This week went well; I always enjoy these more interactive lessons. Dahl was particularly good at our activities involving getting the correct amount of change, adding and subtracting change, and even putting coins back in order to get more/less. I wonder if his ability to manipulate coins is related to his amazing English skills? It’s something I’ve noticed, that those who have the best English most readily understand the association of different values with the coins. I think many of our students, like Dahl’s wife Ful, understand the math problems we’re posing to them; it might just be difficult to associate a certain value with a certain coin. It’s a lot like their trouble with reading, difficulty of associating a phoneme (or in the case of English, a wide array of phonemic units) to a letter.
I’ve been thinking lately about how a person learns a second language, or how I learn a second language. When I’m reading French, or listening to someone speak it, I pick out the words I know, translate those words into English, and then cognitively understand what was read/said. Even though this happens in the fraction of a second, there is still a flow of translation. I can’t take the French word and directly associate it with the real-world referent; I have to have the English word for an intermediary. At some point, I’m hoping, I won’t need the intermediary anymore. But, does this help with initially learning a foreign language? If it does, is this possibly one reason why it is so difficult for our students to learn English? We don’t provide a Nepali translation of the English words we teach them, we try to directly link the English word with the thing it refers to (sometimes we do ask for the Nepali word though). Does this in fact make the process harder than normal?
-Kelsey Rivers, HCET Intern