[Foundation-l] Fate of "Simple English"
Robert Scott Horning
robert_horning at netzero.net
Sun Feb 26 16:09:41 UTC 2006
Ray Saintonge wrote:
>Alison Wheeler wrote:
>>I've often thought that the 'simple English' was the right product aimed
>>at the wrong market.
>>Instead of targetting it at people how have English as a second language
>>(who, quite rightly, want to learn English "properly"; long words and all)
>>why not consider it as targetted at that other group who *need* simple
>>Simple English is, I would have thought, perfect for pre-schoolers and
>>under-12s generally as it sets out to explain concepts in simpler language
>>and as that means a reduced vocabulary then let us target it at those who
>>already daily use that reduced vocabulary.
>Pre-schoolers are not the right target for this. They build their
>essential vocabulary through conversation, and not through staring at a
>computer screen. Subject matter also needs to conform to children's
>views of what is important in their world.
>ESL people or others with reading problems are much better targeted.
>The subject areas can be more advanced, but they must be put in simpler
>language. Before they get into reading the long words, they need to
>master the short ones.
Eight to twelve year olds are hardly pre-schoolers. Yes, they are
beginning readers, and to be honest, when I was learning a second
language by actually living in the country where it was spoken natively,
one of the best sources of learning basic grammar and understanding the
language (once I made the initial breakthrough to decode the vocabulary
mentally in the first place) was to sit down with a group of elementary
school students and go through their language primers. Content that is
oriented toward an eight year old is also understandable (generally) to
a foriegner who is just picking up the langauge. Generally a lot more
thought goes into those kind of primers as well compared to say a
Berlitz grammar guide, and they are paced toward an audience with a very
short attention span (children). The only problem with trying to learn
a language this way is 1) obtaining the materials in the first place
(getting to know a large family with lots of kids does help to do this)
and 2) some adults are not prepared to try and learn out of the same
lesson books that children are using because of personal pride or honor
of some sort.
ESL and Early Childhood Education are usually seperated on most
university campii by seperate colleges, ESL in a Humanities or Foriegn
Language college and Early Childhood Education usually in a completely
seperate college of Education. My contention here is that they do
essentially the same thing from two different viewpoints, but because of
pure political reasons that have nothing to do with the students
themselves but instead quests for academic power, these discliplines are
rarely coordinated or merged. There is no reason to continue such a
struggle within Wikimedia projects.
Robert Scott Horning
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