An Interdisciplinary Approach to Develop Linguistic Abilities in Bilingual Education

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Develop Linguistic Abilities in Bilingual Education

Adela González Fernández (University of Córdoba, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2503-6.ch003

Abstract

The traditional methods of language teaching have always had their roots in the grammar-translation method, used in our educational system for more than 500 years. However, the constant search for updating and the desire to improve the language skills of students has led to a succession of different methods and proposals in a few years with the intention of improving the existing ones. The literature on this subject confirms that there is no perfect approach, but it also shows that the communicative one and the interdisciplinarity in the teaching-learning process of second languages brings good results. The author proposes a holistic interdisciplinary activity for the bilingual early childhood classroom, based on the communicative method. Thus, this chapter presents the elaboration of a musical tale, accompanied by a subsequent audiovisual recording, which will help students to learn a second language in real natural contexts.
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Introduction

The search for a new method capable of solving the problem learning a foreign language has been constant over the years. Along with the method, the type of contents, the activities, and the way in which these are used in the language classroom have also varied over the years, always with the constant search for better results and more prepared students.

However, it has been long demonstrated that the perfect solution has not yet been found, although every time new attempts appear to conceive the perfect method. These contributions are undoubtedly due to the great commitment shown by governments, institutions and great part of society to improve the quality of education. The universalization of education and the compulsory teaching of second languages have undoubtedly given an impulse to this development.

Traditional language courses in Early Childhood Education and Primary Education have been usually based on passive classes in which children are supposed to grasp truthful knowledge in a unidirectional way. Within this widespread methodology, the focus has basically been placed on teaching grammar and vocabulary. Furthermore, most of the time, these aspects have been taught out of context, with no real application and very little related to the real students’ world. But this situation is not new.

As Richards and Rodgers pointed out (2003), when modern languages became part of the European schools’ curriculum, the way they were taught was the same used when teaching Latin in the Middle Ages, analyzing grammar and adopting a fixed translation. That is what is commonly known as the Grammar-Translation Method:

Textbooks consisted of statements of abstract grammar rules, lists of vocabulary, and sentences for translation. Speaking the foreign language was not the goal, and oral practice was limited to students reading aloud the sentences they had translated. These sentences were constructed to illustrate the grammatical system of the language and consequently bore no relation to the language of real communication. Students labored over translating sentences. […] By the nineteenth century, this approach based on the study of Latin had become the standard way of studying foreign languages in schools. A typical textbook in the mid-nineteenth century thus consisted of chapters or lessons organized around grammar points. Each grammar point was listed, rules on its use were explained, and it was illustrated by simple sentences (Richards & Rodgers, 2003, p. 5).

In Spain, nowadays, bilingual education is becoming one of the highest priorities of the national and regional governments, as well as it is of education agents and institutions involved in the design and development of educative laws and programs. However, despite all the efforts made by all those involved in this project, there are still several aspects that need to be addressed, such as teachers training, and new methodological approaches specifically designed for this new reality.

The aim of this chapter is to suggest not only the inclusion of musical tales as a tool for the development of linguistic abilities in bilingual education and the advantages they infer when using it to teach children (González, 2018), but also to propose a subsequent activity based on the recording of the musical tale, as an interdisciplinary approach that can contribute, positively, to the language teaching-learning process.

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Background

As we have already explained, the teaching and learning process of a foreign language at early stages of education has been traditionally reduced to the memorization of grammatical concepts and vocabulary lists that were subsequently put into practice by students in unreal situations and out of context.

According to Pardede (2011, p. 15), in the nineteenth century, “translating literary texts from the second/ foreign language to the students’ native language was one of the main learning activities”. Since then, many pendular movements have occurred introducing and despising the use of literature in education. For example, in the sixties, seventies and early eighties of the twentieth century literature was not very much used. The focus was set on the accuracy of grammatical form. Literary works have only begun to be considered again by teachers in the language classroom. Pardede affirms that there are three main reasons for the new interest: “authenticity, culture and personal growth”.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Total Physical Response Theory: A method of teaching languages that combines speech with action and proposes teaching the language through physical activity.

Grammar-Translation Method: A teaching-learning method that bases the teaching of a second language on the detailed analysis of grammatical rules and their exceptions, and then applies the knowledge acquired to the translation of sentences and texts from the target language into one's own and vice versa.

Musical Story: Imagined tale accompanied by music used as a pedagogical tool in early childhood education.

Active Listening: Strategy or technique by which an individual makes an effort to fully concentrate, listen, and understand music.

Interdisciplinary: Related to a science or to a methodology, the quality of crossing traditional boundaries between various disciplines, approaches, methods, techniques, etc.

Motor Song: Specific activity in which a song is used to foster the development of the perceptive and motor skills in children.

Communicative Approach: An approach that focus on language teaching giving which maximum importance to interaction as a means and final objective in the learning of a language.

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