Monday, January 31, 2011

Second Language Prezi Presentation

Here is a copy of our Prezi that includes information on why it is important to learn a second language. For further information, the blog below also speaks to this topic and includes references for further investigation:

Why should I learn a second language??

Why Should I learn Japanese?

  • [Learning Japanese improves the potential for career opportunities in Canada, Japan, and other parts of the world in a variety of fields, such as marketing, tourism, teaching and information technology.
  • To learn Japanese as an additional language is to embark on a profound experience of cross-cultural exploration.  
  • The ability to speak Japanese gives students a competitive edge in today’s global marketplace and workplace. 
  • Learning Japanese also provides students with the opportunity to meet the entrance requirements of many post-secondary institutions in Alberta and across Canada, and it provides students with the foundation that will allow them to consider opportunities for further studies in Japan. 
  • Many students become lifelong learners of Japanese; and this, in turn, may provide the basis and motivation for learning other languages.  
(Alberta Education Japanese 3YR Program of Studies)

From the perspective of a socially conscious individual:
Some may question why it is important to preserve our world’s languages. They may hold the opinion that it would be easier if everyone just spoke the same language such as English. Perhaps they have not considered that when we lose a language we lose:

Cultural heritage
 - Language is one of the things that defines a culture, both through who speaks it and what it allows speakers to say. Words that describe a particular cultural practice or idea can never be translated exactly into another language. Many endangered languages have rich oral cultures, with stories, songs, and histories passed on to younger generations, but no written form of the language. Without speakers of these languages, an entire culture is lost.

Knowledge about the natural world - Most endangered languages are spoken by indigenous groups that have interacted closely with the natural world for thousands of years. These languages have developed words that hold huge amounts of information about the natural world, with information about species or natural phenomena that has not been recorded by scientists. Learning from these groups may be key to preserving species and ecosystems.

Knowledge about the human brain - Each human language teaches us about how the human brain can work. Without studying each language spoken in the world, we will never understand all the ways humans can communicate and store knowledge. Every time a language dies, we lose part of the picture of what our brains can do.

Why are languages going extinct so rapidly?
Languages are abandoned when speakers come to think of them as socially inferior, tied to the past, traditional/backward, or economically stagnant. The current rapid decline of approximately one every two weeks appears to be unprecedented in human history.

Although the languages being mentioned above are not usually the ones taught in Western schools, one must ask if this trend continues, what that will mean for the longevity of all languages not held in the highest prestige in today's globalizing world.

Personal reasons to learn a second/foreign language:
  • Opens the door to other cultures and helps a child understand and appreciate people from other countries (actfl).
  • Second language education significantly strengthens first language skills in areas of reading, English vocabulary, grammar and communication skills ( Alberta Education).
  • Students fluent in two language score higher in both verbal and non-verbal intelligence (Alberta Education).
  • Increases job opportunities in many careers where knowing another language is a real asset (actfl).

Justification of Visuals/ Symbols approach

As teachers we believe that it's important to take measures to ensure that you show awareness of the various forms of technology that can be used in order to deliver information to students or colleagues. In presenting our advocacy assignment we decided to use Prezi and the creation of a blog. Prezi is a program which we discovered online that we believed was an effective way to present our information in a diverse way. We found Prezi to be a dynamic way to present our reasons for learning a SL and thought it would be beneficial to others in the class by introducing this new form of visual storytelling that seemed more enjoyable than PowerPoint. Moreover, we also decided to create blogs that contains information about teaching a second language and our personal reasons for learning our languages (German, Japanese and Italian). Blogs are great way to communicate with colleagues, students and other individuals and share ideas regarding the topic of the blog. We strongly believe that teacher collaboration is an important component of being an educator and blogging is also a great way for learners to be active throughout the course.

The visuals and images that were used within our advocacy assignment place emphasis on the importance of learning a second language and the diversity present in our multi-cultural society. The visuals demonstrate students from different cultures coming together and showing appreciation and respect for the different cultures and languages that are present within educational institutions. We decided to choose the symbols as they reinforce the idea of unity amongst different cultures and how the learning of a second language creates many opportunities for learners.