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Linguaholic

Should languages be taught in that language?


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I believe that most high schools teach a foreign language in English but try to incorporate bouts of that language in speaking/listening activities. On the other hand, I think most colleges teach a foreign language in that language in an attempt for students to learn it "naturalistically."

The first method simply translates words and teach the grammar in English during class which is then used later in homework, projects, and activities. This helps clear confusion immediately so that students can focus on creating projects and completing activities, eventually being able to understand Spanish in everyday life. At that point, students are expected to have a Spanish-speaking environment to further reach for the goal of fluency.

The second method involves studying basic vocabulary at home, and then that language is spoken during class. Even the grammar and culture is taught in that language by using numerous examples to demonstrate a consistent rule that students may use. Any new vocabulary that the student is unfamiliar with is defined in that language. Sometimes, this may cause some confusion. The gist of this method is to immerse students in an environment that solely speaks in that language so that students can learn similar to a native speaker.

Which method do you believe is better? Why?

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I was taught French using English but when I got to university many of the lectures were in French and although it was a bit of an effort to follow it was well worth it and it all made sense. When I teach English I always use English and even the absolute beginners catch on, and I don't know their language anyway!

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I think it depends on the level. For example you can't teach me French when I have no knowledge of any French. So at low level when you first start in your own language is better to learn structure and sentence formation, but once you know the basics and when you know enough then get taught in the language you learning.

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I don't think languages should be taught in that language. I mean it would be extremely hard to learn a language if you were not use to speaking it in that language. I mean how do you think you will be able to learn a language in a language you can't even understand?

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I think the first method that Bob pointed out is the most effective. It helps incorporate the language into your vocabulary more naturally. If you try to force yourself to learn anything, especially English, it's going to be obvious and that's just doesn't sound good.

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The first method simply translates words and teach the grammar in English during class which is then used later in homework, projects, and activities. This helps clear confusion immediately so that students can focus on creating projects and completing activities, eventually being able to understand Spanish in everyday life. At that point, students are expected to have a Spanish-speaking environment to further reach for the goal of fluency.

I think this is a better method.  You have to have a starting point to gain some basics of grammar, spelling and vocabulary.  Otherwise it could be alternately frustrating, overwhelming and intimidating to try to learn these basics when you have no means by which to discuss them or ask questions.  I think another disadvantage is that students will not gain a cognitive understanding of the rules of grammar which can make learning grammar even more difficult. 

Later on, once students have the basics, then the natural progression is for the classes to be taught in that foreign language. 

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When I learned Spanish, which started back in Middle school for me, we started in English but very quickly transitioned to Spanish. Before long you weren't allowed to use ANY English in her classroom. If you needed to say something that you didn't know how to you, you'd have to ask in Spanish "How do you say ___?" even if you had to ask for multiple words in the sentence you were hoping to convey. At the time it seemed a little strict to me, but it really, really helped and I DO think that's the ideal way to learn a language, is *in* that language as much as possible.

Later on, learning Latin, I was taught almost exclusively in English, with some Latin vocab and rules randomly thrown in. My education felt very disjointed and unrealistic and I've yet to become fluent in part because of that.

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I don't think languages should be taught in that language. I mean it would be extremely hard to learn a language if you were not use to speaking it in that language. I mean how do you think you will be able to learn a language in a language you can't even understand?

Think about how you learned English. Of course you probably didn't know any English words when you first started learning English when you were small. It just came naturally because your environment was full of English-speaking people. People helped identify certain objects and concepts. Then vocabulary was later defined in English. As a result, our English was fluent at a young age.

I think that having a language taught in that language uses this as a guideline. The primary obstacles to this method are that you can't have an environment like that 24/7, and as we grow older, our minds don't wrap around concepts as easily as we did when we were children.

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  • 1 month later...

I believe that language taught in the same language would prove a great level of difficulty for many :confused:. It would probably be challenging because students have no knowledge of the subject before. When students are taught the basic of the language, such as grammar and vocabulary, it makes it much easier for them to understand and therefore excel.

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I was taught English through a combination of English and my primary language - Croatian. That worked fairly well for me, because my English is pretty good and I had no trouble learning it. But that could be due to the fact that I was watching and reading English materials since young age.

But if I had to choose, I'd go with learning the language in that language. In my opinion it would be much easier to learn how to pronounce words and everything, and also a majority of people learns by what they hear, not only see.

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I've been in language classes that were taught in mostly in the language it was taught in. I think it's a great idea, because that's how you improve with a language -- using it consistently.

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It depends on the level being taught, I think that if it's your third year learning the language everything should be in the language you're learning, you should know enough vocabulary by then to understand what's being spoken.

For instance, my English teacher always spoke English with us (even outside of class) even though he has lived in Portugal for 20 years and speaks Portuguese really well, as a matter of fact we only know he speaks Portuguese because he participated in the show "Who wants to be a millionaire?"  :grin:

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I believe both ways of studying English or other languages is the best. Studying it in class and again studying it at home. The more you study, speak and think about what you are learning, the better the results would be. Utilizing all the tools to learn a language is the best way to approach it and you can do it wherever you are and whenever you want to.

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Later on, learning Latin, I was taught almost exclusively in English, with some Latin vocab and rules randomly thrown in. My education felt very disjointed and unrealistic and I've yet to become fluent in part because of that.

In my view, that is so true. I guess that is the main reason why students would want to abandon Latin after some time. However, other than in some churches and in the Vatican, to my knowledge, there is no use for spoken Latin in this day and age. That said, there are some ways to make Latin stick in my opinion. I remember reading Asterix comics during my Latin classes in my country. That really got me interested and helped me a lot. You cannot really expect a teacher to speak Latin in class. Latin is mostly used for scholarly purposes and as a base for romance and other languages.

When it comes to living languages, I do believe one should learn those languages in such a way that no language other than the one you are studying is spoken. It may seem impossible at first, but you could start by learning words that are related to words that you already know in another language. When I first started studying English, my teacher only spoke English to us. By doing so, in my experience, I quickly started thinking in English, and I am convinced this added greatly to my proficiency.

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It may or may not work in some cases. The reason I hate French so much is because it was forced onto me. I was forced to learn French as a kid [in the boarding school I was in]. The teacher would teach in French and all of us kids would be like WTF!

Those lessons didn't help us at all.

So, it's much better to teach a foreign language using a language the learner knows. Once the basics have been mastered, a switch to teaching primarily in the target language won't be so bad.

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Yes, I agree with you Denis, the work of the teacher would be much more difficult trying to communicate with the students in a language they are trying to learn... Having this said, if the teacher finds an effective way of doing it the students are more exposed to the language and that is a positive thing.

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I think it might be best to first have an idea of how the foreign language translates, even just in pictures or in gestures, preferably as minimal of an amount as possible. After having learned the basics, it might be more possible to use the foreign language exclusively as the student will already have a starting off point and can already understand what is trying to be conveyed. I learned Chinese this way, and I think it's best.

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I think that people are different and different learning styles will not resonate the same with everyone. For some people that full immersion will work the best. For some people a combination of immersion and other ways will work best. It's really up to the individual to find what works for them. That's why I think that classes aren't necessarily the best way to learn a language.

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  • 3 weeks later...

That's almost how English was taught in my school. For the first 2 or 3 years (I can remember exactly) it was taught mostly in my native language, but later on the teacher would almost always speak English and nothing else. In my opinion that is probably the most effective way of teaching, because you are pretty much forced to adapt.

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I think a gradual transition should be in place, like at first they teach you with your language, then a mixture, then finally once everyone has a pretty decent grasp of reading and writing teach the language only in that language. Or have the teacher able to talk in whatever language, and the students are only allowed to answer in the language they're learning.

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