Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Language Learning

Recently I started taking Arabic classes again. The classes were going well at first but tonight I was really frustrated by the way the teacher was presenting the lesson. There were so many things that I would have done differently. Mainly I was frustrated that the teacher was doing all of the speaking in Arabic and we, the students, barely got to say anything. How can you learn a language when the teacher is talking and the students are listening? Students need to SPEAK in the target language. This critique comes not from my teaching experience here in NYC but from my TEFL training in Italy and then teaching for a year at Inlingua (a private language school) because those experiences were comparable to the class that I am currently taking. So when I got home tonight I wrote an email to the school telling them about my concerns. At first I thought the email was going to sound really rude because I was so frustrated but I think it turned out to be quite reasonable. What do you think? Would you have emailed the school too?

so I just had my third Arabic class and I am not feeling satisfied with tonight's lesson. The first class (which was my trial class) was good but the teacher deviated from the book so that perhaps wasn't an indication of a regular lesson. The second class was with a substitute and it was also good. This third class, using the book with the regular teacher, I did not like. The problem that I have is that the teacher did the majority of the talking. For most of the lesson she read all of the tables of words to us in Arabic and asked us if we knew what they meant. We then responded in English. Then for the exercises she read the sentences to us in Arabic and we answered filling in just two words in Arabic. There were so many opportunities for us (the students) to be reading/speaking in Arabic that were missed. I felt really cheated out of the time that we had in class. With just three students we should have had ample speaking time. Instead, the teacher talk time was about 90% while the student talk time was about 10%. I hope that we can somehow resolve this because otherwise I really like the class (and the teacher) and want to continue with my Arabic studies. please let me know what you think about this. (And if perhaps I am addressing this with the wrong person could you please forward this message on?)

Thank You,
Ms. M


jd2718 said...

Is there a reason you didn't start with the teacher? Going to someone's boss would make me uneasy.


Anonymous said...

Hi. I found your blog randomly and didn't really read anything yet, but I noticed that you are a language lover and a teacher.

Sto imparando l'arabo anch'io e quest'anno studiero' l'insegnamento/la pedagogia per farmi professoressa di lingue straniere! Se ti interessa, puoi dare un'occhiata al mio blog. C'e' qualche post scritto in italiano.

Anonymous said...

gia', no ho lasciato il link per il mio blog. E' qui sotto:


alanka yang said...

hi, i happened to see your blog while searching for some materials for italian learning. I personally started to learn italian lately and was quite frustrated. hope i'll enjoy learning italian as much as u do.

Anonymous said...

In language acquisition theory, students do need receptive input before they can begin language production. While the class may not have been as participatory as you like, the methodology itself is not bad. Think of babies. They hear a lot of language before they begin to talk. We are all babies when we learn a new language.

Rob said...

Have you checked out www.KnowHow2GO.org? There is a hilarious video on taking foreign languages and how they make you "tough." I think you'll appreciate it!

Ms. M said...

the best part was the looks on the kids' faces at the end of the video.