How many times do you hear people say, “I studied this or that language for two years but I can’t speak a word of it.” I would like to share some thoughts on this subject. The artificial classroom scene is not an ideal place to master a second language. Most people feel very unsure and even foolish because they have to give up the security of their native tongue in order to learn the new language. Additionally, people may suffer a huge blow to their self-esteem which can make it even more difficult to learn the new language. How do you overcome these obstacles? It is not good enough to simply memorize vocabulary, verbs and such, it is more important for the language experience to be as real as possible. The best way to accomplish this is through active meaningful oral work. Oral work should consist of exchange of ideas, experiences and emotions.
I have been able to achieve great success with my students by providing them with meaningful experiences through active speaking. This is done through chain drills one of the most useful ways to teach new learners how to communicate effectively. The goal is to give the student ample opportunities to engage in conversation that he or she can relate to. Every topic being covered can easily be adopted in a meaningful way. Here are some examples:
Teacher is not dominating the procedure, students are required to answer a question, and then that student turns to his or her neighbor and asks the same question. Je m’appelle Nicole. Et toi, comment t’appelles tu?-My name is Nicole. And you, what is your name? This continues until everyone has had a turn. This exercise may seem very childish and simplistic, but is very effective because the student is exchanging personal information.
Everyone loves to eat; the same kind of drill can be used to foster oral proficiency. Students can thus bring in pictures of their favorite foods.
Lastly, the language experience should model real life experience as much as possible. After all, we all learned our native tongue quite naturally by learning how to speak first.