Monday, December 14, 2009

Connect --> Learn

It has often been noted that connections must be made in order for learning to occur. Yesterday at the bridal shower for a friend's daughter, I got to converse with a bridesmaid's mother who was also the 1st grade teacher at the school where I taught. (Listen for strains of "It's a small world afterall....").
She is bilingual. Which got me to thinking, although I do know some German, I would never regard myself as bilingual. What are the connections that happened for her and not for me?
I remember being friends with a family when I was young. They had two lovely girls who were bilingual - German and American. They made connections easily in either language. They would speak in German to me and my stepmother but in American to my dad, often switching languages mid sentence as someone entered or left a room. They made the connections. They learnt with ease.
I see so many language learners in our schools not making those connections with ease. I see so many struggling to pass mandated courses were the language learning was started too late. And I wonder why.
When I visit relatives in Germany, they always want to practice their English. It is British, but quiet understandable (except one friend, but that is another story). In most European countries, foreign languages are begun much earlier. Thus it is easier to make the connections and become bilingual. I consider all my relatives practically bilingual, even that uncle who wouldn't speak English to me at all ( I think he knew exactly what he was doing too!).
If we are to continue to be a super power, wouldn't it behoove us to do something about this language thing ASAP? Of course, the tech tools that could help.......

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