Learn Catalan and/or Spanish
with my new teaching-learning method
A C T I L I N G U A
activities and language
1 month of language immersion
actilingua, 1 month of language immersion, works through individual meetings, where we will meet to do an activity that is of interest to you. I will speak exclusively in Catalan/Spanish, and you will speak according to your level and I will be able to adapt to your language.
Duration and timetables
The important thing is to immerse yourself in the language for a period of time: 1 hour a day for 4 consecutive weeks (1 month). In total: 20 hours in one month. 20 hours of speaking Catalan/Spanish doing something useful, and, above all, real and in context. What’s more, the advantage is that I can adapt to your timetable: everyday we can meet at a time convenient to you. We can arrange this at the beginning of each week.
Types of activities
These could be anything from going along with you on errands (for example to the market or shopping, etc.), to everyday actions (for example while you cook). It may be simply going for a walk or, if you want, I can even propose something like an exhibition, an activity in the city. I have various routes that I havedesigned specially for these occasions. Remember that the importance is to immerse yourself in the language everyday for one hour, for four weeks, doing a real, authentic, interesting and contextualizedactivity.
Lots of research says that merely listening to the language for 30 minutes a day is enough (with the well known podcasts). In our meetings you won't only listen to the language for 30 minutes, but one hour, and you'll have the chance to really speak with a native and experienced teacher, who will use strategies to improve your speaking. It’s the quality, not the quantity, that is important and with this method you will learn to speak Catalan/Spanish and to use real vocabulary that people use in normal, everyday situations.
Motivation and theoretical foundation
Since the time that I started to work professionally teaching Catalan and Spanish for foreigners or as a second language, I began to notice the similarities and differences there are between learning a second language or a foreign language (L2) and the language acquisition and development in children (L1).
From 2002 to 2009 I worked as a Speech Therapist with children and I specialized in Naturalistic Intervention: I researched and studied and applied my findings to my daily practice of childhood intervention. I was supervised by specialists in the Facultat d'Educació of Barcelona University, I delivered speeches at conferences, published articles in magazines and wrote a thesis for my MA.
<<The origins of this method of intervention lie in the way of understanding and explaining language development. Vygotsky formulated the sociohistorical theory in which he attributes the social origin of that development to our interaction with other people.
Bruner talks about formats, which are routine interactions repeated with a high degree of predictability. Lock and Kaye talk about social interaction as an explicative factor in the development of communication and language, which takes place in frames; everyday, structured and dynamic situations, in which children influence adults, who react, adapting to them and facilitating the children’s participation as active members.>>
1Demestres, A. M. and E. Bayarri (2009)
“Intervenció logopèdica en un Centre de Desenvolupament Infantil
i Atenció Precoç (CDIAP): model naturalista”
Suports. Revista Catalana d'Educació Inclusiva, vol. 13, num. 2, p. 122-134.
<<For Vygotsky, we learn with help from others, in social interactions, each of which represent a learning possibility, which is the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). ZPD reflects the difference between real and potential growth. This must be inter-subjective but asymmetric. One of the people must be better capacitated to the task and drive the other further towards a level of development. Inter-subjectivity and asymmetry are built and held through language.
For children, speaking is as important as acting in achieving a goal. Use of language is the medium of communication and learning and there is intentionality and capacity in acting and modifying social reality. For there to be communication there must exist intention of expression; a mutual activity between transmitter and receiver, interaction and adaptation by both interlocutors.>>
2Bayarri, E. (2004). “Importància del paper de la família i l'escola
sobre el desenvolupament del llenguatge del nen. Estratègies per a la intervenció
de caire naturalista en el context del CDIAP.” MA thesis
The relation I noticed between L2 and L1 learning was that for students to learn with quality and effectiveness, there should be some characteristics that resembled natural situations in which children learn to talk. I wrote about this some months ago, in “The big power of positive feedback” (in Catalan).
<<When we adults interact with a child, we usually look at them,smile at them, and say something to them and, often, the youngster responds with smiles and gestures. And also with words. We respond to these words with happiness, replying, imitating, asking again and providing feedback.
These concepts of correspondence, interaction, shift maintenance, feedback, are also found in the process of learning a foreign language.>>
There are three things I consider essential and utterly important, three aspects in relation to the way that children learn to speak and differences when somebody is learning a L2 in a class:
- Children first pass through a period of some months (and years) when the receptive language is the most important. Babies don't speak, but since they are born they are immersed in the linguistic world, with people (parents, brothers and sisters, friends, neighbours) who speak to them every day. And they speak with a language that is adapted to their age, condition, situation and context.
- Children learn to talk, after passing from this period of comprehension to the oral production, making mistakes, but mistakes that demonstrate they are perfectly acquiring the language, which they will end up dominating in little time.
- And all this without picking up any book. They will start to acquire literacy later, from approximately when they are three years old, an age in which they will have a very high control over receptive-productive language.
I am saying this, which, once written down and read seems obvious, (although not always to everybody), because if we think of a L2 lesson, even the most modern, and no matter how much it tries to adapt to new communicative learning-teaching styles, we find that from the first day of class students are expected to 1) express and produce spoken utterances and 2), in a very high percentage of cases, the class is based on written material (books, cards, games with written words...). Yet we agreed before that children pass through a long and comprehensive period in which they don't say a word nor touch any written supply until they are competentenough with their oral language.
And 3), the question of mistakes. What is usually done with somebody who is learning a L2? Lots of times they are penalized, when these mistakes are demonstrating that they are acquiring and learning the L2. I also wrote a couple of posts about this, “Pyjamas or socks? A failed attempt at lexical recuperation” (in Catalan) and “La geniva de la gavina de la gàbia (impossible to translate) – a failed attempt at lexical recuperation” (in Catalan).
All of this has been going around in my head. I haven't stopped reading, writing, thinking, adapting supplies, attending courses, documenting, revising my previous knowledge... I always try to deliver my classes in a more communicative, significant and contextualized way. But this, actually, in a space between four walls is not always possible. Referents lack, things about which we are talking about, the real motivation to do something.
0rigins of actilingua: activities and language
From all of this has emerged the idea of actilingua: activities and language. The original idea is to do an activity during which we will speak exclusively in the target language (Catalan or Spanish). It's important to be as interested in the activity as in the language, because it will be like this, through doing something that is significant, that one will enter into the language. If you click here you will be able to find out with more detail about the original idea and about the specially designed routes.
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