3 posts to be categorized

I’ve hit upon another way to make sure I post daily: just copy my posts into the blog under whatever category seems appropriate. The problem is that there is no context, so the post has to stand on its own unless I’m able to provide the post I’m responding to, minus identifying information.
So, here’s one:
I choose languages to learn by accident, usually. For example, Urdu because
a psychologist I was working with was a native speaker and was willing to
help me get started. Then it got richer and richer. Certainly Persian would
be as rich. The languages I read and study are: Norwegian, Spanish, Urdu,
Russian, Latin, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, and Greek. I’m interested
in reading the literature of all of them but the structure is what
fascinates me the most. Persian is pretty accessible, so I may add that in
after I’ve reached the stage of reading in those others; in our country,
Rumi is quoted a lot. There are ancient languages I work on, too: Old
English, Middle English, Old Norse. I’ve done this all my life and am
enjoying my retirement when I can read and study all I want.
……….. and another:
It’s one of the reasons I left teaching. Admittedly, at 73 I’m low-tech in
everything, but what I did was observe how teachers used technology and I
not only did not see anything particularly useful in terms of input for
acquisition, I saw technology as a way for some teachers to avoid messy
direct, personal contact with students, dropping the mask, so to speak.
Interacting with students reveals a lot about the teacher to the students
and people uncomfortable with that find technology a buffer and a blessing.
Here’s one where someone in a foreign country asked about my teaching style:
That’s a deep subject. It is EXTREMELY culture-bound (tahziz ka
paaband ?? using my Urdu here). I could never go into an Iranian or French
or Japanese classroom and use my style. So, unless you are interested in
being deluged with lots of old posts I’ve sent in the past where I discuss
my style, I’ll just sum it up for you:
I individualize each student and let them know I am doing that by constantly
addressing each one – one reason tprs makes so much sense to me, what
tprs-ers call “teaching to the eyes”.
I use very informal, slangy, casual speech and point out to students when I
switch to formal register, b/c few students recognize formal speech and
those whose English is not native (mostly Spanish-speakers) have no idea how
to differentiate formal and informal speech.
I am informal with students b/c most teachers set up a heavy structure in
the classroom which the students early on – in grade/elementary school –
learn to get around, evade. It leaves the teacher talking to the back wall
or just handing out worksheets and going to his/her computer.
Once I have the students enjoying the class, I begin introducing
conversation with them in the Target Language (in my case Russian, Spanish,
and Latin). I stress reading simple texts and I try to make it interesting
by referring to cultural artifacts like cartoons, TV shows, movies, dress
style, hair styles, slang and dialect, and so on, to draw them in to reading
the texts. Again, I like tprs b/c of its PQA – similar to what I do but much
How much Target Language did I use in class? As the year wore on, I would
introduce more and more but nowhere near what tprs gets. OTOH, note that in
the tprs videos, lots of English is spoken, and not just translations.
How much Target Language did my students learn? IMHO, lots, but since they
did not learn all the formal grammar structure other teachers were
expecting, they probably thought I had gypped them b/c most students were
interested only in their grade, not actually learning the language. My
“test” was to make jokes and personal comments in the Target Language, and
if the students “got” it, that told me they were understanding.
I use the present tense here but I have been retired for two years now. I
have lots of experiences to back up the rightness of what I was doing but I
never got into tprs b/c I would rather educate my students broadly than
focus just on a language they didn’t even want to learn. I always told my
Russian students that the U.S. reaction to Khrushchev putting Soviet
missiles in Cuba was a bit hypocritical given that in the 60s and 70s we had
missiles at the border of the U.S.S.R. in Iran, when the Shah was in power.
Right on the border, not 90 miles away! I call that “perspective” and our
students need it very much. We had an Iranian math teacher at my school and
one time I told him I had learned that when the C.I.A. engineered a coup
against Masadegh, they used the U.S. embassy as cover, so that’s why the
1979 revolutionaries attacked our embassy. I thought he might make excuses
for the U.S. outrage b/c he was a kind of conservative guy, but instead he
just smiled and said, “Yes, Pat, that’s exactly why. I just wish every
American could live in another country for one year.” Perspective. My music
teacher at U.C.L.A. in 1963 was Iranian; he told us Iran/Persia had more
literature than all the Western European countries combined. That was my
first indication of how much Persia has contributed to the world, and now my
Urdu studies, esp, the poets like Ghalib, reveal more all the time.
So that’s why I didn’t teach just language. Please let me know if there is
anything unclear in what I’ve written and if you need more material or just
more specifics.
Thank you for your interest.

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