Poster 4: You Know You Are Learning When...
Project the purple poster, Poster 4. Have someone read the heading, then Point 1. When they have finished, make these points about Point 1:
“You know you are learning when you understand the conversation. With languages, isn’t that the best way to tell if you are learning, when you understand the conversation?”
“Here’s a question for you. It’s a point we’ve made before. When people speak, do they use individual words like table or blue or button? Is that how you understand them? (No) Or do they use a bunch of words that are all connected? Yes - a bunch of words. So, for example, if someone used those three words together in a sentence like “The button is on the blue table”, then you would understand what they were trying to say, because the words are connected, right?” (Yes)
“So, when we understand [name of language], it means that we are thinking about the message and not the individual words, right? (Read that again.) You’re not thinking about the individual words that I’m saying right now, right? Why do you think that’s true?” Give them a moment to reflect. Then say, “It’s because the individual words go by too fast! Does that make sense?”
“Think about it. It means that if - during class this year - I say things like this in [name of language]: The pig ran around the barn three times, you don’t even have time to think, “Oh that first word means pig. I know what a pig is! Oh, and the second word I heard was ran. I know what that word means too!” By that time the speaker is onto another sentence or even another paragraph! You just don’t have time to think that fast. You just know what that whole sentence means automatically without thinking about it when all the words are spoken together in context, right?”
“The point is that it all happens too fast, right? So, the only way you can learn [name of language] is to practice understanding entire messages vs. learning individual words. (Repeat that.) That is the big deal in this class and I want to make sure that everyone understands HOW we will be learning [name of language] this year. You will be trying to understand the messages and not the individual words that I say in class this year.”
“OK - that finishes our discussion of Point 1 of Poster 4 here. Any other questions on this? OK, now we can go on to Point 2 of Poster 4.”
Poster 4 - Point 2
Have someone read Point 2. Then say:
“OK, this point is about writing. When you listen to the message without focusing on the individual words of the message like we just said, you end up being able to write better! It just happens automatically. And the same thing is true with reading. The more you read, the better you write, also.”
Go to the board and write down in random order these four words in a column: reading, listening, speaking, writing.
Now say, “So, let’s talk about these four words a bit. Which one do you think happens first when you learn a language? Which one happens second? Third?”
Discuss with the class which of the four skills occurs first. When they say that listening happens first, write down a 1 next to the word listening, etc. Say, “Yes, listening is first. Think of a baby. They listen before they speak, right? And they listen a lot! They listen all the time! That’s all they do!”
“Then, what’s next? Do they speak next? They might say goo-goo, right? So they are trying to speak, right? They try to say “mom” but it comes out kind of like, (here imitate a baby saying mama, which should get a laugh from the kids - if no laugh, then you will feel like a biscuit.) Then say: “Well we can’t really say that the baby is speaking - he’s not going to speak for many years, right?”
“So, we can’t say that speaking happens after listening.”
“And talking about speaking, have you ever heard of Albert Einstein? He was a certified genius and one of the greatest scientists who ever lived. And yet where most children start to speak at around age 2 or 3, he didn’t start speaking until he was 5 and they thought he was stupid. So don’t worry about it if you don’t speak [name of language] right away. It’s normal and like I said I will never ever force you to speak in here.”
“Then what happens next after the listening if it’s not speaking, the reading or the writing? What do you think?”
Most of the kids at this point will say that it’s reading, so put a 2 by that word.
“So, the first thing that people do when they are very little is to listen, then they start reading, and then what’s the next thing you think they do, write or speak? I would think it’s speaking. Writing is the last thing to emerge,
Put a 3 next to the word speaking, and a 4 by the word writing. Now say, “OK - that’s the way we will do it in our class.”
Poster 4 - Point 3
(Someone reads Point 3.)
“After a while, you will notice that what I say in class in [name of language] starts to look like a movie in your minds. Well, what happens in movies? You listen and see things happen, right? So that is what Point 3 here means. You listen, and we make like a “movie” in our minds out of the words because we our focusing on the message which allows the movie to happen in our minds. You will see how it works as long as you keep listening. Does everyone understand? Now, let’s go on to the final point on this poster.”
Poster 4 - Point 4
(Someone reads it.)
“Now, this is our goal. It will take some of us only a few months of listening to get to this level. Some will take longer. Don’t worry if it happens more slowly for you. It has nothing to do with intelligence. It’s just how we are wired - some people are wired to understand speech and to start speaking faster than others.”
“So it is important in this class that you don’t compare yourself with anyone else in here and I won’t grade you that way, as you already know. Languages are different from your other classes. We all learn at different speeds. Some of you may take all year for you to forget that it’s another language. Don’t worry about it.”
“Are there any last questions on this poster?” Discuss if necessary.