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Glue Language

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Glue Language is as critically important as the textbook for teaching a second language. The elements in Glue Language (“glue drops”) are the supportive filler words, phrases, and sentences required to “glue” the main teaching topics together in target language during a textbook lesson.

  • Glue drop words and phrases glue their fellow words and phrases together to form a sentence.
  • Glue drop sentences glue their fellow sentences together to form a conversation.

These glue drops are essential in an immersion class, exposing students to vital words, phrases, and sentences far before they are addressed in a textbook.  Glue Language thus supplies the “missing link” in second language learning and teaching.  From the perspective of applications, there are two types of glue drops: general and specific.

Under the teacher’s guidance, students acquire the general glue drops on a daily basis and then acquire the scenario-specific glue drops before a related textbook lesson is taught. As the glue drops accumulate and are repeatedly practiced, the cumulative effect is that students are able to immerse themselves in the target language. In addition, students are able to assume the teacher’s role in classroom practice and role play to effect student-centered learning. This heuristic technique may further extend to textbook lessons.  Glue Language is thus a powerful and enabling tool for creating a successful student-centered immersion environment and developing a winning student-centered immersion curriculum.

How can students understand the content of Glue Language without knowing more rudimentary vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar?

As shown in the figure, empirical data indicate that younger students “acquire” a language, while older students “learn” a language. A toddler acquires language via conversation with parents or other adults, without having any knowledge of vocabulary, pronunciation, or grammar.  Using Glue Language places students in a hybrid mode where they acquire and learn the glue drops via interactive activities such as imitating, role play, question and answer, and other prompted responses, and non-interactive activities such as listening to the teacher, studying the book, and memorizing the glue drops.
This book is organized into two sections:

Section I:  General Glue Drops
Hundreds of frequently used general glue drop words, phrases and sentences are presented in this section, such as from the rudimentary “还行 (Fine)、加油 (Keep it up)、安静 (Quiet)、我们来念 (Let’s read)、打比方说 (For example)、这是动词 (This is a verb)、好了没有 (Are you ready) 、轮到你了 (It’s your turn)、你进步得很快 (You made quick progress)” to short sentences like “现在我们来分组练习。(Let’s practice in groups.)” and “还记得吗?我们学过这个。(Do you still remember? We studied this before.)”, etc.

Section II: Scenario-Specific Glue Drops
This section presents frequently used, scenario-specific glue drop words, phrases, and sentences to engage students and “prime” them before teaching a specific textbook lesson in the immersion class. Examples include 颜色 (colors), 身体 (body), 数目 (numbers), 日用品 (daily necessities), 自我介绍 (self-introduction), 天气 (weather), 情绪 (emotion), 生病 (not feeling well), hobbies  (爱好), 每天的作息 (daily schedule), 上馆子 (to eat out), 假日 (holidays), 旅行 (travel), etc. 
Empirically, we have observed that:

  • By repeatedly practicing and applying memorized Glue Language sentences, students were able to naturally incorporate the grammar rules of the target language.
  • After the introducing and practicing the Glue Language part of the lesson, it was much easier for students to comprehend and apply the textbook lesson.
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