Fun

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5 thoughts on “Fun”

  1. Thanks for posting this, Ben. Here are my favorite quotes from the article:
    Brain research suggests that fun is not just beneficial to learning but, by many reports, required for authentic learning and long-term memory.
    The truth is that when the joy and comfort are scrubbed from the classroom and replaced with homogeneity, and when spontaneity is replaced with conformity, students’ brains are distanced from effective information processing and long-term memory storage.
    The highest-level executive thinking, making of connections, and “aha” moments are more likely to occur in an atmosphere of “exuberant discovery,” where students of all ages retain that kindergarten enthusiasm of embracing each day with the joy of learning.
    Optimal brain activation occurs when subjects are in positive emotional states or when the material holds personal meaning, connects to their interests, is presented with elements of novelty, or evokes wonder. This is why attentiveness is so closely linked to positive emotional cueing and personal meaning.
    The evidence for CI/TPRS in a light-hearted environment simply keeps piling up. I know that Ben has occasionally questioned whether CI/TPRS is compatible with the current educational structure and climate. (Probably not) But we can’t afford to abandon education to the minions of Camazotz. (I know, I keep coming back to that image; it’s either that or Mordor.) Our island of sanity may be the only thing keeping some of our students afloat – I know one mother credits what goes on in my German class with literally saving her son’s life because his other classes were sending him into depression. (If true, that is so overwhelming I can’t process it. But I have seen this kid blossom in the two years he’s been in German class; where there was some real anger I now see smiles and laughter.)
    I do know that last night at our Open House, parent after parent told me how much their children love German (class and language). They also, nearly every one of them, told me about their children speaking German around the house – even the ones who are the quietest in class. One that I remember in particular told me that recently she asked her son where he was going, and he replied something totally unintelligible that sounded “really bad” to her. Then he laughed and said he had just told he was on his way to do the laundry. He deliberately tries to make the German sound horrible when he’s doing something she wants him to do. He’s having fun with the language!

  2. Grant Boulanger

    Robert, you said, “parent after parent told me how much their children love German (class and language)”.
    That is truly awesome!!
    Here’s a question for you. Slade quotes Jensen from Teaching with the Brain in Mind. Here’s another Jensen quote from that book.
    “Either you can have your learners’ attention, or they can be making meaning, but never both at the same time.”
    What do you make of this in the context of a CI class? While they are listening, aren’t they making meaning? Or, is it the effort to produce that causes a sifting of the input and allows them to make meaning?

  3. I have to admit that I have never really gotten a thorough understanding of this whole “negotiating/constructing meaning” thing. “Negotiating meaning” sounds like we spend our time conducting a business deal on what a word means. “Constructing meaning” sounds like we are building a house. Neither of those describes, to me, what goes on in acquisition. I know the whole thing about pointing to something that has four legs, a seat and a back and saying “Stuhl”, then pointing to one that’s slightly different and doing the same thing, then repeating the process. [Okay, I know that’s probably a poor example, but work with me.] I guess the listener takes that input and “constructs” the meaning of “chair”?
    Is Jensen saying that a learner must already understand you to give you his attention? How, then, do they acquire the necessary input to construct meaning? If we’re talking about output – or expected output – I can accept the statement. I’ve read that in a normal conversation between two people who are fluent in the same language, most of the time the silent partner isn’t really listening but formulating a reply. If it takes more concentration to formulate a reply because of processing issues, then any attention to the speaker is lost.

  4. Bernie Schlafke

    Great read…DANKE for posting it!
    If anyone out there wants to see this in action, especially if you live in the Midwest, visit the Concordia Language Villages this summer. Most villages are located near Bemidji, Minnesota, and are open to visitors. There are also on-site summer courses for language teachers, and it’s a great opportunity to learn a lot of fun language-learning activities and authentic songs for our classrooms. This summer they are celebrating 50 years of fun language learning!

  5. Bernie Schlafke

    And on the subject of meaning construction…
    some great summer reading would be Ayn Rand’s essays on objectivism and epistemology. When we really teach a word, such as “chair,” our sound touches the unique image that each of our students’ memory keeps for that object, and hook the word from the target language onto it. These images are often emotionally-laden, and that is something Eric Jensen so clearly explains in Teaching with the brain in mind–another great summer read!

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