Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Postponing activities in Phase 1 until a day later, and a hint at why

In the First 100 Hours plan, there is a basic strategy of introducing new material in one session (the "first encounter"), and then for sure reusing it soon in another (a "strengthening" activity), often moving from understanding only to understanding and talking. Going through the First 100 Hours again after twelve years, I've been noticing that sometimes the "strengthening activity" is not in a later session from the "first encounter" activity, but instead, later in the same session. That is O.K., as long as the strengthening activity doesn't involve a switch from understanding only to understanding and talking. An example today was Activity 7 of Session 22 (in place of "Activity" I now like to say "Game"). Earlier in Session 22, actions like climbing, flying, driving, riding, etc. were learned through TPR in Activity (Game) 4, and strengthened through more TPR in Games 5 and 6, using the set up pictured in the previous post. However, then comes Game 7, which would have the GPs using the new materials in talking, describing situations which involve these new actions.

Whenever I see that we haven't separated into separate sessions (indeed separate days) a "first encounter" games that involve only understanding from a "strengthening" game that also involves talking, I skip the latter game for the time being, and come back to it in a day or two. This also gives us a chance to listen to the recordings in between the "first encounter" game and the "strengthening" game that includes talking.

There was an interesting article in Psychological Science in 2007, "Sleep associated changes in the mental representation of spoken words." I hesitate to mention it as it is the sort of stuff that feeds into pop-psychology sensationalism (like "right brain and left brain" and primitive tribes who can't conceive of the not-too-recent past or tell lies). In fact this article is a serious study, and worth thinking about. The authors had a way to distinguish (it can be reasonably argued) between a new word that people merely remembered (episodically) and a word that was actually playing a role in the "mental lexicon" during listening, that is being used by the "brain's dictionary" as part of the normal listening comprehension process. The study wasn't about second language words, but still seems tantalizing from our perspective.

It didn't matter how many hours people knew a new word. That word didn't become part of their mental lexicon (hence their linguistic listening comprehension system) until a period of sleep had occurred. It looks as if something happens during sleep that moves a word from being something you remember to something that is functioning in your language system. 

It isn't easy to extrapolate from this to the fact that I like to have a night's sleep between Session 22 Game 6 and Session 22 Game 7-- to sleep on it, you might. But I hang out this bit of maybe-not-trivia for your consideration all the same.