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jueves, 23 de junio de 2005

Look at THAT other language


Still here in this roller coaster ride.I was at the faculty today and I accidentally overheard some teachers speak about foreign language. Since this is a Language Faculty, it shouldn't be very surprising. The aspect that caught my attention was that they were commenting on how people perceive a foreign language. They didn't get into to many details, plus I didn't hear a lot, but it got me thinking.

On the one hand we have a person or group of people that want to learn a foreign language, and on the other we have the foreign language. The question that needs to be posed here is - How do people perceive the foreign language they want to learn? What do they think of it? Does a learner see the language as a whole entity, static, or an everyday tool, dynamic? Would these two perceptions have an impact in the way the learner will assimilate the language? As a final interrogative - Does the learner see the target language as a foreign entity that needs to be confronted or something that will, at one point, be taken in or assimilated, like the mother tongue?

If it were that students think of the target language as a foreign entity, a static whole, surely they would have trouble confronting it. The very foundations of language teaching lead us to believe that we must personalize the target language. As teachers, we must create practical situations in the classroom, create the opportunities were students can practice and make the language theirs. But, how can this be effective if the learner sees the target language as a distant body?

To be honest, in my experience I have tried to bring together the learner and the language as much as I could. I've done activities, conversations as well as insist on the use of English, in my case, but in all of this time I have never stopped and asked the learners how they see the target language. Without a doubt, this is something that I must change and look into further.

I believe that if the teacher is aware of how the learners view the language, distant entity or something to be attained - make my own - then better strategies can be developed to confront which ever situation.

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