Origami in all Languages: turns of second language acquisition principles in practice
Presentation by Ann Dashwood and George Goodsell at AFMLTA Conference in Sydney 2009, Dialogue, Discourse, Diversity
Origami in all languages: Second
language acquisition principles in
Ge rg Go d e W o n Sta Sc o
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Ann Da hw o , USQ,
To w o b , Que ns nd
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11.2 -12 Sa a J 11, 2 0
5 .15 turd y uly 09
Dr Ann Da hw o
Faculty of Education
University of Southern Queensland
To w o b Qld4 5
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Planned benefits Accidental benefits that I have
It’s interesting, and exciting
• It is a chance to have
• It is a chance for me to use
something very neat and cute
continuous Japanese, and a
in their pads.
chance for the students to be
immersed in Japanese. • To improve fine motor skills.
• The students are listening for a • It is a chance for them to help
distinct purpose and if they each other and work together.
don’t listen it has immediate It also gives all children a
effects. chance to be good at
• We can review words that have
occurred in lessons before e.g.
right /left, colours, up /down,
top/ bottom, first / second etc,
Ways I incorporate origami into the lessons
It is always part of the topic we It is almost always glued into
are doing, or relevant to what is our pad or onto a chart. It
happening in lessons at the never becomes rubbish on
time, or part of our culminating the ground on their way back
activity. Origami can be part of to class, and it is always
any unit. used again
year of the animal – for a Sumo - tournament of 14
colour chart games against 14 different
butterfly or plane –flying opponents as part of the
competition learning of other sports. The
name of the sumo is written
on his back and he is called
that in bouts. The children
will usually look up their
wrestler on the internet
Incorporating origami into lessons
person • speech bubble for questions and answers
Mt Fuji • te a o he ht a his ry
ll b ut ig nd to
• to hold small things we are making or
Envelope using over a period
pencils, book, pad, • all finish up in the pencil case
cicada • write about insects in 2 or 3 Japanese
• g to ta sa fill the up a d
o p nd m nd rink from
• and draw the keys and play a song …..
for the younger students drawing the
piano pattern of the keys is a 5 – 10 minute
Video Origami for all languages
Age groups Frequency
• Years 4-7 primary one hour a • 6 or 7 times a year, but usually
week as 2x30 minute lessons a big copy and a small one
• From year 4 the amount of • That way I use Japanese for the
Japanese increases and the first one and then a child gives
amount of English decreases
each instruction for the one
during the origami lesson, eg. “
Be sure the fold line runs
back to me.
across your page” • If it is said in English I
• By grade 7 even some of these reinforce it in Japanese, If it is
hints with the same actions are said in Japanese I reinforce it
in Japanese again, without making anything
Task-based language learning provides a natural learning environment
1. motor skills
task is modelled from the start: large model then smaller ones
integration into the curriculum
vocab and verbs are the same as in regular class life
2. target language for a significant part of the curriculum
repetition by listening so teacher models language
especially verbs not so frequently used;
students sub vocalise and self repeat independently
review known words heard before eg. corner, left ,right, turn, press
tell me how to do it – memory, sequencing, step by step target
language comes out naturally;
extended language use for scaffolding writing later on.
Writing sentences from the origami experience is an effortless
move which would otherwise take much longer and be more
teacher driven. Writing becomes an extension of listen and do.
3. task is achievable – 7 to 10 folds maximum
completed object is valued eg. my impitsu (pencil) , hasami
(scissors), Barutol (sumo wrestler);
The conceptual dissonance between abstract object and the reality
5. fun element – language is felt to be fun, capturing the lower skilled
students with light entertainment in learning; the affective filter
6. cooperation skills in pairs and group is not competitive but helpful
with social gains.
TPR at the heart of origami language
In natural settings, children in all languages acquire a
level of comprehension before they speak meaningfully;
Both children and adults…
A silent period is an essential preparation for speaking
Principles in practice
As a tool for language learning TPR has as its premise that language is
acquired through comprehension;
James Asher’s TPR (1981) used action in a series of commands as the
basis for teaching a foreign language.
Ideally, only the target language is used
students respond to commands
explanation is in the form of action - not elaborations of
Students follow actions that the teacher models at first until one or
two students follow the commands upon hearing them and
remembering the action
Other students follow and through peer learning all students are
doing the action of the imperative.
Typically TPR is achieved through physical movement with objects.
Origami in all languages turns second language commands into
action folding paper en route to completing a small task.
By extending skills to a larger task they hear more complex forms of
the target language.
TPR – listen and do - action in practice
At first, the commands in TPR are simple……
Then more complex commands are given as the learners ‘listen and do’
Positive reinforcement from the teacher is given all the time……Why?
Verbal signals are supported by non-verbal cues…., such as head
nodding and a smile, combined with movement to the next action, all
reinforcing the learners’ knowledge and indicating to the teacher that
comprehension is taking place.
Correction is given but only when needed for meaning to be exchanged
The teacher simply repeats the correct form for a positive response…,
interacting all the time…….
The principles of TPR are fundamental to
language learning through Origami
• Asher explained “success can be assured if comprehension is
developed before speaking.”
• Being silent and listening to the teacher doing an action creates
experiences that are believable;
• the left frontal lobe in the Broca’s Area is not engaged to be
critical of the fact being perceived in the Wernicke ’s area in the
• Asher (2005, p.1) explained:
TPR creates facts, which make for long-term comprehension.
At lightning velocity, the student’s brain processes
information like this: “ I actually stood up when the
instructor uttered the alien direction: ‘Stand.’ It is a fact. It
is true. It actually happened; therefore, I can store this in
long-term memory.” The result is TPR can achieve long-
term retention in a few trials, often in one- trial.
A butterfly emerges in the insect’s life cycle of the primary science
In the Year of the Mouse, Origami is present, modelling the current
biological theme for science.
A Sumo wrestler fits into a games unit;
Formal schemata are clearly associated with task-based language
Generally referring to the domain of reading and literacies, the
schema (Bartlett 1932) of a task provides the organisation
framework onto which language is layered:
The conceptually driven process relies on previous knowledge
(top down processing) and drives perception of the stimulus
(bottom-up processing) to interpret individual features of the task
Children in the origami class have learned the ‘cultural logic’
of the origami lesson.
Associated closely with the knowledge concept of the object
end product is knowledge of procedure students have to
follow because the teacher expects it.
Modelling is presented by the teacher and students learn the
steps to follow in a conventional sequence for the product to
The context has become self-generating as a special time to engage in
Japanese and to make something which satisfies the children’s need
to personalise their learning, to produce an item…
Origami is more than a piece of paper. The folded paper becomes an
entity, a paper-living thing, whose shape and dimensions and line are
all important to the creator.
The teacher gains satisfaction from engaging children in learning that
they can repeat.
Children gain a sense of accomplishment that is rarely experienced in
other learning opportunities in the classroom setting.
The goal of the teacher in an Origami lesson is to make input
‘comprehensible’ (Krashen 1982) so learners perform the action
Language meaning will be understood by the learner when the
linguistic input, supported by gesture, modelling and action in
context slightly challenges the learners’ current competence.
The Input hypothesis is one of the 5 hypotheses proposed by
Krashen is well known as an explanation for how learners acquire
a second language.
Students are not expected to speak but to listen and
do the action the teacher models.
The input is generally rough-tuned to approximate the
learners’ current level of acquisition, yet fine-tuned to
particular students’ current levels of competence
realised in each grammatical structure at a time.
The teacher adjusts the input and repeats as
necessary until such time as he has become
Language comprehension is then seen to have
occurred automatically (Krashen, 1982, p.22).
The affective ‘filter’ , acts as a barrier to comprehensible input.
It limits attention to the input, affects learning style, suppresses positive
attitudes and emotions, reduces time of meaningful exposure to the
language, and the pace at which the language is acquired.
With Origami in action the “affective filter” is kept low.
Feeling at ease and positive in the classroom and enjoying the
teacher’s approach are aspects of listening that lower the affective filter
at the same time as increasing the likelihood of the second language
Motivation to learn language is likely to be higher when the affective
filter is low.
With small children roughly-tuned input takes the form of
caretaker speech, foreigner talk, and teacher talk.
The speaker typically slows down, repeats and restates
A key process in origami is the “oshite, oshite” movement –
it appears that there is never too much “oshite” as the
imperative, the procedural verb is repeated many
Children who finish each stage early in the process have
plenty of time remaining for further ‘oshite’ as other learners
Teaching and learning languages (Scarino & Liddicoat,
2009) reinforces the eight principles of language learning
compiled for the Australian teaching sector (Vale,
Scarino, McKay & Clarke, 1988, pp.17-27) with the
addition of more explicit cultural engagement.
Learners are to be at the centre of learning and the
teacher has to be astute and mindful of the potential scale
of learning that classroom focussed activity can achieve.
One principle paramount in Origami is that learners learn
a language best when they are actively engaged in the
learning process, by doing a range of activities in the
In any language instructions for activities are controlled.
They are focussed around a discrete sequence of folds,
positioning paper spatially as required for the next fold to
bring the object towards its final form.
Learners also learn best when they are provided with
opportunities to participate in communicative use of the
As they try to use Japanese in this sample, to reinforce the
instruction given by action or question with intonation, students
are positioned to use natural strategies to comprehend each step
of the task:
They learn how to:
• request repetition,
• make meaningful utterances in Japanese for a class mate or
teacher to reinforce or correct
• check from cues around them
• notice other students’ models and their positioning of folds on
the creations so far.
Origami allows the teacher to enable learners to exercise a
number of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (Gardner, 1999,
•students with kinaesthetic intelligence are drawn to
concentrate the mind on actions that involve the whole body
position and finer motor controls associated with moving
paper and fingers around to make shapes-hands on learning.
•students with verbal-linguistic intelligence respond well to
the language of instructions, explanation, discussion and
reward. They have verbal memory and recall and an ability
to comprehend the syntax presented and often its structure.
3. Children with logical-mathematical intelligence to the logic of
Origami become involved in carrying out the mathematical
operations of fractions and geometric forms and they like to
experiment not feeling threatened by the task.
4. Those with spatial intelligence are able to visualise and mentally
manipulate objects as they reason deductively and think logically
and through modelling the final product.
5. Interpersonal intelligence allows learners to understand the
intentions of others allowing them to work effectively with other
people in a pair or group and with the teacher. Through
intrapersonal intelligence, learners appreciate their own feelings
about the activity and their motivation to complete it. They can
regulate their behaviour according to the requirements of their
Exposure to the socio-cultural data of the target language
and direct experience of the culture that is embedded in the
The characters have cultural significance to the learners;
they are known from video games and other media
The activity is colourful and in keeping with activities enjoyed
by children of the same age in the target culture.
•When students become aware of the nature of language and
the nature of culture, the target language as a system builds
•They begin to notice:
how languages affect each other as words become
how languages affect people;,
how they feel being immersed in the target language
•Learners require appropriate feedback about their progress for
learning to occur.
•Their progress is monitored and assessment is made of that
•Students have the opportunity to perform the sequence of
activities and then to review them by giving instructions to
the teacher when the teacher constructs another larger
model to display.
•Managing their own learning is accommodated, sometimes
working alone, at other times with a partner or group,
students learn through negotiation to self-manage in the
process of developing autonomous learning .
Micro level activities
Primary children learn the significance of order and space
right side, left-hand side, noticing that the whole object is
the sum of its parts.
Micro level activities such as:
threading needles and dressing the Barbie doll are either too
gender specific or not available in the context of life for year
seven girls and boys.
Instructions such as “fold the paper in half” follows step-by-step
appealing to left hand brain functions while “to a corner”
complements the activity with right hand brain being drawn on
to achieve the exercise.
Fine motor skills
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Fine motor skill development is embraced by
TPR using origami
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coordination activities at early stages of reading assist
reduction of reading problems later on.
Origami I might make in a year
Grades 1, 2 and 3 … cup, piano ,
Grade 4 “ year of” animal (cow;
Children’s Day samurai helmet;
Xmas tree; insects unit, butterfly,
cicada; various animals… cat, dog
etc; Mt Fuji; flower
Grade 5 “ year of” animal (cow);
Children’s Day samurai helmet;
Xmas tree; various animals, cat,
dog etc; goldfish; dinosaur
Grade 6 and 7 “ year of” animal
(cow); person, transport unit…bus,
car, train, plane, truck; clothing unit
…shirt, shorts, shoes; Xmas tree
and star, book with 8 pages; sports
unit … sumo wrestler
Living objects in Origami
House Glue on sheet and add the fence and garden
llo n Blo up a p y theg m , a o aw te b m
w nd la a e ls a r o b
Pencil Colour chart if the animal is too difficult
Tree C tm sc rd o m
hris a a r ultip o sfo afo s
le ne r re t
Star To decorate the tree or for night pictures
Fish Put a dot for the eye from a hole puncher
Te hniq s
Onc theorigami is glued in, there is always
writing to go with it/w le
This will often happen next lesson when they are
• Any paper will do though • Rectangular origami things are
commercial paper is better becoming more common and so
even though it is softer. is kirigami where you use
Photocopy paper is stiff but scissors.
tolerable. For some origami, • Scissors, varying sizes of paper,
newspaper is good. dots for eyes, glue and ideas
• For some objects it would not are all that is needed.
matter which colour they use • The multi coloured pretty paper
but I use the same colour for looks good but I find not as
everyone as it eliminates useable.
arguments and swapping and • The packets usually come in
we all do a green tree, or black mixed colours and I sort them
piano, or green cicada, or into colours for ease of use
yellow pikachu etc
Grade 7 origami lesson
(from a new student” Boy I never thought
Japanese would be this easy. I never understood
anything in French.”
(from a weaker student as he leaned over to show
his neighbour) “ he just said fold that corner to the
bottom and then open it out.” The other kid was
When I first came here I didn’t know why
everyone ran so fast to Japanese lessons… I
understand now… I do too
• Internet origami sites
www.origamiclub.com/en is probably the most used.
There are 5 ratings of difficulty.
• Don’t be afraid to change it.
• Don’t be afraid to call it something else… the easy horse
looks like a dinosaur and I use it for both with a couple of
• Don’t be afraid to make the inside folds just behind folds
in the smaller grades
• Don’t be afraid to use scissors
• Use the language.
Ancient art – modern tool in second language
Total Physical Response (TPR) principles - Asher (1966, 2009)
Listening for learning - Scarino (1988, 2009)
Schema theory (Bartlett 1932): top-down interacting with bottom-up
Input hypothesis and affective filter hypothesis - Krashen (1982) :
Multiple intelligences - Gardner (1999)
Teacher beliefs about language learning - Mantle-Bromley (1995)
Cognitive approach to language learning- task-based (Skehan 1998)
• TP ha theb ne o b ingaw ll re e rc dc nc p in
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e xp rie e m d te uc e s e ta ing
c m re ns le“hunks o la ua e vo a ula g m a
o p he ib c ” f ng g : c b ry, ra m r,
p no g a s m ntic .
ho lo y nd e a s
– Thee nviro e a p a fre o s s fo te c r a s e
nm nt p e rs e f tre s r a he nd tud nts
w s rt-te m m ry e nd into e ns lo -te
ith ho rm e o xte ing xte ive ng rm
m m ry.
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focus on language through action creates an environment in which
the context for learning is an engaging one.
skilled teacher, with a passion for the inculcating an interest among
monolingual children in experiencing another culture through its
language has the opportunity to embrace principles of language
learning in the Origami, Papierfalten, papier plié, ‘zhe zhi’,…..lesson.
PR, comprehensible input, Australian Language Levels Guidelines,
Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and theories of motivation and
attitude are embedded in the turns of talk that the language teacher
brings to the limited 30 minute segments of time they share with
sing key principles of language learning in an informed and sustained
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