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Location: Osnabrueck, Lower Saxony, Germany

Sunday, April 24, 2005

M 8422 Julian Message: 8422 From: Julian Bamford Received: Sa Apr 23, 2005 5:44 Subject: Dennis and S Dennis, Are you going to "teach S English"? Or are you going to mentor him in an English-speaking world? The difference is between a) carefully presenting him with a beginner's syllabus (today: telling the time), and practicing and drilling and reviewing each bite-sized, interlocking piece until he's got it, and b) offering him an apprenticeship in language in the context of life. It's the difference between a teacher leading--and two individuals living, with the coach watching for and pouncing on teachable moments. It's the difference between "What time is it?" and "David, would you PLEASE get off the table." The first is language that is dead on arrival, which is why we jazz it up with glossy Hollywood McEntertainment to make the whole rotton carcass palatable. The second is nutritious ingredients straight from the field, zesty, vibrant: Take great bites of it, or chew well and digest slowly as appropriate. You are the skilled ex-pro, and your charge is to develop the latent talent of the prodigy. It's the difference between introducing her to the moves a player needs one by one, or kicking the ball around, noticing how she moves, her strengths and weaknesses, and most of all her passions and talents, which are the fertile patches where growth is easy. You use your skill to get her into the game. Her game, not a pale imitation of yours. S is an adult. 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, which will sprout who knows where, and be learned by him who knows when. Watch and see what he is learning, and build on it day by day. His English will develop organically, because that's the crop you've both decided to grow. (Applications from further metaphors, especially mixed, now being considered.) Julian


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