The modern pedagogical approach requires a different type of teaching for the foreign language, based on the oral language, on communication.
Psycho-physiological research has shown that in mastering a language, one goes through four stages in unchanging order, following a progression linked to the physiology of the human brain: first understand, then speak, then read and finally write. Therefore, knowing a language means being able to speak it before reading and writing it. And speaking means dialoguing, that is to say, to understand his interlocutor and answer him. Understanding the message by the brain follows hearing and seeing it, and research has shown that it is best when sound and image are combined.
These results were integrated in the « WESTERN ARMENIAN HANDBOOK FOR NON-ARMENIAN SPEAKERS » of Dr. Hilda Kalfayan-Panossian (*) using the Audio-visual Structure-global Method which is the effective and fast means for the learning of a foreign language. On two CD.s are registered images of scenes from everyday life and corresponding dialogues on CD. The words used and the grammatical structures are carefully chosen according to their frequency and usefulness constituting the basic vocabulary (of 1000 grammatical words) and presented after an established grammatical progression.
The «Handbook» is a teaching set consisting of :
1- The Book of Tales, meant to teach the oral language,
2- The Book of Drills, with a specific lexicon,
3- The Book of Reading - Writing,
4.- Two CD.s.
5.- The labels for manipulations, corresponding to each other element (word, prefix, suffix, declination, conjugation)
There are several phases in the application: one of the most important is that of the structural exercises where one leaves the text and one asks the pupils to introduce modifications by the substitution technique, by changing the constituent elements of each sentence. This linguistic gymnastics gives the possibility to the pupil to speak as he pleases, according to the need of the moment, by establishing a communication. Learning of the written language follows oral learning.
The « WESTERN ARMENIAN HANDBOOK FOR NON-ARMENIAN SPEAKERS » is meant for: -Adults working alone (without a teacher), who will proceed in the manner explained in the Book of Tales for oral expression and in the Book of Reading-Writing for written expression. In case of collective teaching, 50 hours are required for one to speak and to read or to write using 1000 grammatical words. Until now more than 3000 non-Armenian speakers learned Armenian. This method was used in Paris, in Marseille, in Aleppo, in Canada, and the USA.
Considering this success, The MACHTOTZ ASSOCIATION FOR THE DEFENSE AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE ARMENIAN LANGUAGE has decided to publish on the net an open interactive version of the «Handbook»: anyone anywhere will have free access at any time in order to learn the Armenian language.
Special thanks to Colette PAPION for her friendly contribution to the English version.
(*) L’auteur : Dr. Hilda KALFAYAN-PANOSSIAN
Docteur en Psychopédagogie –Université de Paris Sorbonne.
Licence et Maîtrise en Arménologie –INALCO-Paris.
Diplomée de l’Institut des Professeurs de Français à l’Etranger- Sorbonne.
Ani Capan, Kirikian Armenian School
Dear Mrs Hilda & Mr. Jacques:
This is Ani Capan from Kirikian Armenian School at St. Thomas Armenian Church (in Tenafly, NJ 07670 in USA). As you remember I had bought 3 sets of books with the CD from you with the intention of starting to use your program. I am very happy to say that we did and made a lot of people happy.
We are very thankful to Mrs. Panossian creating this program for Armenians who didn’t know how to speak the language. We have tried this new method last year for three groups by ZOOM on the computer. The first group was for five young adults (15 years old-19 years old), the second group was for five adults and the third group was for two sisters 9 and 10 years old. We finished this first part of the course already and I can announce with confidence that our programs were very successful. We had 1 hour lessons for 32 weeks and they have completed the 4th chapter and have started the fifth chapter now. In September, these three groups will continue as three separate intermediate groups.
Below you will see that I am advertising for new “Beginners Class” in September. Right after the flier, underneath I have listed all the beautiful and encouraging comments I have received from our students about the course, the teacher and how they have benefitted from the course etc. It is worth to read them all since the credit goes to you too. There is no need to say that I am extremely happy that thanks to you we finally found a program which enables students to learn how to build sentences and be able to speak with a second person.
Next semester I will also add another new class in addition to the classes mentioned before which would be one for all of our teachers in the school.
Thank you again for all of your efforts to find new ways to pass our beautiful Armenian language to our second or third generation brothers and sisters here in USA and to the next generation.
I am sorry to write this note in English because I don’t have an Armenian font which others can see correctly on the screen and read. If you have difficulty with English then let me know. I will write this in Armenian and send you the page as a PDF attachment. Then the fonts won’t change of course on the screen.
Ani Capan Kirikian Armenian School
Hi Mrs. Hilda:
The classes on the flier are for adults and young adults who meet only one hour every week during the evening. So last year these two groups did only 32 weeks and they finished lesson 4 using the books 1 and 3. We used the book 2 depending on their letter recognition knowledge. Therefore each group used the book 2 with a different pace. We also use the audio.
The conversation class we have in the Armenian School did this program in their 3rd grade and 4th grade (when they were 8 and 9 year old). Each year we have 32 Saturdays to meet so they did this program for 64 weeks and are only on lesson 4 right now again using book 1 and 3 only and book 2 when it is time to learn certain letters. A school day is for three and a half hours for us but during the day we also have dance, music, church hymns and religion. The language part is only one and a half hour. We also use the audio.
I also had two students who did this program for about 45 weeks (One summer and a winter of 32 weeks and they also have finished the 4th lesson.
The problem is that they all have limited time. Students have regular school work and I don’t think they listen to the audio as much as we want. The adults go to work during the day and at night they are tired and have to put their kids to bed and then they attend a one and a half hour class. I don’t know if they have time or energy to listen to the audio during the day or the week. For this coming semester they even asked me to reduce the time to only one hour instead of one and a half. I had no other choice than to agree.
This is the situation but they enjoy the class and they learn as much as they devote time.
Our previous groups are in the intermediate class now. For this coming season/winter I have 8 more new students who have applied for a new “Beginner’s Class”. So I am satisfied thanks to your efforts and method. It opened a new window for all who would like to speak in Armenian which was not possible with all the existing Armenian books.
Director, Kirikian Armenian School of St. Thomas Armenian Church
The following are some of the comments received for the course offered last school year:
“Digin Helen makes learning fun and I looked forward to her class every week.”
“Although I had a wonderful experience learning to read and write at Kirikian Armenian School as a child, this conversation program helped me broaden my vocabulary and reinforce grammar lessons so that I am more comfortable in daily conversation. As a college student, I look forward to continue in this program to stay close to my Armenian heritage and language.”
"Dear Dgn Capan,
I just want to say that I was hesitant when I signed up and a couple of times thought it was too much for me with my schedule, but I committed myself and it was better than expected. Ms. Helen is wonderful. She explains everything, never any pressure if you say something incorrectly, the homework assignments are clear and very helpful. I don’t think the class would be as good if it was not for her teaching it."
"I thought the classes were great. Helen is a wonderful teacher who really tries to support us as much as possible both in and outside of class. Classes were fun and flexible and I do feel I have a better foundational understanding of the Armenian language."
Thank you so much for offering this class for adults and online on zoom. Many years ago, I had learned to read and write and I learned many vocabulary words in Armenian, but I always had trouble in conversation. Of course all of the students were at different levels, but the teacher did an amazing job getting us all to the same point, asking each other questions and answering them. We learned so much, but not just the curriculum, but about the language and grammar in general, and we had fun! Thank you again,"
"Dear Mrs. Capan,
I just wanted to thank you for giving Isabelle the opportunity to study the Armenian language this school year. She managed the class completely on her own and not once did I have to remind her to go online! I think she learned a lot and is looking forward to continuing. We are grateful for you offering this opportunity to our family. Wishing you all the best this summer. Hugs to the family!"
"Hi! I’ve always wanted to learn Armenian and going into the class I only knew a little bit. After these 32 weeks I have learned so much. Mrs. Helen was an excellent teacher and I looked forward to my classes with her. She encouraged and challenged us with speaking and reading and overall taught me so much. I can’t wait for the classes to begin again!! Thank you for setting up this class and allowing me to learn Armenian!!"