Now THAT’S Acquisition!

I was at Simon Fraser University last week, introducing this year’s second-languages student teachers to T.P.R.S.  Before the class, I had a chance to talk to the methods teacher, J.D..  She had recently taken a crew of French 12 (level 5) kids to Quebec for a two-week immersion trip and related the following incident:

“So we went out walking with our Quebecois(e) hosts and hostesses and it was winter and icy.  The kids had been with their host families for about a week, speaking no English and hearing tons of French. One of our girls slipped and banged her hand on the ice and loudly cursed “vas te chier!” and all the Quebeckers laughed.” 

Now this is a structure that has been acquired by this student.  How do we know it’s acquisition?

a) it emerges spontaneously

b) there’s no pre-thinking, eyes-up-and-left, or pausing

c) it fits perfectly into context

d) it’s perfectly authentic, real language (in this case a Quebecois idiom) 

This is what we really want in a second-language learner: language instileld so deeply that there’s no thinking, pausing etc involved in its production.  Now obviously we won’t teach our kids to swear, but good comprehensible input teaching will get our kids to the point where they can answer questions quickly and confidently, and spontaneously say what needs to be said.

Comments or questions?  Email chris (dot) stolz @ gmail (dott) com

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