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what to do when students hit a "fossilization" per 
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Post what to do when students hit a "fossilization" per
I have never dealt with it because I am not a teacher yet, but I was wondering what some of you have done when a student seems to have hit a period where his or her language learning has fossilized?


Sat Jan 21, 2006 6:47 am
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What do you mean by fossilized?

Do you mean the period of preceived zero growth?

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Wed Jan 25, 2006 9:19 am
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Yes


Thu Jan 26, 2006 7:05 pm
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first, i commend you for being so in-tune with the learning stages of your students.

i find that growth comes in spurts. that student might need some absorbtion period to let all the new stuff sink in.

if you are working one-on-one, i would do some review and not force the new stuff for a few weeks.

or possibly the student needs to be "stressed" by the material, so after a little break, introduce a really hard topic where the student has to become engaged and possible re-energized by the new stuff.

maybe that will help...
eric

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Thu Jan 26, 2006 9:14 pm
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Eric,
Thanks for the advice.


Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:15 pm
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If you have the initiative, you can video tape lessons periodically. Then give students the videos to view and see the progress they have made. That's a really effective way to show progress to the students who feel they aren't making headway.

It's a long road and it's never ending.

I like to tell my students it's like learning the piano. When are you finished learning how to play the piano? The answer is never. You just keep playing or learning. There's always more out there and there are always walls of things you can't do. That can either be intimidating or exciting. I like to think it's exciting.

If students start to think they aren't getting anywhere, I draw out the baseball analogy. I tell them to think about a pro baseball practice and Derek Geeter take some infield practice, throwing to first, or turning double plays for an hour. A little leaguer is doing the same thing. So is the JHS students or High school baller in practice. Even a major leaguer needs to work on fundamentals to make the simple things natural. You don't see them standing around asking for diving back handers, complaining that the coach is just giving them pop flies to catch or anything like that in practice.

English is the same. Students need to pratice simple things over and over until they are natural, not a couple times until they understand. That's not enough.

Usually once I give students the baseball analogy they are ready to practice some simple sentences/structures without complaint and with a little vigour.

I hope that helps.

- Mark

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Thu Feb 16, 2006 11:30 pm
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I am not sure if this helps but....

I have found in my own life (through learning foreign langauages) that you are your own worst judge

sometimes you think recently you have not progressed at all .. but in fact you have !!.... you just don't realise it!

its a little like if you throw a forg in hot water he will jump out but if you heat it up slowly to the same temp he will stay there
ie he doesn't recognise the slow change

we are the same somtimes

so try to encourage the student (by saying they have improved etc)


Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:03 pm
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Post Re: what to do when students hit a "fossilization"
revrw wrote:
I have never dealt with it because I am not a teacher yet, but I was wondering what some of you have done when a student seems to have hit a period where his or her language learning has fossilized?

My thoughts on this are that fossilization is much more common with people who live in an English language country but don't learn new things. What happens is they continually practise their mistakes and that makes these mistakes very hard to unlearn. Also as Kiwione pointed out, sometimes you don't realize that you (or someone else) is progressing when they are. Like anything, there are plateaus where a lot of practise is happening but not a lot of new material is being assimilated. It happens to everyone and it's part of the learning process. Don't sweat it.


Tue Mar 07, 2006 8:48 am
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You won't probably have this happen with young learners. This is what happens to adults when the langauge they are using is good enough to get them by. As a teacher, you can choose to not let them get by. When I first started teaching at night school I used to let so many errors pass by because I knew what the student meant, and I was just impressed they got that far. But as the class went on, I noticed no improvement from that student. When they become comfortable with those mistakes they will fossilize. These mistakes may be acceptable to the teacher, but won't help the students to fit in with the locals. Error correcting can me a touchy subject, but for adult learners I wouldn't fret it too much. Adult learners learn differently, and they have different motivations from children. Explain to them why the errors will make things uneasy for them in the foreign country.

The biggest key is prevention. If you enter a class where the language has been fossilized, then you need to chip away at it with a lot of drills and dialogue practice. Not very exciting, but neither are root canals.


Fri Oct 06, 2006 10:40 am
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Learing English is a lot like getting taller. It is going on, but sometimes the progress is difficult to percieve. For learners that feel they are not making progress, I often ask them to read one of their ealier phonics books that they struggled with, and they see how easy now the book is to read. Sometimes, I give a short test covering all te things they have leanred and when they get 100% on the test it is acts as a booster to show their actual progress. This can also be motivational for you as a teacher as well. Also, consider changing the format of the class for a while, to give them the feeling that they are learning new things.

Michael..

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Mon Oct 16, 2006 3:40 am
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There seem to be two seperate ideas here. One is the perception of no growth when there really is growth and the other is where the natural phase in learning needs time to consolidate.

To learn and have things stay learnt the brain needs to make connections. These connections then need to be strengthened. A good analogy is a piece of string. Single strand will break easily, add strands and they will strengthen the connections. There comes a time where you need to allow students time to strengthen those connections so that they are more likely to hold and this is where the plateau is in their learning.

One of the key planks to learning is to make the material relevant to students. A variety of ways is also good so that students can make connections in different contexts. This may mean different topics, making students make choices while using the language and keeping it alive.


Sun Dec 10, 2006 9:20 pm
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I think there might be a few other possible situations here that have not been mentioned yet.

One is that learning English might not be the primary goal of the student. At least with some people I've seen, it seems that the primary goal in attending an English class has more to do with the social status that it confers on them, or the social and enjoyment aspect of a class, than an ability they are learning. At least that seems to the motivation. At least it would explain a resistance to homework or testing of any kind, as well as a near-zero retention rate after years of studying.

Another is that some people I think genuinely want to learn the language but simply are not willing to put the effort into learning it.

A third might apply to older students who don't have much retention, yet the very effort they put into studying keeps their minds active. These students need a lot of encouragement. Although, one older student of my parents' who began to study English after having had a stroke (his doctor recommended studying a foreign language to help his recovery) has done quite amazingly well; you would never know he had had a stroke, and he would probably be categorized as an upper beginner.

Fourthly, and I am no expert here (maybe a linguist would have more insight), I wonder if a person's language aptitude has anything to do with this? I don't know, and I would hate to say that so-and-so simply can't learn the language, but I sometimes wonder.

Anyway, I think other factors often come into play that are beyond the obvious. There are reasons some people are called false beginners.


Sat Jan 27, 2007 8:50 pm
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I'm sorry that last post sounds so negative. I have to admit, though, that often with students like that I get really discouraged. Maybe that is why I find teaching younger students so refreshing.


Sat Jan 27, 2007 8:57 pm
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