Monday, August 11, 2008

Let’s Start At the Very Beginning

Some friends and I have decided to study Uyghur over our summer vacation. This couple has studied a related language in the past so they are pretty familiar with the sounds and grammar, but it is still a whole different language. I have studied for two years, but after being home for a few months, I feel like there is so much that I am forgetting, or just missing all together. There are so many words that are practical to daily life, that never get covered in your average textbook. Our school books teach us words that are in the daily reading or dialogue, they may not be words that are useful to day to day life. And so we decided to start at the very beginning, to help fill in the gaps.

We are having their house helper/ cleaning lady work as our language nurturer ( we are using the Greg Thompson language accusation material, that is his terminology not mine). The thought was that this woman has not been scared or tainted by traditional eastern teaching methodology. She is open and we can use her to help craft our world of ‘here and now’ understandable language. Sadly though, she does not read either English or the national language, so she can not read the nurtures handbook to know how to teach the class. We have had to explain it all to her in Uyghur.

On day one I told her, in Uyghur, that the point or phase one was to just listen to the teacher and her pronunciation. That we were not going to say anything for the first 100 hours of class. We were going to show her pictures or items and wanted her to tell us the name or action in one word. We wanted to listen to her say that word and we wanted to play games where she asked us to point to different items or pictures to make sure we were understanding. I asked her if she had any questions, and then we showed her the first picture. The picture was a man pointing at himself. The elicited word should be “I” or “me” or some type of first person reference. But because I had given such a detailed explanation of the whole language learning process in Uyghur, the teacher figured I must already know those words and went off in a totally different direction. In the end we had to subtlety suggest that maybe this picture best represented the word “مەن” . The founder of the program would not approve of our coaching the nurturer on what word to teach us. Oh well, that is summer school for you. But we are finally off and running. So here is your own little Uyghur lesson. Good luck!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A very good place to start!

loving you blog, Karen - you are a clever writer!