Some may wonder where I have been for the past week, and what I have been doing …

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Dedicated to my Dakar friends

To anyone who has ever participated in one of my Dakar training courses, you will be familiar with the song “Dem Bones”, which is one of my favourites. Here is a film of a couple dancing on the TV show “Strictly come dancing” from last Saturday. I thought of you all as I watched it and decided to post it up here as a reminder of happy times spent together.

Back to reality …

From this … 2014-02-05 18.04.46

to this …

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with the boiler on the blink, so a chilly house to welcome me back to. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my life in my damp Normandy countryside, but what a pleasure to be sent to a warm, sunny place where people are leading such different lives and to meet lots of new and interesting challenges.

To the trainees on my course this week, welcome to my blog.

To the new people I met from Nouakchott, Mauritania, I hope to see your flag featuring often on the stats page here and I will think of you each time in your “sandpit”, as you call it.

Dakar is a place full of contradictions and lots of stuff I don’t understand even after six visits, but I have brought home with me so many memories and in particular, the memories of those ten-year old kids at the Dial Diop school, reading stories with me in English and their thousands of questions about England. Pure sunshine.

Now back to reality, and back to work. I have to try to remember where I left off just a week ago but it feels like three centuries ago.

Funology tomorrow

Tomorrow at 9.30 am sharp, I unleash the full power of my FUNOLOGY training course on my group of 22 unsuspecting trainees. I say “unsuspecting” but, as they are all volunteers for the experience, I guess they imagine they will be working on Pronunciation techniques in some shape or form, but I wonder what they are really expecting.

I absolutely ADORE teaching pronunciation skills to my pupils. I love when they make slight errors, turning candles into condoms, for example, and I love building on these slight slip-ups to move forwards. I consider myself privileged to have been granted an hour of “Accompagnement Personnalisé” with a class of 1èreSTI2D (not generally know for their love of languages), which I am able to spend working hard on their pronunciation skills.

I believe it to be truly the basis of language learning. We spend too little time on Listening skills, which are the key to then reproducing the sounds correctly. For a lot of phonology work, if you don’t actually understand what you are saying, it doesn’t matter as it is the sounds that count and not the meaning.

If we consider this film, found on YouTube by accident this summer, I think it is possible to see the importance of playing with sounds. This toddler is actually working on phonology but in a fun way – so, Funology. She is experimenting with the sounds, imitating her dad’s voice, trying out her own, all in the direction of becoming a speaker. For the moment, she is at the listening and imitating stage. I believe strongly that in language learning, we skip this stage and move on too quickly, burdening our learners with the written word too early.

More along these lines are part of my FUNOLOGY course and if you would like to know more, you might like to check out my FUNOLOGY blog HERE.