F.L. Billows on


1. The best advice ever given for learning a second language was „Go to the country where the language is spoken prepared to stay five years, but be careful not to speak the language during the first two years“ .

2. How can we try to interpret the essentials of this advice in planning and carrying out a course in a country where the language is not spoken. What are the essentials? First, plenty of training for the ear, secondly no undue. hurry in expecting reaction in speech, third, exposure to the language in everyday situations requiring response, if not in speech then in action.

3. This calls for restraint and patience from the teacher and a clear conception of how to base the language experience he is presenting on the situation of the learner.

4. The situation of the learner can be analysed with the help of a chart of four concentric rings,

a) The immediate surroundings of the learner, including all that he can see, touch and hear where he is, in the class-room.

b) What he can recall without difficulty from bis daily life and experience.

c) What can easily be brought to mind or introduced through visual aids of various kinds.

d)Whatever can be read in books„ seen on television, heard in the radio or encountercid in discussion.

5. Then he has to make a choice between the nominative, or the active kind of language in what he introduces first. Traditionally we have started wifch the names of easily identifiable objects, their colours and spatial characteristics, and we may continue to do this, but we should put these words to use as soon as possible in meaningful contexts, so that they are absorbed into the active behaviour of the learner.

6. The grading of vocabulary plays an irnportant part in the preparation of material for teaching, but the teacher should not hesitate to introduce any vocabulary needed for the effective application of language to the situation in hand. The rule to make is to be careful and controlled in the introduction of structural vocabulary, but generous in the use of any content vocabulary called for by the subject, allowing it to be forgotten when no longer needed and introduced again later.

7. In teaching a text in the textbook the teacher needs to prepare three lists in his mind, if not on paper,

l) The structural words which have to be fully learnt, if the course is to be carried further,

2) The content words needed for understanding the piece; not all need be remembered,

3) Decorative words that needn‘t be remembered.

8. It is often difficult to rernember, in making use of a textbook, that the material of the language lesson is not language but life itself, or slices of life. Language is the instrument we use to become fully conscious of what we experience and to share it with others.

9. Language learning is a sort of game that the learners are gradually drawn into until they can participate fully. Then they can share their experience with others in pairs or groups and share also the burden of practice to achieve fluency and immediate response and recall.

10. The teacher and his personality, his ability to mime, stimulate, move and speak, sing, draw and invent situations to carry the language to be developed, is the most important medium and the controller and producer of all others. He organizes the material, varies the pace and rhythm and ensures that there is plenty of variety, in presentation and practice.

(Pädagogische Hochschule Reutlingen, 30.6.1980)