 levels from absolute beginner to native-speaker. All 3 groups seem to spend a huge amount of time learning in English (praise, classroom management, instructions, questions and explanations all seem to be in English). As I said, I learnt French and German this way at school more than 20 years ago. However, I also learnt Russian from a Russian-speaker more recently and the lessons involved no English from day one. Admittedly the first week was a bit odd as we made sounds repeatedly and practiced letters. However, after this, progress was exceptional! I have changed my recruitment policies for local language teachers so that I am less interested now in qualifications and more in 'affinity' to English education and willingness to learn. Alongside this I am putting aside time to 'train' them - including investigating external support; one of the first things I want to look at is how to teach without using English (generally the local teachers I have employed have been so proud of their English, they're rather reluctant not to use it!). Am I barking up the wrong tree? Or is this how languages are taught today anyway? What are your opinions? And is there any online type training courses you know of (I've looked at SAOS as a starter)
     
  2. First off - forgive my ignorance if my question is something that has been addressed within the last 20 years. I am basing this on my experience of learning languages and watching my current staff teach. I am the Head of an international school in Asia. The hardest posts to fill are always local language teachers (despite being in a currently of over 1 billion who speak the language - there's a clue to where I am!) as they tend to lack understanding of modern teaching methods. Currently we stream our language groups into 3 levels from absolute beginner to native-speaker. All 3 groups seem to spend a huge amount of time learning in English (praise, classroom management, instructions, questions and explanations all seem to be in English). As I said, I learnt French and German this way at school more than 20 years ago. However, I also learnt Russian from a Russian-speaker more recently and the lessons involved no English from day one. Admittedly the first week was a bit odd as we made sounds repeatedly and practiced letters. However, after this, progress was exceptional! I have changed my recruitment policies for local language teachers so that I am less interested now in qualifications and more in 'affinity' to English education and willingness to learn. Alongside this I am putting aside time to 'train' them - including investigating external support; one of the first things I want to look at is how to teach without using English (generally the local teachers I have employed have been so proud of their English, they're rather reluctant not to use it!). Am I barking up the wrong tree? Or is this how languages are taught today anyway? What are your opinions? And is there any online type training courses you know of (I've looked at SAOS as a starter)
     
  3. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    If you have extremely motivated students (as you were with Russian) and they will get lots of lesson time to study the language, it might work to have everything in target language.
    If you have a mixed bunch of students who are only getting 2 or three hours per week of lessons, progress will be slow. They'll learn oft-repeated phrases but pictures and gestures will not explain many aspects of the new language.
    The Communicative Approach can end up as nothing more than a holiday phrase-book approach to language learning.
    TEFL in the UK relies on the Communicative Approach because the students don't have a common language in which explanations of grammar etc can be made. If your students have a common language, it should be used for clarification.
     
  4. Thanks for your post - the students have a common language in English, but for up to 70% this is not their first language and around 20% of them receive support to help them learn English. There is no one other common language (although German, Korean, French and Spanish figure highly).

    The students get 40 minutes daily, 5 days a week and their ages range from 5 years to 14 years old (although in each class there's only a 1 or 2 year age range) and are generally motivated and keen - although possibly, currently, less so for this language than other lessons.
     
  5. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    With the younger ones, where grammar explanation is OTT anyway, I'd say that as much immersion in the Target Language as possible is the order of the day, with lots of songs and rhymes, card games, playing shop etc and simple stories told using large picture books.
    With the older children, English should be used for explanation and to resolve misunderstandings if it is the common denominator language.
     

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