43. Teaching the concept of a conjugation.

Language is a means of communications involving, basically, a speaker, a listener, and a topic of the communication. There could be speakers, or a spokesperson speaking on behalf of (h)imself/erself and others, listeners, and the topic of the communication could be a person or persons. Conjugations are one of several means of expressing who is/are the speaker(s), listener(s), and the person(s) who is/are the topic(s) of the communication.

Thus, the first step in teaching any conjugation, is to dramatize a communications situation in which the speaker(s), the listener(s) and the person(s) topic of the communication participate.

Dramatization –real communication-- is essential in teaching actions (verbs), and how the action words change –verb conjugations-- to express who the speaker/ listener/ person-topic or other topic(s) are. After students clearly see and hear how each participant in the conversation or communication talks, the written conjugated forms of the verbs can be posted to be remembered.

There is no question that, in all languages, the teaching of the conjugated forms of the action words (verbs) is a tedious process that requires (1) LOTS OF FREQUENT PRACTICE; and (2) REAL communication situations.

Recently I had to teach the past form of French verbs IN A DEMONSTRATION LESSON. In preparing the lesson, I thought of many REAL questions I could ask students about the past and still use repeatedly the same set of verbs that were part of the lesson. For example, I asked them which classes were they taking the previous semester. Which classes they attended first, second, third, fourth, ….last period every day. Which classes they attended at a certain time, before that time and after that time. This information was posted so that other students could answer questions about themselves and about their friends. After students practiced answering my questions, the conjugated forms of the verb were written on the board so students could see the words which, in French, in this particular case, are pronounced the same but written differently.

As the teacher in this French class, I would have brought up every day, or three times a week, or as often as I could, other questions involving similar conjugated forms. Practice is needed: consistent and frequent ORAL practice through REAL communication. Written practice through REAL communication, if possible, is also needed, and is needed frequently and consistently. Also as the teacher in this French class, I would provide frequently or regularly activities in which students could ask questions of each other on a regular basis. Or they could recall REAL past situations, especially if there are REAL pictures depicting the situation, and explain to the class what happened. Using the conjugated forms every day is the only way students will remember them!!!!




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