iFLT 2012 Reflections

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10 thoughts on “iFLT 2012 Reflections”

  1. Thank you Annemarie!

    This was a great and a worthwhile read (I’ll need to reread it more slowly tomorrow) . I too had the opportunity and priviledge to watch these master teachers in action and after reading your reflections, I wish I too had reflected by writing about it b/c it gave you a different purpose as you were watching with these tasks in mind.

    It’ s like when you give your students a reading with a purpose ( specific questions they have to keep in mind while reading, it just gives then a sense of direction and a clearer path I think) .

    I was taken back to Breckenridge and got some flashbacks of these teachers and things I had seen but soon after forgotten.

    Thank you for sharing and reminiscing.

    1. Annemarie Orth

      I have to tell you, I was dreading doing this assignment because I knew it was going to take me a long time, but it helped me really clarify what I had learned. I was able to figure out how to bring it back to classroom. It helps me to reread it, also.

  2. FYI Linda Li was teaching Mandarin Chinese not Cantonese. Mandarin is the national language of both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan). Cantonese is the 2nd largest dialect but it is rarely taught in the U.S. We are just a little familiar with it because it was spoken by most of the immigrants from China until about the mid 1980’s when immigration patterns from China started to change. Some words in English came from Cantonese like bok choy and wok. A lot of early Kung Fu movies were also in Cantonese because they were made in Hong Kong where Cantonese is widely spoken. But anyway, anyone teaching Chinese in American schools is 99.9% likely to be teaching Mandarin.

  3. Annemarie, I saw different people than you did, so this is really a helpful document to keep for reference. Thanks for taking the time to do it and I hope to see you somewhere this summer!

  4. I have always felt unsure of myself when mentioning Chinese and Mandarin because they are two different words. Now I see they are essentially the same. Not to diss Cantonese.

    And then there is the Taiwan thing. Don’t want to offend. Linda is from China and Annick Chen, my brilliant colleague at Lincoln High School, is from Taiwan. When Annick even says that to me, since I always forget, since I don’t know, I feel electrical sparks in her explanation.

    Hmmm. I wonder how we get to know more about the world. Hmmm. Maybe through all the language teachers who work so hard in very rough situations in schools but are now beginning to see real results? But those teachers often think that their work has no purpose, not really, because the kids aren’t interested. Hmmm.

    The kids haven’t been interested bc of the way the language has been taught. What has been an extended result of this situation? Isolation and mistrust between nations. Does our work as teachers have purpose in an ideal world? Yes, it brings greater knowledge between peoples. But it hasn’t, because we haven’t been effective, because of the approach we’ve taken for a hundred years.

    It’s the good version of the Domino Effect. When we learn languages FOR ACTUAL ACQUISITION, walls between nations must come down. This has happened in a very dramatic way – rent the film “Searching for Sugarman”. Societies learn about and respect each other when language/culture are shared. Our work with CI brings that.

    Our work as we begin another Monday in the trenches, and we are all so tired, has purpose bc kids are now sitting up in their desks and getting the language, and when they get it, once some kind of tipping point is reached, humanity will have a much greater awareness of who is really over there in the next country and what they are REALLY thinking bc they will be able to TALK TO THEM.

    Susan Gross, whom we never mention enough here for her astounding contribution to this work, used to alway talk about the healing the world part of our work and I was always a bit skeptical. But now I can see that I just didn’t share her vision. Languages open doors. One of my students in SC years ago got into Harvard partially on the back of a brilliant essay in which he drew a door on the front of his paper with a key in it labeled “language”.

    So what we do is no joke. It used to be, but we were thinking small then. Now look. Papua New Guinea, as Sabrina said, has all those dialects. Those people used to fight. Probably still do. Like we in more civilized countries do.

    They didn’t have knowledge of each other. Having a way to teach that actually brings that knowledge via the key of language represents a significant and most remarkable uptick in the slow curve that we are all moving on towards the humanity of the future, which is not doomed, just in transition.

    The curve is bending toward goodness. I am certain we will still be people, with all of our problems, but we will be happier people when we can talk to each other instead of being isolated from each other bc of the failed language piece. What country can afford to buy $157 textbooks for all their students anyway?

    Big textbook corporations are you reading this? You can only sell so many books. And we offer a better product because your books don’t really have the desired effect, which you know already. We have a standard to meet – Communities. We used to not even TALK about that standard bc it seemed so impossible to do. Because of textbooks.

    But now look. Judy, who is American living in France, and Sabrina, who is French living in Chicago, USA, are working with kids to bring them together via skype and shared stories and could that not be the first of millions of such shared ventures into the Communities standard and perhaps the first shared LOW COST cultural exchange ever in the world?

    Again, large corporations produce textbooks claiming all sorts of impossible things about bringing cultures together bc of the wonderful ideas in their books. Other large corporations actually move kids around the globe to that end – organizations like AFS (I had 43 different nations represented once in SC on an AFS “bus stop” years ago) and Youth for Understanding. Really cool, right?

    Not really, the one shared quality about those kids was that their parents could all afford the exchange. Nice. All the kids of monied people in the world get to share culturally. If you’re poor, forget it.

    I need a millionaire reading this to give me money for my Pd. 6 French class, a group of kids who almost every day ask me what we are doing for a fund raiser so they, many undocumented, can go to Paris. It is their heart’s desire. They just want to go. But they are too poor. So send me the money. No, I won’t try to take the undocumented ones. I guess they get to stay in their poor little houses around the high school off of Federal Boulevard, with the gangs. They have already been international travelers, anyway right? Shot at international travelers, but international travelers nonetheless.

    Back to the point. We must raise the question, are only the people who can afford it going to continue to be the ones who get to travel? Or, at least through the Class Competitions we are doing here, will poor kids be able to visit with kids from other countries?

    Just look at what we’re doing, y’all! Talking now about teaching ancient Greek, right? Who is doing that? And what was the other language mentioned here yesterday? I forgot. Two non-mainstream languages mentioned in one day. “Unimportant” languages getting the fresh breeze of CI instruction breathed into them. Do you see how this connects to the failed textbook piece? Is this not exciting? Could it be an exponential language acquisition curve world wide that we are on and we are now just down on the flat smushed down part of the curve now? Keep on teaching, y’all!

    Hmmm. TCI/TPRS in Papua New Guinea. It makes me think that Mondays aren’t so bad after all. And we’re not just trying to please some dumbass administrator who has been made to work by his bosses as a robot who makes me adhere to the Communications standard. No, not for that reason. Rather, for a greater reason. For mankind’s heart.

    Related: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X00XdLhFLSg

  5. Wowsies, looks like that was an awesome conference! I want to go to both but am having to choose only one…would love to see everyone at both! Am teaching Middle School now…Love to you all, Michel Baker in South Carolina

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