Non-targeted

I have actually been doing non targeted comprehensible input for twenty years, from the beginning. I took a real slow pathway to it, trying to do like the others who targeted, to do what I was told at conferences, to fit in, and I fake-targeted, found refuge in Anne Matava’s scripts, tried to believe in targeting, wrote books about it, because the leaders said it was the way of TPRS. It wasn’t. I discovered something new (a version of TPRS that works for me and I am not saying that it should therefore work for others) over in India and Tina and I must have had 1000 emails on it last winter and spring as we both realized that the moon is not made of cheese, and when we witnessed our CI movies go from black and white to color like in the Wizard of Oz. Coming fully out of the NT closet happened only recently, and I have lost friendships over it. And now Tina and I are writing a lot about how it feels to not be doing targets. We are writing a lot. But all that is simply an introduction to say that I have finally found the best definition/description of NT that I have ever read. It was given in the form of a comment here on the PLC yesterday by our Bryan Whitney. It is brilliant and Bryan thank you for putting this into words. I will be reading this description a lot as I further explore my own travels deeper into NTCI or what I like to call emergent language – it should be framed:
I may be wrong here, but I see the NT approach as more about having the freedom of following the current interests and needs of the class instead of feeling locked into particular targets that need to be hit and hammered into students’ brains. Instead of a wild open prairie that we’re wildly galloping across (without some sort of map/rails), it’s more like a slow moving ameba that explores its surroundings as need/interest dictates. We move just a little bit more in this direction, but then we are free to move a bit in another direction when needed. But, no, we aren’t going to be blasting around like a pinball.
Of course, we have to focus on our students being able to understand most of what we’re communicating (90% or so?), but it’s O.K. if there are some words here or there that they don’t know yet. We need to trust that we are all made to be able to communicate like a mother or a father with his or her child. We just have to keep in mind who we’re talking to, and not just talk to ourselves (or the air). Unfortunately, students have been trained to pretend like they’re following along whether or not they actually are (plus a lot of them don’t want to stick out, and they just want to make it through the day…).

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5 thoughts on “Non-targeted”

  1. You’re very welcome! I’m just glad to be helpful and to be able to share my own thoughts on the subject. I feel like it’s a very freeing concept, and I’m very excited to see where things go- particularly with how it makes class both more relaxed and more interesting(and simpler…).

  2. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Bryan,
    Yes thank you so much! I always had issues holding onto both ‘making everything transparent’ and the Net Hypothesis/ i + 1. In my own WL acquisition experience, I’d learn the new words in context – like cooking/food words I’d learn in the kitchen or in a convo about cooking…
    I do believe the backlash is a ‘relinquishing control’ issue, and as more practitioners try NT (I think they will – targeting gets boring real quickly and the prospect of ease? Give ’em just a bit o’time!)
    Also (and I know there’s maybe no definitive answer yet) it’s totally fine to build up some foundational language through other more classical techniques – so long as everyone’s having fun and getting accustomed to the sounds and meaning- – and then just as circling starts to lose it’s luster, cuz you are sick and tired of your own dang voice and THEY GET IT FOR GD’S SAKE! ease into the other delivery strategies, like NT, SL and the like…

  3. Yes Alisa the fact is that there is nothing bad happening in our community. We are just expanding our shop!
    Bryan come to Cascadia in Portland (a.k.a. The Rivendell Gathering) – last week of June.

  4. Love the pinball vs. the amoeba image. I have been doing NT since the experimentation with the invisibles with the bulk of my curriculum. Not natural SL is being spliced in. I also do some ramdom PQA as an activity. However my PQA does not come from a book or story. It comes from genuine interest. Why model being fake to students in a CI class?
    With NT, I imagine that there actually can be a whole array of tools to keep ourselves in check. There could be different types of student jobs that perhaps the barometer student does to influence the rate of input or (perhaps) even better, this student(s) can inform us about the compelling nature of our input. After all, something that is compelling is more than likely comprehensible to the learner but something that is not comprehensible can rarely be compelling. Here what is deemed as “comprehensible” to me is dependent on what is compelling.
    Bryan’s paragraph is so dense. Compelling input wins over targets. I have been lately thinking of structures as Arrows instead of targets. They are suppose to drive the story. I do simplify some things when I feel like I am adding too much. So how can we become like amoebas instead of pinballs? What are tools that teachers are using?
    There are students that are faking it. There has to be “Engagement Hacks” for both ourselves AND our students however beyond ISR/jGR. Though I explain that my Interpersonal skills are life skills and are areas of growth, having students engage internally with the input is paramount.
    I think that traditional TPRS teachers focus on external behaviors way too much but it may be coming from school culture. Interaction via speech shouldn’t be mandatory but ramping up engagement via movement, facial expressions, non-verbal body language helps immensely.
    How can we personalize without much pressure? The invisibles offers a wonderful solution. We can notice the energy and attention as students are on the edge of their seats as I tell the story of Jimmy the Burnt Chicken Nugget.

  5. No the students don’t have to understand everything. 100% transparent instruction is not the way people acquire languages. Being made responsible to know vocabulary for a test is not the way people acquire languages. For more search “Krashen Din” and/or “Net Hypothesis”.

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