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Posted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:04 am
I discovered at the weekend that the Welsh course I'm doing is following the Wlpan syllabus.
My opinion of Wlpan/Ùlpan is no less negative than it was, but it's now far better informed.
Posted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:45 pm
How long have you been doing it? What's the format? (Regular once-a-week clases / immersion course etc?)
When you're a bit further in, let us know how it's going, what you now actually know about it that you didn't, and your thoughts on methods and on your own and your classmates' progress after a bit of experience.
These last may be very different. I am too much of an 'intellectual' language learner to be as unquestioning as it seems you have to be, though I do firmly believe you can teach and learn via the target language (as happens worldwide with TEFL), but I have a non-language-person friend who has made amazing progress re speaking and understanding Welsh via Wlpan.
How much does it depend on good teaching (as opposed to specifically Wlpan) skills?
Posted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:47 pm
I started in November and I've completed the first book. The course is delivered by the OU at distance, supported by online conference-call tutorials.
The course isn't immersive, like Wlpan proper, but they're following the syllabus so students can go into the Wlpan system after finishing. It uses English translations, but it still doesn't explain things.
The very earliest lessons include something fairly complicated: fronting for identity (comparable to Gaelic 'S e pileat a th' innte etc), and it leads to massive amounts of confusion. We've just hit the point where possessives are introduced with verbal nouns, and no-one really understands the structure. There's so much in there that people are learning to mimic without actually understanding, and it's exactly the same with TEFL. People learn to reproduce the specific forms in specific contexts, but they rarely build up the underlying structure to know why they have to say it the way they do, so they can't go beyond the exact forms and contexts they have been taught.
In most people's cases, any observed progress is false progress, because they are only learning to say, not to speak.
Posted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:06 am
Chan e be-all is end-all a h-uile rud a th' ann an Ùlpan. Ach, ma thathar ga dhèanamh mar a chuirear roimhe - làn-thìde airson mios no dhà - 's ann glè mhath a tha e. Air sgàth 's an dèidh sin bithear a' smaoineachadh anns a' chànan.
Cànan bho thùs - cha do dh'ionnsich mi mo chiad chànan mar chruinneachadh riaghailtean gràmair - bha agam ri iomadh rud fheuchainn gus an do dh'obraich rudeigin. Agus smathaid gur e seo cridhe Ùlpain cuideachd. Chan eil mòran "mìneachaidh" ann an Ùlpan ach tha tòrr "can seo" nach eil. B' fheàrr leamsa sin nam bithinn airson cànan a bhruidhinn seach eacarsaid inntinneach a dhèanamh.
Ach, air an dàrna laimh, cha chreidinn gum biodh Ùlpan na dhòigh shoirbhicheil airson cànan ionnsachadh air astar.
Posted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:18 am
Seonaidh wrote:Cànan bho thùs - cha do dh'ionnsich mi mo chiad chànan mar chruinneachadh riaghailtean gràmair - bha agam ri iomadh rud fheuchainn gus an do dh'obraich rudeigin.
Tha sin fìor, ach chan ionnsichear dàrna cànan ann an aon dòigh mar a ionnsaichear chiad chànan. Tha tòrr sgrùdadh air a dhèanamh air seo.
Posted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:23 pm
Seonaidh wrote:Air sgàth 's an dèidh sin bithear a' smaoineachadh anns a' chànan.
A bheil thu ag radh nach bi mis' "a' smaoineachadh anns a' chànan"? Dh'ionnsaich mi a h-uile cànan a th' agams' (seach a' Bheurla) tro riaghailtean.
(A longer and more detailed response may appear during the weekend.)
Posted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 6:09 pm
Chan eil! Ach cha tàinig sin a-mach a leabhraichean gràmair an tàinig?
Posted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 7:48 pm
Seonaidh wrote:Chan eil! Ach cha tàinig sin a-mach a leabhraichean gràmair an tàinig?
Probably not -- it would have been the practice that did it.
What immersive classes tend to ignore is that they try to start you practising before you've actually learned anything, and you can't practise what you haven't learned. Well, not according to Ausubel, anyway, and I would tend to agree with him.
Ausubel's theory of Reception Learning was essentially that it doesn't really matter how you get information in the first place -- the learning process only begins once we start applying that knowledge. The consequence of this is that it makes sense to provide information on meaning in language teaching in the clearest way possible and then provide the opportunity to put that into practice.
Traditional drills (and for all its talk of being radically different, Ùlpan uses a lot of old-school drilling) has us saying, not speaking, as we are not making a choice that mimics the choice we would have to make in the real world. You make a series of tiny, predictable alterations to an existing sentence, whereas real use involves building a sentence.
An immersive classroom environment only "works" by being predictable. "Works" in inverted commas because it's an illusion. If you can predict it all, you don't need to think. You don't need to apply knowledge. And if learning only occurs when you apply knowledge, that means you're not learning.
Posted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:36 pm
Oh gosh! I never learned English, then.
Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:10 am
I suppose there's a slight difference between immersive as in "attending an immersive course" and immersive as in "living in certain surroundings".
Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:07 am
Seonaidh wrote:Oh gosh! I never learned English, then.
You learned it veeeery
Every time you thinked you had learnted something, you founded out you were wrong and had to start again.
Ok, that was maybe slightly on the facetious side, but a child generates all these "theories" about rules and tests them, and I've have never heard of any adult ever repeating this process for a second language.
There is a massive difference in linguistic, physiological and psychological terms between a child's language learning and an adult's
Perhaps the most important is that a child is not only learning syntax, but is simultaneously learning semantics. Adults have semantics, which is why we can use phrases like "what is your name?" in day one of classes. But this becomes a block. A child can't process everything it hears, so starts by learning the most common words and simple structures. We as adults don't do that, or at least when we attempt it, we end up getting immediately corrected to full sentences. You can correct an infant with full sentences, but the kid won't really understand, whereas an adult will try to memorise the whole sentence.
Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:12 am
Thrissel wrote:I suppose there's a slight difference between immersive as in "attending an immersive course" and immersive as in "living in certain surroundings".
Sorry -- updated my post to clarify that I'm talking about classrooms.
Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:30 am
Níall Beag wrote:Sorry -- updated my post to clarify that I'm talking about classrooms.
No, I was reacting to Seonaidh's post. Sorry I didn't quote.