The posters this week were especially intrigued and focused on Elbow.
I highlighted some themes that came out below:
Communication: Many of us discussed our experiences translating and learning foreign languages, almost always relating back to the idea of successful communication. Karen discussed her success facilitating grammar exercises with her students always in context, when they communicate something. Communication was a central theme, and Heather picked it up by discussing Amy Tan’s essay and, at the end of the day, good writing’s ability to be “communication and sense.”
Students like learning grammar: Both Karen and Iemanja wrote that their students thoroughly enjoy learning grammar. Karen even likened grammar to candy. Like Danica wrote, it’s the “first time” her students become “invested” in their writing. Others brought up their various experiences learning grammar, most noting that learning a foreign language/college was the first occasion for learning these concepts as well. We might want to think about how students loving grammar changes, or should influence, our conversation!
SWE, Foreign Languages, & ELL: This is not a new theme to us. As mentioned above, many people brought up their own experience learning a second language. Iemanja proposed adapting an “immersion” approach to 110, furthering the connection between grammar and foreign language (as most of us noted, it seems like a foreign language when introduced to students for the first time!). Eric uses a translation approach when helping students find his ELL students “capture the meaning” of a word in their native tongue. Heather, as mentioned above, shared her own experience learning Spanish but only learning the, I imagine, SWE equivalent (castellano) and falling short during conversation. Mike, I think, summed up our sentiments in saying, “We seem to have internalized a hierarchization of mother tongues in the English language.” We wonder how other languages (i.e. anything Other than SWE) can and should fit it.
Okay, so it looks like we have some things to consider for this week:
1. Honestly, how do we deal with SWE in the classroom? Is it a given we are going to teach and assess it? To what extent should it be undermined?
2. With regards to grammar, what is in students’ best interests? What about ELL students?
3. How and to what extent do we assert the authority of the “Mother Tongue” a la Elbow?
4. How do we encourage students to love language, and what can we do with their interest in grammar?
5. What likeness does learning grammar have to learning a foreign language and what does that mean for us?