LEARNING FOREIGN LANGUAGES AND SPEAKING-A-LANGUAGE by Joël Cascade (Reunion Island-France)
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF SPEAKING-A-LANGUAGE?
“More matter with less art”
Welcome to SPEAKING (a language)!
What is the concept behind www.speaking-a-language.com?
WANT or NEED to SPEAK a FOREIGN LANGUAGE? NEED PRACTICE?
SPEAKING-A-LANGUAGE is a CONNECTION HUB to CONVERSATION RESOURCES for LEARNING NEW LANGUAGES.
PRACTICE SPEAKING/LISTENING OR READING/WRITING ON-LINE OR FACE TO FACE
CONNECTIONS IN A CAFE OR A PUB FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS
‘CREATE’ A RESOURCE BY OFFERING YOUR SKILLS OR SEARCH FOR THOSE WHO CAN HELP YOU.
CONNECTIONS - SHARING PRACTICAL RESOURCES - LEARNING TIPS
AUGMENTING CLASSROOM LEARNING AND ASSISTING INCIDENTAL STUDENTS OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES.
As a French teacher teaching English and as part of my experience of teaching French in a British school and translation into French to British students in a French university and English to French CPGE students, I’ve indeed been teaching different groups of students from a wide range of horizons over the past 14 years. These various teaching experiences have led me to wonder as to what bridges could be built to make it easier for any learner to study a foreign language.
Here are a few ideas which I would like to develop through SPEAKING-A-LANGUAGE (SPL):
- Motivation: - Whether studying due to need or desire, you the learner, will become more motivated with each milestone achieved. Practice speaking, reading or writing with a native of your target language and reach those milestones more expediently.
- Passion: - Early successes in communicating will provide for enjoyment - because we enjoy achievement! That’s far better than being bored!
- Commitment: - Now that you are rockin’ and rollin’ you can readily embrace that ‘scary’ thing called commitment. And that new language will soon be yours!
- When the learner has a motivation to learn a language it’s easier to develop a commitment to ‘his' work. Motivation sets the path for the early stages of communication in a foreign language. Early successes allow that path to more rapidly evolve to the conviction stage in the communication process. “We’re convinced!”
HUMANITY THRIVES ON EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION – “SO DO GOOD PARTYS!”
- Of course, you are on the road to autonomy in terms of language learning when you are able to make yourself understood in the target foreign language, unaided, and when you can express ideas which are understood by a native speaker. When the learners can make themselves understood, then they are communicating.
- As a former learner of ancient Greek and Latin, the question had crossed my mind: what’s
the use of learning a language of you don’t use the language? Well, in today’s modern world, you may need that language sooner or later!
Communication is the main thing! – So keep practicing, keep in touch with it, keep communicating with it!
- The initial ability to communicate will lead the student to more conviction. You reach a point where you are convinced that what you say will be understood and the resulting speech you deliver is actually convincing.
Convicted in absentia! - “Those visitors from last week? I could understand them no problem! We had a great time! I thought it was really great they put in some effort with our language!”
COMMITMENT – COMMUNICATION – CONVICTION
There lie, to my mind, what I would call the first of the four “C”s in the process of learning a foreign language : Now last but not least, CIRCUMSTANCES :
AS ANY GOOD DOCTOR KNOWS - MAINTAIN YOUR PRACTICE BY STAYING IN TOUCH WITH THE NATIVES.
- under which Circumstances should the communication process be carried out? Usually, the theatre where the leaner begins to communicate is within the class unit – that’s why it’s so important to make sure that you can express your ideas in a foreign language in the classroom. However, where possible, you should keep on communicating outside of the class unit whenever you have the chance.
SPEAKING-A-LANGUAGE conversation connections for language learning
- Maybe you live in Calais or close to the border and you can go to England easily if you study English for instance, fair enough. Or perhaps it’s not so convenient to go to England - so you’ll need an alternative.
- Look for or create opportunities to meet some native speakers around the place where you live – hence SPEAKING-A-LANGUAGE. An incentive to allow Erasmus students and language assistants to locate tandem conversation exchanges, by providing a ‘search and create’ hub.
- The more roundtable sessions or tandems you will attend, the more you will be able to communicate, and the more convincing and authentic your language skills should become.
III. The four “S” of speaking-a-language or how to get the concept off the ground
SPEAKING via all the roundtables in a foreign language
SHARING via language exchanges with the tandem face-to-face conversations in one (or two languages) with native speakers!
SOCIALISING via miscellaneous activities whose aim is to promote a foreign language
SPECIALING, by reading all the articles written by experts (linguists, teachers, professors…)
SEARCH FOR GROUP! (LEARNERS) HOST A GROUP! (NATIVES)
PRACTICE SPEAKING/LISTENING AND READING WRITING
- It would be indeed such a pity that learners, who cannot go abroad to practice the language, should not discover opportunities to practice the language locally – just throw a tandem and try to get in contact with a native speaker and just practice the language as if you were abroad!
TIPS for learners and teachers – online
SPEAKING-A-LANGUAGE is being set up to support learners and teachers. Tips for both students and teachers can be posted or blogged. Etc etc
- Some preparation: …and as speaking to a stranger may be intimidating, do prepare the text online beforehand so that you won’t be stuck! What am I going to say? Say that you’ve read the text and give your impressions about it, discuss the topics, the ideas... The idea behind this is that you have something to say as you will have studied the vocabulary and grammar at home before going off to your tandem or roundtable session – and I am convinced that things should be easier as the fear of being stuck without having anything to say will have disappeared!
- As you attend more and more sessions, your ability to understand and speak should increase as you are learning both ways – at home when preparing the text and in the café where you will be speaking about the text. In the tandem session, it is important that you read both texts – I mean your text (the English text if you are French) and the French text as well, so that you know what the text is about, because you can work out some ideas about the text of your co-tandem learner : in the tandem and roundtable sessions you are SPEAKING the foreign language and HEARING it as well.
- Indeed through the process of imitation, try to imitate and reproduce what you hear – try to reuse a word or phrase used by an Anglophone for example so that you become more intimate with the foreign language which will eventually become yours!
- In the additional chats and blogs, you are WRITING AND READING the language!
Either way – real meetings in cafés at tandems or roundtable sessions or virtual meetings online in chats or blogs – you are COMMUNICATING- and therefore you are developing the language skills in a friendly way in a natural process of everyday conversation. Once you have repeated the exercise on a regular basis, learning a language will become more natural as you get used to communicating in contexts which are close to the real communication you will have had abroad with native speakers, as if on a stage where you are players- the world has become the social network provided by SPEAKING-A-LANGUAGE as you will be able to interact with new friends using the foreign language(s) you are studying as students or the languages which you would like to brush up as adult learners insofar as SPEAKING-A-LANGUAGE targets all adult learners interested in improving their skills in modern languages worldwide : the game consists in playing the role of the globetrotter, which means that as you cannot trotter all over the globe whenever you feel like it, then you can at least play the role of the globetrotter while speaking the language all over the world just as if you were in the foreign country! If anything, SPEAKING-A-LANGUAGE should help you become a globe-speaker!
…last but not least, if you click on CULTURAL PROGRAMME you will find miscellaneous activities (films, Erasmus picnics, lectures, sightseeing, trips…) which you can also attend…to SPEAK a foreign language!
IV Speaking-a-language and its speakers
Welcome to Xavier, Tobias, Anne-Sophie, Isabelle, Wendy, Martine, Soledad, William, Alessandro and Lars!!! Welcome to the most famous Erasmus students!!!
You must have recognized the famous cast of Cédric Klapisch's film "L'Auberge Espagnole" (2002)!!! This French film, directed and written by Cédric Klapisch, was released in English-speaking countries as POT LUCK or The Spanish Apartment, telling the story of Xavier (Romain Duris), a 24 year old economics graduate student who has made up his mind to spend a year in Barcelona, Spain, as part of the Erasmus programme, where he meets up with the whole bunch of new friends from Western Europe - all Erasmus students from England, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany and Denmmark! The feeling of belongingness to the same group - the famous Erasmus group of students who have been travelling all over the world since the Programme started in 1987 (more than 1.8 million students!) is all the stronger as they live far away from their home countries! Fair enough, you will need to speak your native language with your friends, particularly when you feel homesick, but please try and meet the local population as well!...and make the most of speaking-a-language.com!! Living abroad is a wonderful experience! May I suggest that you take this outstanding opportunity to widen your horizons and discover a new culture through its language and customs!
Please do take part in this "feast of languages" and try to join as many "tandem" conversation exchanges or roundtable sessions (click on Forum) as possible during your stay abroad! And feel free to give your feedback about the miscellaneous topics you will find in the different blogs! Last but not least, don't hesitate to join some of the special events (click Talking in groups)!
Suggestion : on your profile please mention that you are an Erasmus student...indicate your mother tongue as well as the foreign languages you can speak, thankyou!
Download a photo of yourself. Example of profile : " hello, I'm British. I come from London. I'm an Erasmus student at the University of Barcelona where I study....etc."
Looking forward to meeting you!
A word from the webmaster to all language assistant teachers worldwide!
Teaching your native language abroad is a wonderful, unforgettable experience! I still remember teaching French in a British secondary school in Bristol, England!
After a couple of years at the University in your homeland, teaching as a language assistant teacher is probably your first work experience. Let's consider it as a gap year! However, you will have to fill in this gap...teaching and working with your students in schools of course...and making the most of all the opportunities provided by speaking-a-language in your free time!
Do not hesitate to discover a new culture through its language and customs while staying abroad...and mix up with the local population!
Feel free to take part in the tandem conservation exchanges (click on Talking in pairs) and roundtable sessions in your city (click on Forum) and sign up whenever you feel like meeting new friends and improving your language skills! If you don't feel like going out...on a rainy day for instance!!! just write your feedback about the miscellaneaous topics in the different blogs!
Suggestion : on your profile please mention that you are a language assistant teacher...indicate your mother tongue as well as the foreign languages you can speak, thankyou!
Download a photo of yourself. Example of profile : " hello, I'm German. I am a language assistant teacher at the school...........in Bordeaux, France....I study.....etc"
Looking forward to meeting you!
To any speakers who want to improve their language skills using the various activities provided by this new social network,
welcome to SPEAKING-A-LANGUAGE!
…last but not least, if you are a journalist and would like to write an article about SPEAKING-A-LANGUAGE for your local or national newspaper, please contact the webmaster if you need further information.
The founder of Speaking-a-language
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