terça-feira, 28 de setembro de 2010

Systemic na Folha de São Paulo

1. Folha de S.Paulo - Escolas tradicionais se tornam bilíngues - 26/09/2010

... educação bilíngue a 168 alunos do infantil e do fundamental. No total, a escola tem 1.456 alunos. SYSTEMIC. Fundado em 1959, o colégio Friburgo/Casinha Pequenina (Granja Julieta) adotou neste ano o Systemic Bilingual. Criado pelas irmãs alagoanas Vanessa e Fátima Tenório, o ...


quarta-feira, 22 de setembro de 2010


In order to start in a very clear way, let’s highlight the difference(s) between learning and acquiring a second language according to Krashen. Learning is a formal process, a conscious study in which students accumulate information and transform it into knowledge due to intellectual effort. On the other hand, acquiring has to do with natural exposure, developing aptitudes through natural, unconscious and intuitive assimilation. This way, acquiring is much more related to children than learning, once proficiency is not linked to the knowledge we have internalized, it is so to the abilities we develop in practice in consequence of the concrete experiences he have.

In fact, Second Language Acquisition (SLA) is the kind of object that is related to many others and because of this I do not have complete domain about it. To be sincere, even the oldest researches and researchers are not a hundred per cent sure about this process once it is related to human beings and it is in constant modifications.

Even though, the references to be read have been developed in a way that the evolution of the researches are clearly showed. There was a time in which people believed that the difficulties facing second language acquisition were imposed by the first language. It was assumed that where there were differences between L1 and L2, the learner’s L1 knowledge would interfere in the L2, and in the cases of similarities both languages would help learning the other.

Nowadays it is clear that the differences and similarities can not be seen in a so reduced way. Learners can transfer from a language to another in order to increase vocabulary, grammar constructions and spontaneous speaking even when these connections lead them to errors.

That is why we may not consider the errors of L2 are not predominantly result of L1 interference, due to the contribution of the mother tongue. By the borrowings learners do from a language to the other they improve their performances and might consider some rules and structures they build consciously or unconsciously.

A second language acquisition is not a uniform or predictable phenomenon. There is no single way in which learners acquire knowledge of a second language once it is a product of many factors.

These factors are all about the learner and also their learning, a universe full of complexity and diversity. Considering that a second language is learnt after the mother tongue, researches show that decodifying a language follows the same process for L1 and L2. In fact, SLA refers to all the aspects of language that the learner needs to master and for this, there is a natural route which is understood to be universal because they have a fixed order to learn grammar, for example. However, the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis (CAH) assumed that learner with different mother tongues would learn a second language in a different way.

This universal way of learning challenges CAH because researches show that children learn their mother tongue in a very predictable route, and as the negative transfer is not the major factor in SLA, it is not so unreasonable to consider that learning / acquiring a second language follows a natural sequence of development – which is known as the L2 = L1 hypothesis.

And analyzing adults and children is very easy to see that the ways they use to get the same end are not the same, obviously. But discussing the five factors that influence learning would be a theme for a very long research, they are: age, aptitude, style, motivation (and the socioalffective filter) and personality. For instance, it is enough to think about not only them – as relevant aspects to the level of success in language learning – but also about all the environment that can be given to learners in order to optimize their acquisition. These points would be a great framework to keep investigating SLA.

Lígia de Souza Leite - Systemic Bilingual teacher and coordinator at Lapis de Cor in English in Natal - RN

ELLIS, R. Understanding second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1995.

sexta-feira, 10 de setembro de 2010

What does a synapse have to do with education?

The Synapse

Neurons have specialized projections called dendrites and axons. Dendrites bring information to the cell body and axons take information away from the cell body.

Information from one neuron flows to another neuron across a synapse. The synapse contains a small gap separating neurons. The synapse consists of:

1.  a presynaptic ending that contains neurotransmitters, mitochondria and other cell organelles

2.  a postsynaptic ending that contains receptor sites for neurotransmitters

3.  a synaptic cleft or space between the presynaptic and postsynaptic endings.

Electrical Trigger for Neurotransmission

For communication between neurons to occur, an electrical impulse must travel down an axon to the synaptic terminal.


Neurotransmitter Mobilization and Release

At the synaptic terminal (the presynaptic ending), an electrical impulse will trigger the migration of vesicles (the red dots in the figure to the left) containing neurotransmitters toward the presynaptic membrane. The vesicle membrane will fuse with the presynaptic membrane releasing the neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft. Until recently, it was thought that a neuron produced and released only one type of neurotransmitter. This was called "Dale's Law." However, there is now evidence that neurons can contain and release more than one kind of neurotransmitter.

What does this have to do with Language Acquisition?

At birth, human brains and chimpanzee brains are about the same size. The chimp's brain expands about 28% by adulthood, while a human brain expands 300%.

This means that most of our brain develops after birth and is influenced by the environment. Almost all the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain are formed before birth, but until age one there are rapid increases in the overall size of the brain, and of the grey matter, where the synapses needed for higher mental function are found.

A two year old child has 50% more synapses than an adult, and brain metabolic activity peaks at age four. The eccentric manner in which brain development occurs is totally unlike the way that computer programs are developed. The multitude of extra pathways in the child's brain may either be used and therefore reinforced, or may atrophy and disappear due to disuse. That's why synapses wither and metabolic rate slows inexorably as we approach adulthood.


These changes probably correlate with the child's amazing ability to absorb languages, and with the difficulty we have with new languages as we get older. Children's brains also have more plasticity and redundancy than adults’ brains, so they can master both language itself and a perfect accent, and even if brain damage occurs, can relearn far more than an adult would.

What are we doing to exercise our children's brain? A topic for the next post!


sexta-feira, 3 de setembro de 2010

What is CBTEFL?


Using content – school subjects - to teach a foreign language or using a foreign language to teach content? At first glance, the order of the factors may seem not to influence the meaning of the phrase. Actually it might indicate the main aim of a content-based program. Depending on the institution that adopts the program, the main aim is one and the other is an additional gain. In a primary school where science, for example, is only taught in English by the content teacher, it seems reasonable to say that the main aim of the program is the content. The language is an additional gain.

In the case of Systemic, content is used to teach English as a Foreign Language. Thus, because the main aim of the program is having students learn the language; the content is the additional gain since it reinforces what children learn in their L1 classes at school. Moreover, it is the use of content that makes the learning of English more effective, purposeful, and meaningful. Despite the number of acronyms to describe a content-based approach, CBI, CLIL, EMI, to name a few, we feel the need to propose a new one which we believe would describe the particular way we integrate content and language:

CBTEFL – Content-Based Teaching of English as a Foreign Language.

quinta-feira, 2 de setembro de 2010

Inglês através de disciplinas escolares

O Systemic é um método de ensino para crianças de 03 a 12 anos em que os alunos “adquirem” a língua inglesa através de conteúdos escolares dentro da Matemática, Ciências, Estudos Sociais, Artes, História, Geografia, Educação Física e também extracurriculares como culinária, dentre outras. O SYSTEMIC foi desenvolvido ao longo de vários anos, após observações em salas de aula “autênticas” nos Estados Unidos e Inglaterra e levando em consideração os interesses de crianças brasileiras que estudam uma língua estrangeira. Alunos dessa faixa etária têm grande interesse nesses assuntos especialmente quando abordados da maneira inteligente, criativa e lúdica com que o SYSTEMIC os aborda. O fato das crianças dominarem a maior parte dessas disciplinas na língua mãe facilita a compreensão da língua inglesa, levando-as à sua aquisição. A comunicação entre aluno e professor dá-se da forma mais autêntica possível, sendo utilizada uma linguagem que faz sentido para as crianças. A língua inglesa só é vista como objeto de análise no momento em que as crianças estão aptas a isso e quando há necessidade (basicamente entre 11 e 12 anos). Outros pontos como construção e fortalecimento da confiança, desenvolvimento social e cultural também são contemplados pela metodologia.

O SYSTEMIC tem como base a abordagem denominada Content Based Instruction (CBI), amplamente utilizada para ensinar inglês a estrangeiros que frequentam escolas regulares nos Estados Unidos da América. Na Europa, esse tipo de abordagem é conhecida como Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), que está em franca expansão tanto na própria Europa quanto na Ásia. No Brasil, utiliza-se o CBTEFL (Content Based Teaching of English as a Foreign Language), uma modalidade de ensino por meio de conteúdo que complementa ou reforça o ensino regular das disciplinas.

Pesquisar este blog