Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rhythm link to language ability - and so much more.

   On our visit to Caloundra Primary School yesterday, I noticed six top hats pasted on the window and six labels about Edward de Bono's different problem solving & learning strategies. I commented to my travelling companion that it always seems to me that second language learning calls on so many different dimensions of mind, e.g. all sorts of memory of course; logic for grammar; acting ability for imitating accents and emotional delivery; awareness and control of rhythm and intonation to get the music of the language right; interpersonal and cultural sensitivity for the pragmatics of relationships though another language; emotional dispositions such as persistence and patience so that you allow yourself to go through a long apprenticeship and not be turned off because you do not understand all immediately; and more. Baroness Finchley once stated that it takes 200 brain centres working in coordination to put together that miracle called language competence.
   It's a complex universe and life. It takes a complex code to represent it. It takes a complex brain to master that code which is also a social and always evolving phenomenon. I think that diversity of components is what makes L2 learning so rewarding and, for some, so challenging. Perhaps similar challenges, but much richer authentic purposeful input, exist for first language acquisition too.
   I so wish foreign languages teachers had the time and opportunities to really train properly for their complex jobs (they don't in Australia -they should have specialised degrees - if lucky they get one or two courses in a DipEd) ... and to prepare properly in their jobs (they don't) to take advantage of all the huge range of life situations and mental-emotional faculties that language calls on.
   That's what this short newspaper article Rhythm link to language ability sent by Heather Kopp made me think ... when I should be finalising exams, revamping courses or marking.