5.0069 Teaching Classical Languages; CALL (5/149)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 16 May 91 16:52:57 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0069. Thursday, 16 May 1991.

(1) Date: 15 May 91 23:05:52 EST (36 lines)
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: teaching a classical language

(2) Date: Wednesday, 15 May 1991 10:42pm CT (26 lines)
Subject: CALL and Inductive/Deductive

(3) Date: Thu, 16 May 91 04:48:19 BST (18 lines)
From: Aldabra Stoddart <PAS14@phoenix.cambridge.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: [5.0057 Teaching a Classical Language

(4) Date: Thu, 16 May 91 02:13:53 EST (54 lines)
Subject: 5.0057 Teaching a Classical Language

(5) Date: Thu, 16 May 1991 08:43 EDT (15 lines)
From: RKENNER@Vax2.Concordia.CA
Subject: Response to Kammer

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 15 May 91 23:05:52 EST
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: teaching a classical language

My own recipe is to find students who want to learn the language. The
notion that persons who do not want to learn a language *should* learn
it is clearly the problem.

>From tonight's responses to this interesting query, I note two congruent
points. Willard admits that the deductive method is character-building,
but wishes for a middle ground: clearly `character-building' (a
culturally constructed notion, to be sure) is no longer an unalloyed
good. Another correspondent deplores the tedious deductiveness of CALL
programs and wishes they would be written to show that language learning
should be *fun*. Taken together, these points suggest the sea-change
that higher education has gone through in the last half-century. We no
longer admit that we are authority figures telling people what to do and
building character by making them do it (but n.b. that *is* what we
actually do a lot of the time); rather, we believe that the student is a
free, adult agent who chooses rationally and is therefore to be wooed:
`oh, come on, learn Old Church Slavonic with us! It's fun! You'll like
it!' I grow weary of the cajoling posture, I must admit.

Never doubting for a moment that the old, unabashedly authoritarian
model was rife with contradictions and less than optimally effective, I
would only point out that the implicit new model is no less
contradiction-rife and no more optimally effective. The form of the
original query from Finland is now apparent: how can we take an
authoritarian situation (you *must* take OCS) and sugar-coat it to make
it resemble our ideal libertarian model of teaching? I think the answer
is that you can try, and you can make any number of compromises; but if
you don't get them to like it, they're still going to have to take it
and you're still going to flunk them for doing poorly, and that's the
name of that tune. Authority figures who use their authority fitfully,
bashfully, and arbitrarily are not entirely worthy of respect.

J.J. O'Donnell
Classics, U. of Penn.
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------33----
Date: Wednesday, 15 May 1991 10:42pm CT
Subject: CALL and Inductive/Deductive

In a recent series of messages, several HUMANIST members have
considered the relative merits of inductive and deductive language
learning approaches. Willard McCarty then asked the question about
CALL and these two approaches, a question also posed by Douglas de Lacey.

Many inductive/problem-solving tasks are possible in on-line
environments. Tim Johns (working in the UK) has labeled these
"generative activities", not because the learner necessarily generates
unique utterances, but rather because he/she generates his or her own
path through language materials. The computer "game" Storyboard is a
case in point. A text is presented and then blacked out; the computer
user types in words or letter strings, and lexical items in the text are
uncovered if they contain these entries. In short, the learner
reconstructs the text through hypothesis. He/she could type in endings,
roots, prefixes, whatever, in this exploration of the text.

Other ideas include use, by language learners, of concordance programs
(see recent series of articles in the journal System) as a means to
examine target language texts. Word processors offer another
environment in which students might manipulate and work with language
materials. I can supply a short bibiliography on concordancing in
language instruction, if there is an interest.

Univ. of Texas (Austin)
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------28----
Date: Thu, 16 May 91 04:48:19 BST
From: Aldabra Stoddart <PAS14@phoenix.cambridge.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: [5.0057 Teaching a Classical Language (4/135)]

I am a philosophy postgrad, who isn't meant to have anything to do with
languages at all, and I love classical languages. I have never learnt
Old Church Slavonic, but I would love to. This probably makes me
singularly unqualified to comment on how to teach it to people who
aren't interested. However, what I love about classical languages isn't
coming through in this discussion. It is the evolution of the language,
the development of meanings of words of the modern languages (which they
are interested in), and the links between languages. For instance,
[taking Old Norse as the example, since it is the most recent course
I've been to] the linkage of the English "fellow" with the Latin "pecus"
("flock") and the Old Norse cognates "fe" ("sheep", "money") and
"felaga" ("business associate"). Connections like that are instantly
memorable, and you can introduce them from the first lesson. They also
underline from the start the reasons why you're learning the older
language, and let you introduce patterns of linguistic development
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------63----
Date: Thu, 16 May 91 02:13:53 EST
Subject: 5.0057 Teaching a Classical Language (4/135)

I hope that fellow HUMANISTS Randy Jones, John Higgins, Carol Chapelle
and Joel Goldfield enter the fray with their much greater knowledge of
CALL programs, but in the meantime...

There is a vast field of literature dealing with the deductive/
inductive language learning controversy. 98% of it, however, deals with
"modern" languages and approaches are generally geared to what is
referred to in the current jargon as "communicative" methods,
crudely resumed as "listen, do, say". Hopefully, some time later,
"read and write".

As for CALL, it has the strengths and defects of the ideologies of its
designers. There are, of course, lots of those programs that Douglas
De Lacey refers to as "drill", but they may not all be that dull.
There was a study not too long ago in England which surveyed student
preferences in CALL programs, and the drill packages came out on top.
But there *are* a lot of CALL programs not limited to drill. They
range from simulation (also unfairly called "games") in which users
have to use the language to achieve some goal; text reconstruction
(cf. Higgins' Quadtext); to AI-based free-form dialogue (John
Underwood's adaptation of ELIZA for Spanish; William Smeds' "Herr
Kommissar" for German, to mention only a few). Much of CALL is
heading into hypermedia/videodisc, including annotated, supplemented,
illustrated classic novels and less classic documentaries... this
branch is, however, dependent on the availability of higher
technology, not always attainable by your average institution/instructor.

Hypermedia can also facilitate the use of "authentic" texts
giving the student all the necessary tools (a context-oriented
dictionary, cultural notes, etc) to arrive at something
approaching a meaning which is accurate, relatively speaking!
Let's say "virtually" accurate, in the sense that *if* the
student uses all the tools, he/she will comprehend enough for a
reasonably instructive give-and-take discussion with the teacher.

For Latin, I would suggest contacting Gerald Culley at Delaware (sorry,
I don't have his e-address). Prof. Culley has been in the field from
the beginning, and has designed not only the much maligned drill-type
programs, but also a very innovative "game" in which students must use
the language to explore a fictional world, their answers being parsed
and grammatical feedback given to them on request.

That'll do for starters, I hope. May many more CALL contributions come
pouring in.

Dana Paramskas Lngdanap@vm.uoguelph.ca

French Studies DanaP@CoSy.uoguelph.ca
University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------21----
Date: Thu, 16 May 1991 08:43 EDT
From: RKENNER@Vax2.Concordia.CA
Subject: Response to Kammer

My detailed response to M. Kammer's request for information on
CALL materials could not get through to his/her e-mail address.
Kammer@hrz.ini-siegen.dbp.de He/She should forward his/her regular
address to me at RKENNER@VAX2.CONCORDIA.CA or at Roger Kenner/Concordia
University/1455 deMaisonneuve West/Montreal, Quebec/H3G-1M8/Canada.
Perhaps if I was given an alternative e-mail address to which to send
it. I receive two error messages 1)Vax2.Concordia.CA does not exist
(really?) and 2) dbp.de service not available My being such an
expert on this e-mail system which I use, these two messages mean
nothing to me.
R. Kenner