colors, numbers, and animals

dzo at dzo at
Thu Aug 7 18:12:44 UTC 2014

What Charles describes sounds like the Peace Corps method of instruction. PC has years of experience with language training, in which future volunteers get intensive instruction (along with technical, health, and cross-culture) over 10-11 weeks. It has proven quite successful at getting the large majority of trainees to at least a basic level (those who don't attain that level get supplementary training). 

Not to suggest that it would be practical to duplicate this approach in most other settings, but might there be lessons to be learned from PC's experience?

Don Osborn

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-----Original Message-----
From: "Riley, Charles" <charles.riley at>
Sender: ilat-request at
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2014 15:31:28 
To: ilat at<ilat at>
Reply-To: ilat at
Subject: RE: [ilat] colors, numbers, and animals

The way I remember learning Wolof, it was through something called the audio-aural approach.  It was built around structured dialogues, introducing vocabulary a little at a time, but working largely on substituting pronouns, verbs, and objects into sets of dialogue that would become increasingly familiar.  Building up the pronoun grid and several key verbs were important in conveying a sense of quick progress into the language.  Numbers, colors, and animals could be introduced and added in to the dialogues for interest, but they weren't the primary focus.

Charles Riley

From: ilat-request at [mailto:ilat-request at] On Behalf Of Monica Macaulay
Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2014 11:07 AM
To: ilat at
Subject: Re: [ilat] colors, numbers, and animals

I work with the Menominee, and they are very aware of the problem of just teaching these topics (exactly what you listed!).  They want their teachers to move beyond this but the teachers are (mostly) language learners themselves, so it's been difficult.  If anyone has any ideas about methodology, that would be great.  (They've done some stuff with TPR, but that's limited.)

- Monica

On Aug 7, 2014, at 10:01 AM, Wayne Leman <wleman1949b at<mailto:wleman1949b at>> wrote:

A number of methods are used for teaching indigenous languages. One that seems commonly used for teaching Native American languages in the U.S. is a focus on memorization of colors, numbers, and names of animals.

Does anyone know where this approach to language teaching originated? Might it reflect how the teachers themselves were taught English in boarding or reservation schools? Might it reflect perceived requirements on the part of school, state, or federal administrators?

Do any of you know of any programs where there has been a shift from memorization of word lists toward creating conversational fluency in the indigenous language?


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