ESC 760 Homework assignment 1 (
My formal second language experiences began in secondary portion of my education. I took Spanish 1 and Spanish 2 in my junior and senior years of high school. These classes consisted of memorizing Spanish words and their conjugations. The class were generally taught in my first language (English) and we were given very little opportunities for conversation or Spanish language practice. I would say that very little attention was paid to our actual acquisition of the language and more attention was paid to test scores. These classes paid close attention to grammar and sentence structure. The grammar of the Spanish language would be presented to us by using drills and vocabulary lists. I can remember struggling with the pronunciation of words and confusion by the conjugations when trying to engage in conversation, especially with a native speaker. Now I understand that it isn’t the best idea to compare my second language acquisition success with how closely I got to a native speaker, in grammar, vocabulary or pronunciation but I did and became very discouraged when I didn’t hit the mark.
The next experience I had with learning a second language was in college. There was a clear difference in the way that Spanish is taught on the college level. This time there was a lot of focus on pronunciation and conversation. There was a lot of attention paid to the whole context in which we as students actually learned. We were not allowed to use our native languages in my college courses, and we were encouraged to engage in student led conversations in Spanish as a learning technique. I believe that my college experience with a second language was a more comprehensive method of teaching. These classes focused on enabling the students to communicate intelligibly with one another as well as covering the grammatical aspects of the language. The direct method or natural method used in class was extremely beneficial to my second language acquisition. The fact that the teacher didn’t allow us to use our native languages went a long way to helping us learn our new target language more accurately.
After school, I had taken enough courses to be considered conversational, but as I entered in the work world and interacted with native speakers, I realized I was less than conversational. I had a work partner who spoke Spanish and I asked him to work with me to enhance my conversation. We spoke only in Spanish every day and this was the only time I felt like I retained what I was learning because I was able to use it on an everyday basis. I have to say that speaking casually with a native speaker was the best lessons I every received in the Spanish language. This constructivist style of learning was the most beneficial to me, in my opinion. According to the reading, Vygotsky constructivism is described as a “social” constructivist model by some, and maintained that social interaction was foundational in cognitive development. In my experience, my social interaction and everyday use of the language was more beneficial than any Spanish class I had ever sat in.
Lastly, I became more practiced in my Spanish language acquisition through my travels. I went to Mexico, Spain, and Honduras. All three countries use different dialects but engaging in Spanish during my travels to Spanish countries went a long way to helping me retain more words from my target language.