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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Query Details

Query Subject:   Berlin & Kay & ESL for children
Author:   Steven Schaufele
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Query:   Dear Colleagues, In my Intro to General Linguistics course the other day, we were discussing the Berlin & Kay hierarchy of colour terms, and one of my students mentioned an interesting experience. She has a part-time job teaching English to young (pre-school) children here in Taipei, and she's noticed -- repeatedly, she says -- that it's easier for them to learn the words `black', `white', and `red' than words like `purple', `gray', or `brown'. Noticing that the first three words refer to concepts high on the Berlin & Kay hierarchy -- and therefore, hypothetically, of nearly universal significance -- while the second group occur quite low on the hierarchy, she wondered if there migh be some connection between her experience and the facts upon which Berlin & Kay's hierarchy was originally based. (Be it noted here that Chinese recognizes 10 of Berlin & Kay's 11 `basic' colours; the one that English has that Chinese doesn't have is pink.) Has anybody else had a similar experience in foreign-language teaching -- found that words referring to the first few items on the Berlin-Kay hierarchy are easier for (especially young) learners to master than those farther down the list? And has any research been done on possible correlations between 2LA (or 1LA, for that matter) and the Berlin-Kay hierarchy? If there's sufficient interest, i'll post a summary of responses. Best, Steven Steven Schaufele (Ph.D.) Assoc. Prof. (Linguistics) English Dept., Soochow University Waishuanghsi Campus Shihlin Distric Taipei 11102, Taiwan
LL Issue: 15.752
Date posted: 02-Mar-2004


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