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  1. #1
    spanishflame is offline Newbie
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    Default Why are schools killing our children's natural ability to speak a second language

    Have you found yourself in the situation where you feel frustrated that your children have been learning a second language for years and still can not speak it?
    I find myself asking the same question on numerous occasions.
    My ten-year old niece has been learning English for almost 4 years and I struggle to see any progress. I found her speaking ability very poor. She can not string together one proper sentence. All she can do is to give me some sentences that were memorized for her English projects!! I am not saying she is not bright enough as she can pick up the English easily while holidaying abroad,what I am trying to point out is that schools strictly follow coursebooks and do not encourage children to speak in the English class.
    Schools and not only schools should take a different approach to teaching a second language.
    It is a shame that schools do not work with the fact that children have the natural ability to learn a foreign language and pick up any accent easily up to the age of 13, as research and studies show.
    Why for goodness sake, are schools killing our children's natural ability to speak a second language in order to tick the box (coursebook rules)
    All I want is to raise awareness of the wrong approach of teaching a foreign language (not only children).

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Why are schools killing our children's natural ability to speak a second languag

    How much of a priority is the teaching of foreign languages in the Slovak Republic? I ask because we struggle in the UK to get this taken very seriously.

  3. #3
    Hyneman is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Why are schools killing our children's natural ability to speak a second languag

    Oh boy.

    I can't speak of my children (as I don't have any), but I can speak of my personal experience.
    In the Swiss German speaking part of Switzerland we start learning French in 5th grade.
    I studied French for eight years and I'm not even able to introduce myself properly.

    In fact after one single year of studying English I spoke that language better than I spoke
    French after those eight years. Of course English is a lot easier in the beginning and it
    has the same roots like (Swiss) German so that might be a reason.

    However I think the actual problem wasn't the language but the way it was taught to us.
    I remember the first French lesson. I was so excited. I wanted to learn another language.
    But it wasn't fun. It was plain boring, I hated writing stupid and monotonous grammar sentences.
    The same over and over again and I still couldn't remember the most simple rules.
    I lost interest never got it back.

    I think the biggest misconception is to put all the students into one pot and expect them to be
    on the same level. And this doesn't only apply to second languages but to all the classes.

    After a year or two it all went over my head. I didn't understand a thing anymore because
    I didn't understand the basics. If they put me in a class where I had more time to get the basics
    right, maybe I would speak French today.

    Of course the opposite is also the case. The last two semesters I didn't attend to one single English class,
    because I can't learn anything new there.

    The system doesn't focus on individual strengths but instead focuses on collective mass education
    that has the opposite effect most of the time.


    (My opinion and experience, not backed up on facts).
    Last edited by Hyneman; 04-Oct-2012 at 15:19.

  4. #4
    HanibalII is offline Member
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    Default Re: Why are schools killing our children's natural ability to speak a second languag

    In Australia, it isn't particular discouraged. We have numerous indigenous students, or students from non-English speaking backgrounds. Both languages are encouraged. However, not all schools here promote a second language for learning. There isn't as much of an importance of teaching English from such the basic level. At least not often. I don't see the point in promoting the development of a second language, while so many students/children can't use their native language correctly. (That is very obvious is Australian schools)
    I'm not a teacher yet, but I am studying a Bachelor of Education with an English Literature major at Charles Sturt University, in NSW, Australia.

  5. #5
    spanishflame is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Why are schools killing our children's natural ability to speak a second languag

    If you do not speak a second language you can hardly find a proper job so you are doomed to life on benefits!

  6. #6
    spanishflame is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Why are schools killing our children's natural ability to speak a second languag

    You got my point.

  7. #7
    HanibalII is offline Member
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    Default Re: Why are schools killing our children's natural ability to speak a second languag

    Quote Originally Posted by spanishflame View Post
    If you do not speak a second language you can hardly find a proper job so you are doomed to life on benefits!

    That's a fairly large generalisation......
    I'm not a teacher yet, but I am studying a Bachelor of Education with an English Literature major at Charles Sturt University, in NSW, Australia.

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Why are schools killing our children's natural ability to speak a second languag

    It may be an exaggeration, but the monolingual, especially those whose first language is not an international one, are at a disadvantage. Someone said that the monolingual are the illiterate of today- again, overstating things, but making a point.

  9. #9
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    Esgaleth is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Why are schools killing our children's natural ability to speak a second languag

    Quote Originally Posted by spanishflame View Post
    Why for goodness sake, are schools killing our children's natural ability to speak a second language in order to tick the box (coursebook rules)
    They are "killing" other natural abilities as well, first and foremost, creativity. That's quite understandable though - you can hardly expect anything original off the peg. The human factor is the Achilles' heel in any system and education is no exception - basically, any effective course is based on the personality rather than anything else, and the more the course is structured the less freedom (read - responsibility) is given to the teacher. With the increasing globalisation, it doesn't really matter what country you are in: most teachers are snowed under with tests and paper work and those who don't comply are merely squeezed out. Here, the educational system comes hard on the primary school children, however those few who manage to survive usually perform well further on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    It may be an exaggeration, but the monolingual, especially those whose first language is not an international one, are at a disadvantage. Someone said that the monolingual are the illiterate of today- again, overstating things, but making a point.
    Absolutely. Unfortunately, fairly many people are happy to stick to one language only - life is too short, they say, and there are other things to be done - rather embarrassing for a language teacher

  10. #10
    spanishflame is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Why are schools killing our children's natural ability to speak a second languag

    I am not talking about people whose mother tongue is English. Tell me how you will do the business in France if you do not speak French you would expect the French to speak English.

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