Daniel Bonatti explains how the use of the student's mother tongue can help in the process of learning a foreign language. In this particular case, his presentation focuses on Portuguese as MT and English as target language.
Welcome to this workshop Breaking the Myth – The Use of Portuguese in the Language Classroom. Well, it’s NOT me in the picture, just so you know… They are the Mythbusters, do you know them? It’s a great show, I highly recommend it! They do kind of what I am doing here today… They break myths! I am well aware that I will be swimming against the tide here… It is a widespread concept that the MT is counterproductive to learning a foreign language. So, I’ll talk about the use of Portuguese in the language classroom, as a resource for learning, and NOT as an obstacle, as it is understood today by many institutions, teachers and methods. I hope this workshop will be of great value to you and your students.
Let’s get something straight before we start: for the purposes of our discussion here today, our Mother Tongue (MT) will be PORTUGUESE, and our target language will be ENGLISH. (How many here are English teachers? And teachers of other languages? And students?) READ SLIDE. The ideas and principles we are going to practice today can be applied to the teaching of any second language by maximizing the students’ mother tongue in the process. Ok, let’s take a look at the structure of this workshop, but before that, I would like to ask you some questions on where you stand on this… and learn a little bit about you all…..
By show of hands, please let me know who here….. Good! It’s good to know who exactly we are talking to. The structure of this workshop is the following…
I expect this workshop to be very participatory and democratic. I usually like to participate a lot in events I go to... Well, maybe too much (for those who’ve witnessed me in any of the workshops here...). I hope nobody is seeking revenge here... I remember once I was at a workshop being given by Isa Mara Lando, who is by the way, an excellent speaker. I loved her workshop! Well, at the end of the workshop, I had to apologize, cause I think I made some 6 to 7 comments and questions...... at each 20 minutes! She of course said that my participation was very good and that she liked a responsive audience. And so do I... So bring the questions and comments on... You can ask questions at any time.
To start with, we will take a look at our subject matter today… These are some taboos we have been facing for many years. So these are some topics we are going to discuss here… 1- counterproductive 2- translation 3- forced = I never liked the idea that someone needs to be forced to do anything (at least if you’re not at gunpoint). 4- think in English – this is a classic one - I was reading an article “Tradução Mental – a receita que não funciona” and they say that, because of the different languages structures, students need to RELEARN how to think ! How is that possible ? Can we be free from our mother language? We’ll discuss that later, even with some insights from Freud. (oh yeah, we’re going deep…..) 5- are we supposed to completely forget our experiences, our culture, ourselves , everything ? Do we need to recreate ourselves from scratch? Our life experiences won’t be of any value in the language acquisition process?? Let’s move ahead to understand how these concepts came up….
One of the main reasons for the concept that MT should be banned from the language classroom was the appearance of the Direct Method, also called Natural Method ( partly because of its attempt to imitate MT acquisition, or in other words, to imitate the process of a baby learning his mother tongue… thus being supposedly “natural”.) No translation was allowed in class, at any level. Not even bilingual dictionaries! So it meant that students were to be completely deprived of their Mother Tongue. Association of ideas = English – English explanations that take too much time. And this is where the concept that target language acquisition needs to be similar to Mother Tongue acquisition came from. We still hear that a lot around here… Let’s see more….
The direct method came in handy to English speaking countries, specially to their political and commercial interests. They could publish teaching material to any market without having to worry about local languages. They started having mixed language classrooms, with students from different nationalities. And their teachers were monolingual. It soon spread to monolingual classrooms all over the world. And this is a concept we still see everyday in our country… that native speakers are better teachers, even when ( or specially when ) they can’t say a word in Portuguese.
So, bottom line…. It became a necessity in these countries due to mixed language classrooms. Of course there is no way of using each student’s mother tongue in the classroom. So the learning process is much longer… and sometimes frustrating for the student… We will get into details later on the extra time it takes to teach a language without using MT
So this is why we have today this concept that using the MT is counterproductive… Translation in the classroom is bad…. We have imported these misconceptions into our classrooms… BUT we don’t need to do that!
I want to stop quickly at this concept of Attempting to Imitate MT acquisition, because this has been one of the main pillars of this mother tongue prohibition… It is said that people should learn a second language the same way they learned their own Mother Tongue! Intuitively. Without interference from any other language. But Mother Tongue acquisition can’t be compared to Second Language acquisition… They are two completely different processes! This baby, for example, he has no life experience whatsoever… He is starting from scratch! He will need around 18,250 hours of meaningful interaction to be able to speak just like a 5-year old! Imagine an adult learner (or your student) with that kind of exposition to a second language! He would be teaching YOU soon!! Second language learners end up less proficient but learn much faster . Of course, if an adult learner goes to an English speaking country and stays there for a few months without any help from his mother tongue, he or she will be fluent due to the full exposition to the target language. However, this is not the case for learners in their own countries, such as our case here in Brazil.
Let’s take a look at the frequently-mentioned goal that many teachers and institutions set and students seek… By reading what Freud says, we conclude that it is impossible to separate different areas for foreign languages. I am aware of some scientific researches that point out a different area of our brain for foreign languages. I am not going deeper into that area. Scientifically OR psychologically speaking, our mind CAN’T forget or set aside our mother tongue. I won’t go any further into whether it is possible or not to actually think in English. This would be a very long conversation, with many different points of view… Instead, I want to focus on the fact that when we set this as a goal, we create this expectation in our students, and this implies in NOT using their mother tongue at any time. And this often leads to frustration. As mentioned earlier, we have a lot to miss if we ignore the student’s most valuable asset: their mother tongue.
Still on the “thinking in English” matter, this is my humble theory, that through the use of our mother tongue and the associations we make with our target language, we become fluent with a strong influence of our mother tongue, even as we think. It just happens a lot faster than in earlier learning stages. Think of your mind as a computer processor, like an old 486 and compare it to the latest Intel Core Duo. I take myself as an example… I’ve been fluent for many years, and yet I catch myself making associations with my mother tongue before I say something in English… The ability to translate well helps you convey and understand meaning. I just feel that it happens a lot faster than it did in my early stages of learning.
Alright, after identifying the root causes for the misconception that the students’ mother tongue should be left out of the classroom, let’s take a look at the main disadvantages of FORBIDDING Portuguese in the learning process.
This is the first and obvious disadvantage of NOT using MT in class. EXAMPLES: I remember when I tried to explain CHIP IN to en elementary class, without the use of Portuguese… I gave many explanations, tried many examples, and after a few mistaken attempts by the students to get the meaning, one of them shouts out “ AH, é fazer uma vaquinha???” For us teachers, it seems easy to grasp our explanations… They sound like the best and clearest in the world to us… But this is not true for many students… They may not have the same facility we have to grasp meaning… They need more input and more verification of understanding…
HAVE YOU EVER HAD ANY FUNNY SITUATION WHEN TRYING TO TEACH ONLY USING ENGLISH?
It goes without saying that it takes a lot more time to explain structure, vocabulary or whatever it is you’re teaching when you don’t use the students’ mother tongue. And yet, your students might not understand completely. Let’s take the example of this teacher… It took him 10 minutes to explain 4 expressions. What do you think is the average time? Of course this varies from case to case… Have you ever timed yourself when explaining something? Can you think of how much more extra practice time you would have if you used MT to explain some ideas and concepts?
Most times, your explanation contains more unknown words than the vocabulary, expression or structure at hand. It digresses from the focus of the task. PLAY VIDEO His language is so complex that if students could understand clearly what he is saying, they wouldn’t need an explanation on ING forms!!! This same explanation could be done in MT, and would be more productive. So there would be more practice time.
Well, I’m sure most teachers here are real artists… We need to learn these skills in order to explain concepts without using the mother tongue… I need two volunteers here… for a hands-on activity.
Let’s practice some Please explain the word ALTHOUGH to a student without using Portuguese…. You are an elementary student (might confuse it with ALEM DE, DEVIDO AO FATO DE, POR CAUSA DE, etc…)… One can apply the principles and … B) They conned me… (pregar um golpe) Although I was sick, I came to work yesterday. I'm personally interested in the solution to this problem, because one never knows when such a problem will occur elsewhere Resilient = flexivel, solido, que se recupera r ápido
Oftentimes, students feel they are not doing as well as they should be because they can ’t understand much of what the teacher is saying… This usually creates a false expectation to the student and results in demotivation and frustration.. In addition to that, they don’t feel at ease to ask questions, at the risk of feeling stupid or interrupting too much…
The GOOD NEWS IS: WE ALREADY HAVE CONTENT!! It is impossible to forget our Mother Tongue and our entire existence. We will make associations with what we already know, and need to make these correlations when learning a second language. Ignoring MT is a very serious mistake!! My point here is that one cannot ignore students’ reality and experiences when teaching a second language. We need to consider their interactions, what they want to communicate, not only the contents of our program. When we ban Portuguese from the classroom, we are shutting the doors to our students experiences, their schemata
I would like to give you an overview of my experience… Just to clarify, I am a champion for the maximum use of English in the classroom. The Mother Tongue activities work as a tool for practicing vocabulary and structure. Many years ago, when I was 19, I trained Americans here in Brazil on language and culture. We lived together for months, so it was intensive training. There were other Brazilian trainers as well, and a group of Americans was coming to Brazil. Many of the Brazilian trainers didn’t speak any English, and they knew I did. There was a general idea that the Americans being trained by me wouldn’t learn appropriately because we would resort to English and the American wouldn’t be “forced” to speak Portuguese all the time. And that the Americans being trained by the Brazilians who didn’t speak English would learn faster. To everyone’s surprise (and I confess that even to my own!) the Americans I trained ended up speaking Portuguese faster and better. And this was due to one reason: I spoke their tongue to explain vocabulary and structure. And then we practiced the rest of the time. This was when I first became aware that the mother tongue plays an important role in the learning process, and can’t be ignored. Explain how I learned from music, from the Americans (basketball, expressions like dead meat, pull an all-nighter, etc…), and my note-taking system. When teaching for some schools, I felt the frustration from students, and even mine… I once got reported to the school’s administration because I used a few sentences in MT to clarify meaning… The students were not aware that they benefitted from that exercise…
So, in order to start a revolution in your teaching method, you will need to test these techniques and see for yourself that they work, and then reeducate your students so they can reap the benefits from bringing their experiences to class through their Mother Tongue. This is necessary because of the known misconception they have about MT.
Now let’s start on the real benefits of using MT as a tool… How can we benefit from it? Is there a limit to use MT? Of course! We don’t want to overuse MT in the classroom. We could compare MT in the classroom to a drug… Whereas it has therapeutic potential, it can also damage your health or become addictive if overused. USE EXAMPLES FROM THESE TOPICS:
Teacher Reads out loud / Have students read it / Clarify questions using MT / Students Read Again (role play) / Students read again switching characters / Students Translate Orally / Students Act Out in MT and L2 Grammar points = Past Tense
Activity suggestion This gives students the opportunity to identify chunks of language and act out a conversation. Then they can even improvise (depending on their level). When the activity is enjoyable and fun, they’ll remember new vocabulary and structures. Even more when they build something on their own, based on the story.
Variation = I’ll start by sending you to our worst customer. Is that the best you can do? (variation) Mom, guess who’s going on a business trip? The level of creativity can also be improved. It depends a lot on the mood the teacher sets. Grammar = Present Perfect / Present Simple / Future Simple
IF sentences activity – scene from the movie Bourne Identity / Supremacy ? Generated great results = visual aids + translation Actually, it is almost impossible to teach If sentences without the equivalents in Portuguese. Practice + translation + role play = memorization and understanding of IF SENTENCES
This activity is from MT to target language. Follow the same process. The teacher can have students remember or create short stories like this in MT, and then translate into English. FORM COUPLES TO WORK ON THE TRANSLATION, and THEN COMPARE WITH TEACHER’S VERSION OR THEIR OWN VERSIONS This requires the teacher to be very confident about his English and class preparation. Variation = teacher can take story home to translate and bring next class
After all students act this out without looking at their sheets, focus on grammar points and vocabulary variation.
By playing with these literal translations, they identify the nature of chunks and will understand that they can’t translate word-for-word. This activity will generate a lot of laughter. DO YOU KNOW ANY OTHER LITERAL TRANSLATIONS THAT WORK? (e.g. kill time, time flies, cry over spilled milk) Out of sight out of mind – this shows how Brazilians are more emotional than foreigners… O que os olhos n ão vêem o coração não sente OU longe dos olhos longe do coração MIND for English speakers HEART for Brazilians
Jokes are fun – we can go MT > L2 or the other way around.
The doctor told the patient: “You have very little time left to live...” and the patient asked “Oh my God, doctor... What can I do ?”… to which the doctor replied “Instant noodles”.
Some stories are good to practice verb tenses and vocabulary.
This is a great activity that involves translation, and produces great results!
After any activity which involves structure practice and new vocabulary, I highly recommend that students create with new language and write it down through a system where they can REVIEW later. Show MY Note-taking system.
One example of a limited use of MT is spot translation , which is a quick word in MT as an aside during primarily English communication. Spot translation, when used well, can prevent a class from becoming a perpetual negotiation of meaning.
Show how this works.
We are looking for a few great teachers, so drop us a line!
Breaking The Myth Use Of Mt Disal Daniel Bonatti
Breaking the Myth : The Use of Portuguese (MT) in the Language Classroom
In this workshop… <ul><li>PORTUGUESE will be our MT (Mother Tongue) , and ENGLISH will be our target language . </li></ul><ul><li>However, one can apply these ideas and principles to the teaching of any second language. </li></ul>
WHO ... <ul><li>… thinks MT SHOUD be used in the classroom, and wants to find out ways of doing it effectively? </li></ul><ul><li>… thinks MT should NOT be used in the classroom? </li></ul><ul><li>… thinks MT SHOUD be used in the classroom BUT can’t use it due to school policies? </li></ul><ul><li>… hasn’t made up their minds on the use of MT??? </li></ul><ul><li>… is a teacher AND an interpreter/translator? </li></ul>
This Workshop <ul><li>Overview of myths - discussion </li></ul><ul><li>The Root Causes </li></ul><ul><li>The Disadvantages of Forbidding MT </li></ul><ul><li>Advocating the Use of MT </li></ul><ul><li>Practical Activities </li></ul>
The Myths… <ul><li>Using Portuguese in class is counterproductive to the students’ learning </li></ul><ul><li>Translation in the classroom is bad! </li></ul><ul><li>The students need to be “ forced ” to speak English! </li></ul><ul><li>Students need to learn to “ think ” in English </li></ul><ul><li>Students can’t learn English if they are relying on their MT </li></ul>
The Root Cause <ul><li>DIRECT METHOD (Natural Method) – 1900 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students’ MT was banned from classrooms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No translations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No bilingual dictionaries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vocabulary through demonstration of objects and pictures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Abstract vocabulary through association of ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attempt to imitate MT acquisition (babies) </li></ul></ul>
The Root Cause <ul><li>DIRECT METHOD </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Political and Commercial Interests of English speaking countries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mixed language classrooms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monolingual (English speaking) teachers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Soon spread to monolingual classrooms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generated the belief that native speakers were the best teachers </li></ul></ul>
The Root Cause <ul><li>Direct Method became a NECESSITY!! </li></ul>
The Root Cause <ul><li>We have “imported” Direct Method into our classrooms </li></ul><ul><li>But we are privileged ! Our classes are monolingual + we speak their tongue!! </li></ul>
Attempt to Imitate MT acquisition <ul><li>BUT… Target Language acquisition is completely different from MT acquisition </li></ul><ul><li>Starting from Scratch </li></ul><ul><li>More proficient </li></ul><ul><li>5-year old = 18,250 hours </li></ul><ul><li>Life Experience </li></ul><ul><li>Less Proficient </li></ul><ul><li>Faster Learning </li></ul>
Attempt to “ Think ” in English Freud localiza no campo da linguagem a aquisição de conhecimentos posteriores, por levar em conta a hierarquia que estabeleceu originariamente as funções dos campos associativos da linguagem na língua materna. “ A função da linguagem apresenta excelentes exemplos de novas aquisições. É o caso de aprender a ler e a escrever relacionados com a atividade primária da linguagem... se aprendo a falar e a compreender diversas línguas estrangeiras, se, além do alfabeto aprendido em primeiro lugar, aprendo também o grego e o hebraico, se, ao lado de minha grafia uso também a estenografia e outras escritas – todas essas atividades estão evidentemente localizadas nas mesmas áreas que conhecemos como centros da primeira língua aprendida.” (Freud, apud Moraes, 1999, p. 24-25)
The Role of MT <ul><li>Excluding MT from the English classroom is like trying to wean a baby on day one of their life </li></ul>
Disadvantages of Forbidding MT <ul><li>1. Meaning is not understood accurately </li></ul>Ex: CHIP IN
Disadvantages of Forbidding MT <ul><li>Meaning is not understood accurately </li></ul><ul><li>ANY STORIES? </li></ul>
Disadvantages of Forbidding MT <ul><li>One teacher being observed spent 10 minutes to explain the following 4 expressions: </li></ul><ul><li>So far (3.5 minutes) Strange (3 minutes) Fast asleep (1.5 minutes) According to (2 minutes) </li></ul><ul><li>2. A lot more explanation time </li></ul>
Disadvantages of Forbidding MT <ul><li>Complex Explanations (video) </li></ul><ul><li>Many times, the instructions needed to carry out the task may be more linguistically complex than the language of the task itself. </li></ul><ul><li>EX VIDEO: well aware/ there are/ take the form of/ participle of some sort/ take a look/ I can think of/ might wanna know/ I’m sure you’re familiar with these/ compound nouns/ subject of a sentence/ I’ve been calling that/ reduced relative clause/ here you’re missing the/…, </li></ul>
Disadvantages of Forbidding MT <ul><li>4. Teacher gets exhausted from all the miming, singing and dancing </li></ul>
Disadvantages of Forbidding MT <ul><li>Although </li></ul><ul><li>One can apply the principles… </li></ul><ul><li>One never knows when… </li></ul><ul><li>Resilient (economy) </li></ul><ul><li>Let it slide… </li></ul><ul><li>Touch a nerve </li></ul><ul><li>You got it! </li></ul><ul><li>Take it out on </li></ul><ul><li>I need to vent </li></ul><ul><li>I make a point of doing s.t. </li></ul><ul><li>He’s such a party pooper </li></ul><ul><li>That was uncalled for </li></ul><ul><li>I got conned… </li></ul><ul><li>I was told… </li></ul><ul><li>Do you think I can pull it off? </li></ul>
Disadvantages of Forbidding MT <ul><li>5. Source of embarrassment and frustration to the student </li></ul>
MT / Translation <ul><li>Teachers need to know how to deal with the problems, as well as the advantages, that translation can bring to learning. The main point is the recognition that translation can help the learner to clarify meaning. It is now seen to be a positive teaching and learning resource and not an obstacle. </li></ul><ul><li>- Paul Lindsay, founder St. Giles Colleges </li></ul>
Is this what we expect? Empty students with no life experience ? No stories in Portuguese ? Very limited ability to be themselves?
We already have content! Why not use it? Build upon existing skills! Music Movies Family Sports Art Education Work
Using the Mother Tongue <ul><li>My Experience </li></ul><ul><li>Training Americans in Brazil on language & culture </li></ul><ul><li>My own learning process : translations and vocabulary equivalents </li></ul><ul><li>19 years of teaching experience </li></ul>
Re educating our Students <ul><li>First Step = Tell your students what you are doing and why </li></ul><ul><li>Show = show them the real benefits – point out their progress through translation / MT activities </li></ul><ul><li>Follow-up = from time to time, remind them of the benefits of judicious use of MT </li></ul>
Uses of Mother Tongue: PROPOSAL <ul><li>I suggest we continue to use the TARGET LANGUAGE as much as possible in the classroom, seizing every opportunity to communicate in L2 . </li></ul><ul><li>However, we should allow the Mother Tongue and Culture to enrich the quality of communication, and use it as a tool , judiciously . </li></ul>
Uses of Mother Tongue: Advantages <ul><li>Translation for practicing structures, vocabulary </li></ul><ul><li>Clarify meaning for accurate use </li></ul><ul><li>Teach lexical items / chunks (Lewis) </li></ul><ul><li>Allow students to bring their content into the classroom </li></ul><ul><li>Confidence Builder </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to teach more complex structures in early stages </li></ul>
Translation L2 > MT <ul><li>Teacher reads out loud </li></ul><ul><li>Students read it (correct intonation) </li></ul><ul><li>Students clarify questions using MT </li></ul><ul><li>Students read again (role play) </li></ul><ul><li>Students read again switching characters </li></ul><ul><li>Students translate orally </li></ul><ul><li>Students act out in MT and L2 </li></ul><ul><li>Variation: change sentences to their reality </li></ul>
Translation L2 > MT Noah Vosen : [ in car, on cell phone ] Perhaps we can arrange a meeting. Jason Bourne : Where are you now? Noah Vosen : I'm sitting in my office. Jason Bourne : I doubt that. Noah Vosen : Why would you doubt that? Jason Bourne : If you were in your office right now we'd be having this conversation face-to-face. Variation: If you were my boss, I’d report to you.
Fun Activity ( Chunks ) <ul><li>Literal Translations </li></ul><ul><li>This is a fun activity and helps students understand the nature of chunks – that they can’t be translated word-for-word (there are exceptions = kill time, time flies, kill two birds with one stone , etc) and will seek appropriate equivalents. </li></ul><ul><li>Is we on the tape / it will give samba / he yellowed / I book your face / the business is the following / </li></ul><ul><li>Out of sight, out of mind (translation) - physical distance causes emotional distance (dictionary definition) </li></ul><ul><li>Long time no see! = Quanto tempo!!! </li></ul>
Jokes / Storytelling <ul><li>Elicit short jokes in MT – translate – have students tell them </li></ul><ul><li>An accountant visited the Natural History museum. While standing near the dinosaur he said to his neighbor: "This dinosaur is two billion years and ten months old". "Where did you get this exact information?" "I was here ten months ago, and the guide told me that the dinosaur was two billion years old… </li></ul>
Jokes / Storytelling <ul><li>O médico disse ao paciente: “Você tem pouco tempo de vida”, e o paciente disse “Puxa doutor.... O que eu posso fazer?” …… O médico respondeu : “Um miojo”. </li></ul><ul><li>Translate </li></ul><ul><li>Students will tend to remember structures and vocabulary </li></ul>
Jokes / Storytelling <ul><li>Two accountants are in a bank, when armed robbers burst in. While several of the robbers take the money from the tellers, others line the customers, including the accountants, up against a wall, and proceed to take their wallets, watches, etc. While this is going on accountant number one jams something in accountant number two's hand. Without looking down, accountant number two whispers , "What is this?" to which accountant number one replies , “It's the $50 I owe you”. </li></ul>
Picture Note-taking <ul><li>Put students into pairs </li></ul><ul><li>Have student A speak about something for two – three minutes in Portuguese (past events, likes and dislikes, personality…), depending on your language focus </li></ul><ul><li>Student B listens and draws pictures related to the speech, and then uses them to translate into English </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher helps with new vocabulary and structure </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone can laugh at the pictures later </li></ul><ul><li>Students tend to remember new words and structure ! </li></ul>
Students Note-taking System <ul><li>I suggest that students have a system where the can write down their new stuff both in Portuguese and English and review later. </li></ul><ul><li>I consider what students ASK in class is more important than the contents in the book. That can’t go unnoticed or get lost in a notebook. </li></ul><ul><li>This is an opportunity for real-life situation practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Desculpe-me pelo atraso / Fiquei preso no tr ânsito / Trabalhei at é tarde ontem / Vou ter que sair mais cedo </li></ul>
Spot Translation <ul><li>One example of a limited use of MT is spot translation , which is a quick word in MT as an aside during primarily English communication. Spot translation , when used well, can prevent a class from becoming a perpetual negotiation of meaning. </li></ul>
Sandwich Technique <ul><li>The sandwich technique is when the teacher “ inserts a translation between repetitions of an unknown phrase, almost as an aside , or with a slight break in the flow of speech to mark it as an ‘ intruder ’.” In this way the teacher briefly uses the mother tongue, but quickly re-establishes syntax for his students. </li></ul>
Planning and Planning!! <ul><li>With appropriate planning , teachers can reach their goals and have very productive classes with judicious use of the students’ mother tongue. </li></ul>