New Rungsak Dokbua exhibition coming to Art Space Ji-Qoo
Abstract Sea-Colored Attack
work by Rungsak Dokbua
Rungsak Dokbua, a Chiang Mai artist who is
active both domestically and overseas, works with varieties of paintings.
His emotional and spiritual abstract paintings of the sea will be exhibited
from September 2 - 28 at Art Space Ji-Qoo, 4/2 Soi5 Nimmanhemin Rd, Suthep,
The exhibition will be also featuring 2 guest artists, Pisarn Thiparat and
Leslie Nguyen Temple.
The opening, a welcome to the exhibition and meeting with the artist event,
will be held on Saturday September 2 starting at 6 p.m.
For more information, contact: 053 894 250 or email [email protected]
Language Matters: The Fifth Skill
Speaking, listening, reading and writing: you need these four skills to
learn a new language, right? That is one of the cardinal ideas in TEFL
(Teaching English as a Foreign Language) courses like the one I teach at
Chiang Mai University’s Language Institute. I was therefore puzzled at
his reaction when I mentioned the four skills to Dr. Mike Morgan. A
Japan-based US linguist of extraordinary talent and drive, he immediately
corrected me. “You mean the five skills, don’t you?”
McKenzie-Brown <[email protected]> is head TEFL instructor at
Chiang Mai University’s Language Institute. This column is part of a
Mike is fluent in 11 languages, and conversant in another 40. He has a
Ph.D. in theoretical linguistics, and reads grammar texts and dictionaries
the way most people read novels. In other words, I was hardly in a position
to ignore his challenge to received wisdom. So I asked him to present his
ideas on the fifth skill to CMU’s TEFL students - a well educated and
highly motivated group of foreigners now resident in Thailand.
He began by translating a passage from a “second-tier Bulgarian poet,”
Atanas Dalchev. Wrote Mr. Atanas, “When someone does not know a language
well/Rather than say what they think/They think what they can say.” Being
able to think what you can say, Mike argued, is a critical part of language
learning. We must do more than speak, listen, read and write in a language.
If we can’t think in it, we aren’t effectively learning it.
“Thinking in” is not the same as “thinking about” language,
although each plays a role in language learning. Thinking about language
can take the form of studying strategies and techniques of language
learning. By contrast, thinking in the language involves processing
information. Continual translation from one language to the other adds an
unnecessary and cumbersome level of mental processing.
A visitor at the guest lecture was CMU linguist Dr. Peter Freeouf. I asked
him to sum up the key ideas of the presentation in his own words. Said he,
“It’s important to know what you don’t know, but it’s more
important to use what you do. Instead of processing the language through
translation, use it directly. Think in it.” Visitors to Thailand begin
this process of second-language thinking soon after arrival. Barely a week
after getting off the plane, most can respond appropriately to
“sa-wad-dii kha” in the blink of an eye. That is the beginning of
second language thinking.
In his talk, Mike noted several techniques language teachers can use to
help their students develop fluency in second language thinking. One is
karaoke. Get your students to sing along in the second language, even if
they do not understand what they are singing. Verbal repetition of this
kind helps develop second language automaticity. Another technique with a
similar effect is “shadowing.” Have your students repeat what you say,
but one step behind you. You read, they repeat. The effect is similar to
that of karaoke.
Mike suggested long dictation as a third technique for developing thinking
skills. Dictate something at your students’ language comprehension level,
but of such length that they do not have time to first translate it into
their primary language. Consider how much this exercise can accomplish: The
students have to listen, remember, write and understand. This is using the
old noodle, in the American idiom - to everyone else, thinking.
Mike Morgan emphasizes the importance of enforcing short time limits in
these activities. This helps get rid of translation as a crutch. He adds,
“When you have a new batch of students, unteach them their habit of
translating from first tongue to second. Unnecessary translation is a
hindrance to effective language learning.”