Reflection on an Article
To begin with, I thought this article was a fascinating read and made me want to know more. I say this because an ESL instructor can be a fantastic teacher but how does he/she know if the students are ‘acquiring the language’ how they should which is natural and not forced? I think this article alludes to the point of ‘acquiring language’. I use the word ‘acquiring’ because the article refers to this entirely through the text. One of the salient points from the article I remembered was about children’s acquisition of a language. The article says ‘children, in natural settings, learn language rapidly and without formal instruction’. It makes me think that children are not given formal education when they are very young yet they acquire their language. It makes me think of some Thai schools where they barrage the students with grammar that is in such a formal setting that doesn’t leave any room for talking. The students are very good at grammar but cannot speak. Furthermore, if the students are not relaxed in the classroom (the setting) the teacher cannot expect them to learn. You would hope they learned their second language the same as their first language in a natural way that children never felt the language was hard or pressured.
The classroom as a setting I think should not be a place that is far from reality such that students can only speak in the classroom not outside where it is most important. I think that as a teacher the authenticity of the teacher’s teaching and the classroom has to be right so as to enlighten the learning experience. I allude to an issue from the article which states ‘ people often learned second languages through grammar study so the similarity between natural, childhood, first language acquisition and later second language acquisition were not apparent. I think this makes me aware that creating a real classroom experience is a must for the students. The use of real objects, pictures, situations, etc to get the feeling that the students will use this language outside the classroom is a must.
One of the authors quoted in this article, Stephen Krashen whose ‘acquisition theory’ is used in teaching, states that ‘language learners need language ‘input’ which consists of new language along with clues as to what the language means’. I guess as a teacher you should follow this path that allows the students to speak in class while giving them that little bit more to expand their language. The teacher should build on what the students already know.
I think this normal delivery of speech and with ‘hands on’ language acquisition experience facilitates the natural learning process. If you remember when you were a child and your parents never really gave you formal education in language acquisition, this article refers to this point as ‘comprehensible input that naturally supplies their children: it is slower and simpler, it focuses on the here and now, it focuses on meaning over form, and it extends and elaborates on the child’s language’. I think the students should not be treated like kids but from the views of this article, you should allow the students to speak and acquire more language as they use their already known language such that the process will follow that the students will acquire more.
I think this was an interesting article and very thought provoking.