Home > Commentaries on TTC > Activate all Inherent Learning Capacities! Aye, aye, cap’n.

Activate all Inherent Learning Capacities! Aye, aye, cap’n.

If learners are supplied with optimal conditions for language use, and are motivated to take advantage of these opportunities, their inherent learning capacities will be activated, and language – rather than being acquired – will emerge

Carrying A from B to C.

Another brief sojourn. Even my distractions are now getting distracted, but Karenne’s idea is so enticing and so well-designed that I cannot resist. In Dogmeme 2, we are invited to discuss what the above means.

What are the optimal conditions for language use? Well, essentially they can be boiled down to having something to say and someone to say it to. Add the factor of having the opportunity to say it and I think we have ticked all of the boxes in the optimal section.

How can students be motivated to take advantage of the opportunities? By first of all creating a dynamic in which students know each other and have an interest in each other. By helping students to see how the opportunities create a multitude of learning opportunities. By resisting the opportunity to teach incessantly.

What are inherent learning capacities? A feature of every living thing – perhaps? Simply put, we seem to come into the world with the ability to react to our environment. There is a phylogenetic (oooooooohhhhhhhhh!!!!!) trait that enables us to direct our attention towards things that promote our survival or that serve our needs.

And how will language emerge? Language is a tool by which we shape our reality. Like a chisel can be used to shape a sculpture or a brush can be used to shape a painting, language shapes the way we think about the world. In other words, language is a semiotic tool by which we establish the relationship with the world around us. The shape of language itself is determined by our history, our culture, our place of birth etc. It is dependent upon the environment and it changes over time and in response to the environment. In a natural setting, when somebody has something to say and somebody to say it to, and when they actually want to say it, they actually go ahead and find a way of getting that message across. Language emerges. It then reshapes itself, depending on how approximate the intended audience’s reaction is to what the speaker hoped to achieve. A simple example:

A: I love you.

B: I assume you mean, “as a friend.”

A: Errr…yeah…what else would I mean? Do you want anything from the bar?

A had something to say and someone who s/he needed to say it to. That someone was B who was shocked and horrified to think that A had feelings of the tingly sort for her/him. S/he put a gloss on love that poor old A was heartbroken to find. Nevertheless, desperate to save face, A compromised on the meaning of her/his initial declaration. Language emerged. And it was particular to the context in which it had been negotiated: never before had A imagined that s/he would be so disillusioned to have told her/his friend that s/he loved them.

Luckily the bar was there to provide an escape route. Of course, A never went back with the drinks. He trussed himself up, wrapped duct tape (or duck tape if you prefer) around his mouth and hid in the luggage compartment of a Desert Tours bus.

Dogme: it has some very surprising baggage.

Categories: Commentaries on TTC Tags:
  1. October 27, 2010 at 11:53

    A sad story.

  2. October 27, 2010 at 15:31

    :-))) I wish I could say I know not that particular story. :((

    But anyway, I love this :
    By first of all creating a dynamic in which students know each other and have an interest in each other.

    I should have commented on this post before the other but nevermind, I think this is key and quite difficult to do. But I also think, especially in large group classes, that this needs to be done very early on in the course for dogme to work.

    Do you have any good tips for working on this environment creating?


    • dfogarty
      October 27, 2010 at 20:07

      Absolutely, K. It’s very important to establish this from the outset. I explain the need to spend time getting to know each other throughout my lessons during the first week or so. The first week is often given over to the usual type of activities that go by the name “Getting to Know You” or GTKY. These include, “Five things we have in common”, the Name activity in Reward Advanced (thank YOU, Simon Greenall!), “None of us, one of us, some of us, most of us, all of us.” I also make a big thing odf showing them how to learn names in five minutes by associating them with a picture drawn on a post-it that begins with the same sound (not letter) as the name. I am Diarmuid the Jar. Then, once they have done that, whenever they are paired up or put in groups, they have to check that everyone remembers their name and can pronounce it reasonably accurately. With younger learners, I think I’d get them to award each other points every time they say a partner’s name when in conversation.

      Once all of that is out of the way, I think that the dynamic is self-generating. As classes are based around students’ lives, experiences, opinions, hopes and dreams it takes care of itself. I can’t claim 100% success, but it usually seems to carry itself off.

      • Alan Tait
        October 28, 2010 at 20:09

        Please consider your ideas pinched!

  3. October 27, 2010 at 21:19

    Sounds good to me! (And like you, hat tip to that there Mr Greenall for his excellent REWARD activities) I suppose it’s a bit redundant between us dogme-in-our-heart people to state that getting them to like each other helps loads!


  4. dfogarty
    October 28, 2010 at 06:23

    If they like each other, it’s a bonus! But as long as they’re interested in each other, I’m reasonably happy. I think back to one class when a devout Bolivian was horrified to hear a Chinese woman describing how abortion was a routine contraceptive measure in China. I’m not sure if they liked each other, but there was certainly interest.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on all of this!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: