TO THE TEACHER
For anyone learning a new language in the country where it is the natural tongue, talking is the simplest part of the business. But most of us have to get our knowledge of languages from books and teachers, and where this is so, learners frequently have control of the language for reading and writing long before they are able to say more than a word or two. The purpose of this book is to give some experience of talking to learners of Basic who have no chance of hearing or using it outside the schoolroom.
When talking has to be done to order under the direction of a teacher, it is very hard to get any natural discussion going. Learners, who are probably a little self-conscious anyhow about talking in a strange language, are made even more so by the fact that they have nothing to say. If the discussion takes the form, as it frequently does, of questions and answers about some reading-material which has been used earlier, there is a danger that the learner may have all the answers in his head and that he will not have enough work to do for himself. One way out of this--and it is an old trick--is for the teacher to put questions about a picture which the learners have before them.
The Talks in this book are Talks about pictures. There is nothing new in that. What is new is the sort of pictures which have been used for the purpose. They are not story pictures, or pictures, simply, of groups of things; they are pictures which make clear the different senses of Basic words and the chain of connection between them. So a learner working with the Picture Talks will, as one might say, be getting two birds with one stone. He will be training his tongue to say the sounds of English words and put statements together in the English way, and at the same time he will be getting a deeper knowledge of the sense-range of a number of the words he is using. Even if he has done work with the pictures before at an earlier stage, the apparatus of question and answer will give him a better grip of the material.
There are 62 Talks in the book -- one for every week in the year. So a group getting teaching only once a week and limiting themselves to a Talk a time, would take a year to get through them. But most learners will probably be able to go more quickly than that and it will be better for them if they are able to do so. When learning a language, it is more rewarding to put in a great amount of work over a short stretch of time than to do only a little work at a time and take longer.
Naturally, this is a book which will only be of use when teacher and learner are working together. It is not designed for self-teaching, even by a group, because though the questions have been framed as far as possible in such a way that the desired answer, or an answer on the right lines, is given naturally, there will necessarily be times when the guiding hand of the teacher is needed to keep the thread of the discussion together. If, for example, a learner gives only half the answer -- as he well may do -- and if what be says is right as far as it goes, the teacher will be wise not to give him the feeling that he has done poorly, but simply to put a further question which will get him or another learner to give the second part of the answer. If a person gives a wrong answer or is unable to give an answer at all, let the others have a chance to do better before answering yourself. The important thing is to make the learners do the work. It is not the questioner but the person answering who has to take the middle of the stage.
Sometimes a right answer will be given which is not the one looked for or needed as the starting-point for the question which is to come after it. Again, do not give the learner the feeling that there has been an error, but make up a question or chain of questions which will take the group back to the printed answer.
The point to keep in mind is that the printed Talks are simply an Outline and are not to be copied in ever smallest detail. The details are elastic. Clearly, even where the answer given by a learner is the same in substance as that given in the book, the wording will generally be different. It would only be possible to get 100% agreement with the book if the questions were of the sort limiting the answers to "Yes" and "No".
Where necessary, the teacher will have to make a request to the learners to put a bit of paper over the Talk so that they may give attention only to the picture. There is no need, however, to keep them from looking at the statements under the pictures, though these are frequently the key to an answer and are sometimes the answer itself. Even with this amount of help, the learners will still have to do most of the work themselves.
These Talks, which may be used equally well by young or old, are not part of the first step, but are for those who have been through the material covered, for example, by Basic Step by Step, and so have a knowledge of the Structure of Basic and of the senses of the 850 words.
Paperback, 4" x 6-7/8", 210 pages, $18.