Month: April 2016

Argument/Persuasive Paper Update 1

Current thesis for argument/persuasive paper:

“Children in schools should be provided access to drama and theatre because drama and theatre facilitate development of their linguistic, emotional, and social literacy.”

Main points:

  1. Drama and theatre facilitate development of children’s linguistic literacy, building vocabulary and introducing and developing familiarity with rules of grammar.
  2. Drama and theatre facilitate development of children’s emotional literacy, providing a safe space for them to be introduced to new feelings and, in turn, helping them become better and more well-rounded people.
  3. Drama and theatre facilitate development of children’s social literacy, providing opportunities for teamwork, leadership, and opportunities to interact with others in a unique way.

Final thoughts on Expository Essay

I pulled an all-nighter to finish this assignment; the first all-nighter I have ever pulled.  I have learned that all-nighters do not facilitate the completion of large amounts of homework: rather, they facilitate the ingestion of large amounts of coffee.  Despite the relative unproductiveness of this all-nighter, I did manage to complete the paper in time.  I also learned that I do not want to pull an all-nighter again!

I was surprised by several things during my research for this expository essay.  First, although I knew from experience that incorporation of drama into education had positive effects on students’ educational and social literacy, I was surprised by the extent of those effects.  Several sources reported that students who were given access to drama in schools were happier and gradually became more literate, educationally and socially.  I was also surprised that full-scale initiatives had taken place in Sydney, San Diego, and other places to incorporate drama in education.

My findings during research for this expository essay will help me a lot for my next essay, an Argumentative essay in which I will argue for use of drama in schools.

Expository Essay Final Draft

Alex Paat

Dr. Melissa Faulkner

Composition ENG 1400-04

6 April 2016

Drama Integration and Literacy Development in Schools

Children in elementary, middle and high school are encouraged to read and write to develop literacy.  Most people do not view acting or playing an improv game as a method to aid literacy development.  But according to several scholars, theatre and drama activities can indeed promote literacy development.  Ping-Yun Sun summarizes a pervasive mindset about theatre when she states, “Dramatic activities tend to be placed at the “edge” of the official curriculum; they seem to be time-consuming and unnecessary” (1).  Although this is a common attitude toward drama, many educators and students report that drama actually is an incredibly useful and practical tool for teaching and developing literacy.  This essay examines the effect of dramatic activities on students’ literacy development in three specific cases: the School Drama Initiative in Sydney, the Teaching Artist Project in San Diego, and the personal theatre experience of Adrienne Krater, a college student who was involved with theatre at her high school  in Pennsylvania.

There are myriad vocabulary words on the subject of drama, and it their meaning can often be confusing (Sun 1).  In her article Drama and imagination: a cognitive theory of drama’s effect on narrative comprehension and narrative production, Wendy Mages shortens a longer definition of drama by Davis and Behm: drama is “an improvisational, non-exhibitional, process-centered form. . . .in which participants are guided by a leader to imagine, enact, and reflect upon human experience” (330). There are infinite drama games, but some examples of drama games one could play in an educational setting include a leader instructing participants to partner up and take turns focusing on their partner and mirroring his or her movements (Brouillette 24), or a leader helping participants tell a story or rhyme expressively using their bodies and voices (Brouillette 23).  The term “literacy” is defined as “the ability to navigate through one’s surroundings and fulfill one’s desires.”

The School Drama Initiative started in New South Wales with a simple observation: Professors and actor Ewing, Hristofski, Gibson, Campbell, and Robertson note that “the Arts often remain on the fringes of the formal curriculum in New South Wales schools” (33).  In an attempt to enrich the academic programs in New South Wales grade schools and bring drama back into the curriculum, the School Drama Initiative was started.  This initiative paired local actors with school teachers.  The actors and the teachers worked as brainstorming-teaching teams to develop ways to incorporate dramatic activities and games into the schools’ curricula with the ultimate goal of using drama as a tool to have a positive overall impact on the students’ literacy across the province (Ewing et al. 34).

At the end of the School Drama Initiative, the feedback from the teachers was overwhelmingly positive.  By acting out stories, incorporating vocabulary words into the drama games, and working as a team, the students in the schools reaped many benefits, including improved English skills, higher confidence levels among the students, stronger verbal and writing skills, and a heightened sense of morale in the environment.  The School Drama Initiative was a success: drama did indeed help develop literacy. (Ewing et al. 38)

The Teaching Artist Project in San Francisco shared many characteristics with the School Drama Initiative: they both involved artists being paired with teachers to develop lesson plans that incorporated dramatic activities with the students.  Just like the School Drama Initiative, the Teaching Artist Project was started in hopes of increasing literacy development and enriching education with drama.  However, two things about the Teaching Artist Project made it substantially different from the School Drama Initiative: instead of having a wide range of ages participate like the School Drama Initiative, the Teaching Artist Project focused only on children in early elementary school: from kindergarten to second grade.  In addition, the majority of students in the region were English Language Learners (ELLs), unlike in New South Wales, where most students were native speakers of English (Brouillette 19).

In the region that the Teaching Artist Project took place, ELLs often exhibited strong fluency in English at the word level, meaning that they could easily sound out, spell, or define words; however, it was much more difficult for them to use those individual words verbally as part of a broader context.  The students could identify flashcards, but had very little ability to speak the English language.  The primary goal of the Teaching Artist Project was ultimately to improve oral literacy among the ELLs. (Brouillette 21)

One challenge for the Teaching Artist Project was the literacy gap that existed among the students: because some of the children at the school (albeit a small portion) were native English speakers, the developers of the Teaching Artist Project had to make sure that the drama games they used would be difficult enough to challenge the ELLs, while also being accessible enough so that they would not drop hopelessly behind the native English speakers in English literacy.  At the same time, the lessons had to be engaging for native English speakers who were already on their way to becoming fluent in English.  The developers solved this problem by having the students act out the plot of intermediate-level stories as the story was being read to them.  This way, the ELLs and native English speakers could participate in the activity together without a division between them; in addition, the ELLs could be introduced to and assimilate unfamiliar vocabulary words by watching the actions of the people around them and infering meaning from context (Brouillette 21).

Just as the School Drama Initiative saw improved literacy development as a result of incorporating dramatic activities with the school curriculum, the Teaching Artist Project also saw positive results.  Both the ELLs and the native English speakers gained increased phonetic ability, higher confidence levels, knowledge of story structure, experience performing for one another, greater vocabulary, and greater command of the English language.  Teachers in the program remarked how the incorporation of drama activities helped make class time more fun and exciting for the children, providing motivation for doing well in other areas of school (Brouillette 27).

Drama has the power to shape academic institutions and large groups of people, but it can also have a profound impact on individual people.  Adrienne Krater, currently a freshman at Cedarville University studying Psychology, is an example of a person whose literacy development has been profoundly shaped by theatre.  Krater was involved in several musicals and plays at Great Commission High School in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and actively participated in a drama class every school day from seventh to twelfth grade.  In this drama class, skills such as memorization and improvisation were stressed and honed.  She says, “Pretty much every day we’d get different scenarios thrown at us where we just had to act off the cuff.  Other times we’d have to memorize long sections of plays or monologues.”  Although Krater is a self-described introvert and says that participating in the class meant that occasionally she had to come up with something to say at a moment’s notice, she credits this class as contributing to her oral literacy: “It really impacted how I was able to articulate myself in speaking, weather it was off the cuff or if it was just reading something: I could articulate myself better and really understand what I was reading.  I would say my literacy improved because I appreciated literature and art more after doing drama.”  Krater says that her theatre involvement not only positively impacted her oral literacy, but also had a profound impact on her social literacy.  “Theatre really helped me get out of my shell and find a new way of communicating myself in a way that when I was younger I didn’t have at all,” she says.  “Through theatre I’ve really been able to become more socially literate.”  Drama and theatre as an integral part of her secondary education had a huge contribution to Krater’s literacy, both oral and social.

Just like the developers of the School Drama Initiative, the developers of the Teaching Artist Program, and Adrienne Krater, several scholars share the belief that incorporation of dramatic activities has a positive impact on literacy development of children in school.  Mages affirms that “children’s language development, and specifically children’s acquisition of narrative skills such as storytelling and story comprehension, has been linked to scholastic success” (329).  Sun says, “From developing their decoding knowledge, fluency, vocabulary, syntactic knowledge, discourse knowledge, and metacognitive knowledge to comprehension of extended texts, drama and theatre in many ways educate children as a whole, and they offer children a more free and flexible space in which to grow and to learn” (1).  Kelly Jo Kerry Morgan states that drama has the “ability to harness a child’s well-honed imagination and use it to enhance learning” (317).  It is safe to say that theatre can have a profoundly positive impact on the literacy development of students.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Brouillette, Liane. “Building The Oral Language Skills Of K-2 English Language Learners Through Theater Arts.”California Reader 44.4 (2011): 19-29. Education Research Complete. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

Brouillette’s article discusses the benefits experienced by  early elementary English Language Learners (ELLs) when theatre activities are incorporated into curricula.  She describes a program in which teachers in a San Diego elementary school were paired with artists to formulate a drama-inclusive lesson plan that would fill a crucial but missing piece in ELLs’ educational experience: oral language development.  She then describes the content of the lessons, detailing how each specific activity promoted much-needed oral language development.

Brouillette notes that although many elementary-age ELLs can correctly understand, sound out, and spell English words, they often have much more difficulty understanding those words as parts of sentences and using those words together to speak.  She states that theatre activities facilitate oral language development: when acting out the plot of a story, students become active participants in the educational experience and have a greater likelihood of assimilating new vocabulary and grammar rules.

By focusing on a specific demographic of student (early elementary ELLs) and a specific need (the need for oral language skills), Brouillette demonstrates one particular instance where theatre activities fill an educational need.  Her conclusion provides support to other authors who claim that theatre activities can be useful in literacy development.

 

Ewing, Robyn, et al. “Using Drama To Enhance Literacy: The School Drama Initiative.” Literacy Learning: The Middle Years 19.3 (2011): 33-39. Education Research Complete. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

This article discusses the School Drama initiative that took place in inner city schools in Sydney, Australia.  This initiative sought to improve student literacy by pairing theatre artists with school teachers in an effort to incorporate drama into classroom curricula.  The authors of the article discuss the results of the initiative and summarize the feedback from teachers and students, the majority of which is overwhelmingly positive.

The article provides a summary of the School Drama initiative and a list of goals and texts used throughout the process.  Next, the article lists the findings of the study: the effects that the initiative had on the students, the educators, and the schools as a whole.  Outcomes of the initiative include improved English skills, greater self-confidence, and better morale in the environment.  The article briefly discusses the implications of the initiative’s findings and then speculates on the future of the School Drama initiative.

This article is valuable because it documents the results of a real-life operation to incorporate drama into grade schools with the goal of improving literacy.  Findings from this initiative highlight the untapped potential drama has in providing additional literacy development to students.  The results are exciting and infer the probability that similar initiatives in other locations would be met with success.

 

Kerry Moran, Kelli Jo. “Nurturing Emergent Readers Through Readers Theater.” Early Childhood Education Journal 33.5 (2006): 317-323. Professional Development Collection. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

In this article, Kerry Moran explains the concept of readers theatre, proposes possible benefits that participation in readers theatre can have on students’ literacy development, and explores possibilities of incorporating this activity into educational curricula.

Kerry Moran suggests that students can gain greater language fluency by participating in readers theatre, and takes note of the adaptive nature of readers theatre.

By exploring the benefits of incorporating readers theatre into curricula, Kerry Moran shows a specific example of a theatre activity that can be used with students to help develop literacy.  This practical example is helpful for educators seeking specific ways to use theatre to aid literacy development.  Along the way, Kerry Moran provides plenty of guidelines for educators to facilitate the incorporation of readers theatre into curricula.

 

Krater, Adrienne. Personal interview. 5 April 2016.

In Krater’s interview, she explains her involvement in drama, plays, and musicals during grade school and notes the positive impact these experiences had on her literacy development.  Her view is very personal, and provides an inside glimpse at a few of the many positive effects that theatre involvement can have on students.

Throughout elementary and secondary school, Krater was heavily involved in theatre at Great Commission High School in Altoona, Pennsylvania.  In particular, Krater describes improv activities she participated in during a drama class every day from seventh to twelfth grade.  She explains the skills she learned in drama class, including the ability to speak off the cuff.  Krater also observes that the plays, musicals, and drama class that her school provided helped develop her literacy in positive ways by giving her an appreciation for literature and helping her better articulate her ideas.  Toward the end of her interview, Krater describes the positive impact theatre had on her social literacy: she developed a spirit of teamwork and cooperation, she came out of her shell even though she is a self-described introvert, and she discovered a new channel of communication.

Krater’s interview provides a personal example of theatre’s positive effect on literacy development.  Her experience as a person whose literacy was profoundly influenced by theatre provides a unique perspective that complements and lends credibility to educators’ viewpoints.

 

Mages, Wendy K. “Drama And Imagination: A Cognitive Theory Of Drama’s Effect On Narrative Comprehension And Narrative Production.” Research In Drama Education 11.3 (2006): 329-340. International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance with Full Text. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

In this article, Mages explores a possible causal link between involvement in drama and language acquisition.  First, Mages explains that there is a correlation between drama and language acquisition.  She then explains that if this connection was shown to be causal, drama advocates would have a better platform by which to promote the incorporation of drama into primary and secondary education.  After explaining theories of intrapersonal and interpersonal correlations between drama and language acquisition, she puts forward her own model: the “theory of drama and imagination.”

In this theory, Mages makes an analogy between music, cooking, and drama.  She observes that experienced musicians and cooks are able to hear a melody in their head when looking at sheet music or sense what several flavors would taste like when mixed together. Mages proposes that in the same way that inexperienced musicians are unable to intuitively hear music when looking at a page of music or novice chefs have little grasp on taste without actually tasting the flavors, children have little experience feeling the emotions of a story and can gain these helpful imaginative skills through drama.  Mages then explains how this imagination gained through drama during childhood can develop into increased engagement when reading during adulthood.

By providing a model that shows a causal link between drama and literacy development, Mages paves the way for future research into the correlation of drama and language acquisition.  In doing so, she also demonstrates the importance of imagination and its role in literacy development.

 

Sun, Ping-Yun. Using Drama And Theatre To Promote Literacy Development [Electronic Resource] : Some Basic Classroom Applications / Ping-Yun Sun. n.p.: Bloomington, IN : ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading English and Communication, [2003], 2003. Government Printing Office Catalog. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

In this article, Sun addresses the hesitance that many educators experience about incorporating drama into curricula, describes the importance theatre can have on literacy development, and gives several examples of practical ways educators can utilize drama for their students’ benefit.  This article is written with educators as the primary audience.  It is unique in that it is a straight-to-the-point “cheat sheet” on how teachers can immediately begin utilizing theatre in ways that promote literacy development.

Expository Essay Update 1

For composition class, our next essay assignment is to write an expository essay with an annotated bibliography.  Since the theme of this class is literacy, our topic must have something to do with this subject.  I’ve decided that I will write on the topic of “Theatre and Literacy Development.”  Since I’ve been involved in theatre throughout grade school and also my time at university, theatre is a subject I’m passionate about.  I’ll plan on interviewing some people from the theatre community here at my school, as well as using scholarly sources found through my school’s database.  I’m looking forward to seeing what sources say about this subject and using this opportunity to learn more about theatre’s role in literacy development!

Content Analysis Update: Closing Thoughts

This post is a summary of my experience working in a group on a Content Analysis Project.  To view the final draft of the Content Analysis paper, click here.

Whew!  What a ride.  After reading through six Language Acquisition essays, formulating a thesis, pounding out a rough draft and spending hours editing our paper, our goal has been accomplished.  Adrienne, Morgan, Michael and I submitted our complete Content Analysis Paper on time (with two whole minutes to spare.)  I’ve never been a fan of group projects, but it surprises me to say that this is one I’ll remember fondly.  Our four different personalities clicked pretty well, and after being assigned our groups, we each naturally fell into different positions.  Adrienne took a leadership role at the beginning, helping divide the topic up into subcategories and assigning a subcategory to each of us to write about.  Morgan demonstrated flexibility and a good work ethic, contributing to our paper’s thesis and volunteering to write sections of the paper that no one else wanted to write.  Michael went above and beyond, writing twice as much as he was required for the rough draft, which made the following stages of writing much easier for the rest of us.  I put in a lot of work toward the end, utilizing peer critique to edit our rough draft until transitions were seamless and there was continuity and a strong, cohesive voice.

Working on this group project was a great experience, and I’m very satisfied with our final draft.  We each put in our fair share of work, which made the project relatively low-stress.  I encourage you to check out my classmates’ blogs by clicking the links below and seeing what they’re up to.

Adrienne Krater: adriennekrater.wordpress.com

Morgan Phillips: momoney97.wordpress.com

Michael Pickett: mikepickettblog.wordpress.com

Content Analysis Final Draft

This is the final draft of the Content Analysis group assignment.  Enjoy!

 

Perspectives on Language Acquisition

by Adrienne Krater, Alex Paat, Morgan Phillips, and Michael Pickett

Anyone who has ever tried to learn a new language will almost certainly agree that it is a long and daunting task.  Students from a Linguistics class at Cedarville University were granted only four months to accomplish this intimidating mission. Over the course of a semester, they attempted to learn a new language and documented their efforts in essay responses.  Some of the students found benefit to this assignment, while many felt that their language acquisition attempts were unsuccessful. When their essay responses were analyzed, it became clear that each language-learning experience will be unique and different. This essay analyzes the students’ essay responses and seeks to find pattern in the many attitudes, pitfalls, useful practices, and benefits experienced during their language acquisition processes.

One of the most important factors during any language acquisition process is one’s attitude and motivation for learning this new language. Oftentimes, the person learning this new language is interested in the country and the culture that is associated with it, but not always fully driven to learn the new language. Learning a new language is no easy task, and lack of proper motivation makes this task even harder.  In their reflection essays, many of the students propose that they did not successfully learn the new language as much as they would have liked. A lack of motivation is the most commonly cited reason for the students’ failure. For example, in essay 10, the student promotes the idea that “…it is easier for someone to learn a language out of necessity than for leisure. Whether it be the person is submerged in a culture and needs to understand the language to go about daily life, or the person is planning on going into a culture of different language, both are equally more motivated than a person who is not planning on using the language they wish to learn.” This idea is supported by every one of the reflection essays analyzed. While the students had a desire to learn a new language, they simply did not have the right attitude and motivation to learn it due to the lack of necessity. Many of the students also complained that they did not have enough time to learn the language because of their busy schedules. These students felt pressured into learning the new language and, in result, lost much of their motivation to continue the learning process. Ultimately, many of the students approached this assignment by choosing a language that they simply had a small interest in. In essay 12, the student states, “I think that the only problem that I had issue with was because I lacked the motivation to learn it and wasn’t as devoted to learning it as I could or should have been… Although I like the language, I do not plan on ever visiting a country that speaks Portuguese.” Although many of the students expressed an interest in a new language and the culture accompanying this language, they did not have the right attitude and motivation to fully acquire this new language.

All language acquisition methods will have their pitfalls.  As previously stated, negative attitudes and lack of motivation seem to be the largest pitfalls to language acquisition.  Another pitfall experienced by the students was the difficulty of learning individually.  In five out of the six essays, the authors mention the difficulty of learning a language without a teacher or learning group. The author of essay 10 states, “It’s… hard when you’re not being taught the language but must teach yourself.”  This student goes on to explain how he or she had an instructor for their entire experience in public school and was not used to learning in an isolated environment.  “I grew up in public schools all of my life, and my teachers would teach me all the information, and if I didn’t understand it, I would ask them for help.” One of the students who felt the most successful about their experience was the student who wrote essay 9; one reason that this student felt so successful was because someone in the student’s learning group was more experienced with the German language and helped along the way. This student says, “While German was frustrating, it became easier as LL became my teacher.… We made the experience more positive and beneficial for me by making LL a kind of teacher for me.”  This student saw the benefit in having a tutor when learning a new language.  Many of the other students, however, did not find a tutor and experienced difficulty as a result. It is clear from the students’ essay responses that the difficulty of learning in an isolated environment is a definite pitfall during language acquisition.

Despite pitfalls, the students discovered useful practices to aid them in the learning process.  The writer of essay 13 says, “I had developed a systematic way of learning language because I had taken the methods that I had usd to learn Spanish and applied them to learning French.” This student knew what methods were beneficial in the language acquisition process and was able to use that knowledge to enhance the language-learning experience.  As this student discovered, a proper understanding of one’s unique learning style is necessary for success.  In addition to discovering one’s personal learning style, one of the most useful practices used by the students was group learning.  As mentioned previously, one of the biggest pitfalls experienced by the students was the difficulty of learning in an isolated environment. The author of essay 9 combated this difficulty by effectively meeting with a small group. The author says, “A big part of our success… came from the accountability of the meet-ups.” The authors who met with groups regularly and had accountability during the learning process felt more successful learning their chosen language, as opposed to those who didn’t meet regularly.  Another useful practice discovered by the students was incorporating the correct type of motivation into their study. The author of essay 13 describes the two types of motivations: integrative motivation and instrumental motivation.  The student says, “Integrative motivation is the motivation that results from the learner wanting to incorporate himself or herself into the language’s community or culture and comes simply out of the desire to learn more about the language and culture.” This is the type of motivation that will provide the greatest drive for a learner to be successful. In this particular instance, integrative motivation is, essentially, wanting to learn the language for the sake of gaining the knowledge and using it in the future.  The author then continues to describe the second type of motivation: “instrumental motivation, which results from wanting to learn a language in order to get some sort of practical benefit from it, such as getting a higher salary or fulfilling an academic requirement.” Neither of these motivations are necessarily bad. The author of essay 13 even states that he or she had both types of motivation. However, integrative motivation will drive one to learn for the sake of gaining practical knowledge and accomplishing something useful, while instrumental motivation largely lacks the drive to learn and stems from simply wanting a benefit. The students all agreed that, even if they had both types of motivation, the instrumental motivation was usually stronger than the integrative motivation, causing them to not be as successful as they could have been. Students generally experienced more success in their efforts if they incorporated the useful practice of seeking to have more integrative motivation.

While many of the students experienced failure, the also experienced various benefits from their experience.  The author of essay 10 states, “I was not successful in my attempt to learn the Russian language due to my lack of motivation, but I did learn some things about the Russian language in the process.” All of the papers had a similar ring to them with failure in the forefront and benefits finishing last, but nonetheless, each student admits that they gained beneficial knowledge in some area despite their failures. For example, in essay 10, the benefits may not have outweighed the failure, but there were, nonetheless, still benefits. The student still knows more now about Russian language than he or she did before, which is quite a benefit. The author of essay 9 describes some of the benefits of this experience by saying, “overall the experience was very eye-opening and I feel like I learned more about the process of how someone acquires a language as a second language.” This student took on the daunting task of learning German and felt as if he or she failed. However, this student grew through the task. This experience became more beneficial when the student made his or her partner LL more of a teacher than a peer, or when the student realized the amount of work that goes into learning a new language. A similar situation occurs in essay 12, where the student discusses how learning another language was a good experience, because it revealed that learning another language wasn’t impossible. This student found benefits in growing closer to women in her unit who were also trying to learn Portuguese. In particular, there was one essay where the benefits most outshined the negative aspects: essay 13. A positive vibe flows through this essay with success thick in every line: “I was able not only to dive into the Russian language but also learn a little about the language’s rich culture and its people as well.” The benefits of learning a language are not limited to simply learning the vocabulary words and rules of grammar: rather, learning a language opens one up to new experiences such as learning about another culture or expanding one’s view of the world. It is clear from the students’ essays that, no matter how their experiences turned out, there were indeed positive benefits that bloomed from the experience of learning a new language.

Language is necessary for life. These students took on the task of learning a new language to gain a new experience and expand their repertoire of communication. Each student that undertook this task experienced different attitudes, encountered pitfalls, applied useful practices, and uncovered benefits to get to their intended destination.  Some students felt empowered through their attempts while others felt defeated, but each student undoubtedly came out of the experience with something unexpected yet valuable: a new perspective on a new language.

Content Analysis Rough Draft

This is our rough draft for the Content Analysis group project.

 

Language Analysis Paper

by Adrienne Krater, Alex Paat, Morgan Phillips, and Michael Pickett

Learning a new language is not only an art, it can also be a very long and daunting task. Students from a Linguistics class at Cedarville University were granted a semester to learn a new language. We discovered that a resounding failure echoed throughout the essay responses written by these students. While some of the students say they found some benefit to this assignment, many of the students felt they were unsuccessful on the acquisition of a new language. There are many reasons for this defeat that were emphasized throughout the essays, but we were able to deduce a few common themes that reverberated in the papers. Having the right motivation and enough time set aside will assist in the acquisition of a second language with traits such as attitudes, pitfalls, benefits, and useful practices, but each experience will be unique and different.

There are many factors that come into play when there is either a desire or a need to learn a new language. It can be argued that one of the most important themes that comes into play during this language acquisition process is your attitude and motivation for learning this new language. Often times, the person learning this new language is interested in the country and the culture that is associated with it but not always driven to learn the new language fully. Learning a new language is no easy task and if you don’t have the proper motivation to learn it, it prompts for an even harder task. Many of the students had proposed that they did not successfully learn the new language as much as they had liked. Often times, they accounted this to the fact that the motivation to learn the new language was just not there. In essay 10, they promoted the idea that “…it is easier for someone to learn a language out of necessity than for leisure. Whether it be the person is submerged in a culture and needs to understand the language to go about daily life, or the person is planning on going into a culture of different language, both are equally more motivated than a person who is not planning on using the language they wish to learn.” This idea holds true throughout most of the essays that were written during this assignment. While they had a desire to learn it, they simply did not have the right attitude about learning it due to the tight time schedule and lack of necessity to learn it. Expanding on this idea, many of the students complained that they did not have enough time to learn the language with all of the other classes and busy schedule that were accompanied with this assignment. As a direct result of the lack of time granted for the assignment, the students felt much more pressured into learning the new language and as a result lost much of their motivation to continue this language learning process. Ultimately, many of the students approached this assignment by choosing a language that they simply had a small or even a fairly significant interest in. In essay 12 it was stated that “I think that the only problem that I had issue with was because I lacked the motivation to learn it and wasn’t as devoted to learning it as I could or should have been…Although I like the language, I do not plan on ever visiting a country that speaks Portuguese.” Although many of the students expressed an interest in the language and the culture that accompanied this language, they did not have the right motivation to fully acquire a new language.

 

In addition to lack of motivation, another pitfall to this method of language acquisition is the fact that learning individually without a teacher was difficult.  The student who wrote paper 10 explains how their experience in public school led to them being used to having an instructor instead of learning on their own.  “I grew up in public schools all of my life, and my teachers would teach me all the information, and if I didn’t understand it, I would ask them for help.”  One of the students who felt the most successful about their experience was the student who wrote paper 9; one of the reasons that she felt so successful was because someone in her group was more experienced with the German language and helped her along the way.  (CITE THIS PERSON’S PAPER)  It is clear that language acquisition in an isolated environment is a definite pitfall to learning.

“I had developed a systematic way of learning language because I had taken the methods that I had usd to learn Spanish and applied them to learning French.” The writer of Essay 13 knew what worked in his or her learning and what wasn’t beneficial to the learning process. Each of the essays followed the theme that everyone learns differently, one needs to have a proper understanding of how they learn. However, there were common themes that were useful for each author in learning a new language.

One of the bigger themes in each of the essays was that it is hard to learn a new language on your own. The author of Essay 10 says, “It’s also hard when you’re not being taught the language but must teach yourself.” Five out of the six essays we read, at one point in the essay, focused on the difficulty of learning a language without a teacher or a group. The author of essay 9 combats this difficulty by effectively meeting with a small group. The author says, “A big part of our success, however, came from the accountability of the meet-ups. The authors who met with groups regularly and had accountability during the learning process felt more successful learning their chosen language, opposed to those who didn’t meet regularly.

The theme that appeared in all of the essays was the theme of motivation. The author of essay 14 says, “Also, I do believe that my failure had to do with lack of effort and motivation partially as well.” The author of essay 13 describes the two kinds of motivations, “Integrative motivation is the motivation that results from the learner wanting to incorporate himself or herself into the language’s community or culture and comes simply out of the desire to learn more about the language and culture.” Integrative is the type of motivation that will drive the learner to be successful even without a teacher. Wanting to learn the language for the sake of gaining the knowledge and using it in the future will create a successful learning program. The author then continues to describe the second type of motivation, “, instrumental motivation, which results from wanting to learn a language in order to get some sort of practical benefit from it, such as getting a higher salary or fulfilling an academic requirement.” Neither of these motivations are necessarily bad. The author of essay 13 even told the reader that he had both type of motivation. However, integrative motivation will drive to learn for the sake of gaining knowledge and accomplishing something, while instrumental motivation lacks the drive to learn and stems from wanting to benefit you. The authors all agreed that, even if they had both types of motivation, the instrumental always overrode the integrative motivation, causing them to not be as successful as they could have been. Motivation is key. With the correct motivation you can accomplish almost anything you set your mind to, even learning a new language on your own.

“I was not successful in my attempt to learn the Russian language due to my lack of motivation, but I did learn some things about the Russian language in the process.” (Essay 10, Paragraph 1) All of the papers had a similar ring to them with failure in the forefront and benefits finishing last. Though there were some benefits in each paper, each person would say that from every failure they experienced they gained beneficial knowledge in some area. For example in Essay 10 the benefits may not have outweighed the failure, but there were still benefits. He still knows more now about Russian language than he did before, and I would dare say that is quite a benefit.

Essay 9 talks about how, “overall the experience was very eye-opening and I feel like I learned more about the process of how someone acquires a language as a second language.” This student took on the daunting task of learning the German language and like all of those before him, felt as if he failed. Also like all of those before him though, he felt as if he grew through the task. His experience became more beneficial when he made his partner LL more of a teacher than a peer or when he realized how much you really have to work to learn a new language.

We uncover a similar problem in Essay 12, but they made the benefits of their situation stand out. She discusses how learning another language was a good experience for her, because it showed her that learning another language wasn’t impossible. She found benefits in growing closer to girls in her unit who were also trying to learn Portuguese. Unlike all of these experiences above, there was one essay where the benefits definitely out shine the negative aspects.

A positive vibe flows through the entire paper with success thick in every line. “I was able not only to dive into the Russian language but also learn a little about the language’s rich culture and its people as well.” (Essay 13, Paragraph 15) The benefits of learning a language are not held only to learning the words and how to communicate. Learning a language opens you up to new experiences such as learning about a whole other culture of people and how they live, and it can expand your view of the world in general. No matter where or how your experience falls, there are benefits that bloom out of every situation, especially when one is learning a new language.

Language is something necessary to life. These students took on the task learning a new one to expand their repertoire of life. Each one of these students that undertook the task to learn a new language experience different attitudes, encounter pitfalls, uncover benefits, and apply useful practices to get where they are trying to go. Each one came out with a new perspective on cultures and languages. “Without language, one cannot talk to people and understand them; one cannot share their hopes and aspirations, grasp their history, appreciate their poetry, to savor their songs.” -Nelson Mandela