Saturday, November 24, 2012

Richard-Amato, Chapter 9: Interactive Practices

Richard-Amato, Chapter 9: Interactive Practices, p. 225 - 259

    According to the natural approach of language development, students go through three stages: 1) comprehension 2) early speech production and 3) speech emergence. This is important when a teacher is planning her classroom activities because she needs to be aware that beginning language learners go through a necessary silent period in which they do not speak the target language. The duration of this silent period depends on the individual learner. It can last from a couple hours to "several weeks" (231).

     During the comprehension stage the students need to be asked "yes" or "no" questions or questions they can respond to with a nod, a gesture, or their first language (232). Teachers can also support these learners by putting key terms on the board, using lots of manipulatives or visuals, using exaggerated body language, and getting students "physically involved with the target language" through TPR (236).

    During the early speech production stage students can respond with more than just "yes" or "no." During the third stage students can start participating in more advanced activities such as "role playing and drama, affective activities, and problem solving or debates" (241). It is also important to teach content to students in the target language in order for them to "reach higher levels of academic functioning" (251).

    After teaching my content lesson it was interesting to re-read some of the general strategies that are offered on pages 251-255. I am not sure that I enunciated clearly enough or reinforced concepts "in many different contexts over time" (252). I used lots of visuals and some hands-on activities. I did not have to ascertain whether or not I was being understood by my students because they all speak fluent English. This will be an important component if I am teaching ESL. I hope to encourage code switching in my classroom, especially if there are multiple children who speak the same language.

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