What we learn when we learn by doing

Mureren med sin murerske

Everyone in the education field is familiar with Dewey’s axiom “learn by doing.” It is well known that experiential learning is not only preferable by students, but also more effective. I recently started taking a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Coursera that helped me understand better what learn by doing is. While I was going through the weekly readings, I could see that the following three basic questions were being addressed: what is learning by doing? what do we learn when we learn by doing? when learning is not motivated by learning to do something (practical/experiential), what is the motivation behind It? In this post I will try to share some of the answers I found to these questions through the readings and the connections I made to my experience as an EFL teacher using technology to advance my own learning and that of my students.

First let’s try to define what learn by doing is and give some examples. Learn by doing is experiential learning. Students learn by doing when they do things instead of being told about things. It is many times easier said than done. In the language classroom, students learn to speak the target language by speaking it, not by being lectured about it. The same goes for writing, reading, and listening. However, for students to speak, there should be a reason for them to do so. Therefore, teachers usually create scenarios or simulate situations to bring about a need to communicate. The more realistic the situation is, the more effective it seems in generating real communication. Having understood that, we should say that using Web 2.0 tools should follow the same “learn by doing” guidelines. Students learn about blogging by actually having a blog, posting, adding, and replying to comments.

Once we know what learn by doing is, we need to understand what one learns when he learns by doing. When there is experiential learning, what is learned cannot be put into words. If you ask a teacher who integrates technology into his teaching to tell you how to create a blog, for example, he will probably be able to show you step by step the procedures for doing it. However, he might not be able to tell you about it without visualing a given blogging platform and actually testing its features. Therefore, when one learns by doing, he learns micro scripts and scripts that help him assimilate and index new experiences. When a student has to create a blog, he first has to create an account. This one is probably a micro script that he has already assimilated. He probably knows automatically that to create an account he will have to provide his e-mail address, a user name, and so on. So what he will learn by doing will be how to customize his blog, how to insert a video or an image using HTML code or just copying and pasting. Besides that, he will also learn how to create a post and with this he will be familiar with rules for typing and editing text. He will learn that paragraphs have to be indented, that capital letters are required in the beginning of new sentences (the later might sound weird, but this is true for my teenage students). So, the scrips I have listed are extensions that are incorporated to the micro scripts he already possesses. The digital native claim proves to be a myth when it comes to creating content. This holds true especially if we are talking about young learners. So that is what is learned when one learns by doing.

However, it is not always that learning is guided by such an experiential tone. Sometimes learning is driven by reasons other than learning how to perform a specific task. In this case, learning is motivated by the willingness of knowing more. This is generally what guides professional development: a desire to learn about the philosophy behind a given practice, a new way of thinking about a given area of knowledge. It is learning for learning sake. I guess that in the field of language teaching this is the reason why EFL/ESL teachers, that supposedly already know enough about the English language, go conferences conferences as attendees or presenters and take other professional development initiatives such as reading/commenting/posting to blogs, connecting with peers through social networking channels, and taking online courses.

Finally, I would like to say that learning by doing also applies to writing. And this is exactly what I am trying to do with this blog and my posts. I confess that writing is not easy for me and I make a big effort to make my ideas come accross the way I want. Nonetheless, I never give up. I have been reading books about writing, I have just decided to blog with my students (I mean writing a short blog post after ech class reporting what went on). I did that because I read that if you ask your students to blog (which I frequently do), you should blog to. Finally, I am just about to begin a course in writing and hope I will feel more confident as a writer when it ends.

Some Simple Activities that Wire Students’ Brains

thought synthesizer

photo credit: krischall via photopin cc

Teaching is a craft that is learned by doing and constantly reflecting on your practice. Knowing theory and getting constant training do play an important role in the making of a good teacher. However, very often, we seem to forget the connection between theory and practice so immersed we are on doing. Of course this kind of “automatism” that seems to come with experience is in part the result of diligent investment in professional development, but we do not always know where we learned certain things. We use a given activity because it works for our students. However, we are not always cognizant about why it works so well. These were some the thoughts that crossed my mind when after being done with the overwhelming end-of-semester teaching duties, I resumed reading a book by David A. Souza called Mind, Brain, and Education(specifically Chapter 3 – Impact of Neuroscience on Teaching and Learning – by Judy Willis). To me, at least, and I am sure to many of my colleagues, what the author had to say about the role “intake filters” play on learning and how research on neuroscience validates what we teachers have been doing, made of lot of sense. Therefore, I decided to write a post to summarize and share some connections I made in relation to the effectiveness of some activities I use in class and how they correlate with the latest neuroscience discoveries on how our brains work.

Questions for conversation/discussion

One thing I always do when teaching upper intermediate and advanced levels is to use “questions for conversation/discussion.” Sometimes I create the set of questions on my own or use ESL Discussions questions by Sean Banville. For this activity, I usually give pairs of students a set of different questions and ask them to take turns asking and answering them as if they were engaged in conversation. I generally select questions that have to do with the topic of the lesson we are covering and use them as a lead in or a wrap up activity. For real information gap you might want to warn students not to allow their partners to see/read their questions. According to Judy Willis, one of the reasons why activities such as this one are successful is because they help learners make connections and relate new information with memories they already have. In addition to that, discussion questions allow students to predict what is ahead or review what they had seen.

Run dictation

I also like to use run dictation. This is a very dynamic activity and one of my favorites to use with teens or pre-teens levels. Most textbooks generally feature a series of questions for a lead in, before-while-after reading or a listening activity. So, instead of having the whole class sitting quietly and mechanically asking and answering these questions, I type the questions, ask them to close their books and stick a couple of sets of questions to the classroom walls or outside the classroom. Working in pairs they should run to the board and come back dictating questions one by one to a partner who should write them down. Once they are done, they should get together and answer or discuss them. This is a multisensory activity that activates more than one area of the brain. While doing it, students have to move around, read, listen, and speak. Besides that, it is fun and helps them in dealing with the fear of not knowing in a safer way. Once the responsibility of answering the questions becomes a shared task, it becomes a collaborative endeavor and thus a more rewarding learning experience. This multisensory factor, the author tells us, ends up promoting more connections at the brain and for this reason being more successfully recalled.

True or false

This is one activity I like to use and I always observe that learners cheer at feedback stage as if they were celebrating their luck in a game or the like. I confess, such reactions puzzled me sometimes. We many times take true or false exercises for granted and deem such tasks as only a guessing game. However, according to Judy Willis, the very predictive or guessing nature of true or false exercises can be stimulating for students’ brains. If the student is merely guessing ( in case of a predictive true or false exercise), the dopamine reward he or she gets with the risk associated with making a guess is a guarantee of making learning a pleasurable activity. In fact, it is related to the compelling aspects of achievable challenge present in computer games that our students are addicted to. So, as long as true or false activities are designed to guarantee a reasonable number of correct guesses, they can be a plus for students’ interest and a boost to their brains.

Process writing

In intermediate and advanced courses writing is a vital part of a good English course. This is not different in the school I teach. Therefore, students are supposed to write paragraphs and later four or five-paragraph essays. Using an approach in which they write a first draft, hand in for correction, get feedback in form of symbols and comments on content, and later write a second draft (process writing), seems to be the best way of getting learners involved. The role this plays on students’ brain and thus learning is extremely important. The process of revising and giving constant do feedback, the author points out, is a form of ongoing assessment that is powerful in promoting long term memory and developing reasoning and analysis. Besides that, Willis says, we are recognizing learners effort and achievement and providing an opportunity for improvement, and at the same time reducing frustration.

No News

As you could see, there is nothing new. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that many of the things we teachers do find resonance with the latest scientific research. It also reaffirms the necessity of studying and reassures us (as pointed out by the author) that Vigotsky, Piaget, Kashen and others that have guided us in our practice have been pointing at the right direction. I guess, it is above all, a reminder of the validity of investing in professional development as a way of keeping up with or ahead of our own time when necessary. As educators, we should always make an effort to challenge and require our own brains if we are willing to provide food for thought to our students and our colleagues.

EAP – A Door of Opportunity for EFL Instructors and Language Learners

A gift I received from my EAP group  on their graduation.

In January 2011 I took a course to prepare for teaching a new one. The course I took online through UMBC was called TET (Teaching English to Teens) and the course I would start teaching was named English Access Microscholarship Program or just Access or EAP as we call it now. This program according to the official description on the web “provides a foundation of English language skills to talented 13-20 year-olds from economically disadvantaged sectors through after-school classes.” In this post I will try to describe my experience with the English Access Program and how I applied some of the theory I learned in the preparatory course. (or already knew) to my classes.

The course on teaching English to teens lasted about a month or so and the new EAP group started in March 2011. The TET course was helpful because it reminded me that teenagers, despite social/economical background, are equal in the sense that they share certain characteristics of personality and have needs that are almost universal. Therefore, taking that issue into consideration and trying to address it, is vital for a successful class. Being aware of these variables, what I did was to apply principles for teaching language to this group catering to some of their specific needs.

One important thing I had to do was to change students’ attitude towards the language. Knowing that they were probably coming from a school where English was taught mainly through translation, I could assume that many them believed that learning English was difficult or even impossible. Therefore I told and showed them (through teaching) that translating was not always the best strategy for learning a foreign language. Once they knew it and realized they could understand chunks of language without necessarily finding the equivalent word or expression in their mother tongue, they discovered a new way of learning, and consequently, started changing their attitude towards the target language.

Another important aspect to consider was keeping learners interested in coming to our Friday meetings. Although these students were quite motivated to take the course, I thought it would be advisable to give them something to look forward to when coming to class. To achieve this goal, I used music. Almost every class I played some latest hit song. I usually had some kind of task related to the song. In other occasions I just projected the lyrics on the screen and we sang along. They really had fun and later told me they had that song on their heads all week long. Sometimes songs were not that recent, but if I felt the song had a cultural/historical value, I played it and explained to them why it was important. For example, if there was a major event in which a certain musician (unknown to them because of their age, but famous worldwide) was going to give a performance, I would play his/her most famous hit. This proved to a good strategy because it anticipated something they would see on TV and made them feel more aware of the world around them. So music was a motivator and another way of changing their attitude towards the language.

Providing a range of learning options and resources is also another important issue when teaching a foreign language. In relation to this, I remember that before the course began, we (school coordinators and teachers involved in the program) were concerned about the digital divide. We were a bit cautious about using the web for blended learning because we assumed that these learners, given their social economical background, would not have the desired access to computers with internet connection. To our surprise, however, not only did they have access to the web but were also able to do tasks assigned for web based projects and the available web resources to advance their learning. In this regard, the initial assumption that they had no access to computers was wrong. Under these circumstances, we were able to work on several projects in which they went home, gathered information from their relatives and community, and later shared them in class and published their work on the web. Such projects did not make them more autonomous but also provided an opportunity for reflection and discovery.

It is true that teens have emotional and intellectual needs. However, they also have a very basic physical need: food. Their growing bodies demand a lot of energy and they love eating junk food and sweets. Cooking, however, is not one of my specialties. Nonetheless there is one thing I can make that almost all my students simply love: chocolate chip cookies. Therefore, I made cookies for my EAP class quite often. Once I made them during class Getting some involved in making the though, others in writing the recipe on the board, and others in taking pictures or filming the event. Some of them learned the recipe and baked cookies for their families. I could see that something as simple as this helped them see themselves as more valuable and autonomous learners once they could share something learned in class with their community. Cookies became a sort of transitional object that frequently popped in our conversation and mediated our informal interactions. This connection was so meaningful that we scheduled a reunion some time next year to get together and have some cookies and refreshments.

The enhancement activities were a kind of mandatory part of the course. What we tried to do was to whenever possible draw a parallel between their culture and the target language culture. This was a nice away of contextualizing learning and providing students with an opportunity to make discoveries or recycle their own culture. Once they did that it also made them proud of their background and increased their self-esteem. The latter being an area that deserves special attention first due to their age group and second due to their social economic situation.

All in all, I would definitely say that my experience with this program was a very rewarding one for me and for the students as well. As I watched each one of them walking towards the stage to get their certificate, I felt that they were a bit transformed and had taken their first steps into their journey of learning a foreign language and many other things that will be extremely important for their lives. As a teacher, I felt grateful for the contribution they had given to make my classes better, enabling me to teach teens just like them that will be entering my class next year.

Gagne and the Nine Events of Instruction in an English Lesson

Skitch note created in Brasilia at 19:37

After years and years of teaching and planning, it is common to think that we know everything. During this teaching journey we also discover that our craft is everywhere we look around. I recognize this might sound like I am a bit obssessed about teaching. But, think with me, don't sports stars and actors also seem a bit obssessed about what they do? So, why shouldn't we? Anyway, obsessed or not, we see a lesson and an opportunity for teaching in a film we watch, on a flyer handed out in traffic light, in a science podcast. Being that enthusiastic about what I do, I have always thought that this is a wonderful job. It extends throughout your life and the older you get the better you become. It might not be so, but thinking like this makes me more comfortable about getting older and having chosen such a career. This pervasiveness is true especially for those who teach language once our subject matter is everywhere. We have a drive to communicate and spoken, written, and even sign language is everywhere. This way, we language teachers, are never at a loss for teaching materials and and the instruction ideas that spring out from them. In this matter, I would like to share with you what I have learned in the course I took at UMBC about Gagné and the Nine Events of instruction. In this post, I will try to connect each of the nine events to the way most teachers teach language.

Gain attention in the first event of instruction according to Gagné. It is true that if we want to engage our students in the learning process, the first thing we should do is to find a way of having, if not all, at least ninety percent of them, focused on what we have planned for a given class. So, this is the moment in which we announce that there will be discoveries. It is that ” hey you ” moment in which you stop any parallel conversations without asking your students to shut up. To gain attention, you share something that is in way connected to the lesson you are about to start.

Inform learner is the second event of instruction proposed. This is an opportunity to tell your class what your objectives are. I know many teachers are against doing it explicitly (especially if it is a grammar lesson), however we can always come up with implicit/inductive ways of doing it. Informing learners make them realize that we care about their intake of the content ahead and also helps building autonomy. Besides that, it is helpful in the wrap up process at the end of every lesson. Once informed about what lies ahead, learners can access what they have really achieved once the lesson comes to an end.

Stimulate recall of prior learning is the third event in a language class. It is during this event that we show students that we want to learn a bit from them, that what they already know is extremely important for us and for that specific learning community. When we do this, we allow them to share their knowledge and give the first steps in the direction of building a tapestry in which their contributions start being woven into the fabric of collaboration that emerges in class. This event sets the foundations to build the rest of our teaching event. It tells students that they are active participants in the learning process and not mere passive, blank slates.

Present stimulus material is the fourth event on Gagné's list. This one refers to the moment we show learners the content that needs to be retained. For retention to occur, Gange points out, we need to organize the material in meaningful chunks. That is exactly what language teachers do: we divide the content in bite sized morsels so that our students can slowly swallow, digest, and later use it. I like this analogy with food because it helps language learners and teachers realize that it is not possible to speed up the process.

Provide learner guidance is the fith event of instruction. This step has to do with how the instructor communicates with the learner and is intertwined with the previous one. This communication, in case of language teaching is very specific. The teacher tailors the language and instruction to guide the learner and help him or her stay on track. This guidance comes not only in verbal discourse, but also through images and any other media that assists the learner in retaining and encoding information. Such precise and guided communication allows learners to understand content and process it in a way that they gradually feel capable of using it later.

Elicit performance is the sixth event. This one is in a way much anticipated by educators. After crafting a good attention getter, informing the learner, and grading the language used to present content, we do look forward to the moment of having our students perform a task that demonstrates we are doing a good job. Performace at this stage, is still a controlled practice and limited to the repetitions of examples we have given. It is a moment for repetition of a model provided by the instructor. Nevertheless, it is much awaited because it gives us feedback on how much progress is being made by students in retaining the target content.

Provide feedback is the seventh event. This is the one in which we prune or praise the controlled practice. Here lies an opportunity we have correct the course of the learning journey. This correction can be done in many ways. The istructor can give explicit and direct feedback or use strategies that allow students to notice what needs to be corrected and do it by themselves. Here teachers give opportunity for students to review and improve performance.

Assess performance is the eight event. It is at this moment that the teacher checks whether learners have fully understood the lesson. Different from the previous one which involved controlled practice, this one involves a larger degree of freedom because the goal is to assess, not to correct or give feedback. This event is the coronation of a lesson and might indicate the need for change of methodology in the future. An attentive instructor might discover during this event that one of the previous events need to be re-evaluated.

Enhance retention and transfer is the last event. Once assessment has been carried out, learners must feel they have learned the content and are ready to apply it to other situations. So, teachers should plan activities that expand students' knowledge and make them confident in using what they have learned. This is the moment in which students produce language that goes beyond what has been drilled or modeled by the instructor. It is a moment for exercising creativity and transferring what has been learned to a variety of situations. This event is an occasion for free production of language.

As you could see, the nine events proposed by Gagné are a good way of revisiting what we know about teaching. Besides that, they also offer some insights into steps we should consider taking when planning our lessons. For me, the breaking down of the standard lesson plan into more discrete units seems to be helpful for instructors trying to better understand the dynamics of teaching and learning. Finally, it is good exercise to read the steps and compare them to our prior knowledge, and also, a way of enhancing retention and transferring our skills.

 

Teaching English to Young Learners

 

Today, July 24, Dr. Joan Shin conducted a very interesting workshop on Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL). As usual, in the lines below, I will try to summarize what I learned from her and from my colleagues in this workshop.

 

English has become a lingua franca and in the globalized world we live in. In many countries it has also become a symbol of status and prestige. Besides that, there is a belief that starting learningn thenlanguage earlier is better. As a result of these facts, governments in many countries have implemented policies that oblige schools to make the teaching of English mandatory at younger and younger ages. In addition, parents also feel the need to give their offsprings a lead in the competition for better jobs, and as a consequence, are placing their children in language institutes at earlier ages.

 

This demand for an earlier exposure to English places an extra resposibility on school admisnistrators and on teachers’ shoulders: they need to come up with best practices for teaching taking into account all the peculiar chacteristics of young learners. Such practices .involve, among other things, designing a curriculum that is appropriate to their age, training teachers in methodology that caters to young learners emotional and psychological development, and building an atmosphere that makes students life long learners. In this respect, Dr Shin’s workshop was really helpful once she conducted a series of activities that were practical, enjoyable, purposeful, and meaningful. Besides that, she also gave us hints on adapting these activities to our context.

To those not familiar with the field of teaching, the task of teaching young learners might an easy one. However, as participants pointed out, there are many challenges to be addressed. Among those problems are: the number of hours dedicated to instruction, the lack of support from parents for exposure to target language outside the classroom, and limited linguistic competence of teachers. Some of these problems require a dramatic change in policies at the government level and there is not much we teachers can do about them. However, all of us believe in the power we have as multipliers. Change that is lasting has to be a bottom up process. So, while governments do not change policies, we can try to reach our peers. And that was exactly what we started doing in the afternoon session: try to come with ideas that promote professional development in our local teaching communities.

 

 

 

A Little on Intercultural Communication

On July 23rd, continuing the UMBC E-Teacher Scholarship Program, we formally started our workshops. I say formally because all of us in the program realized that in the last three days we have been part of a big informal workshop. In the lines below I will try to integrate my perceptions of this whole experience and how the situations we have been through and the interactions we had illustrate concepts related to Intercultural communication.

First, one of the things that Dr. Schwartz showed on his entertaining lecture was that when it comes to communication, we are not any different from our students, and as such we have a drive to communicate and make the uniqueness of our identities perceived. So, as we strolled down streets, went shopping, ate together at The Grits and in restaurants, we were having conversations and expressing our cultural identities through communication. Communication is not restricted to words only, it includes our gestures, the way we dress, and even our silences and pauses. Although we all might claim we teach English, what we really teach is communication.

Once we realize how important communication is, we have to start reflecting on the role that culture plays in communication to be aware of two very important aspects of culture: macro and micro culture. In our interactions with the scholars in the program, the coordinators, and program assistants, while we were striving to memorize names and countries the most salient aspect of their and our identities was the macro culture. Every time we introduced ourselves to the cafeteria staff we tried to snow our macro culture badge. Our macro culture IDs work as an ice breaker and makes communication flow. Macro culture is helpful for small talks and to help us to place people on a map (as we did when we were introducing ourselves and pinning the world map with colored post it notes).

While our macro culture is an important badge or hat to identify us and put a pin in the world map, our micro culture is the one that differentiates and defines us in a unique way. In these three days we have been here we were all lucky to have more meaningful interactions with som e of our peers and express a bit of our uniqueness. In these occasions we talked about our ethnic groups, our marital status, our preferences concerning food and dressing. These were moments that we treasured because they gave us a chance to stop being just a pin on the world map. Our micro culture is what helps us to form more meaningful relationships and break the mold of stereotypes that are many times attributed to our macro culture identities.

Although it seems fascinating to think, talk, and write about this dance of cultural identities, we should take into account that conflicts arise. When different cultures meet, at first everything seems to be a bed of roses. This is true especially if it is long awaited encounter, as is our case. This cultural honeymoon also lasts longer when you already know a lot about the target culture or are otherwise under the spell of the fascination of discovery. However, as time goes by and you start experiencing frustrations due to unmet expectations, difficulties to achieve very basic goals, and other difficulties. As a result of such frustrations a relationship with a person or country (a culture) goes stale – culture shock. Symptoms of culture shock can be subtle such as criticism of aspects of host culture such as food or way of dressing. Other times culture shock can cause depression and a total refusal of further interaction with the target culture. Hopefully all of us are just in this minor state of culture shock (the fun crab feast) and under the spell of discovery. So, let’s hope it continues like that, but if we happen to be victims of such cultural experience we know there are friends we can count on.

Finally, we have also learned from Dr. Schwartz culture shocks are not a privilege of those traveling abroad. Culture shocks happen within the walls of our schools and classes and we have to be aware of them. However, awareness only is not enough. As educators, we should design activities that do not only allow students to express their macro and micro cultures, but that also makes them aware of differences and conflict and teach them strategies to deal with them.

UMBC Day 03 – Baltimore Art Festival, Baltimore Aquarium, and Mezze Restaurant

 
 
 
 
 
July 22nd was another surprising day of activities for e-teacher scholars. We started the day with breakfast at The Grits. Next we got into the bus to go to the Baltimore Art Festival. As usual, the bus dropped us at our first destination – the Baltimore Art Festival – and we were told it would pick us up in about three hours. From then on we were on our own. I really like the configuration these group strolls take. We generally depart with a group of friends and change our strolling peers as we walk and get called by someone else or get distracted by our uniqueness of interests. This unintended group arrangement provides an opportunity for a bigger variety of interaction and is itself a very enriching personal and cultural experience.
 
 
 

Apart from the human and interactional side of this excursion, the Art Festival in itself is fantastic. The festival is one the biggest of this kind in The U.S. Part of the downtown area streets are blocked for the event. As you walk up and down you can see lots of interesting works of art. Works of art range from paintings to handcraft and from glass miniatures to installation art. There was even an impressive collection of insect replicas. Besides that, there were food stands with a great assortment of choices in case visitors got hungry. I did and I got myself some smoothie and a gyros. Really a great choice for a Sunday morning.

 

 
 

After the art festival we got the bus and headed to the Baltimore Aquarium. Sitting at the harbor area, this is a four-story building displaying a fascinating collection of water creatures in their different habitats, some rain forest insects and frogs and tropical botanic garden. Again we constantly changed our walking, chatting, picturing peers. I personally found it a very enriching educational experience. As I walked with Valentina, she shared very interesting stories related to animals and the discoveries one can make while closely observing animals in general. We talked about how kids and adults as well can benefit of such experiences and develop a deep respect for all species of life surrounding them. I kept wishing I had my English Access students and my nephews with me. It was so interesting that we had to rush to mange to get a glimpse of everything before our bus arrived. The aquarium showed some of us a world that some of us had only seen on television and it allowed us to share our personal stories about the ones that were familiar to us.

 

After so much walk, we felt tired and hungry. So, the next stop was the Mezze Restaurant. For this early dinner we sat in parties of five, six, or seven. On my table we talked about so many things. Some of the topics were: food (of course), our students and schools, vacations, what we watch on television, our native languages and their peculiarities and similarities. Needless to say the food was delicious, and being such an unskilled cook, I could not name all the dishes that we were served. The conversation was fantastic, and to be honest, with such wonderful conversation and conversationalists, I could probably go hungry for another two hours. This reminds of a scene of one of my favorite movies AI (a project of Stanley Kubrick directed by Steven Spielberg). In this scene the mother is taking the now unwanted boy robot to disposal ground on the woods. The boy robot, unaware of his “adoptive mother's” intentions strikes a conversation. The mother is extremely sad and really does not want to abandon him because she has grown to love the robot boy. It goes more or less like this.

” What will we have for dinner today? ” asks the boy robot.

” You never eat.” the mother says. He is robot and he can't eat. If he does, he is seriously damaged.

” But I like to sit at the table.” Replies the boy robot.

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