The Portals for Learning
Are you concerned about the worldwide problem of ESL / EFL learners for acquiring core skills correctly? For example, the inversion process to ask a question correctly in English? Most ESL / EFL teaching programs include grammar and rightfully so. Adult learners always want to at least understand the concept of what they are learning or practicing. To insure a better outcome practice all three domains of learning:
Cognitive, Psychomotor, Affective
How would you like to explain to students how to untangle the yarn shown in the picture? The only way is to give them the concept (grammar rule) so they understand how to do it and then let them practice many times in different contexts. In the case of the yarn it would be like following one thread color at a time. Ultimately all threads could represent the same rule.
It is alarming how core concepts are not being acquired by ESL / EFL students worldwide, even at high levels of proficiency. I observe this lack every day even among non-native speakers who are teaching English. If attention is not drawn to solve this problem the lingua franca could pay a high price within a few generations.
As an example, for the inversion process required for questions in English, the cognitive explanation given seems simple enough:
“To form a question place the lead verb before the whole subject.”
The problem with this explanation is that the concept remains in the head and never gets to the body or the heart of the student. This is shown by the apparent inability of even the most advanced students to carry out the inversion procedure, when asking a question. I work with very advanced students and time and again they fail to invert when asking questions
Are you going to have coffee for breakfast? becomes: You are going to have coffee for breakfast?
To truly acquire anything and particularly a Core Root of the language, like the inversion for questions, we must put the acquisition back into body and heart.
Inversion for asking questions is a vital procedure for reasons I will cover in subsequent blogs and which are stressed in my upcoming book. For now here are hints for practice with the two most neglected domains.
Questions, for example, should be practiced through physical actions with the whole body. Actions that stress the inversion process. Devise ways for your students to demonstrate inversion with their hands, objects, and their body, as they are practicing questions. Use voice inflection to accentuate the practice. Ask students for help in devising ways to demonstrate this skill using the body and objects. Please send me your results!
to use the heart for learning, I suggest two things. First, intonation and voice stress through dialogues as well as choral work which reaches the heart via capitalizing on the right brain. See my post scheduled to come out on Tuesday, May 22 in the afternoon (Australian time). It addresses the issue of language acquisition with only half a brain. When using the affective domain the content practiced should always be something students can relate to personally, and even individually if possible.
Finally and above all, do not leave core skills exclusively in the cognitive domain as you will be risking the progress of your students. This may lead them into fossilization. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
And please use all three domains of learning