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Linguaholic

The Pointing Approach


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Do you know when you are really young, and sometimes on a television children's show or in a book, it will have a character or some form of something pointing towards an item before mentioning or listing what the word is? Admittedly, I do remember learning a few words this way but not as much as I could've learned with other ways; and have. My question is if the pointing to it approach should be refined or replaced.

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I'm not sure. It does work in most countries but there are certain cultures in which pointing at someone or something is an insult. Some small neighborhoods in my hometown think that when you're pointing at someone you're either accusing or mocking someone. We'd just have to find the equivalent gesture of addressing something without using a finger. Perhaps an open hand presenting the object, place, or person?

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I don't remember this approach when I was younger. Is the item the word to be read or a picture that hints at what the word is? These days, flashcards of words or sounds are shown to kids one by one. Another method is the writing method. Word is written one at a time then it is read or sounded out first then read. Or in the interactive whiteboard, word appears one at a time again then read. There are also word games. One game shows two words. One is a real word and the other is a con word. When the correct word is chosen, the alien who eats the correct word chews on it but when given the wrong word, he frowns and does not eat. So there are already loads of methods now-a-days for children to learn words. 

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The only recollection I have of any pointing method is back when I was in kindergarten and early primary school. The teacher would place the lesson on the chalkboard and then as she pointed to something a student or the entire class would respond based on what was required of us. If this is the practice been referred to, I consider it beneficial and see no reason why it shouldn't continue.

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The pointing approach is especially invaluable when you are teaching new vocabulary to young learners. But in my experience as a language teacher, I find that adults benefit from it just as much. When introducing new words and phrases to my class, I often bring images and charts along with me. It can be a lot of fun pointing at things and trying to explain them. :)

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  • 4 weeks later...

When my niece was still very young she often point to things and would have me name them, which I assume is just her wanting to learn. I think it is very effective and any cultural annoyance towards it can probably be ignored because learning is much more important than getting offended at trivial things in my opinion.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, pointing can be used... however, I don't really think it should be used in the classroom. I mean, it makes the teacher almost inhuman. That's at least my opinion. Of course, there's always the cultural background to be considered: in some cultures, it's perfectly normal for a teacher to point at something and be silent for the most of the class. I'd simply never seen it done. Maybe I'll change my mind when I see how it's done.

Pointing on TV shows for children - sure. Was it Strawberry Shortcake or Dora the Explorer? I'd watched neither, they were popular when I was already too old to watch either, so I don't even know the difference...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not sure. It does work in most countries but there are certain cultures in which pointing at someone or something is an insult. Some small neighborhoods in my hometown think that when you're pointing at someone you're either accusing or mocking someone. We'd just have to find the equivalent gesture of addressing something without using a finger. Perhaps an open hand presenting the object, place, or person?

I have to say InfiniteGeko makes a valid observation, some cultures find pointing very demeaning and belittling, which would in essence kill the learning environment and just put some people off learning a language. With that being said, I think the pointing approach was a good one and should be reestablished and upgraded. It should be done in a manner that would accommodate different cultural backgrounds as well as different denominations.

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