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using the child's native language to help teach-good or bad? 
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:54 pm
Posts: 52
Location: Kanagawa, Japan
Post using the child's native language to help teach-good or bad?
it is generally accepted that the best way to teach a child a second language is to immerse them in it and to avoid using anything related to the child's native language. it is also generally accepted that using pictures and saying the english word related to it will help the child associate that word with that picture without them having to translate a word from their own native language. however, i believe that there is a limit to this picture/word relationship, particularly in target sentences that are difficult for the students to understand what the context really is. if the teacher can understand a little of the child's native language, is it not beneficial to use it to correct student misconceptions? this is the question i wish to ask the other people in this forum. Beneficial or taboo?

here is an example of where i did ultimately resort to the child's native language to help with their understanding (of course, i believe that i exhausted all my possible means to try and demonstrate and explain the target in english and used their native language as a last resort- is this right or wrong.....i hope for your opinion).

scenario- the target question was "have you ever been to....?" past tense verbs had only just been introduced in the few lessons before, so the students were still trying to grasp at the concept. regardless, of what i did, all the students kept saying in their native language, "Do you want to go to....? or "Do you know/like....?"....basically everything that the target sentence i translated it and got a big uhhhhhhhh from the class.

was i wrong to do the translation?....or is it worse for the kids to remember their misconception and for me to continue on teaching the class (we are on a strict time schedule) with all the students thinking that the target question is something that it isnt? after all, when the child hits high school, they are exposed to this translating style of learning.

Mon Feb 05, 2007 8:06 pm

Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2006 1:36 pm
Posts: 386
Location: Tohoku Japan
I think alot of people will disagree with me but I have found (depending on the actual class but generally speaking) that very low classes need some explanation in their native tongue

but always try to push them with as much English as they can handle (I actualy like to always go just a little over their heads)

however, once they get a reasonable foundation I try to speak more and more or only English

I worked in a school that only allowed English (in Japan) and I found it very very difficult for the very low ones

finding the balance is hard

Tue Feb 06, 2007 5:22 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 8:57 pm
Posts: 135
I guess I must be in the minority but I think translation can be very valuable. If students really have to struggle to understand, they end up learning very little. I actually translate :shock: a lot of the words when I first introduce it. You would be surprised at how a gesture or image can mean something completely different to each student. With a translation, I make sure that we are on the same page and it only takes a few seconds. Then I use the phrase many times and in many situations. Then gradually the students can handle longer times without L1. I have done this with very low level learners and found that in the long run, I can speak MORE of the target language and still have the majority follow along.
Some things are easy to gesture, sit down, go to, draw etc but in Azza's example Have you ever~? You take 2 seconds to translate in their native language and then use examples in context to help in understanding. It's much easier and faster than trying to UNLEARN something they they learned wrong.
If you think of the game charades, people are playing with others who speak the same language, and it is far from easy. If you deny translation, especially for abstract language, you may end up playing charades, which requires more time and still has the risk of students misinterpreting.
I think that in any teaching, you have to be wary of absolutes. You have to be able to decide what you want your students to learn and then teach accordingly.

Tue Feb 06, 2007 9:26 pm

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 3:59 pm
Posts: 42
For me, I think it depends on the students' age and the topic. For really young kids, sometimes they don't know the grammar in their own language, so perhaps any grammar explaination is either over their heads.

But, the specific concept you discussed does't seem like it'd be easy to explain in a new/foreign language.

In general, I'm for vocabulary practice in the new language, grammar in the L1.

Tue Feb 13, 2007 10:11 pm
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