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Brilliant teaching method 
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Joined: Mon Sep 04, 2006 5:15 pm
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Location: Germany
Post Brilliant teaching method
I recently went to a workshop presented by a Canadian couple, to teach French and English as a second language. It is called AIM Language Learning. AIM stands for Accelerated Integrated Method.

www.aimlanguagelearning.com

I tried this in my classes and it is really brilliant. I feel like I have been let in on a secret and it is so simple in principle. It certainly works and I was surprised how willing and cooperative the children were. I expected them to roll their eyes and criticize but even the disruptive ones joined in.

Each word is associated with a gesture. So the children are taught single words which are represented by a gesture.
I have had to develop my own gestures because the materials are too expensive for my humble business. The creators of the AIM method have developed gestures and incorporated them into stories. There is no writing in the first years only group oral recitation of the stories with the gestures.

Finding gestures for each individual word is not as easy as I expected but I am continually inventing new ones for the words that come up. I have mainly used these in classroom language but it definitely makes the children learn the words and use them in context.
An example of how I have used this method is the sentence "Can I have a paper, please". For the word "can " I make two fists. For the word "I" I point a finger at my chest. "Have" I make a collecting motion with one hand. For "a" I make the shape of an "A" and for "paper" I draw the shape with my fingers. For "please" I make a praying gesture.

When the children have spoken English during the lesson they get a reward sticker. As a further motivation a prize can be given to whoever collects a certain number of stickers.


Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:10 pm
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Hmm, I do use gestures myself when I think the kids just need a little reminder of what we're talking about, but I would imagine doing it for EVERY word would be cumbersome.

Just thinking out loud, really...


Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:36 pm
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Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:35 pm
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Location: Yamaguchi, Japan
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There is a lot of good research that shows connections between movement and learning. Left brain right brain connections are often not made in a traditional classroom setting.
Action songs being a great example. I like the idea of taking it this step further. The challenge for me is how to apply this idea into my Geography and Social studies classes!!!
I have three children who have been in Japanese schools for 7 months now (effectively no Jaopanese to start with). The youngest does a lot of movement as part of her learning in classs and she has really picked up a lot of the language.

Here in Japan the older generation 70+ continue to amaze me. One of the things that they seem to put a lot into is keeping the body active so the mind stays active - with their lifespan there has to be something to it.


Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:17 pm
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I did a show on ESL Teacher talk called...

From Visual Clues, Gestures and Sign Language to Language
http://www.eslteachertalk.com/2006/04/f ... -language/

listen to the show directly from this link

I was using baby signs with my own children to help them express themselves and then just adapted that to work in my classroom. It's very effect and helps students to become more productive.

Like others, I haven't done that for every single word. It would seem easier to get a sign language book and use those rather than try to come up with your own signs. It would also teach them sign language!

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Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:28 pm
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miss_rodrigun wrote:
Hmm, I do use gestures myself when I think the kids just need a little reminder of what we're talking about, but I would imagine doing it for EVERY word would be cumbersome.

Just thinking out loud, really...


That's what I thought and it can be exhausting but the results are so amazing that it is worth the effort. I've been teaching some of these children for a couple of years now but although they know single vocabulary for the flashcards, they never really spoke in proper sentences. I have also found that they will learn a song or a rhyme but not connect it to a real situation. For example, I taught them the Wheels on the Bus song and made a multiple choice quiz for it but they wouldn't recognize what the answer was without me singing the sentence first.

In addition, I have always tried to coax them to say "Can I have a paper, please" when I was handing out the worksheets and there you would get all sorts of versions of this sentence, the most being "can n ha paper, please".

With this method they know each individual word and can re-use it in another construction. And they do. They now clamour shouting what they want and it is the most satisfying feeling you could have as a teacher.


Thu Dec 20, 2007 4:31 pm
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I agree with you, ranabjam, AIM is a wonderful program. This is my second year using AIM to teach English to young French native speakers in France. Gestures, combined with teaching vocabulary in context, and constantly recycling vocabulary provides students with a language base that allows them to speak with a basic level of fluency very early on.
If you are interested in using sign language with hearing children, I recommend the following book:

http://www.amazon.com/Dancing-Words-Sig ... 0897897234

Bimodal (voice-aural/gestural-visual) instruction or the use of sign language simultaneously with spoken English definitely helps to conceptualize and convey meaning due to the iconic nature of signs.

Before discovering AIM I used the signs from SEE (Signing Exact English). It is an English-based sign system. It adopted much of the vocabulary of ASL (American Sign Language) but, like AIM, added grammatical features of English such as articles, verb endings, etc. and signs by English word rather than by concept. You might want to look into it. Why re-invent the wheel? Signing Exact English

For signs to be effective in helping your students produce language, sign a word a fraction of a second before you say the word. Encourage the kids to say the words with you, i.e. they “read” the signs out loud. Don’t force them to sign – it isn’t easy to speak and sign at the same time. As soon as possible, stop speaking and just sign and let the kids do all the speaking. They will soon begin speaking on their own.

Here is an article about AIM:
http://thetyee.ca/Views/2007/09/05/FailingFrench/

And if you can understand French at all, watch the following Canadian TV programme about AIM
http://www.src.ca/actualite/v2/enjeux/n ... 4575.shtml

The creator of AIM, Wendy Maxwell, would be a great person to interview for esl teacher talk


Fri Dec 21, 2007 2:44 am
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Post thanks
I would like to thank you for the tip. I bought the book you recommended "Signing Exact English" and I feel like I am learning a new language, which I am.

I am trying to progress from simple classroom language to telling a whole story but I have to choose a story and practice the signs myself before venturing with the children and this needs time.


Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:30 am
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Fascinating thread!
After reading this, I tried to use signs in my classes. It really does work in getting students to speak! I am a little familiar with ASL and know quite a bit of Japanese sign. I try to use a lot of Japanese sign. This way, at least my students may have more opportunities to use them.

I know that with signed English the words for "is" "are" "be" etc are different, but I don't remember the signs for "do" "does" "did". Would anyone be willing to describe them here. It doesn't have to be Signed English. Please share if there is something that works in your classes.


Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:43 pm
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funwithstories wrote:
I know that with signed English the words for "is" "are" "be" etc are different, but I don't remember the signs for "do" "does" "did". Would anyone be willing to describe them here. It doesn't have to be Signed English. Please share if there is something that works in your classes.


This should get you started: http://www.signwriting.org/lessons/grammar/verbs/

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Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:11 pm
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ranabjam – don’t think you have to begin with a big, long story. Create a simple story about one of your students.
Ann has a book, a notebook and 2 pencils but she doesn’t have a pen. She is sad. Paul gives her a pen. Now, she is happy.
Tom wants to eat ice cream. He opens the refrigerator. Oh no! There is no ice cream. Tom runs to Grandma’s house. Grandma gives Tom a big ice cream cone. He is very happy.
Have kids act out the story. Add or change details and tell it again. Tell/Create a different story the next day using a lot of the same vocabulary.

funwithstories – for the verb “do” I use the ASL sign. You can see it here http://commtechlab.msu.edu/sites/aslweb/browser.htm
To ask questions that begin with “do” I sign the letter “d” with my right hand and raise it above my head on the right side of my body.
Does – same as “do” with the right hand and the left hand signs the letter “s” above the head on the left.
Did – same as “do” then open your hand and flip it back toward your shoulder indicating the past.


Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:17 am
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cj,
Thanks for the explanations!

Assigning a gesture to the words, really does get them speaking and remembering!

CJ and Ranabjam,
Do you find that students are more accurate in their speech? I know that the third person 's' is late acquired, but does using gestures allow students to use them correctly sooner? How about similiar words like words 'do' and 'does'?


Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:08 am
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My students go through the same developmental stages that all learners do when acquiring the grammatical morphemes, negatives and questions of English. What gesturing seems to do, as you said, is get them speaking. After about 10 hours of class time my students begin using English spontaneously. They actually speak i.e. express their own ideas and thoughts or ask for information as opposed to parroting memorized questions or dialogs. I can then draw their attention to their errors simply by a gesture. I do have to gesture the third person ‘s’ often as a reminder to say it as well as doesn’t and don’t for negation for example.

I’ve never had a class for more than one school year which here in France is ~ 40hrs of contact time so I can’t tell you how long it takes or even if my students do achieve accuracy one day. All I can tell you is that gestures help develop a basic level of fluency when a teacher incorporates them in a program that introduces essential, high frequency vocabulary in context (stories and meaningful conversations) and recycles it throughout the year so the students hear this vocabulary used correctly many, many times in many different contexts.


Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:11 am
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