Volume X- October 4, 2004

Welcome to the E-Comp!, a complimentary monthly newsletter for language educators brought to you by Prolinguistica.com.

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For your reading pleasure…

Book Review at csmonitor.com
THE FIRST IDEA:
How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved from our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans

By Stanley Greenspan and Stuart Shanker
Da Capo Press
320 pp., $25
It all starts by looking a baby right in the eyes
The origin of language stemmed from relationships, not genes
By Ruth Walker
     Here is a book that gives new meaning to the old saying, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." Its authors, one a psychiatrist and the other a psychologist and philosopher, have teamed up to tackle the momentous question of how humans developed language. Fearing not to challenge some of the heavyweights of modern science, from Jean Piaget to Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker, they present their own theory: The development of language is connected primarily with affect rather than cognition, with the emotional learning that occurs in infants in the arms of those who love them. That is, language is rooted not in genes, not in the wiring of brains, but in behaviors we have learned over millenniums.
     Phrases like "emotional intelligence" and "the feeling brain" sound less oxymoronic today than they did before they appeared in the titles of groundbreaking works by Daniel Goleman and, more recently, Antonio Damasio. But in "The First Idea," Stanley Greenspan and Stuart Shanker contend that "emotional intelligence," as it is coming to be understood, is only one of the "roots and branches" of intelligence itself. "The trunk," they argue, is a set of abilities they refer to as the "functional-emotional developmental capacities."
     The critical concept in "The First Idea" is what the authors call "co-regulated emotional signaling." By this they mean the affectionate back-and-forth between baby and caregiver. Mom and Baby make eye contact, and when Mom smiles at Baby, Baby smiles back.
 Read the rest of the review at:  http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0914/p11s01-bogn.html?s=hns

A school for immigrants?
National Hispanic Cultural Center
Houston has proposed facility specifically for new arrivals
HOUSTON, Texas (AP) -- Houston school officials have proposed a school designed specifically for immigrants, including flexible yearlong schedules, accelerated credit programs and weekend classes.
     "Many of these students walk into our high schools and know little or no English," interim Houston superintendent Abe Saavedra said Tuesday at Lee High School, where students from 70 countries speak 42 languages. "Immigrant students need more support than conventional schools can provide."
Read the article at:  http://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/09/08/immigrant.school.ap/index.html
Visit the National Hispanic Cultural Center website at:  http://www.nhccnm.org/


Sorry, I just HAD to include this one!
Parrots speak in tongues
Helen Pilcher, Nature.com
Ability to modify vowels underpins mimicry skills.
Parrots can shape sound with their tongues.
© Kathleen Carr
Ever wondered what makes parrots so good at mimicking human speech? It turns out that the feathered impressionists use their tongues to create vowel-like sounds, just as we do.
Until now, many researchers thought that birds produced and modified their song in the avian equivalent of the larynx, the syrinx, and that the tongue played no role at all.
It's fun - read the rest at:  http://www.nature.com/news/2004/040906/full/040906-1.html


Professor works to preserve 'weird' languages
By Molly McClure
News Editor, Purdueexponent.org
Elena Benedicto arrived in her office two weeks ago after eight months abroad setting up networks to study weird languages.
At least, "people think that they are weird," said the associate professor of English. "Forgotten, thought to be exotic — everything that’s not mainstream."
Benedicto spent time in Spain, Argentina and Nicaragua. She has been studying Mayangna, an indigenous language spoken on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, for the past 10 years. She is helping develop a grammar of the language to use in schools as well as train natives in linguistics.
"It’s a process of empowerment," she said.
Read the rest of the article at: http://www.purdueexponent.org/interface/bebop/showstory.php?date=2004/08/30&section=campus&storyid=benedicto161

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Resources you might be interested in….

New at Stephen Krashen's Web Site
( http://www.sdkrashen.com/main.php3 )

"Applying the Comprehension Hypothesis: Some Suggestions" by Stephen Krashen
Go to:   http://www.sdkrashen.com/articles/eta_paper/index.html

"Basic Phonics" by Stephen Krashen
Go to:  http://www.sdkrashen.com/articles/basic_phonics/index.html
 
"Free Voluntary reading: New Research, Applications, and Controversies" by Stephen Krashen
Go to:  http://www.sdkrashen.com/articles/pac5/index.html


Internenes.com
Internenes.com is a Spanish with a collection of on-line games.  It's not necessary to know Spanish to play the games, but the site features a mini teaching guide for each game explaining the content and the skills the game focuses on.
Check out their offerings at:   http://www.internenes.com/programas/categoria.php3?c=Novedades


ACTFL Celebrates 2005 as "The Year of Languages"
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), is set to lead us all in celebrating The Year of Languages in 2005. Celebrations will take place in elementary and secondary schools, postsecondary institutions, as well as at events at the local, state and national levels across the country.  For more information and resources go to:  http://www.yearoflanguages.org/yol.cfm

Deaf Aztlan
An interesting and unusual site for deaf bilingual Spanish speakers. I found Deaf Aztlan at a site that features a variety of resources, including guides to U.S. schools for immigrants in Spanish, Arabic, Bosnian, Russian, Vietnamese and English.
Go to:  http://www.deafvision.net/aztlan
To view the school guides and other resources available go to: 
http://www.isbe.net/bilingual/htmls/refugee_services.htm
Or
http://www.isbe.net/bilingual/htmls/Resources1.htm

Helping Parents Navigate the Education System in Spanish or English
At this website toolkits on early childhood, elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education advise parents on how they can support their children's learning at each developmental stage.
You can check this out at:  http://www.yesican.gov
For the Spanish version  go to:  http://www.yosipuedo.gov/

Resources on Mexico from Teacherplanet.com
Teacherplanet.com offers a section on Mexico, with lesson plans, unit plans, resources, worksheets, clipart and images relating to Mexico.
Visit the site at:  http://www.teacherplanet.com/resource/mexico.php


How about some time in Peru?
The Spanish Exchange Program (a language school) seeks ESL teachers who'd like to learn Spanish in Piura, Peru. (I'm always a little suspicious of companies whose email address is @yahoo, but you never know... This was announced in an OELA newsletter, so it's probably legitimate.)
For more information, email:  aespiura1@yahoo.com


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Thinking about it…

The other night I dreamed I was putting on a TPR workshop for teachers. I'd received a number of email inquiries about how to implement TPR, and they probably set my synapses to firing all night long. I found an interesting article at Nature.com in August, that discussed the fact that they now have research to show that when we say "I'll sleep on it" thinking that we'll make a better decision in the morning, there's actually a good basis for that. People DO make better decisions after they sleep on it. And they also master procedural tasks more efficiently after sleeping. Turns out that your brain is even busier than you thought while you sleep, busily looking at the procedural learning you need to be doing, prioritizing tasks in order of difficulty, and reinforcing your learning while you sleep. I find this bit of information fascinating. After all, we TPR-types generally agree that pain, stress and uncomfortable hard labor it isn't necessary for learning to take place -- and what could be less painful, stress free, and more comfortable than sleeping to learn!?! And apparently that's what we do. Every night.

Seems to me that this also calls into question to the value of drill and practice. OK, so no, I'm not suggesting that practice is a waste of time... but I know for my own learning and from observing many of my students, that practice has its limits. We all know there's a point at which certain kinds of practice cease to be effective - especially the more routinary kind. For me, a 20 minute nap is sometimes far more effective than another hour of practice. And I figured out far too late in my university career that I performed better on tests if I DIDN'T stay up late studying, but instead went to bed at the usual time and reviewed for a while right before the exam. And what do we say about the mysteriously permanent nature of "aha" learning - all those things you somehow learned and remembered instantaneously without ever making any effort to retain them? Yes, practice may make closer to perfect, but sleeping long and well enough my do the trick even better.

Well, duh.  Back to the dreamy TPR workshop. It may be that every one of you does this anyway, but here's the little idea I was sharing the participants in my dream. Have you ever seen the little cardboard skeletons with articulated joints they sell around this time of year? Some of them come with a little pressure sucker so they can be hung on a window, and there's a brad or some other kind of moveable fastener at the joints so you can set your skeleton's limbs in any position you want. These usually sell for pretty cheap. Consider buying a few. Or, consider simply drawing (or tracing) a template of all skeletal parts (head, neck, torso, upper arms, lower arms, hands, thighs, calves, feet) onto card stock and laminating it. Have the students cut out the various pieces.  You TPR the cutting in your target language of course.  Pass out a few hole punchers and TPR the punching of holes in the right places. Then pass out enough brads for them to put the creatures together, also according to your TPR-d instructions. Once complete, they have a desk sized person who they can use to demonstrate their understanding of any TPR instruction you give, including a few you'd probably never ask anyone to do with his OWN body... When I had my own language classes (sigh, the good old days...) I used to do this, but I also bought as many of the skeletons as I could find, as many kids really like having a commercially produced skeleton to play with at this time of year. It was a great way to have students do very physical TPR while seated at their desks -- and we all know that sometimes it's a boon to us, as well as to tired kids, to have a TPR lesson that's a little less active. For what it's worth. Anyone else have an idea to submit? Send 'em in, let's spread the good stuff around!


In Case You Missed the News...

Prolinguistica has moved to a new office! Our new address is:

Prolinguistica
1621 Freeway Drive #208
Mount Vernon, WA 98273

We're located in the Tridex Building. Same phone (360-848-9792) and email address (laura@prolinguistica.com, e-comp@prolinguistica.com.)


New Website!

Prolinguistica recently added a new service: dyslexia correction. Now we have a new website as well. Of course, the old website is still up and running and dedicated to serving ESL and FL teachers. The new one is dedicated solely to our services in dyslexia correction. That address is:

http://www.pdcc-read.com

I encourage you to visit it, even if dyslexia is not a topic of burning interest to you. With from 5% to 15% of the population displaying symptoms of the dyslexic learnng style, chances are quite a number of your students show some of these symptoms. Perhaps there's some information at pdcc-read.com that may be of use to you.

New Newsletter!

In addition to E-Comp! I am publishing a monthly newsletter, "Singular Minds", on matters relating to dyslexia and the constellation of related learning difficulties, including trouble with math and time (dyscalculia), handwriting (dysgraphia), balance and movement issues (dyspraxia), and ADD-ADHD. If any of you are interested in receiving "Singular Minds" just send an email to me at  dyslexia@prolinguistica.com and I'll put you on the mailing list.  And of course, if you know anyone who needs help with any of the areas mentioned above, I hope you'll refer them to the website.

Have a stupendous month!

Laura

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