Monday, June 12, 2006

A Piece of Advice for Minnesota

This news from Minnesota is very encouraging. I just hope that this enthusiasm spells over to other states. It seems to me from this article that the people in charge are aware of the challenges, or at least most of them, namely:
1) Lack of qualified people to teach.
2) The need for training the teachers on modern teaching methods.
A third challenge I add here is that the students need to "learn how to learn". I am not aware of any current language program that takes this need into consideration. I am not talking here just about discipline and love for learning but more specifically about teaching student modern Psycholinguistic and memory techniques to help them memorize and understand. Pimsleur has the best approach in the field followed closely by the Rosetta Stone. These tools work directly with the student's memory and language control centers in the brain to aid the memorization experience.
Another problem I spot is that these classes might become to academic in their approach. The best experience a language student can have is to be able to communicate in class with peers and his/her teacher. Always communicate in class! Talk about anything and everything. Textbooks DO NOT have everything the students need to learn.
A final comment on the subject. My military students always complain that they have been taught the 'biggest words' like 'nuclear war' or 'conference' but in the meantime they don't know things like car parts' names and household tools, etc. Teachers should focus More on that during their in-class time.This could be done imply by using any of the 'commercial' material out there rather than academic Arabic text books. This commercial material is extremely valuable because its main focus is on the things that people 'must' know. Unfortunately, Academic teachers do not use such material in their in-class instruction and never take it seriously.