Monday, April 19, 2010

Evaluation of Language Learning Experiences

In discussing the process of language learning through past experiences, we have to know the principles of teachings. There are 3 different models or theories that are being used: behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism. As with any categorisation of this sort, the divisions are a bit arbitrary: there could be further additions and sub-divisions to the scheme, and there are various ways in which the theories overlap and draw upon each other. This discussion is focused on the relations between past experiences and the current state of language learning.
In the old-days, that is in primary schools circa 1988 to 1993, the main purpose is to develop the students capacity and skills in reading and writing with a bit of emphasis on speaking because primary schools are divided according to their language. Then, in secondary school, the purpose is more or less the same as in primary school but emphasized more on communication as the population of ethnics’ diversed although there are also schools that major on other languages such as Arabic and Chinese. Later on, as in the current state, the main purpose is communication as the social circle gets wider and it is common to work with other races and all sorts of people from around the world. It is also because to prepare the students for the future as globalisation hits this country, the students are well-equipped to face the reality of working.
The similarities between now and then is more on the main purpose itself that is to be well-equipped in languages because it is the tool to break the barriers between races and also the keys to knowledge. That is to be able to communicate and to learn knowledge from different sources or people. The other similarities are its principles; more or less they are quite the same. It is sufficed to say that its contents like grammatical rules and vocabulary are the same although the emphases are different according to the teachers and students themselves. They choose whichever parts of the contents that need to be emphasised more or just following the set of procedures that are already done. But the most similar thing about language learning now and then is that the teachers, albeit not all are always passionate and is very enthusiastic about sharing the knowledge they know and always strive to facilitate a fun and interesting way of learning in the classroom such as acting out or making faces or even imitating sounds of animals.

There are many differences that can be discussed here so it is divided into several categories that are the human itself, the environment and the approach.
For us humans, it is only natural that as you age, your intellectual quotient will be higher. The older, the wiser, as the saying goes, but to explain it further in scientific contexts, it is the human brains’ capacity to process information or input that is being given. As a child, the line between fantasy and reality is not a fine one; everything is like in the animated cartoons they watched and always think of a fairy-tale like to relate to the learning. As they grow older and conscious about their environment, they are capable of a more sophisticated ways of learning. The ability to comprehend complicated matters is higher. In the current state, as we mature, it is easier to understand something complex although the IQ is different between people according to their efforts and exposure to a certain language.
Then, there is the environment factor that as a child, the world is one big playground and the simple mind of a child is very unique in that it receives information without filtering of some kind. As teens, with raging hormones and increasing IQ levels, we perceive the world differently, more conscious to other’s needs and feelings. Emotions might get in the way of learning as they will highly likely to fall in love or had the urge to challenge the authority. The exposure is wider in the current state as we mingle with different people from around the world with their different cultures and the need for higher levels of communication is greater.
Finally, the approach is very different because then, it is more focused on teaching new things and the teachers have the authority. Therefore the learning is more on explanations rather than executions. Now, it is more focused on the use of the language rather than about the language. The communication goes both ways. Self-correct is encouraged and feedbacks from the students are always welcomed in order to prepare for better ways of learning in the future.
There is no right and wrong here, only that it is more on the choices of procedures of learning that is considered sufficient for the learning to expand and executed efficiently.

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