At the Centro Centro Cibeles in Madrid I saw this Art installation.It made me think! When is a table not a table? It made me consider content in language learning and the teacher as facilitator.You see I think it is important that we teach some core content, our young children want to know that they can ask and answer useful questions, show how they can count or identify colours, describe people , things and places...... and then ? Well maybe we need to empower them so that they can "fly"! As the quote in the installation says an object is not a table! I like the way this installation made me think about processes.Below I have made the stages of these processes in to boxes,all compartmentalised stages but all part of the same creative machine.
Let's take basic vocabulary and let's broaden this vocabulary ,or rather let's help our learners to understand how they can broaden their own vocabulary and create their own descriptions, comments etc.How many times did I hear my son say he would have liked languages, if he hadn't had to reply every time to questions with learnt answers.Think his least favourite was "Describe your bedroom!" and his immediate learnt response was "My curtains are blue"!
So here is the challenge- let's use our imaginations and be creative as soon as possible in language learning!Just like the boxes in the installation we can compartmentalise the knowledge and the strurcture with the intention of bringing it all back together, to create wonderful items and objects and desctiptions. How?
Box One : let's gather the core language.What language do we need to describe a room for example or pets, food, clothes etc etc ?
Box Two,Three ,Four (and maybe five) : let's post the language in to nouns, adjectives and verb boxes and maybe a preposition box too.Let's identify the role of the words in the structure of a sentence.Let's post and store them in the correct boxes.Let's play with identrification of structures in sentences.
Box Six ; let's play with the language.Let's access the nouns box and access the adjectives box and play with the language and learn about how the language fits correctly together."Correctly" doesn't mean that it has to describe a normal item though- let's immediately engage our imaginatons- blue cats, miniscule tables, wobbly chairs etc etc.Let's post the phrases we conjour up - written accurately in to box six and see if friends can read what we write.Can they draw what they see in their own mind's eye using the language we have written.Bet all the drawings for example of "a large blue table" don't all look identical!
Box Seven: let's add verbs.Maybe we have to provide the verbs already written out and its a matching activity or maybe our learners are at the stage where they can take an infinitive and manipulate it for themselves. Now we are being creative because the verb and the nouns and adjectives I use may not be in the same order or even be the same selection as the ones you use!
Box Eight - well box eight contains the bilingual dictionaries .Now we can create our own things,objects,people etc ......... Now we can use the process of the boxes to be independent. Now we can be imaginative ,have fun and come back and create magic with words over and over again and we can begin to explore "When is a table not a table" and most definitely not have to stick with the phrase "My curtains are blue!"! .