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The monolingual approach?

 
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dyak



Joined: 25 Jun 2003
Posts: 630

PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2003 7:09 pm    Post subject: The monolingual approach? Reply with quote

Apologies if this has already been asked/done… feel free to flame if that’s your persuasion; I’d prefer to be flambéed though.

I’ll be teaching monolingual classes for the first time next month, and was wondering if those in the know stick to TEFL ‘bible code’ and teach only in English or whether they use the local language, especially with the lower levels, or to explain grammar and so forth.

What’s the reality?
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guest of Japan



Joined: 28 Feb 2003
Posts: 1601
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2003 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I admit that I sometimes use a little Japanese in my very low level classes, I consider myself to be making a mistake when I do so.
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Jess_Laoshi



Joined: 18 Aug 2003
Posts: 76
Location: Currently Austin, TX

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2003 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Chinese is decent, so I'd explain occasionally with my beginning students when they just weren't getting it. I was teaching some students with extremely poor English who just could not keep up no matter what. More often, since it was a small class and the students sat around a big round table, what would happen was that the more competant students in the class would use Chinese to help the poor students grasp what new concepts/vocab. The class was very poorly made up. Half the class knew virtually no English, while the other half was around high intermediate level. I eventually had it out with my bosses over the way they screwed up placing the students. Because of that, Chinese was probably used more in my class than it should have been, because I chose to teach "up" to the students with higher ability, which left the lower levels often confused.
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latefordinner



Joined: 19 Aug 2003
Posts: 973

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2003 3:20 am    Post subject: Re: The monolingual approach? Reply with quote

dyak wrote:
Apologies if this has already been asked/done… feel free to flame if that’s your persuasion; I’d prefer to be flambéed though.

I’ll be teaching monolingual classes for the first time next month, and was wondering if those in the know stick to TEFL ‘bible code’ and teach only in English or whether they use the local language, especially with the lower levels, or to explain grammar and so forth.

What’s the reality?


I've only been in China for one year, so my hanyu isn't good enough to use for explanation. However I also work with chinese teachers whose english is, if not perfect at least adequate, so they handle direct translation (when its possible) and explain grammar. I have to work on this though, as even the best teacher cannot penetrate the brightest student's skull at the first try. English grammar is just that different from Chinese. So every once in a while I'll use a stock phrase, and I'll deliberately get it wrong just to make the point. E.g, Nar zai ta instead of ta zai nar. Oh, and I sometimes shout "Shou polan" when I call for homework. But that's another story.
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dduck



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Posts: 422
Location: In the middle

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2003 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I discovered the hard way that I had to teach my Elementary students in Spanish. My first lesson with then was a bit of a shock, because I'd assumed they'd understand some English! My bad. My students also ask me questions in Spanish, sentences they just aren't able to form in English yet - I try to reply in English first, and then Spanish if need be. I used to feel bad about it, but now I think it's the best and quickest way for these low-level students to pick up the basics.

Iain
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Roger



Joined: 19 Jan 2003
Posts: 9138

PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2003 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, in typical TEFLlands such as China and Taiwan, they let you grope your way around, and it is unprofessional!
There seems to me to be a contradiction in that mother-tongue English speakers are wanted, when in point of fact locals cannot communicate with native Englishers. This is a challenge that you have to handle.
My own upbringing stands me in good stead.
At secondary school, we took several foreign tongues, and none of our teachers would translate, explain grammar in our first language, or discuss subject-related topics in anything but the target language.
I do not understand why this approach has not made it to China or other East Asian countries! In fact, this is exactly the way Tibetans and other nationalities get their Chinese instruction!

There will always be kids that absorb your instructions, and there will always be laggards. In China, there will probably a lot more of the latter since the students get conditioned to do things in groups rather than as self-responsible individuals.
That may be the most important reason why so many are unable to communicate in English, especially at college or university level!

When I taught at kindergartens, I taught them all the necessary basics, using English, English and more English, repeating, demonstrating, prompting and setting up models among the students to be emulated by their peers. It worked wsonderfully. CHinese kids are as gifted as Westerners. The Chinese education system simply stunts their intellectual growth, imagination and ability to think in abstract ways. But I kindled all these healthy powers, the kids enjoyed it, and I enjoyed my lessons as well.
My students eventually had an excellent grounding in English upon which to build the next levels of English.
I do not know how Chinese can "understand" English grammar concepts such as tenses and SVA, since there are no equivalents in their own tongue. What benefit could there be for them in a Chinese-language explanation?
The core is for the to learn to CONCEPTUALISE the world the English way!
That's what people all over the world do when they learn a second tongue. You start from scratch learning to think! Once you know how to think in the target language, you expand the vocabulary!
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lajzar



Joined: 09 Feb 2003
Posts: 647
Location: Saitama-ken, Japan

PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2003 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I do not know how Chinese can "understand" English grammar concepts such as tenses and SVA, since there are no equivalents in their own tongue. What benefit could there be for them in a Chinese-language explanation?


Thats a bit harsh isn't it? English is perfectly adequate for teh task o describing wierd and wonderful grammatical concepts such as dual forms in Arabic and masculine/feminine nouns in French, not to mention my old school Latin textbook which, aside from actual passages to be translated, was entirely in English, yet other languages completely fail to do the reciprocal task? Isn't that attitude a little linguocentric? Another random example: Maltese has no verb 'to be' in the present tense. Yet my cousins manage to use it just fine in English.
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Capergirl



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 1232
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2003 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lajzar wrote:
Quote:
I do not know how Chinese can "understand" English grammar concepts such as tenses and SVA, since there are no equivalents in their own tongue. What benefit could there be for them in a Chinese-language explanation?


Thats a bit harsh isn't it? English is perfectly adequate for teh task o describing wierd and wonderful grammatical concepts such as dual forms in Arabic and masculine/feminine nouns in French, not to mention my old school Latin textbook which, aside from actual passages to be translated, was entirely in English, yet other languages completely fail to do the reciprocal task? Isn't that attitude a little linguocentric? Another random example: Maltese has no verb 'to be' in the present tense. Yet my cousins manage to use it just fine in English.


I agree with Lajzar. My (former) Taiwanese students - the ones at the intermediate and advanced levels - didn't seem to have any problem understanding such grammatical concepts in English.

As for "monolingualism", I think that if your students are beyond the beginner level, they ought to be taught in English only. I don't allow students to use electronic translators or first language-English dictionaries in class. They use the Oxford Wordpower dictionary, which has definitions in very plain language (in English). Other than that, they use their brains. I try to teach them different ways to get the meaning of a word, phrase, or passage. They won't always have a teacher or phrase book to help them. Wink

I'm also in favour of language immersion. I think that when students don't have the usual "crutches" at their disposal, they tune in to the second language more and learn faster. Spoon-feeding students is not doing them any favours. In fact, it impedes their progress. JMHO. Very Happy
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James Stunell



Joined: 29 Aug 2003
Posts: 21

PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2003 6:27 am    Post subject: The monolingual approach Reply with quote

Although I predominantly use English in the classroom and really don't believe that anyone would want to return to the days of grammar-translation, I do feel that there is good reason to use the students' L1 on occasions. After all, we are not trying to create ersatz native speakers but successful English users in their own right. A certain amount of contrastive analysis is, therefore, desirable if learners are ever going to come to terms with their new language in realtion to their first. Ane we shouldn't forget that some people actually learn better using methods involving translation. A lot depends on their personal learning style.
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