I'm always reading articles on language learning to pass nuggets of wisdom to you all... These are my thoughts as I read:
What does the author say that matches my experience? How can I change my curriculum or classroom activities to best use our learning time together? Has anything changed, are there new studies, new findings?
I spent about three hours yesterday, reading the top qualified language learning companies (I try REALLY hard not to name drop, but you know them, I promise. They DOMINATE the shelves at every Foreign Language Aisle at every brick and mortar book store.)
So, here's the latest "breaking news" nugget, the main point pulled together from EACH and EVERY article I studied just yeaterday. (Hint: nothing has changed)
<<Deep Breath>> and let's throw in a drum roll too.
In order to learn a language, you must USE it.
So, here are six (sort of "Negative Nellie") spin offs from this "breakthrough:"
~1~ Singing songs to learn a language doesn't really work...Singing to learn a language has maybe one fun benefit: making you feel good while you sing. Giving you a good feeling about recognizing words in the target language is good! But it doesn't help you absorb. (Big sad face.) Knowing Spanish songs does NOT equate to knowing Spanish. But it sure doesn't hurt.
I know I'll get some flack for this point, so allow me to elaborate... You learned the ABC song to alphabetize... what do you do now to alphabetize? (Sing the song, right?) What about other recalling grammar chants or poetry? (Recite it, right?) Well, learning vocabulary (like maybe the word... CHAIR) in a song just teaches you an awesome song (using the word CHAIR.) Later, if you need to use the word CHAIR, you'll likely have to sing the song in your head first in order to access that bit of memory. It's not terribly efficient, which is frustrating. Happily, after you've sung the song, and then proceeded to USE the word, you will have accessed it differently and can use it again more readily. The synapse pathway has now been changed.
But, really, why not just skip the song? Learn the chunk of language (like in a flash card) and use it IMMEDIATELY to make a statement or opinion. Sing to REINFORCE, not to LEARN.
~2~ Clicking on pictures is a great way to check for understanding, and absorb. But if no one else around you knows those same pictures and vocabulary... you're just clicking pictures. The main spin off: Screen/app/computer/DVD learning isn't terrible, but doesn't equate to gaining vocabulary, unless it's used with someone else. It's just bits of info, waiting to be forgotten, unless you USE the new info with another human.
~3~ Reading vocabulary lists works if you're reading them TO someone else. Traditional methods are traditional for a reason. Learning in a classroom is effective because there are others to learn with, to speak to. Maybe not in class time, but before and after. And that counts!
~4~ Reading stories works, because you're comprehending a message. Reading them TO someone is better.
~5~ Writing letters and stories works for the same reason as above.
~6~ The BEST method is to learn chunks of language WITH someone, speak immediately, and then stretch yourself by visiting with native speakers.
And this is why we have each and every one of our relational products. So the parents learn with the student. The parents ARE the students. Otherwise, with whom will your students speak?
I've read and re-read my post above... trying to not sound like I'm on a rant, even though I sort of am... I just really don't like it when homeschool families are taken advantage of, spending money on products and systems that sell a dream, and don't deliver, because the method sounds "fun" but it's not effective.
I'm here to help. Please keep those questions, phone calls, and emails coming! Let me know if you have ANY questions about learning a language, or a product out there. (There are some GREAT ones!) I've likely reviewed it!