From The Bottom Up
All teachers should think through their lessons in terms of language being grown from the ground up and not imposed, mandated.
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I’ve always been a big cheerleader of the SLA supported idea that language learning is activated, accomplished - teaching is successful if we take an inductive approach to our lessons and allow students to learn to put the language, the rules, the order, the meaning together on their own, from the bottom up.
Sure, explicit teaching, textbooks, grammar nuggets, explanations, translations, lists, memory etc … they all have their worth and time and place. However, it is imperative that students learn language that emerges from their own contexts, minds, mouths.
One resource I wrote years ago and its a free course book in our Lesson Library is We Teach, We Learn. Read the forward where I outline the Bottom up approach but basically it is a tribute to Sylvia Aston Warner and her Language Experience Approach. Start from the emotional world of the students and build learning from there. It’s something I’ve always advocated with technology too. Find out what tech the students use, where they ARE and use that, teach language through that tech, that tool, that environment. Don’t impose tech.
We Teach, We Learn allows students to first detail the language for the lesson (the content - I call the approach Student Created Content, like tech’s User Generated Content) and then use that language for practice and learning. It features all the normal themes but the approach allows for each lesson to be good for any level of language learners - for they provide the core language.
I wrote the book over 10 years ago and teachers of our old, huge community - EFL Classroom 2.0 bought and paid for all the costs of the book, within hours of it being released. I then committed to provide the book for free, after all my costs were covered. It also features something you won’t find with your regular publishers - edit each lesson file to suit your own needs. It’s something that should be normal but I’ve yet seen it done. (click the link inside the book to get the files). It’s your book - why shouldn’t you be able to edit, remix, repurpose for your class needs?
But whatever you are teaching, think more about how to instill more “bottom up” processing in the lesson. It’s how language is best learned and it will make a difference, I promise you. At first, you might not think you are “being a teacher” but let me tell you, you are being even more of a teacher - caring more for your flock.
I’ll end by adding that this “bottom up” approach should be how children learn to read. They already speak so why don’t they speak, see the words they speak in print, being said and learn their phonemic awareness that way? Not through artificial, estranged from the source words imposed by readers, picture books, phonics materials? If anyone out there is interested more in this approach and how AI can make this a reality - contact me!
Best, Thanks for reading,
Thank you very much for sharing.