There’s this long held belief that’s been around for many, many years about languages, learning & being multilingual. Understanding the truth has the potential to revolutionize how you approach language teaching and how your students experience success.
The myth is this: Humans learn languages.
It seems so basic, right? Such a simple concept but language is not a skill that can be learned....... wait, what?!
Yep, you read that right! Humans do NOT learn languages. We acquire them. Language is an instinct, an innate ability that we pick up on naturally because we’re human. Language is not something to be learned like math or reading. It is not facts or letter sounds to be memorized.
When students memorize vocabulary and complete grammar drills, they’re learning about the language, not gaining the ability to use it for actual communication. If you want them to communicate in a language, they need to practice communicating!
So, since we can’t learn languages, we can’t teach them! Instead, as 'teachers' we guide students to understanding by creating an environment that allows them to acquire the language naturally. (We’re really more like guides or facilitators than teachers.)
There are so many strategies to accomplish this including Comprehensible Input (CI), Total Physical Response (TPRS) and many other Acquisition Driven Instructional (ADI) strategies.
It’s about learning how to make the language understandable by making the language meaningful, engaging and interactive.
Those should be our goals in the classroom. Not remembering a specific set of vocabulary words. Not memorizing the intricacies of irregular verb conjugations. Students need to acquire these things too but it will take SO much longer to acquire (if ever) outside of the conditions listed above.
When we can optimize the environment, the language becomes engaging, meaningful and our students succeed….and that’s what it’s all about, right?
What does acquisition look like in your classroom? Do you use CI, TPRS or other Acquisition Driven strategies? What part is the hardest? Leave a comment below and let’s problem solve it together.
Hey! I'm Bridgette!