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4.4. Final thoughts regarding using the above suggestions

 

The above suggestions are meant to serve as a source of ideas and as a checklist. Each day you spend an hour or two preparing for your language sessions, planning three or more different activities which you will use to achieve specific goals which you will set from day to day. Those goals include vocabulary you wish to cover, and sentence patterns you wish to learn to comprehend. They may also include specific language functions or situations in which you would like to develop some communication ability through role-play, or through focusing on a special area of vocabulary. You may have ideas which have grown out of previous sessions, or out of experiences in the outside world. You can also refer to my suggestions as a source of ideas. As you plan a session, you will often look over the record of your previous session, so that while you are learning new vocabulary and sentence patterns, you are using all the riches available to you from earlier sessions.

You can use these suggestions as a check-list during your daily evaluation period. Some time after the rest of the day's activities, you reflect on what you did, make written summaries of your observations relating to sentence patterns, vocabulary, pronunciation, or anything else you observed. At this time you can go through the above suggestions and check off the ones that you have already dealt with. For example, long before you plan to deal with negations (denying and forbidding), you notice that you already know how to deny (so you check that off), but you do not yet know how to forbid (so you leave that unchecked, perhaps using another mark, such as a small circle, to remind you that it has not yet been checked off). One happy day, you will find that you have ticked off everything in the list. That doesn't mean that you have learned to comprehend every possible way of expressing a particular meaning. For example, you may have learned to express the idea of “must”, but there may be other ways to express the same idea or similar ideas which you have not yet learned. Nevertheless, you can check it off when you know at least one main way in which that meaning is expressed.

When you first start using the above suggestions, you may find it difficult to plan an activity around a suggestion. You want your LRP to say only things which you will have some hope of understanding. You do not learn anything from hearing your LRP say things you don't understand. But when you do not yet know much of the language, this may be challenging. That is one reason you will need to spend an hour or two planning your language session. As time goes on, there will be more and more that you can understand, both in terms of vocabulary, and sentence patterns. Therefore, planning your comprehension learning activities will get easier. For example, when you get to the point where your LRP is telling you what someone in a picture might be thinking (and you are trying to guess who might be thinking that), there may be considerable flexibility, since by that point she knows that you have considerable vocabulary and sentence patterns that you are able to understand.

As a matter of fact, it is important that your LRP use increasingly complex sentences with you as you go along. You need to keep stretching your ability to hear, process and respond. Activities in week three should take advantage of all you have learned in weeks one and two. You need to keep trying to include aspects of earlier sessions in your later sessions. For example, in the session where you are working on agentless sentences (the LRP saying “That paper was folded”--you indicating which paper was in fact folded), you may be dealing with a passive sentence form, as I noted. It will be good to learn to recognize such sentences as they relate to past, present, and future situations. Thus even though you have long since dealt with past, present and future situations, and checked that off, you still want to combine those notions with the notion of agentless sentences. You would also need to hear examples of agentless sentences in which a variety of pronouns are used. For example the LRP might speak to you using “true-false” questions such as “I was touched”, “We were nudged”. If-then sentences and relative clauses can usefully be combined with many other patterns (“If I was bumped, then point to the person who bumped me”). For that reason, you may want to learn to understand if-then sentences and relative clauses earlier than they come in my outline.

Almost any of the notions covered can be combined in this way with almost any other notions. Here is an exercise for you. How many of the notions (sentence patterns) that I have discussed are involved in the following sentence: “He is thinking 'If this field had already been ploughed, I would not have to plough it' ”? Quite a few, right? Did you come up with five or ten notions?

Of course, you don't try to combine a whole bunch of topics in your plan for the session. But as you go along, you encourage your LRP to use richer, more complex, and more natural language. Often while covering later topics you will find you are reusing many structures that you dealt with previously, even though you didn't plan things that way. That is because, as you learn to comprehend more and more, your LRP will automatically tend to use richer and more authentic language with you.


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