Month: August 2013

How young learners learn languages …..five statements to test my thinking!!

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1) Babies are unable to respond until they are at least 6 months old. T/F

This is false. From the moment a baby enters the world to eight weeks, the process of language acquisition is in motion. They begin to cry and make little sounds; this exercises the vocal organs and gives them practice in controlling the flow of air through their mouth and nose. They respond to their mother by looking at her when she speaks. If a stranger speaks, the baby will respond differently than to their mother’s voice. The tone, pitch, volume and intonation of a speaker’s voice makes the baby respond differently. The baby shows a response by crying, body movements, babbling and laughing.

2) Babbling has an element of meaning of which the young child is aware. T/F

This is true.  Language can be said to be a progression of the process which means that there is progressive emergence. Babbling plays a part in this. It can be said that language comes with age and with the form of the body where the child grows and their cognitive senses form. For instance, at 6-7 weeks the baby will be experimenting with coos and chuckles. Then at 3-4 months, the child will start to babble; making rough speech sounds. Most babbling consists of a small number of sounds, which suggests the child is preparing the sounds they will need to speak the language it is exposed to. The baby is aware as the babbling noises tend to closely approximate the language spoken in their environment. When they imitate adult sounds they are scaffolding their language for later development. Learning is intimately linked with the progressive surfacing of a child vocabulary and syntax.

3) Children may sometimes use words in a way different to an adult’s understanding of the language item. T/F

This is true. Younger children do not have an adult’s understanding of language; they have their own way of saying things as far as they approximate them. They are born with a special ability to discover for themselves the underlying rules for their language system. For example, a child can tell you in his verbal sounds that the dog their family has, has gone out side. He may say ‘doggie’ and point or say ‘doggie out’. This utterance may just be a few grunt but significantly the point of it is, is that the child is telling you the dog has exited the house. Speech in children can be recognised  by the way a child generally uses one pivot word plus one or two additional words, such as ‘Mummy go shops’, ‘Give dolly’. Telegraphic speech, as it is known like this, is marked by its own grammar, especially in terms of structure. These pivot words tend to occupy a consistent position in the sentence and the word order reflects the order of adult utterances, the only difference being that in telegraphic speech the less semantically important words disappear.

4) Grammar rules cannot usually be taught to young children. T/F

This is true if we were to say that a teacher or parent tries to formally teach a child grammar. Grammar is acquired naturally; it doesn’t need to be taught so formally especially to younger students. Grammar rules taught formally can be just too hard for some children to comprehend. Learning can be modeled on the natural environment, although learning needs to accentuate the rate of language acquisition. Role-play, games that highlight interesting and thought provoking activities can have grammar subconsciously delivered where the learner is using the appropriate language without realizing that the teacher is teaching a specific grammar point. The child will gradually pick up the grammar rules by interaction. They are not pressured. Grammar becomes secondary to the learners actually trying to speak. There language can be facilitated by the teacher. There is the fact that if the teacher tries to the child’s sentence to the correct version, it often fails. For example:

A child looks at their dolly and says question and answer.

Child: What colour?

Mother: (You mean) what colour IS IT?

Child: Red

Grammar is a progressive discovery. It seems that the child can only learn when the time is right.

5) Repetition plays an important part in first language acquisition. T/F

This is true. This does not mean a child will learn a language by repetition. Repetition helps by the way of the instructor, be that the mother or teacher who replies to the learner’s comments. The child speaks different to a normal adult. The repetition is done when the child speaks and the mother or teacher repeats and reinforces the child’s speech with their way of saying the utterance.

Child: Mummy come

Mother: Yes, here’s Mummy

Child: Nice doggie

Mother: Yes, he’s a nice doggie isn’t he?

With this type of repetition, encouraging the responsiveness, the child will develop.  She will keep the child’s word order and add on the rest. The emphasis is on the child’s meaning and not on grammatical structures.


Do students acknowledge the depth of a photo/picture? A reaction to Henri Cartier Bresson Photos

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images2   henri_cartier_bresson_bicycle

Behind Saint-Lazare                   ‘The Var Department

Henri Cartier Bresson’s photos are masterpieces of snapshot photography. On viewing his portfolio, two examples of his work attracted my attention and imagination. The first photo, I viewed, ‘The Var Department, Hyères’ was taken in 1932 and the second in Paris of ‘Behind Saint-Lazare’ also taken in 1932.  These two classic photos show Bresson’s perfect timing to capture life in action that on the surface seems plain in their black and white imagery but what underlies them, I can see, is a master photographer in action.

To begin with, ‘Behind Saint-Lazare’ is a stand out photo for me that is multi dimensional. I only had to observe the symmetry of the reflections of the gentleman, the railings and the building in the water to observe an angelic feature to the obvious bleakness of the photo. The wrought fencing, the station building, the workmen and the debris portray a world of industry. Bresson, as a photographer, I feel, captures life’s on- going journey. ‘Behind Saint-Lazare’ has what looks like a gentleman off to work as he is captured jumping over the vast expanse of water supposedly left from a downpour. Moreover, in my opinion, Bresson’s immaculate timing manages to blur the image of the gentleman enough so the viewer does not get lost in the expression of him jumping through the picture. Bresson’s angle of the gentleman captures this moment in unique fashion as the man hovers in the air as the ripples of the wooden makeshift bridge gently spread. You see he will not make it without getting wet. The picture offers a working class perspective as building work appears to be in the background. The photo shows Paris not in its exquisite architecture but in my opinion an industrious city where people struggle to earn a living. The bleak outlook breathes naturalness into the photo and portrays life as it is on a daily basis.

What’s more, ‘The Var Department’ photo offers a trajectory of forms that convolute over the snapshot. The contours and direction of the flight of stairs leads in different paths almost confusingly that add context to the geometric composition of the photo. The travel of the stairs inspires a surrealist outlook comparable with MC Esher’s ‘Relativity’ picture of the infinite staircase. Even the wall with its square stone block gives a contradictory shape to the photo which is contrasted again with the curve of the bending road. The road gives the appearance also of sloping away, as with further viewing I believe the cyclist is travelling downhill. In the stillness of the photo, the cyclist is seemingly racing through the image.  With this cyclist, I believe Bresson always means to have people in his photos to show life’s continuous flow and ‘The Var department’ captures this beautifully with the cyclist off to a new experience. Echoes of the Tour De France permeates this idea as these quiet and quaint little towns are thrown open to the world as the array of cyclists who come whizzing by each year.

Furthermore, with both these photos, I was taken in by the range of color although strictly they are black and white. The assortment of shades of black and white permeate these photos and add tremendous boldness to the overall feel that leaves the photo feeling eternal. Additionally Bresson creates the blurred image to the main characters while not letting them pause in action. They are essential parts of the photo but not to the extent of taking over the picture. In my opinion, Bresson captures these two images at that decisive moment that if taken any moment later the whole image would lose that masterful imagery. Moreover, human interest is decisive to the photos, be it in the gentleman’s big leap across the pond or the cyclists race to his destination remind me of humanity’s effort. I also believe these photos show life in different aspects. The bleakness of ‘The Var Department’ with the blackened white stones shows a town that almost seemed stagnant compared with the industrious city in ‘Behind Saint-Lazare’. The men are workers in the photo but in the other photo, the cyclist could be anyone off to an appointment.

To conclude, the exact moment in time exposures highlight a photographer with a unique ability to capture life and movement while also encapsulating the color, shades and symmetry of the world. The more I look at these photos more ideas come to mind which salutes the importance of these photos. Not only do they capture life that creates thought, but also they become timeless to me that stir emotion and admiration.

(767 Words)