Saturday, November 12, 2011

Excerpt from Historical English Teaching Precedents and the VR System

Multilingual World

In many English teaching and learning literature and philosophy there are considered to be four or five important skills associated with learning English effectively. I disagree completely with this, and see it as a narrow conception promoted solely within the discipline of English or the discipline of Linguistics, or even as something of an educational hangover from the formative years of teaching English in the United States (and perhaps other countries).

I actually see the situation as more hierarchical. Communication comes first, followed by Communication in English. Communication in English includes Nonverbal Communication, Conversation, Reading, and Writing.

Following these, we have component skills of Conversation, which are Listening, Thinking, Speaking, and Lexicon.

Nonverbal English Communication is also covered by the VR System, but would consist of a type of “listening” (any sense other than ears), Thinking, and a type of “speaking (body language, sign language, sensory response such as making noises, motions, etc. with something).’

Notice that of these three, Thinking remains relatively the same as with normal English Conversation. As disorders are becoming better-treated, thinking normally will become more accessible to students who have disabilities (assuming that better input translates to better output). The Lexicon of students who have disabilities is sometimes unique to the individual and their personal mode of communication. Expanding their English modes of communication, however, is desirable and necessary.

Reading and Writing require Thinking, Grammar, and Lexicon. However, Reading and Writing get better if they include Conversation in the product, just as Conversation gets better by including Readings and Writings in the communicative act. Nonverbal communication can be wonderful and fun, but is augmented by Conversation, Reading, Writing, and therefore by Grammar, Lexicon, Listening, Speaking, and Thinking.

The multiple primary means of communicating in English noted here are Nonverbal, Reading, Writing, and Conversation. Not all of these methods for communicating exist in all cultures, but if you can accept that English has (at minimum, because there are several more e.g. information literacy systems are unique to each culture) four primary means of communication then it is easy to see that a person who is learning a second language is actually needing to learn (at least) four means of communication in that new language in order to have an integrative, holistic language perspective.

Also note that learning one new language holistically means a person doubles their methods of communication to eight, and that a third language triples their methods, so that they would have twelve methods of communication. There are two points that derive from this.

The first is that people who learn only one method of English communication are missing out on the other 75% of English communication to a large degree, and that everyone should be taught 100% (at least four methods of communication or more if a language has more) of the language’s communicative methods. This can’t be done effectively in parts, and must be approached in a holistic manner for higher efficiency and success.

The second point is that if most of the world population has at least eight methods of communication available to them, and there are only seven degrees of separation (what was that from?) then we should all be able to communicate with someone in at least one method. This means a 100% communication-networked planet, reducing inefficiencies that currently exist to the point that information transfer is not just rapid, but almost instantaneous between any two people on Earth.

Since this is the direction that humanity is moving, we should prepare for it with something like the VR System.