This book is meant to give teachers of language learners the tools they need to create engaging, interactive and well-planned activities that promote both language acquisition and higher order thinking skills. Initial chapters will give an overview of what we know about language acquisition according to research, as well as considerations on how language and culture are interrelated.
Since it is impossible to separate language from culture, we must look at these two sides of the same coin together. In addition, thinking is part of the language/culture connection. We use our language to think, we think about things that our culture presents to us as worthy of thought, and we express our thoughts with language. This book is an attempt to interweave the teaching of language to second language learners with the teaching of thinking grounded in the cultural context of the target language. This should be done while valuing the cultural perspectives and knowledge that learners bring to the classroom.
Throughout this book, I will tell you stories that help to highlight issues and considerations in the teaching and learning of languages. Storytelling is a way to deliver information that will stick in the mind of the reader or listener. Stories serve to teach in a way that is effective because they personalize information, they engage an emotional response that helps us retain information, and they even stimulate neurological pathways in the brain that promote empathy (Garmston, 2019).
All of these aspects of storytelling are essential for teachers of language learners to keep in mind. As teachers we are also learners, and, as demonstrated throughout this book, we can benefit greatly by using these concepts of storytelling in our own language classrooms. I will start with my own immigration and language learning story and show you how what I experienced as a child language learner and immigrant taught me valuable lessons for the language classroom. In addition to sharing our own stories of how we learn languages, we also need to become listeners of learner stories. By listening to our learners’ stories, we can come to understand their particular needs in the language classroom and develop activities to meet those needs. In this way we can create empathetic, thoughtful and effective classroom environments where language learning can flourish.
—From the introduction by the author, Aixa Perez-Prado
Softcover print copy.