Dr. Brian Barnett, TLC’s Director of World Languages, presented a professional development workshop to Clarksville-Montgomery County School System world languages teachers in February. The workshop was part of their in-service day, and focused on facilitating target language comprehensibility. This is the third professional development workshop he has done for them.
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Only Together Conference 2019
Last month, Woodmont Hills Church hosted the Only Together Conference aimed at connecting Nashville’s refugee service groups to each other. It presented a great opportunity to learn more about the refugees who make Nashville their home and the services available to them, to network with other agencies and to share about TLC’s programs. Erin Keafer, Assistant Director of English Programs at TLC, highlighted our ESL to Go program, which takes the classroom to refugee communities and helps to eliminate the transportation barrier. Since many of the volunteers in attendance teach informal English to the refugees who they mentor, we wanted to remind them what it’s like to sit on the other side of the desk.
When we talk about teaching our new neighbors English, it’s good to be reminded of how humbling the process of learning a new language as an adult can be. We thought it might be better to show rather than to tell, which also gave us an opportunity to talk about our Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and World Language courses. I presented a German lesson using NO English! “What?!!”, you say, “How is that possible??” Well, it’s the difference between explaining the grammar in English or teaching the target language phrases in context. Your brain is MUCH more engaged when it has to work not only to remember the phrase but to understand its meaning based on context. This is what sets our communicative approach apart from traditional teaching methods.
Many of our ESL students don’t share the same primary language in the classroom, so we must teach them in English using different methods that explain the meaning of the words rather than just presenting the vocabulary in the language they are most comfortable speaking. If you have ever experienced teaching or learning a new language using the communicative method, it sounds much easier to do than it is—both as a student and a teacher. The TESL program at TLC helps set teachers up for success using these effective teaching methods.
So let this serve as an invitation. Come learn a language with us or learn how to teach a language — we’d love to help! Only together can we make a difference.
Learn more today by visiting www.tlc.tennessee.edu or calling us at 615-741-7579.
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I recently had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Connie Barrow, a nurse practitioner from White House who homeschools her two kids, Wesley (age 15) and Shannon (age 13). They have been attending our classes since January and just recently completed their third term. She sits patiently in our lobby twice a week for two hours while Wesley and Shannon take their evening world language classes and has become a dear friend of ours.
One of the reasons Connie sought us out was because of her son’s interest in learning Russian. Private video lessons with an instructor based in the Ukraine sparked an interest in attending an in-person class. With a quick search on the internet, Connie found TLC.
The combination of the private tutoring and attending our in-person classes year round is how her kids achieve the required amount of homeschool credit every year. Although year round classes are a big commitment, Connie appreciates the continuity of the language learning and says it quickly became about more than just achieving the school credit – both kids are very committed to and excited about learning their prospective languages.
Connie says that one of the perks of studying here is that her kids can be around adult learners who take their language studies seriously. Her kids don’t have to worry about other students in class goofing off or distracting them from learning.
She also really appreciates the breadth of world language options when compared to regular school systems who typically only offer a few language options. As a mother, she thought it was important that her kids have the option to choose their own language interests from a large variety of options. Having lots of choices helps them think outside the box and enjoy being different. She is very proud that her kids authentically picked their own languages to study and believes it shows them that learning to pursue personal goals and dreams is valuable. “Sometimes teenagers feel the need to conform, but they need to know that it’s okay not to conform. I definitely recommend TLC to homeschool parents. Even if it’s not for credit, it encourages independence even within their own family and gives them something that makes them unique.”
I was also very happy to hear that both kids absolutely love their teachers. Wesley’s Russian teacher, Tatiana Logsdon, is a native of Russia. Wesley enjoys the stories she shares from her homeland, the culture, and learning what it is really like to live there. Shannon enjoys French because it is different from what her big brother is studying, but also because her French teacher, Jennifer Pitts, is consistent and understands what it is like to be in her student’s shoes with learning a language from scratch. Also, Shannon’s aunt lives in Quebec and speaks French, so it has been exciting for her to have that connection to her extended family members in Canada.
Connie has picked up some world language skills from her kids, too! She can say some basic sentences in Russian and French, thanks to her well-studied kids. The Barrow family recently attended the 2019 International Pathfinder Camporee event in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin, where they got to meet and spend time with hundreds of different families from different countries and cultural backgrounds. The Barrow family believes that seeking out and celebrating diversity is important for their kids’ character development. “It is important to know there is a way to show kindness even if you can’t understand what the other person is saying. It is exciting to be in a multi-cultural setting. They are people from other places, but they are just like you and me. There is so much value in being bilingual.”
She also wanted to point out that it was a fairly easy process of registering her kids and getting all her questions answered. “I really like TLC’s gentle approach to helping us, whether on the phone or in person, it was important to me to ask questions. I absolutely recommend TLC to everyone.”
Our current class offerings are Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. If you are interested in getting more information or registering for classes, please visit our website at http://tlc.tennessee.edu or give us a call at 615-741-7579.