The Undistinguishable Sound of Verbal Communication Across Boarders and the Playground.
Kicking, punching, shouting, screaming in the school playground is all ´stuff´ I have seen as a teacher over the course of very many years. Naturally many teachers are used to seeing this kind of thing, it is nothing new, and teachers are used to dealing with any such ill-judged or inappropriate behaviour in a timely and well-considered manner.
What can often go unnoticed is the interaction between ´the little darlings´ on a verbal level. Judging from my experience at least, there is one uniform and consistent trait which transcends across cultures and boarders, and that is what seems to be the innate desire to communicate and interact with one’s peers.
I find that after my move to Spain from London I am once again residing quite close to a school. The sound of playtime seems to bounce from every concrete painted wall and onto my patio, as I sip my morning coffee and listen to the birds sing during the summer months. The sounds that I hear are mixed; mostly they are loud, high pitched, happy and excitable. I examined these these sounds further, and concluded that from a distance they sound the same in both countries. By that I mean that I am generally unable to distinguish the sounds made my Spanish children mostly communicating in Spanish from the playground and those sounds made by a similar group of English children in England. From a distance, we might also say the same for a football match or a netball match, for example. From a distance, it is not possible to distinguish exactly what language they are speaking, it is simply a noise.
The sounds that travel most through the airwaves are the louder sounds because in scientific terms they require move physical movement of air which produces the subsequent airwaves which result from that. We also seem to associate louder sounds with enjoyment perhaps. It might seem rare for a subdued whisper to be considered a sound of elation or jubilation! The natural response to most things pleasurable might seem to be enjoyment by stating the facts in an overtly and forthright manner which normally requires volume and charisma. This is of course what children often do in the school playground.
Perhaps we can apply the same volume and charisma to our teaching methods. To ensure teaching to be effective it is first necessary for most students or pupils to feel relaxed and at ease both with themselves and with their teacher. Naturally this can something take a few lessons to achieve due to the new and unfamiliar circumstances, but how much more receptive is a child playing in a natural environment with friends, rather than being sat at a desk having grammar metaphorically shoved down their throat.
Perhaps the best learning takes place when a student is encouraged to communicate with others, perhaps through internet forums or through webcam links with other peers. In the same way as the child from any country makes the same sound in a playground in any country; so the individual language student online may also feel the need to communicate and share their learning with others in unison and in a more social context, by making that very same noise and in a similar social environment. This of course is more difficult in an internet lesson, yet not impossible. Perhaps it is very important when learning online that the learner has and shares and shouts the language they have learnt, like the children playing in the playground. Language of course being communicative tool. For learning to be the most effective surely it must serve a purpose with exact goals. Would it follow that there would be little point in learning a new language if one were not going to use It to communicate with others?