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Location: Osnabrueck, Lower Saxony, Germany

Sunday, April 24, 2005

English from Zero Message: 8423 From: Received: Sa Apr 23, 2005 8:15 Subject: Re: Dennis and S Julian,
I loved your metaphors up to " Why consign him to diapers by denying your common language? Embrace German because that's your means to communicate, adult-to-adult--and use it as the jumping off point for English."
We shall be using German as you suggest - we've already started to do so phoning, meeting and setting up the first lessons and talking briefly about how we are going to work. We'll be talking German, too, no doubt, after the lesson - at least for a while. But for the contact one hour, twice or thrice a week, it's shoes off, no smoking, keep to the left, English only ( far as possible). Why am I being so contrary? From personal experience I retch at the thought of a formal contact hour (as opposed to a social occasion) in two languages with the translation OK filter on. If a learner is shown that the L1 is accepted, it's that bit harder to bother to try to use the L2. Experience next week could prove me wrong - as I wrote in the last message, this discussion omits S, we can only speculate about how he'll be as a learner, but, I agree strongly with Fiona, there are so many lexical items, phrases, chunks that are either near cognates, clear from context or easily demonstrable in context - as long as the learner, from the beginning, is encouraged to stay in the L2 and not take the easy, but sometimes misleading way out i.e. L1 or translation - (still with me syntactically?) e.g. Gut/good, nein/no Buch/Book, Rot/red, repeat, stopp/stop OK?/OK? usw/etc Of course I haven't got a syllabus. But, from what I've learned of S's background, great-grandparents emigrated to Russia in the 18th. century //introduce lexical items for relatives, at least as far as great-grandfather// family exiled to Kazachstan and Siberia //introduce lexical items, with a map, of a few key countries in S's life.. I've a hint of some of the things Sergei might want to/be willing to tell me about himself. And there is counting, he'll need numbers; and the days of the week and the months of the year......... My golden principle is going to be - to try to enable Sergei to say (and understand) what he wants to say (and understand), but to avoid wherever possible, resorting to translation - which brings about understanding in a different way, and is probably less memorable. And, believe it or not, I'll do anything within reason that S says he wants! We've already spoken about grammar, in case he was expecting lots of grammar rules. But he said no, no. He prefers to leave it up to me to decide how to work. Dennis (All this discussion of what I'm going to do before I do it. I'm probably going to get 'flu tomorrow and lose my voice or Sergei is going to run away over the weekend with his girlfriend to Gretna Green).


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