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December 02, 2005

Meeting of Minds in the English Classroom

In today's Daily Yomiuri, Marshall R. Childs looks at learning and teaching English "an inherently social effort, not an intellectual one." In his regular Practical Linguist column, he has recently focused on the idea of teaching language as a way to help students to have a "meeting of minds" with speakers of that language. He points out that humans have a natural "drive for heart-to-heart understanding" which can be seen in infants and which "shows itself before language and in fact motivates the learning of language." But language education in Japan fails to capitalize on this natural urge and instead creates "a mechanical, objective, and above all heartless tour--seeing the language from outside. It is like a trip through a safari park, seeing a wild animal through the glass, but being unable to smell, touch and play with it."
Harnessing the human drive for meeting minds (link will expire)
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