ADDITIONAL LANGUAGE CLASSROOMS
In this blog post however, I focus not in the mainstream classroom, but in the additional language acquisition classroom. At my school these classes are when expatriate students learn Japanese. As you follow along I suggest you switch my reference to 'Japanese' for the additional language taught at your own school.
ONE SCOPE & SEQUENCE DOESN'T FIT ALL LANGUAGE
MOTHER TONGUE DELAYING THE OTHER TONGUE
Is the use of the mother tongue misplaced
in additional language classes?
It seems to me therefore that learning language effectively is more about comprehensible input, immersion and usage. It is less about inquiring into the big ideas of grammar and syntax. If I am right, then perhaps there's no need for mother tongue? Perhaps there is also no need for curriculum based around big ideas? Don't take my word for it, but someone like Stephen Krashen might be worth listening to:
MOTHER TONGUE TWISTER
An argument sometimes twisted out of context in the PYP is that using the mother tongue helps language learning. Don't get me wrong - using mother tongue certainly helps learning. It helps learners understand their mathematics, grasp their science and make sense of their literacy. If the intention is to learn about character traits, forces, symmetry or just to communicate and function in the mainstream classroom, then of course we should encourage the students and their parents to use their mother tongues. But the language acquisition class is different.
"Translanguaging is about communication, not about language itself. There are times when we need to be language teachers, focusing on accuracy in English so that our learners can pass exams and be taken as proficient speakers in wider society. Much of the time, though, we are working with students to explore concepts, add to their knowledge, make connections between ideas and to help them make their voices heard by others. This is often about communicating, and this is where using all our language resources can be very valuable."
IMMERSION TO EMERGE IN THE NEW PYP?
If you are immersed in a language and your teacher and your peers provoke and engage you, then you are drawn into a world of inquiry: "What is he saying?" "Does she mean?" "Could that word be?" "How can I say this?". You take risks by using the language you know to get your message across. You make and test theories about what people are saying. Your 'inner speech' is alive and active: you make predictions, question, make connections and draw conclusions. In language immersion classes students think! Strategies such as comprehensible input and collaborative learning ensure students can access the language at an enjoyable, cognitively fulfilling level.
I attended an Organic World Language (OWL) institute last year which opened my eyes to many of the ideas in this blog post including agency. The OWL approach summarizes agency on their website better than I ever could:
"We use our students as the curriculum. We do not come to class with prescribed content for the day. Instead we come with a structure in mind that allows us to create a space where our students get to be the driving force of instruction. Through unique questioning and scaffolding techniques, we wrap the language acquisition process around our students’ lives. When the class content comes from the students, students feel empowered with the language. They OWN the language because it is developed in real-life, real-interest situations and it is applicable to their life in their native language, while at the same time opening up worlds to be a global citizen." OWL (2017)
Sounds like that paragraph could have been written by the IB - right?
Primary School Principal
Tokyo International School