Language Challenge 180: Week 17

by Corey

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Welcome to Week 17 !

If you missed the activities these last few weeks, go to the Weekly Activity Page and click on the activities you missed. (Remember: if you aren’t yet signed up, then do so at the link at the top of this page!)

And don’t forget to keep sharing resources, support and suggestions at the Language Challenge 180 language pages! The more information you can add there, the better!


We didn’t get a check-in email or giveaway up last week, did we? Sorry about that! So many summertime (outdoor) activities and not enough time in front of the computer. Good to be getting outdoor time (being that we live in Seattle, this isn’t easy to come by) but bad because it means less time to work on Language Challenge 180 posts!

Stay tuned for this coming Friday when we’ll have another giveaway and a chance to share what you did during the past few weeks.

Talk it out?

There was a lot of discussion this past week about Krashen’s article (see last week’s Language Challenge 180 post for more information on this) and his emphasis on listening when it comes to language learning. Many people took this to mean that speaking the language is not necessary. Far from it! 

I don’t think that Krashen is saying that using our target language is not important! What he is saying is that we can’t really use our language unless we have been given enough real-life examples of its use. We need some input to be able to generate output. Doing grammar drills without having been exposed to the language in real contexts isn’t very helpful. We should start with real language in context and then add in the grammar drills down the road – that is when they will be helpful and can benefit our language learning.

The way to get familiar with a language is through listening and reading in context. Have you noticed that children’s books are filled with pictures? Lots of them!

Our children follow an organic language learning process that makes a lot of sense: a few words together with a lot of context (pictures) helps our children connect the words with their meanings (the pictures). This is how we learn languages. It takes time but builds a strong foundation.

Another way is through hearing stories read out loud, listening to podcasts and watching videos. As long as the language isn’t too difficult for us, we build up our vocabulary and grammar by hearing words and sentences over and over again in contexts that make sense. It is one “ah ha” realization after another that takes place in our minds.

So, this, at least, is what I understand Krashen to be saying. And seeing how children learn languages, it makes perfect sense to me!

This Week’s Activity: Sentences

  • Individuals: As you may remember from the beginning of Language Challenge 180, this week we are going to write down 10 sentences that we’d like to learn well. Best is to focus on sentences that you use everyday in your home, like “Can you pass me the pepper,” and “Did you take the dog for a walk today?” If you feel that you know most sentences that you use on a daily basis, then come up with some new ones that are challenging, fun or maybe even silly. Memorize these 10 sentences (and write down more than 10 if you can!).
  • Parents: As with the activity for individuals, write down 10 sentences that you’d like your children to learn/memorize. These can be sentences that your children say incorrectly or sentences that you’d like your children to learn, for example: “Mom, may I please go outside and play?” and “Dad, I’d like you to read me a bedtime story.” Help your children to learn them by using the sentences a lot around them. For example: “Did you want to say, ‘Mom, may I please go outside?’ ” or “If you’d like Dad to read you a story, you ask him by saying, ‘Dad, I’d like you to read me a bedtime story.’ ” If your child tries to say the sentence but does it incorrectly, gently provide the correct sentence each time so that he/she can eventually learn it.

The main idea for this activity is to focus on words and sentences with more attention than usual, especially ones we (or our children) use on a daily basis. It is so much more satisfying when we can use our language correctly (and hear our children using it correctly). It will help us (and our children) build up even more vocabulary and grammar along the way.

May you have a wonderful week of language focus!

Stay tuned for the Friday check-in email and new giveaway!

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