Monday, March 5, 2012

Won't Miss #424 - being treated like a dictionary

My husband and I have played a certain video game for well over a decade. Part of this game is facing stacks of creatures with ambiguous descriptions of their size like "lots", "several", and "pack". There's a guide online that tells you the number each one of those represents and my husband learned what they meant long ago. As for me, I just ask him every time and never learned for myself. I mention this because if you have someone who will easily answer your questions rather than do the work of looking things up yourself, you have a much lower chance of retaining information. Because of this, I get very annoyed every time I teach a student and they treat me like a translation dictionary. They ask, "how do you say (Japanese word) in English?" They do this with an electronic dictionary in front of them or with a cell phone with a built-in dictionary tucked into a pocket. It irks me when they do this because I'm not there as an answer bot, but more so because I know that they'll never remember the translation if they don't find the information for themselves. Sometimes I end up translating the same word for the same person over and over again if I give in and just tell them.

I won't miss being treated like a handy dictionary for people who are supposed to be trying to learn a language and all too often seem to believe that spoon-feeding answers is an effective way to learn a foreign language.