Report on the Gap year Student Ms Michaela Wright
On the 28th of February, Ms. Wright reached VDJS school campus after spending five months at Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya, Gwalior, where she was teaching French. She was invited to our school by Ma’am Principal to share her knowledge on teaching methodologies for teaching languages with us. Ms. Wright has taught French as a foreign language at various schools in England. She has herself spent considerable time in France while pursuing her French language course.
Ms Wright taught our students French and English. She used the role-plays to teach the young ones. Her emphasis on writing down things while learning was minimal. She laid more emphasis on pronunciation and intonation. According to Ms. Wright, it is important that children enjoy the process of learning a foreign language. She is of the opinion that, especially in case of the students of junior classes, students should be assigned group activities, to ensure involvement of all the students in the learning process. Ms. Wright is further also of the opinion that the challenges pertaining to the intercultural aspect involved in learning foreign languages can be taken care of by using ample amount of audio-visual aids, and with regular interaction with native speakers of the concerned foreign language.
According to Ms. Wright, greater emphasis should be placed on meaningful and purposeful communication using a foreign language than on mastery of grammar. She encouraged our students first to understand and then to ‘produce’ in the language, i.e. communicate using the target language. The target language should be used by both teachers and students. Ms. Wright said that early language learning results in better pronunciation and higher levels of proficiency in the target language, as well as cognitive benefits associated with being bilingual. But, of course, these advantages accrue with prolonged exposure to that language. Starting foreign language in middle school is late.
Ms. Wright said that at a younger age, children learn a foreign language through play and exploration, which ensure long time retention of basic concepts of that language. Ideally speaking, according to her, children should start learning a foreign language in kindergarten and continue through high school. Learning languages helps increase listening ability, memory, creativity and critical thinking - all of which are thinking processes that increase learning in general.
According to Ms. Wright, the traditional method of learning another language, including foreign languages, involves tons of memorization and grammar drills, but that approach may actually go against what the brain is naturally programmed to do.