Friday, February 29, 2008

The Six Senses in Foreign Language Class

Foreign languages are full of right-brain aptitudes. Symphony is a great example because one must see the language as a big picture, and put the individual words into sentences and phrases in order to make them mean something. And the verbs and nouns are sometimes in different orders, making this difficult, but it is something that one must learn nonetheless. It is beneficial to see the pieces of the language, and then put them together into the big picture, which is speaking the language.
Meaning is also used because when learning a different language, the culture is usually different as well and this comes through in the language. Different languages have different slang, and the words are interpreted differently as well. (This is where the phrase “lost in translation” comes from: since words have separate meanings, translations often do not sound the same as they would have originally.)
Empathy can be found while learning a foreign language because sometimes foreign languages are not easy at all, and if you have a teacher and peers who are willing to help you through the hard spots, this helps the learning dramatically. If the students do not support each other, then learning the foreign language will not be a good experience for anyone in the class. Often, if even an experienced teacher recognizes if a particular part of the language is the opposite of easy, then they will have empathy for the students, and this helps a great deal.
In language classes, story is involved. Besides being fluent in the language that they teach, many foreign language teachers have been to the countries where this language is widely spoken as well. (For example, both French teachers I have had so far have both been to France numerous times.) Because of this, they have many interesting, and sometimes funny, stories about their travels. These stories help make the class enjoyable, fun, interesting, and memorable. If the class has all of these aspects, then it will make learning easier. And because of the difficulty of learning a different language, this is always welcome!
In foreign language classes, there is also room for play. As with story, play helps make class fun and a bit easier. This year, my French teacher has showed us many music videos by popular French musical artists. Not only do we get to hear the proper accent and pronunciation of the words, but it is a good way to unwind and deviate from a normal class.
Design is a factor as well. This year in French II, my classmates and I have been asked to create a skit and present it in front of the class. The purpose of this assignment is to show that we can write proper sentences in French and pronounce French words correctly. It involves design, however, because we get to design the structure of the skit and put the sentences together in the proper manner. We can also have props if we wish. A skit (or any aspect of acting) is an example of design because it must be created then arranged and structured in order to create an effective one.
Foreign language classes are obviously classes that are packed with the six senses! Although I have always presumed this, I have now confirmed it and have thought much deeper on this then I ever have.

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