Foreign Language Attainment

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INTRODUCTION Teaching a foreign language is unlike teaching most other subjects. Consider biology. In teaching biology, a large part of a teacher’s task is to transmit a received body of knowledge, the student being tasked with absorbing and retaining as much of that knowledge as possible. A biology student may well understand and employ scientific process, but the content is critical. it would be a poor biologist who lacked a full grasp of cell reproduction and photosynthesis. The foreign language teacher, in contrast, does much more than transmit vocabulary and grammar rules. As children, we learned our native languages without technical explanations or lists of words to be memorized. In similar fashion, foreign language attainment…show more content…
It goes without saying that a teacher must know his or her subject extremely well. Great language teachers not only know the language, they love the language they teach. They love its expressive potential as well as its quirks, its slang and its irregularities. We can appreciate a teacher who makes classroom time lively and fun, but it is a mistake to view teaching as a form of performance art. The ideal teacher is not so much entertaining as engaging. It is student participation that matters, and the classroom should be managed so that regardless of skill level, a student should not find the class to be stressful or competitive. Every student should have a sense that the teacher understands his or her needs and is supportive of his or her efforts, and that every student is participating in equal measure. The importance of these “atmospherics” should not diminish the teacher’s commitment to stimulating measurable progress in every student. A good teacher is constantly assessing every student’s accomplishments as well as the challenges still to be…show more content…
in Slavic languages and literature. This work as a student exposed me to a range of teaching styles and techniques, and helped me develop strong views on which approaches are most effective. Happily, those views coincide with those of most of the trainers and faculty I worked with at ITTO. I believe a second strength to be a better than average knowledge of English. I am an avid reader, and appreciate the casual nuances as well as the complex structures of my native language. I appreciate its roots in both Latin and Greek, and view its emerging role as “the world’s second language” as a positive development. I will be happy if my own teaching can play a small role in that global trend. I find that my major weakness is that of too much teacher talk time (TTT). Intellectually I embrace the view that TTT should be minimal, but in the classroom I tend to over-explain. My hope is that this is a function of my initial insecurity in the classroom and that it will diminish with experience. Reducing TTT is always at the top of my list of classroom reminders. TEACHING
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