Greetings from Chandigarh, India! Fresh from the perpetual warmth of West Africa, where we spent four wonderful weeks in Cameroon and Ivory Coast, we find ourselves in the bustling, modern city of Chandigarh, India. We have so much to share with you in this newsletter!
• What is the key to remembering new vocabulary and the grammar rules of the language you are teaching or studying? • What vital role do the methods we teach in our TESOL program play in memory?
• What is India like and where will the Pure Language Institute be next? All this and more in this month’s exciting dispatch from abroad!
Cameroon and Ivory Coast
Our first stop in our West African adventure was Cameroon. Everyone at the branch office of the international company we were working for were all busy preparing for a move to a new location where the work they oversee in three countries will be done. We are so happy for them as the present location is in a very congested part of town and, because of the progress in the field the branch office is bursting at the seams!
They are very busy translating good news into many local languages. The over 50 students from Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea enthusiastically received the training to be Language Instructors and are eager to get started with their new assignments. Next stop was Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Over 70 students from Ivory Coast and Ghana worked harmoniously together during our many practise sessions to sound down the steps and principles of what they were being taught. They did this with such joy, overcoming language barriers and the fatigue that many had after travelling days on buses to get here. Combined, they represented over 20 local languages.
As they said their goodbyes and prepared to return to their homes and families, they were so excited and resolved to accept whatever assignments lie ahead.
Our next stop was the cosmopolitan and surprisingly modern city of Chandigarh, Punjab – Northern India. It is called a Tricity because it is the capital city of 3 different states – Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, and located in a spot where all 3 of these states meet. The primary languages spoken in the city are Punjabi and Hindi – so it the perfect spot to learn either language well.
The people are so warm and eager to show hospitality. We got around primarily with Uber, which by Canadian standards is very economical. Our goal was to see if we could move here in order to learn Hindi and be of assistance to our dear friends in this fast moving arena of activity and progress. For all who have the circumstances to relocate here, we encourage you to thoughtfully count all the “costs.” True, there are many ‘oposers’ – both external or, in some ways, internal – but, for those who are willing, available and qualified, this “large door of activity” is certainly wide open right now. Can you hear the call? Can you answer it? Will you? Whatever your circumstances permit, we wish you the very best! (Cue song, “All I can Give.”)
‘Pay Attention To How You Listen’ What is the principal ingredient to learning a language or anything for that matter? The answer involves memory. And by memory, I mean transferring knowledge from short term memory to long term retention. Whether we are trying to remember new vocabulary or grammar rules we must consider how we remember. That said, what is the primary tool to do this? It is: Pay Attention! That’s it. According to John Delis, an award-winning memory champion, “memory starts and ends with paying attention.” In his book“Remember It,” he lays out the many techniques used to achieve and maintain an excellent memory. For example, many of his techniques rely on word association. This powerful memory adhesive is just one of the methods we cover in our seminar. The underlying principles upon which he bases these techniques definitely apply to learning and teaching languages. Basically, the moment you or your student gets distracted, (and in any moment there are hundreds of things that the brain can be distracted by) the opportunity to remember something important is either corrupted or lost.Citing one of the most referenced psychology papers of all time,* he states that the average amount of information we can hold in our working memory is about seven items, plus or minus two. For this reason, the methods we teach in our seminar can powerfully help your students’ mental faculties to focus during your classes. Using a variety of activities and teaching styles and methods during the study period (we teach over 30) will keep the students engaged. Using that day’s target vocabulary and grammar over and over again in changing but authentic situations is the key. This will ensure that all students progress steadily and rapidly. They will be happy, you will feel great to see their progress and your classes will be full! And your online reviews will be stellar! *George A. Miller, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information,” Psychological Review 63 (1956), on Classics in the History of Psychology, website by Christopher D. Green, http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Miller.