Learning by doing

Even if the learners don’t understand the grammatical rules behind a phrase or a sentence, they will learn by copying.  Habit forming, it is called. At least, I always thought it worked that way. But after having spent one hour on first explaining when to say a quarter past or a quarter to the hour and then practicing with them in class, individually, and then with partners, and they still look at me as if they have no idea what I want from them, I am once again close to ripping my hair out.  “Why is 3.45 am also 15.45 and also a quarter to four?”  Just because.

But they do pick things up, nevertheless. During their work in twos I could hear the terms of encouragement: “Klasse!” and “Toll!” and “Ja, richtig!” I use, mimicking even my tone of voice.

And then I heard Karim, who was sitting next to Eman, exclaim loudly and sounding extremely frustrated: “NOOOOOO!! NOT LIKE THIS!”

Maybe I should switch from coffee to calming cammomile tea in the morning for the time being.

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Selbst wenn die Lerner die Grammatik nicht verstehen, warum ein Satz oder eine Redewendung so oder so lautet, lernen sie doch durch Nachahmen.  Einschleifen,  heißt das.  Jedenfalls dache ich immer, dass das so funktioniert. Aber nachdem ich eine Stunde damit verbracht habe, zuerst zu erklären, wann man bei Uhrzeiten „Viertel nach“ und wann „Viertel vor“ sagt, und das dann erst in der Klasse, dann einzeln, dann mit Partnern einzuüben, und sie mich immer noch ansehen, als hätten sie absolut keine Ahnung, was ich von ihnen will, dann bin ich mal wieder kurz vorm Haareausraufen.  „Warum ist 3.45 nachts auch 15.45 nachmittags und auch Viertel vor vier?“ Weil darum.

Aber sie nehmen ja doch etwas mit. Während sie in Zweiergruppen arbeiteten, konnte ich immer wieder meine aufmunternden Zusprüche: „Klasse!“ „Toll“ und „Ja, richtig!“ hören. Sogar mein Tonfall wurde imitiert.

Und dann hörte ich wie Karim, der mit Eman übte, sehr laut und frustriert ausrief: „NEIIIIIIIIIIIN!  SO DOCH NICHT!“

Vielleicht sollte ich für die nächste Zeit morgens beruhigenden Kamillentee statt Kaffee trinken.


6 thoughts on “Learning by doing

  1. Good luck with it. Is there no parallel to their original language/s about the time? I know some countries say variants on time, but maybe it would help if you know what they would say in their own original language/s. I’d be curious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, communication in this class is not easy – the learners are illiterate (some only in Latin letters, some also in the script that is used for their native language). If I had an interpreter (difficult with 5 different languages) it might work but they have real problems in transferring grammatical/linguistic concepts, mainly because they don’t know how their own language works. Thank you for reading my blog and commenting.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That IS hard. I had the privilege of being literate in my own language (English), and then was taught some others that worked in similar or related systems (mostly Romance languages and Greek and some German), so there was enough understanding in me to form a basis. Good luck with it. It isn’t like teaching jazz students how to play rock, but maybe like teaching tone-deaf people how to play classical music or something–you may find some natural musicians in there who do well, but the rest of it might not be easy. How difficult for them too. I just saw the 1980 film Fame and was reminded of how people who are illiterate or poor readers can feel such shame and rage and frustration.

        Liked by 2 people

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