Sitting in the school library today, I overheard a representative from the University of Arizona talking to two of our girls. The girls were interested in study abroad programs and the rep had participated herself in several. The question of language came up and here is what I heard:
In The Netherlands where I lived I didn’t learn Dutch b/c everyone spoke English. But in Brazil where I lived for a year I was able to get along after six months and was fluent at the end of the year. I took three years of Spanish in school and can still put together only a few sentences.
I pulled her aside to confirm I had heard right.
When, oh when, will fl teachers realize that grammar instruction and worksheets on grammar does not teach one to use a fl or even one’s own language? They have been captured by a false learning theory and just can’t let it go. Many factors support the retention of an ineffective methodology but one would think that generations of monolingual students would get someone’s attention.
After more than 15 years on fl listservs, I can say that few teachers of fl know the background of fl teaching, know that fl used to be taught differently and, as far as I can tell, effectively. Few know that that all changed at a particular point in time not so long ago and the public has become inured to absymal results b/c they’ve been convinced that learning another language is an intellectual process which requires high IQ and talent. All this is false, but you can hear fl teachers spouting that nonsense all the time. They cite a couple of their students over the years who achieved some sort of proficiency, usually by travel abroad, and consider that their mark of success.