Posted by: atarimonos | October 28, 2008

Language

I’ve read far too much of Vico’s New Science, and I’ve probably misunderstood most of what I’ve read. Teaching English has allowed me to learn more English, probably more than my students. I think that is a bad thing? Teaching a topic provide the teacher, I think, with a greater opportunity to learn the subject matter. In particular, I’ve begun to pay attention to the method by/which English is taught. I think back to learning Latin/Greek in college and how different that experience was to my current language experience in teaching English and learning Chinese. To learn Chinese takes a whole new skill set greatly different than learning deceased, yet closely related, tongues. Chinese challenges verbal, writing, and tonal skills. Pushes the boundaries of simple statements to convey complex meaning. The lack of an alphabet makes learning Chinese difficult for a non-native. Then again, the presence of an alphabet makes learning English very difficult for a Chinese student, primarily because of phonetics. All Taiwanese learn the KK system of phonetics. I hate it with a passion. Rather than learning new vocabulary by sounding words out, students are urged to re-write the word using KK. This give cause for students to rely and pay more attention to the KK then the English in front of them! Grrrr! In part my frustration comes from my opinion on how to properly teach language. Then I remind myself that not all persons would enjoy, or want, to learn languages in a similar style to Latin or Greek.

Back to Vico. This is what i’ve taken from Vico … I could very well be misinterpreting him, in which case these are mine own words (you can ridicule me later): to study language is to delve into the murky waters of implied, conveyed, and possessed meaning. When I understand that, I’ll tell you. Take care.

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