Practicing for Real

It’s hard to believe, but it was a year ago that I took my first foreign language case competition team to compete at Brigham Young University (see the “case competition” tag for last year’s entry).  This year I accompanied another team made up of Daniel Heron, Diana Martinez, and Sandra Kostadinova.  They were fantastic and performed super.  It was cool to watch.

As to foreign language learning, once again I was impressed with how much a student can learn when the content becomes real.  Because the students were preparing for a case competition, they seemed to retain vocabulary words, phrases, and even intonation, almost effortlessly.  It was impressive because in many ways the task was actually more difficult than their overall language proficiency.  That is to say, because their focus was on getting their message across and defending their points of view, the “language” portion was secondary, simply a necessary tool.  The whole process brought home to me once again the importance of having our students use their foreign language in real situations.

So congrats to Daniel, Diana, and Sandra.  Ya’ll did great, and a hunk of language acquisition went right along with the experience.  (It also didn’t hurt to have a gentle powdery snowfall at Sundance Ski Resort and it made for excellent snow balls.)

 

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One Response to “Practicing for Real”

  1. Tommy Says:

    “because their focus was on getting their message across and defending their points of view, the “language” portion was secondary, simply a necessary tool”

    As I understand it, this is one of the concepts behind cross-training with multiple languages, as well. When you source energy from language B (rather than the native language A), and then focus that energy on a higher task, such as language C, it is like the whole model shifts gears in our brains. It is, like you say, a survival tool or mechanism that forces us to raise the level of any energy source.

    But as with most multilingual problems, though, I am not sure this could be implemented into anything other an autodidactic module. Do you ever teach Spanish and Portuguese together to students at UT, for example?

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