Foreign language learning at school is mainly a story of failures. Since Latin was displaced by other languages, we've been through different learning theories and approaches. Each of them claim to be the best solution.
Have we finally found the right and most effective way to learn foreign languages? Are we really looking for the very best way that should fit everyone? Shall we all use the same approach?
I don't think so.
Each human being is unique. Even science says that there is no brain identical to another one. We are unique.
Those of you interested in astrology know that it's impossible to have two identical natal charts. Even twins don't share the same sky and stars alignment at birth.
Unfortunately, schools tend to look for the one and only best solution or theory to follow, so that all pupils will learn foreign languages using the chosen approach.
It may be a good intention, but to me it's very clear that this type of industrial schools trying to make everyone fit in the same cloth size... is a total nonsense!
Instead of celebrating neurological diversity, we push our kids to fit in, regardless of their uniqueness. Of course, they have the strength and flexibility to adapt. But how much does it cost them? No wonder there are so many kids labelled “dyslexic” or “ADHD”, as if they were sick.
“Everyone is a genius. But if you evaluate a fish on its capacity to climb a tree, he will live his entire life thinking he's stupid” (A. Einstein)
So what's the solution?
To me, there are as many solutions as individuals on earth.
To me, trying to look for the only way that should fit everyone is a form of bullying.
Maria Montessori was a doctor and she did an amazing job at observing children. She could figure out that the traditional way of learning and teaching wasn't enough, and often it wasn't even relevant!
Rudolf Steiner, the father of Waldorf schools, observed children through a different lens so that he could offer another way to learn and teach.
Today, there are many options available to offer the education that suits our children. However, it is still very difficult to have the one that would suit your children at your doorstep. In that case, I believe homeschooling offers much more freedom of choice. But it's important to know what kind of education you're looking for.
You know your kids better than anyone. So you should be the one choosing the type of education and learning strategies needed.
There is one person I really want to introduce to you, if you've never heard about him. I think he totally got it and figured out how to choose the learning approach that will be the most relevant to your child.
His name is Howard Gardner, from Harvard University. He is the father of the Multiple Intelligence Theory, that he released in 1983. Gardner could differentiate nine parts of the brain creating different connections between themselves.
Individual learning profiles are based on these unique neurological connections.
Please, have a look, because it's a game-changer!
To make the story short, traditional schools (and the measurement of IQ) is only based on two intelligences (logico/mathematic + linguistic) through the choice of learning materials and teaching strategies. If children are naturally wired this way, they'll get an A in all subjects (except in sport). Others need to catch up and try to wire their brains differently as if they were someone else and already unconsciously thinking that they are not good enough (well... this is my opinion!).
Waldorf schools put a lot of emphasis on the naturalistic brain while Montessori schools put more emphasis on the interpersonal brain.
I strongly believe that Howard Gardner's work deserve a lot more exposure so that parents and schools can make an informed decision about the way we prepare our children for the future. His findings are the scientific proof of what Albert Einstein already felt and knew.
Don't you think that the choices made by traditional schools are the base of inequalities in our society?
Regardless of the background of each family, we were told that schools were the most effective way to climb the social ladder. But when schools try to make fish climb trees, how could it be beneficial?
Loss of confidence and loss of self-esteem seem to be the gift from schools to children not fitting in the standardised axis logical/verbal memories.
It is detrimental.
Regarding foreign language learning,
confidence is key. So now imagine: if schools already steal
children's confidence by using methodologies that suit only two
categories of brain structure, can we still wonder why learning a
foreign language at school is a story of failure?
Learning a foreign language is like
learning to drive a car. Before starting the engine, you need to
adjust your seat and the rear-view mirror according to your
individual profile. Then you can turn on the car but you still need
to be confident in yourself to be able to drive safely. Fear prevents
to drive, while confidence allows safe driving.
In other words, you have to know what is your child's unique learning style in order to choose the perfect methodology so that he can drive the target language fearlessly.
But that's not all.
In order to maximise potentials, we, as parents, need to think about the definition of success.
When I moved to Portugal in 2015
whereas I didn't speak a single word of Portuguese, I felt very
successful when I could finally be understood regardless of the
grammatical mistakes. My Portuguese was functional so I could live
there with much more ease.
On the other hand, my 4 years old daughter went to school there and she refused to pronounce a single word in Portuguese for one full year and suddenly, she spoke perfect Portuguese like a native! That's her definition of success, which is quite perfectionist indeed!
So what about your child's definition
And what about yours?