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
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.