What is the student listening for. What does the EFL student get from a lesson and how can they get the most out of a lesson. Valid questions for the student but also the teacher. The following is an extract of a communication with a colleague who thought this would be relevant to Thai learners. My colleague has taught in Thailand and is now studying Japanese. The Japanese textbook he has extrapolated this article from is also below.

Meaning based on context.

Meaning based on context.
An essential step in learning is understanding the meaning based on context.
The first step in learning any language is to acquire good listening skills.
To speak a language fluently you need to hear it frequently. A large portion of the meaning is based on context.
The teacher or instructor combines the spoken language with gestures, drawing or material (equipment) etc.
Students need to make the link between what is said and what is shown.
Students can also use their own experiences with the language.
Focusing on the meaning of what you hear will help build your grammar and vocabulary knowledge base.
Try not to translate in your head before responding.
It is also important for you to react to what you hear and this will demonstrate your understanding.

 

Listening
The first step in learning Japanese is to acquire good listening skills. Thought it may sound like a contradiction, you have to listen to a lot of Japanese in order to speak Japanese fluently. So when you listen to your instructor, pay close attention to what is said. Try to understand the meaning based on context. Take note of your instructor’s gestures and the pictures or photos that he / she uses, and draw on your own experiences with the Japanese language. Focusing on the meaning of what you hear will help build your grammar and vocabulary knowledge base, but try not to translate in your head before responding. It is also important for you to react to what you hear and to demonstrate your understanding......

Tohsaku, Yasu-Hiko, Yookoso! An Invitation to Contemporary Japanese, Third edition, McGraw Hill, New York 2006.

 

  

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Personal experience

Experience is like a clothes hanger in our mind. We tend to hang new learning on the clothes hanger. A student with lots of experience is able to learn more due to being able to make valid links from their experience to the new knowledge or learning. The more experience the student has to create these links the more in depth their understanding of new learning.

 

 

For the parent.

The schools do not have enough time or resource to supply the diverse ranges of experience young students need to develop many coat hangers. The children need to be involved with affective play, art, work, hobbies, travel reading and conversation on a large variety of topics. These need to be continued and expanded as the young child grows into adult hood. One of the very important things a parent can do to consolidate a student’s knowledge and understanding is to ask the student, 'what did you do today'. The standard answers or replies start at 'nothing' so the parent needs to ask what subjects and specifically what did you do in the subject? This type of questioning will bring the knowledge learnt or the activity done during the day to the surface of the mind. These activities indicate to the student the parent cares about what they are doing and keeps the learning alive.

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