Language as Subject Matter in Language Teaching
One could start with metalanguage as the subject matter in language teaching, or one could start with the message as the subject matter, which is, of course, the purpose of language. (Krashen)
When I studied French, and also in Spanish, I found that learning their metalanguage expanded my understanding, even at the beginning level. Using this approach in my internship, where I taught people who had had no English at all, I introduced parts of speech as soon as they had a modicum of vocabulary. They were able to grasp sentence structure with a very limited vocabulary, and were thrilled to discover how to create a sentence themselves. It was enormous fun for everyone to watch me explain the differences between nouns, verbs, and objects with a Participatory Approach (see glossary) in a Dogme setting (glossary). Here is a mind map of my application of the Dogme philosophy of cinema production, to my classroom teaching.
Through showing my students how to form minimal pairs, I was able to help them understand vowels and consonants, how English words were constructed, and the elements of an English sentence. I started by creating the pairs myself, gradually deleting elements until they were able to construct them entirely on their own. The photo is my students’ work.
If we understand that language is not only vocabulary and word transmission, but total body communication, we see language as the subject of learning. Language is communication, and communication is every form of cognition. Body posture, specifics of vocabulary, facial expressions, hand gestures, dance, song, all these combine to form the message; i.e., the subject: language.
I leave you with the following experience.
Two international dancers choreograph a piece together. The challenge? They don’t speak the same language.
Rio June https://www.instagram.com/missjapan_rio
David Vergaras https://www.instagram.com/david_vergaras
Music: Drifting - G-Eazy feat. Chris Brown & Tory Lanez