Hunting with Where are your Keys?

I had an interesting (new) wayk experience over the weekend, and thought I would share it with you this week. Most of the time that I’m using WAYK it’s to try and communicate pieces of language to someone else. That is, I’m in the role of a teacher, and I’m trying to give bite-sized-pieces to a learner to assimilate and acquire language.

But that is only one side of the equation with wayk – you can equally use the techniques of wayk to obtain language when you’re a learner. Because ‘all’ wayk is is a set of techniques to facilitate and accelerate language acquisition. So over the weekend I sat down with a friend of mine, who is a non-native but fluent German speaker (former German teacher, lived in Germany, has a German wife). He was my ‘fluent-fool’ for the session.

I explained very briefly what I was going to do, and then set up a table. To be fair, I already had some vocabulary and grammar and initial sentences, and knowing “Was ist das?” probably really helped too, but other than that my German is really at a low level.

It was very interesting once we shifted into German. He quickly understood generally what I was trying to do, and specifically what I was trying to elicit. I did have a prop problem in that I didn’t set up red-pen/black-pen clearly, and so I could draw out adjectives from him. At the same time, the difference in types of pens that I had on the table launched him into a fully German explanation of different words for ‘pen’ in German!

One of the things I appreciated was that he mainly stayed in our target language, and would often go on in Deutsch for quite a while. I think in different contexts the learner would need to control this, but for me it was entertaining, and mostly comprehensible. When I wanted to bring it back to earth, I would just go back to constructing simple sentences to check ‘is this right?’

A couple of times he veered into English language grammar explanation. Again, for me this was fine, partly because I don’t mind learning grammar, partly because of the informality of our session. I think in a more focused series I would want to encourage him back into the German more frequently.

One of my reflections is that when you stay in the TL, and you’re trying to elicit certain structures, it really becomes apparent more quickly when things aren’t going to plan. I.e. you had a bad set-up, you can’t get the piece of language you want, and you can’t express what it is you’re trying to elicit. So much is about set-up, get it right and you’ll get the language you’re hunting.

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