One of the greatest DVD’s I ever saw on second language acquisition was the Krashen Seminar. It was produced by Blaine Ray in the late 90’s and on the DVD Krashen, in a very light and informative manner, outlines how we learn languages. If you want a copy of the DVD let me know and I’ll get one to you.
Anyway, on the DVD Krashen mentions a woman from Hungary by the name of Lomb Kató. [In English her name would be Katherine Lomb] She was a woman that learned 16 languages, mostly by self effort. I find myself asking the question, “What can I learn from Lomb Kató?”
Well, here are a few things that I gathered. She mentions that she drove three autos in World Languages: autolexia [reading for myself], autographia [writing for myself], and autologia [speaking with myself]. When thinking about my own language learning , it makes me feel better to know that she mentioned these three tools because I wasn’t sure if I was normal.
I also think about whether I am providing this for my students. Do we have a time where they can read what they want? This is basically FVR. I wish I did it more often and I think it would be good for the students. I am still getting my act together for a grant for some money.
Do we also have a time where the students have a time where they write for themselves? The closest I come to this is freewrites. I wish that they could do more free journaling in L2 and I wonder if my students are at a level where they can express themselves this way. It is a good thing to think about.
While I am not sure that autologia leads to acquisition, I do think that it leads to feeling like you are part of a club of language learners, which is very important. This is especially important for teenagers who are so locked into social approval. This happens in my room when I give a brain break and have them do mini-retells with each other. To be honest, it could happen more. I also think that this is something that can be encouraged to do on their own.
Other comments that she made was that when learning a language, we focus on the essence of the grammar and the important words. How true this is! I don’t know why so many programs use grammar to teach the language. Grammar will not win over the majority and will deprive the learner of the joy of natural language.
She also mentions that we need to cling to the enjoyable side of language study. Am I really providing this for my students? I really think so because we have stories that are all about their life and we are reading things that bring up real life situations. Reading can be a very enjoyable side of language study if we get kids into good stories and books!
These are just a few things that I learned from Lomb Kató. I find myself asking the question, “What good does all the Spanish I am teaching the students do if they never take charge of their own language learning?” I think that we need to help our students to acquire the language, but also to know how to acquire a language so that when they leave they can continue this language acquisition journey.