Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Silly sentences - making sense of nonsense

Mouldy banana

 We all know that making mistakes is part of the learning process when learning a new skill, learning a language is no exception. However in most cases it is extremely difficult to get Japanese students into this mind-set, the need to be coherent and not stick out as “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down”. Recognising the issue is always to first step to resolving it, so we focus on making a learning friendly environment where making mistakes is not frowned upon but in fact encouraged, it’s much more fun having a go and making a mistake.

Fire-fighter to the rescue
A really nice activity that encourages the use of new language is the game “Silly sentences”. The main focus here is not to reproduce or revise previous language patterns, but instead targeting syntax without the need of being barraged by a set of grammar rules. The cards are colour coded into nouns/adjectives/prepositions etc, and it’s up to the students to work out how to combine them in the correct order. The game cards also only piece together if they are in the correct order to ensure that the language being created is grammatically correct.

Don't stay in this house
So the end product is solely dependant on the student, achieved through cognitive thinking with a bit of trial and error mixed in. It’s a fun way of building confidence and exposing students to language they would not normally encounter. It’s not everyday you hear “the green scary baby ate the dinosaur”.