"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
-- Albert Einstein via Helena Curtain
The Einstein quote also made me remember a conversation I had with a very influential world language colleague I have who commented to me about a communicative task I shared with them. The critique was that the task wasn't very realistic, and that statement was dead on, but do the tasks always have to be? ACTFL says...
"Speakers at the Intermediate level are distinguished by their ability to create with the language when talking about familiar topics related to their daily life."
-- ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines
When I think of creating or playing pretend in the language, here are some of the things I envision:
- The role to play
- The situation or problem
- The audience
- The tone or emotion of the interaction
- The desired outcome of the interaction
- The road block or unexpected element
I like to tinker with these things a lot. Tone and the road block are my favorites to play with because they can really amp up the interactions our students have and put them into unpredictable situations in the language that will test the boundaries of their current proficiency levels, and if handled correctly, inspire even more creativity in the language. For example, I can ask my students to pretend to shop and haggle over prices or I can throw the unexpected element into the shopping scenario. What if the vendor you are talking to doesn't sell the item you are looking for? What happens then? What do you say next? How does the conversation move forward? What if the doctor you had to see doesn't accept the insurance you have? How do you still get medical help? What could you ask the receptionist at that office to help you meet your need even if her office can't do it for you? In my opinion, that is what real language sounds like, and so often real language is stressful, is emotional, and is not generated in a little protective bubble. What I have found is that the more imaginative I am in creating the communicative tasks, the more interesting the language is that my students produce.
And all of this just from one little quote shared as a part of a presentation I did not get to attend. WOW, the power of social media!
Happy Coaching, friends!
P.S. I hope those of you who attended #CSCTFL14 had an amazing time! You taught me a lot! Thanks for sharing!