I love Paulo Coelho’s novel The Alchemist.  Here is one reason why:  In the middle of the story, the Alchemist is musing to himself about his apprentice, hoping that the lad will be able to absorb all he needs to be taught:

“I don’t know why these things have to be transmitted by word of mouth, he thought.  It wasn’t as if they were secrets… He had only one explanation for this fact: things have to be transmitted this way because they were made from pure life, and this kind of life cannot be captured in pictures or words. Because people become fascinated with pictures and words and wind up forgetting the Language of the World.”

I am not claiming that language acquisition is mystical, but there is something to this mouth to ear thing.

Leslie Davison, from Breckenridge, Colorado, modeled this beautifully for us in her session about teaching elementary students with interesting comprehensible input.  She showed us how to teach from the heart and then played video clips of her elementary students speaking fluent Spanish confidently and spontaneously.  I was amazed by how good those kids were, but Leslie’s presence was also apparent.  The students used her gestures and her inflections as they spoke.  It was obvious that Leslie had imparted a piece of her soul to them as she taught.  Along with beginning to acquire the language, those kids had acquired a piece of Leslie’s heart.

Pictures (moving or otherwise) and printed words did not do that.  It was the personalized, caring, even loving words from Leslie’s mouth to those kids ears that did the job.