Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nurturer training: Negotiation of form; realism with pronunciation.

For those interested in nurturer training, today the topic came up of "negotiation of form" (as opposed to "negotiation of meaning"). We do a lot of the negotiation of form as the activities become more complex! The nurturer scaffolds our initial efforts as we attempt to talk, and then when one of us has succeeded in getting our point out, he turns to the other one and tells him/her what the first one said. This has been a big improvement over the old, teacher-style explicit correction that we started with. It feels a lot more like growing participation. We're attempting to participate in host practices every time we open our mouths in Potwari, and our nurturer is really meeting us in our growth zone, and nurturing us. "Real nurturing" seems to grow more real with experience on the part of the nurturer. There can be no substitute for experience as a nurturer. Nevertheless, we are getting more and more ideas of what to include in pre-service nurturer training so that the subsequent experience can do its job.

Speaking of negotiation of form, I've mentioned that we've now abandoned "Here-and-Now Descriptions of Us" activities in the Phase 1 guide, in favour of the alternative, also mentioned in the Phase 1 guide, of using photos of "us". Potwari has a pretty complex system of person, number and gender marking in the "here-and-now" (such as present progressive and present state forms). So today, the instructions printed in the guide were for using "Here-and-Now Descriptions of Us," but with the GPs doing the talking rather than the nurturer as earlier on. Instead of doing "Here-and-Now Descriptions of Us" (where different ones of us do activities together or separately in various combinations, and describe what we're all doing), we took our big stack of digital photos of us and our nurturer and one other guy doing various activities in various combinations (I, we, you, you plural, etc.) Lots of fun took place sharpening the details of forms, as we negotiated form with our nurturer and with our fellow GP.

(By the way, in terms of nurturer training, there is probably an ongoing need to encourage nurturers to be glad when GPs help one another!)

Another point I  made today in my nurturer training had to do with pronunciation. Foreigners will vary in how bad their pronunciation is. So we talked about particularly emphasising mispronunciations that made words unintelligible, or that gave them wrong meanings, mentioning that nurturers need to hold some GPs to a lower standard than others, so that all can improve from where they are, since there is a lot of evidence that most improvement in pronunciation happens in the first six months. So it's good to always give some attention to it, but also to be realistic.