Fethiye WAYK blog launch

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Joel Thomas

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Feb 4, 2014, 4:12:32 PM2/4/14
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OK this is great because now I don't have to clog all your inboxes with my random thoughts...

A warm welcome awaits at fethiyewayk.blogspot.com.tr

Keep it fascinating,

Joel

Benjamin Barrett

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Feb 4, 2014, 5:43:44 PM2/4/14
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Thanks for the post, Joel! And please post again particularly when you have a WAYK blog entry :)

It may be of interest that TID (Turkish Sign Language or tsm) is an SOV language, like Turkish. See http://bit.ly/Ms1TD1, bottom of the page.

Although using ASL is of use since other WAYKers use it, using TID signs might be worth considering when teaching Turks with WAYK, as they would then have a leg up if they want to speak TID as well.

Cheers
Ben Barrett
La Conner, WA

Learn Ainu! https://sites.google.com/site/aynuitak1/videos

Joel Thomas

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Feb 4, 2014, 6:05:37 PM2/4/14
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Aha, yes, once again actual research trumps my impressions from the TİD course I took in Istanbul! That link you sent me was amazing, I had no idea that anybody had gone to so much trouble to document poor old TİD. 

My pet theory was that analytic languages naturally gravitate toward SVO instead of SOV structures, since the verb forms a natural delineator of subject and object, and therefore that any SOV structure present in a sign language is probably due to the influence of a superimposed spoken language. I think the fundamental observation is still true that TİD syntax and grammar are vastly different to spoken Turkish because the meaning that is otherwise present in all those suffixes must be conveyed differently. 

I like the idea of giving someone a leg-up to learning an actual sign language, but I think it's more important that the signs we use reflect the thought and not the spelling in the target language. Hence my preference for the Indian sign for "need" over the Turkish letter "l" for lazım.

Joel Thomas

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Feb 6, 2014, 10:17:34 AM2/6/14
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New blog post FYI, with the latest on our nascent Turkish Curriculum. Not that there's much to look at yet...

Benjamin Barrett

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Feb 6, 2014, 4:11:00 PM2/6/14
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Excellent! I look forward to see how this all comes out!!

Joel Thomas

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Feb 8, 2014, 8:09:59 PM2/8/14
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New blog post. Nothing special, just worries really.

Benjamin Barrett

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Feb 8, 2014, 8:37:30 PM2/8/14
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Great! 

I wonder sometimes what the goal of conventional teaching methods is. Of all the people who have taken one to three years of a language in a secondary or tertiary school, how many can actually say, "I would like three small potatoes and some grapes" to a greengrocer? That's not a very difficult sentence, but probably at least a billion people on the planet cannot say it in the foreign language they worked so hard at.

If you can get people to have a conversation, they are actively learning. (When I talk in my native tongue, English, I don't often learn much new English, but sometimes I do.) And once they are actively learning, the words will flow in.

Ben Barrett
La Conner, WA

Joel Thomas

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Feb 8, 2014, 8:53:42 PM2/8/14
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Aha yes, well. Practically conventional language instruction has one of two purposes: Passing exams and actual communication. In either event when you actually come to need to use it you end up feeling a lot like Basil Fawlty with his fire extinguisher.

WAYK caters to a third purpose: The higher ideal of revitalising a language, which I imagine is difficult in practice without a real-world, practical need for it. My expat students here in Fethiye are sick and tired of not being able to learn the language, so there's your real-world practical need. Maybe you're right and they really will just pick up the vocabulary after using WAYK. But I'd still like to be giving it to them in some way that meshes with WAYK.


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Benjamin Barrett

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Feb 8, 2014, 9:02:21 PM2/8/14
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Passing examinations indeed is the primary way language classes are put to use.

I don't know the whole story, but I think Evan developed WAYK teaching Spanish, and AFAIK, WAYK is no more suited to endangered languages than any other language.

The fact is that WAYK is only one tool for revitalization. Creating a community of speakers is far more complex than simply getting people to learn a language. With non-endangered languages, WAYK is a great tool for helping people connect to existing language communities.

Joel Thomas

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Feb 10, 2014, 7:12:36 PM2/10/14
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OK so here's the latest as I iron out most of the wrinkles on our ride format on the wiki. Our Ride 1 is also going to be the Turkish USC.

Joel Thomas

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Feb 12, 2014, 7:02:03 AM2/12/14
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I've put down my current thoughts on how WAYK will work as a formal language course. I'd love to have people's feedback either there or here: Teaching vs. hunting: A draft manifesto.

Meanwhile I've put together a couple of useful lists in the form of blog posts, collating essential reading and viewing for prospective WAYK practitioners: Top 20 WAYK Techniques and The journey to fluency.

Joel Thomas

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Feb 13, 2014, 1:13:24 AM2/13/14
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In the comments under the post A glimpse of fluency we're having an interesting conversation about vocabulary expansion. Anna's suggestion about using playing cards is particularly interesting...

Joel Thomas

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Feb 15, 2014, 10:40:10 AM2/15/14
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Much more to look at in the Fethiye WAYK Turkish Curriculum. The behind-the-scenes infrastructure is complete and ready for expansion, but what's even more exciting is the snazzy flowchart that goes with it. Wow. A graphic. Must be good.

You can read more over on the blog, and if anyone's interested in the technical side of things I'd be more than happy to help out.

Joel Thomas

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Feb 16, 2014, 5:33:29 PM2/16/14
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The first entry in our Turkish Session Diary, which I will be keeping up as we go. Plus, our first proper video.

Arne Sostack

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Feb 17, 2014, 4:00:33 AM2/17/14
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As always, it's great to see videos of someone playing. I don't want to discourage you, but I'm a bit worried that you actually started by killing all the fairies - "I'm going to say What's that?, then you'll say That's a bottle, and I'll ask Is it my bottle?" and so on. I know new players will fuzz and worry, but if you give in to that, you're signalling to them that they're right in thinking they can't figure it out on their own. Remember (and remind them) that it's not a learning game, it's a copy-cat game. Repeat things again and again until they stick, and make it obvious what you're talking about.

Arne

Joel Thomas

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Feb 17, 2014, 4:37:39 AM2/17/14
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You're quite right, and I'm not happy about it either. My problem is that it's a conversation game and I can't just launch into a conversation without telling them what they need to tell me in reply. In a previous session I had my wife helping me, so we were able to demonstrate the conversation between ourselves, but in this session I didn't have that and I floundered. 

Later on in this session I did it by "talking to myself", sitting off to the right and looking left for player 1 and sitting off to the left and looking right for player 2 and so on. I think I'm going to do that a lot more as we go forward.


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Joel Thomas

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Feb 17, 2014, 4:41:04 AM2/17/14
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Just to clarify a point: "What's this? This is a bottle" is fine, but "Is this your bottle? Yes it's my bottle. Is it my bottle? No it's not your bottle it's my bottle" is extremely confusing without the "imaginary friends" technique I just explained.

Benjamin Barrett

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Feb 17, 2014, 4:49:23 AM2/17/14
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Coming up with techniques to make this sort of thing obvious is the key.

For example, give the other player a bottle and hold one to your chest. You can now point to your bottle and say, "This is my bottle" and point to theirs and say, "That is your bottle."

In Japanese, the second person pronoun is rarely used, so I say, "This is my bottle" and "That is X's bottle" pointing to the bottle the other person is holding. They learn how to say their names in Japanese as a bonus!

HTH
Ben Barrett
La Conner, WA

Arne Sostack

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Feb 17, 2014, 4:52:45 AM2/17/14
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I think a good approach would be to start with TQ:sing-along, where everyone says the same as you. Then, when people are confident doing that (TQ: In threes), you can move on to TQ: My turn, your turn and TQ: Make me say yes/no and so on, with a good dose of TQ: Pull me through it.

I think for a solo video, it'd be ok to do the sit-left-face-right, sit-right-face-left to simulate a conversation, but you want people to be a part of the game as much as possible, not spectators. If your knees are at the table, you're playing! If you're not one of the parties in the conversation, you copy-cat (at least) one of the parties, and sing along with them, pulling them through. Keep everyone active and in the game, is what I'm trying to say :)

Joel Thomas

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Feb 17, 2014, 5:03:06 AM2/17/14
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Thanks guys, this was just what I needed.

Don't forget this video is a snippet of the second part of a 2-hour session. Before this video the lady to the left of me (right of the camera) had said that repeating "This is my bottle" all together when the bottle was in front of me and not her was confusing, because the bottle wasn't hers. 

I think when demonstrating "Mine/Yours" you simply have to use TQ Imaginary Friend (one of the few things I failed to read up on ... gaaah!). I did do this later on in the session, but I was still floundering when I took this video.

Either way, my next goal as an instructor is to not use English at all during a session. A combination of group repetition, as you say Arne, and Imaginary Friend to demonstrate the conversation (with everybody Copycatting throughout) should do the trick methinks.

Joel Thomas

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Feb 17, 2014, 12:11:14 PM2/17/14
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Joel Thomas

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Feb 19, 2014, 5:41:44 PM2/19/14
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Another session video. More fairies lived this time... 

Arne Sostack

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Feb 21, 2014, 2:53:22 PM2/21/14
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I actually wrote up a response, but it looks like it got eaten, maybe by a spam filter, since I was putting several links in there? I was just linking to techniques that I think you could still put to better use - TQ: No curve balls - TQ: Same rotation. Also, try to keep in fun - things went a lot smoother after you got your laughs on at around 12 minutes into the game. (TQ: School Night, Game Night)

I kinda got a feeling I was watching the video backwards, because the later ride was actually simpler, and a better bite-sized piece to put on top of what you had in the first session - I hope you had done a TQ: No pressure refresher on the known material before you started recording; always start from the beginning (and move through it quickly) when introducing new stuff. It builds confidence to go over something you know you know, and it will be possible to slide in the next bite almost without anyone noticing because they're in flow already.

Your players seem slightly overwhelmed at times, so maybe you want to give them more time with what they know. You don't get the accelleration by hammering on and losing people. Apply TQ: No thinking, no suffering in large doses. :)

It's really great that you have a language group going, and you'll be a great WAYKer in no time :)

Joel Thomas

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Feb 22, 2014, 2:36:28 AM2/22/14
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Hi Arne, thanks for taking the time to watch the video and give me pointers and encouragement.

You're right I did forget to do a refresher, and I do feel the need to move on out a concern that may feel like they're not learning anything new. They already "know" a lot of the vocabulary anyway, you see.

You're also right about initial conversion being a bit long, I was concerned about making it "obvious" that lazım means "need" and not "want", but in hindsight I didn't need have "Do you need it" in the initial phase.

I'm not sure I see how I threw them curveballs, though, as this was something I was very careful to avoid. Ditto for "same rotation". Could you be a bit more specific so I can see what I need to improve?

Arne Sostack

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Feb 22, 2014, 4:19:11 PM2/22/14
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I just searched around for it, but I must've misremembered, because I had coupled a point (16:39) where you switched from bottle to telephone when you got to the lady in the middle, and another point (18:40) where she said that she was completely flummoxed. It turned out that the last point was because you had just done TQ: My turn, your turn, but that did seem like it surprised her very much. Maybe if you make it more clear to them that they're supposed to pull both parties through it when they're not in the conversation (so they say your part as well as that of the other player), they'll be better prepared for when it's their turn to "lead".

They may know the vocabulary, but they're obviously not fluent with it still, and it may be stored in the "wrong" place in the brain (internal English to Turkish dictionary), which can make it even harder to get it stored in the right place (concept-to-word coupling). For some reason, the brain is reluctant to move things once they're in there :) Repetition combined with fun is the only cure. :)

The refresher needs not take long, but I think you'll find that they're more willing to take in new things if they've JUST done something they know very well. So basically, start each new thing with What's that? and maybe Whose is that? if ownership is relevant to the ride. It's the TQ: 12 days of WAYK :)

HTH
Arne

Joel Thomas

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Feb 24, 2014, 10:17:34 AM2/24/14
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I didn't want to reply before I'd checked the video again... I see what you mean there. Maybe I am moving along a bit too fast. I think next time I might just go round the block a few more times.

Anna Van Sant

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Feb 26, 2014, 12:42:45 AM2/26/14
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Take my feedback with a grain of salt but I can say a few things about what it feels like being a participant during a weekend session.

When you think about it, these conversations are really simple but when you're in the thick of it puttting the structures together and mapping them to the gestures it's quite hard. During the weekend session, even though we were the "intermediate" table (really more like false beginner), we started simple from the very beginning then built up. Our leader said he likes doing that because often the people who have already been studying have a lot of knowledge about the language but really haven't learned how to use it (a realization which may bruise some egos). As we built up it would get really hard and people would start calling full. Midway through we'd have a lunch break. When we got back we'd ease in with a review (not necessarily from the very top). Same thing when breaking for the day and coming back in the morning. These reviews were great because it would seem so much easy after our brains had a chance to digest everything.

The group seems somewhat hesitant with copycatting/chorusing and it doesn't seem they ever do it while you're going around the circle individually. We'd all be answering in chorus no matter who was being asked just for the sake of repetition. This also helped pull the players who were on the spot through it. No one has to suffer and everyone gets a lot of practice in (the only "rule" you want to present here is that during question/answer sessions they should pick one side to copy each time so as to not get confused). The traditional teacher method is to let them figure it out (and many learners feel like they want to be left to figure it out) but you can almost hear the gears in their brains grinding with all the effort.

Joel Thomas

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Feb 26, 2014, 1:51:34 AM2/26/14
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Great pointers, thanks very much!

What you say about "knowing" a lot of language without knowing how to use it is so true. You have to find an ego-cushioning way of putting it, but the point has to be put across somehow, I agree.

TQ No Pressure Refresher, yes, my next big improvement to make after TQ Letting the Fairies Live. I hope things will get easier from here on in.

About the copycatting/chorusing... I was told by the lady to the left of me in one of the initial sessions that she found it confusing that we were saying "This is my [object]" all together when the object in question was in front of me and not her. But I shouldn't have let that phase me. You've just got to remember when you're copying and when you're doing.

Telling them to pick one person to copycat is a good idea (is there such a thing as TQ Copy One Person?). That and I must get them to chorus more, copycatting is not just about signing, I forget that...

Anna Van Sant

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Feb 26, 2014, 2:17:15 AM2/26/14
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It shouldn't be too bad on the ego, though, since most people who have studied languages in school can relate to studying for years without being able to say much of anything.

Yeah, making sure they don't copy everything is the key to keeping it from becoming confusing (that way when you ask, "Is this my pen?" they can all respond together, "Yes, this is your pen." or they can practice copying the questioner for a round). These videos show them copying everything. http://vimeo.com/album/1766297  It's sometimes confusing with the game leader saying everything but it becomes much clearer once it goes around the table (and you as game leader will be able to pull the players through it much easier once you hand off the questions/answers to the other players).  

Another thing that may not be obvious to someone who hasn't attended a live session is that the first seat after the game leader is the hardest. This person is "under the gun" so they're under pressure to use the new bite-sized piece right after it's introduced. You want a) a strong player in this seat b) to be prepared to pull this player through it and/or c) watch for this player's fullness level - encourage them to sit out or to change position at the table.

Joel Thomas

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Feb 26, 2014, 2:23:19 AM2/26/14
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"Another thing that may not be obvious to someone who hasn't attended a live session is that the first seat after the game leader is the hardest. This person is "under the gun" so they're under pressure to use the new bite-sized piece right after it's introduced. You want a) a strong player in this seat b) to be prepared to pull this player through it and/or c) watch for this player's fullness level - encourage them to sit out or to change position at the table."

Derp :) This is why I kept disrupting the rotation by starting with the lady opposite me, because I know she's stronger. Pro tip.

Joel Thomas

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Mar 1, 2014, 11:58:43 AM3/1/14
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Aside from our Turkish sessions, we've also started to use WAYK to teach English at an intermediate level.

Joel Thomas

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Mar 8, 2014, 11:42:42 AM3/8/14
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A post-mortem centring around the whole issue of suffixes and sign language.

Benjamin Barrett

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Mar 8, 2014, 3:30:35 PM3/8/14
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Thank you for the post. Here's a related issue I'm working on.

I'm using WAYK right now to learn Italian. One of the most confusing (if not the most) structures is past tense verb + it. Here are the basic structures with the direct object spelled out ("h" is never pronounced in Italian):

1. Te ho dato la penna (I gave you the pen)
2. Te ho dato le penne (I gave you the pens)
3. Te ho dato il sasso (I gave you the rock)
4. Te ho dato i sassi (I gave you the rocks)

Not too bad. But when the pronoun is used for it/them, the singular article "la/il" is contracted (again, the "h" is silent) and the past participle "dat-" changes for number and gender:

Feminine
1. Te l'ho data (I gave it to you)
2. Te le ho date (I gave them to you)

Masculine
3. Te l'ho dato (I gave it to you)
4. Te li ho dati (I gave them to you)

It's really difficult to do these because the singular contracts with "ho" (I have) but the plural has the full le/li pronoun, and because you also have to deal with the changing forms of dat-.

So I found that pointing to the pen(s) with my fist every time the pronoun occurs helps my mind keep track of the pronoun even though I'm not worrying about the specific form of the pronoun.

HTH
Ben Barrett
La Conner, WA



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Joel Thomas

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Mar 15, 2014, 6:27:03 PM3/15/14
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On Saturday, 1 March 2014 18:58:43 UTC+2, Joel Thomas wrote:

Joel Thomas

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May 5, 2014, 5:54:28 AM5/5/14
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After a six-week lull, we're back in the swing of things.

Joel Thomas

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Jun 3, 2014, 3:51:36 PM6/3/14
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The Turkish Session Diary resumes, and we settle on an overall session pattern...

Benjamin Barrett

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Jun 3, 2014, 8:55:59 PM6/3/14
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Great post!

At some point, I think somebody's pointed out that doing TQ:How Fascinating releases endorphins. 

It's possible to go through the motions without getting the drug, so somehow you have to convince them to let go. Since the obstacle you face is retirees who may not find letting go appropriate adult behavior, maybe a different approach is needed.

Sometimes I introduce it up front, and sometimes I do it on the fly. If we're in copycat mode and I do HF, the other person does it, too, and I've seen people totally get it that way. I often explain that it removes the stigma of making an mistake--which is normal in your native tongue and so of course normal when learning a foreign tongue.

Perhaps in your case, using a Turkish word instead of English would help them let go. Or a word like "gobstoppers" or "Kalamazoo" (a place in the US), or an invented word like--shoot, I don't know :)

Ben Barrett
La Conner, WA


Joel Thomas

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Jun 4, 2014, 12:17:23 AM6/4/14
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Thanks for the thumbs up!

You know what, part of my problem up until now has been not mastering TQ Limit sufficiently. If it's such that you have to call How Fascinating literally once every ten seconds then you're clearly doing it wrong. I forgot to write about this actually: How Fascinating is very useful in this way as a red flag for the teacher.

How Fascinating in copycat mode! Yes of course... I could plan for this, ie. deliberately make a mistake, say, the third time I demonstrate a chunk (I'm liable to make enough mistakes now and again as it is). That way I'm being silly and everybody gets a kick out of laughing at me, but they get it and get that they should be doing it too. Otherwise I know that if I try to explain it, they're already so weirded out by the whole copycat and signing thing that they'll roll their eyes and go "Ugh, goodness..." 

At least for English people changing the word won't make a difference. You just have to make it "How Fascinatiiiiing!" and not "How Faaaaascinating" otherwise they'll complain it's American. Yeah, I know, typical... :)

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Joel Thomas

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Jul 21, 2014, 5:12:00 PM7/21/14
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11 weeks on and we're still going strong (plus there's a video!)

Joel Thomas

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Jul 28, 2014, 4:10:54 PM7/28/14
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Impro/freestyle is essential to language acquisition. Here's why and how

Joel Thomas

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Aug 3, 2014, 2:04:45 AM8/3/14
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Playing and discussing WAYK with Arne Sostack

I'd like to ask you all something: 

What are the best ways of teaching learners to pull/hunt? Do you know of any useful resources that could give me some ideas?

Arne Sostack

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Aug 3, 2014, 7:11:02 AM8/3/14
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Thanks for the chat - I had a blast borg playing and talking to you about the game.

One thing to think about when you want to do tea with grandma is to either have them decide as a group what to hunt for, or dictate their hunting objective to begin with.

Actually, if you explain TQ make me say yes, that's the smallest example of a dictated hunt I can think of.

I think that if you explain the techniques as you go along, they'll start using them actively as enthusiasm grows :)

Looking forward to hearing about your progress.

Arne

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Joel Thomas

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Aug 4, 2014, 3:40:45 AM8/4/14
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Aha! Tea with Grandma in Latin and ASL, vintage 2010.


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Joel Thomas

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Aug 7, 2014, 2:58:05 AM8/7/14
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Here's my latest idea: Pretend to be an English language learner and hunt some English from one of them, and then tell them to do the same thing with me just in Turkish. Has anyone ever tried this approach before?
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Arne Sostack

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Aug 7, 2014, 5:45:33 AM8/7/14
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I've done that in the past when trying to explain the concept, but never as a way to teach someone to hunt.

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Sky Hopinka

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Aug 8, 2014, 6:39:31 PM8/8/14
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Working with David Edwards on an English USC for teaching to Chinese learners and a subsequent stint as an English teacher gave me some pretty huge how fascinating moments.  Mostly in seeing how complicated English is or can be.  For teaching it really helped me reign in how intricate I made my rides and to see how small a bite sized piece can be.  That it turn helps focusing on more specific language to hunt.  However, I would say be wary of getting too overwhelmed with how "complicated" english or your native language can be.  

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Joel Thomas

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Aug 10, 2014, 8:13:34 AM8/10/14
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I'd be interested to see that USC.

I think the main issue for me was not the complexity of the language but of the concept of hunting itself. Ultimately you just have to find a way to jump in at the deep end...

Joel Thomas

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Aug 11, 2014, 9:46:26 AM8/11/14
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It's been a busy week. Last Friday we embarked on a hunt (with video!) and today we dug a little bit deeper.

Joel Thomas

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Aug 15, 2014, 4:56:11 PM8/15/14
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On the art of hunting language. This is a work in progress, so I'll be very grateful for feedback!

Anna Van Sant

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Aug 18, 2014, 11:47:48 PM8/18/14
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Very good to see you  attempting to teach the beginners the skill of hunting (which seems so advanced). I'm thinking of a common problem study/conversation groups for rarer languages run into: not discouraging beginners but not repelling advanced/native speakers by dumbing things down too much or foisting the role of teacher on them. If you can teach the beginners how to hunt, they can sit back and observe conversation between more advanced members and identify pieces they can learn.

Joel Thomas

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Aug 19, 2014, 1:49:07 AM8/19/14
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Thanks for the encouragement!

When the common purpose is revitalising a language community I imagine it's easier to foist the role of teacher onto the more advanced students, although of course within reason and not all the time. I suppose you could try and argue that one of the best ways to practise something is to pass it on, but I'm not in that position yet! I'm teaching a group who are roughly the same level and there are only four of them. 

Although, as you say, the skill of hunting is somewhat complex, I'm convinced it's where the real magic of WAYK lies. Ultimately I suspect that most people who seem to be gifted at languages (something people tell me sometimes) probably just have the knack of proactive language learning, which in turn is both an attitude and a skill that can be acquired regardless of how far along one is in a language. So from now on I'm going to introduce hunting as early as possible.


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Joel Thomas

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Aug 20, 2014, 4:54:53 AM8/20/14
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Joel Thomas

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Aug 25, 2014, 10:57:44 AM8/25/14
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Testing the boundaries of TQ Limit

Joel Thomas

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Sep 1, 2014, 8:07:29 AM9/1/14
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This week I was inspired by Latin teacher Eric Mentges and Uno Pictionary to come up with a game to get the creative juices flowing for language hunting.

Joel Thomas

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Sep 9, 2014, 1:38:03 PM9/9/14
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Joel Thomas

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Sep 22, 2014, 11:50:40 AM9/22/14