Reading and rereading
I am going to borrow from Howard Gardner’s The Disciplined Mind (1999) and share the following ” An individual understands a concept, skills, theory. or domain of knowledge to the extent that he or she can apply it appropriately in a new situation” …” This formulation entails an acid test for understanding: posing to students a topic or theme or demonstration that they have never before encountered and determining what sense they can make of these phenomena” (pg 119) The goal simplified- genuine understanding
Many many students pass a TOEFL or equivalent exam without being able to communicate directly, or comfortably leave a message on a voice mail, or understand the lecture or text they are expected to follow. If we believe we are sharing not just the grammar and structure of the language but a new way of thinking about the world that has been formed through the use of language,and is applied within the context of the culture, then it becomes necessary to encourage experiential learning, The idea of real communication changes the relationship between the teacher and the students and insists on a collaborative approach. It is in the balance of encouraging fluency while listening for accuracy, and providing opportunity for the learners to practice ” open ended discussion activities” that the teacher is not only needed, but also where the teacher will need to be most aware and most prepared.