05 November 2009

Starting young

One recent technique in child language acquisition is very promising for developing the audience for multilingual writing. Here is an account of the way a second language is taught to kids:

"There are, of course, many different ways of telling a story to a group. One of the most powerful ways with a group of beginners is to tell the story in the way that follows: (In this case the target language is Modern Greek):

"There was this man and he seemed very agitated. This andras, this guy, he went round and round the kipo behind his house (kipo is a garden) looking for something. The andras got down on his hands and knees and started scrabbling around in the border underneath the traiandafila, the roses.

"Now the wife of the andra, his yineka, happened to be in one of the upstairs rooms of the house. The yineka looked out through the bedroom parathiro and saw her andra searching for something in the border under the traiandafila.

"She asked him what he was doing. 'I’m looking for my house keys,' her andras shouted back.

"'Did you lose your house klidia down there in the kipo, in the border under the traiandafila?'

"'No,' said her andras, 'I didn’t lose my klidia here under the traiandafila, but the light is so much better here!'"

"I hope the text construction was logical enough for you to understand all the Greek words without having to strain too much. Bi-lingual stories of this sort are magic with small kids and people at this stage of linguistic brilliance (3-8) lap up and ‘interiorize’ the new language without realizing what is happening in their minds. When the story has been told half a dozen times with more and more target language words being used in each telling the whole story is told in the target language and the learners have the giddying sensation that they have understood everything."

We always say that the youth is the hope of the future. In this case, this is literally correct: the bilingual or multilingual generation now growing up is going to make multilingual writing/reading the rule, rather than the exception.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, great! I was waiting for what happens next in the 'kipo.' Learning/understanding a new language without sweat; kids will love this one (method). I had fun reading it (lol). Thank's Sir Ganni.