Choral Reading Question

Reading through the comments sometimes reveals keys to problems that we don’t even know we have. For example, in talking about reading, Dave said this yesterday:

…I personally keep [choral reading] to under 10% of our total reading/translating. I think that, especially for slower language processors, it can interfere with them negotiating meaning by turning their attention to their classmates’ words, so that they can appear to know what the reading says. Does that make sense?…

It makes a lot of sense but also confuses me bc I always thought that choral reading should be a huge part of what we do. I got that impression from Diana and others. We push choral reading big in DPS and honestly if a kid is being guided along by the kid next to him is that not desirable if they are learning to read?

So I’m confused about what the general opinion about choral reading is in the group and what the best way to do reading really is. Reading should be fully half if not more of what we do in a TPRS/CI classroom, we know that, but how? Just throwing it out there.

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14 thoughts on “Choral Reading Question”

  1. Well, what can I do about a class that claims to hate the reading class although the words were familiar to them? I know, I know….answering a question with a question can be annoying. Sorry.

  2. Personally, I’d point to my “No Whining” sign.
    (But then, secretly, I’d try to find more ways to personalize what they read. I don’t have novels available in Chinese, so they are reading stuff I write. I have incorporated details from their beginning-of-the-year surveys but could do better with that.)

  3. Why is that fast processor wanting to move things along so fast? I suggest that it is a way to be the best, to dominate, to compete and come out on top. But this approach is about cooperation, not competition. Now you can teach her that and Chinese too. She benefits from your class in two ways. When she can see how sitting there pushing you to go faster is really a seriously anti-social behavior, she will have learned something.

  4. I have trouble with choral readings too. I try not to do too much of it because I have such a wide range of abilities (grade 11/12 split class) and they get frustrated with the slow pace, even when they don’t necessarily know all of the words.

  5. Ben,

    Just to clarify – the first paragraph that you quoted from me was actually a quote of something that Jim wrote. I also was questioning how best to do reading, if not chorally. I would love to hear more thoughts on the issue though.

    Today, I was doing a choral reading (which had way too much unfamiliar vocabulary – my bad!) and the kids in both of my classes really struggled to handle “me puedes dar una pizza” can you give me a pizza? despite the fact that we have circled puede (3rd person form) to death so far this year. They look at that “me” and immediately go to I can… It was quite frustrating. In my second class, I anticipated the problem, told them that this was a tricky line and asked for a volunteer (top-notch kid) to translate it. That seemed to work smoother and get us through with less problems.

    Honestly though, the kids and I both get bored after about 10 minutes of reading like this (even with brief circling questions and the like in between). Is that just something to put up with?

  6. When I’ve done choral reading it’s always been much shorter times. Less than 3 minutes at a go. No claim to expertise about that, though.

  7. Ten minutes is a long time. I wouldn’t go past ten minutes. Sorry that wasn’t clear. That is why we do the discuss part or Read and Discuss more, as a break, a nice auditory break, by the way.

    Now David, so what if the kids trip over a line? Keep on going. That is the grammar dude in you talking. But we don’t learn grammar by thinking about grammar, we learn grammar by hearing the language spoken correctly and reading it when it is written correctly.

    This is what we do in auditory input and it is what we should be doing in reading classes. The constant thing that we do in this work is what Robert said in a comment here tonight –

    …they are bathing in the words of the target language….

    In reading too. So David when you guide the choral reading along you all read it aloud correctly and you go on. Don’t let their inaccuracy in that line bother you. Let it go. It’s not about grammatical accuracy. It’s about getting them

    …bathing in the words of the target language….

    The mind will rearrange it in sleep and/or in an unconscious way. All we have to do is put our students in the position of focusing on meaning, not single words and structural mechanical stuff, which is about the conscious mind, which is powerless to learn a language.

    And one other thing: when they read, I use jGR to hold them accountable. I listen and give the kids who don’t participate in the choral reading a 1 or 2. I hold them accountable for the visual piece in auditory CI and for the auditory piece in reading CI.

    1. Ben,

      Absolutely. I am definitely holding them accountable with jGR every time that we read. That is a great point.

      I tend to struggle with the discussion aspect. I normally am just circling some basic facts from the story, and I run out of steam quite quickly. My kids don’t have a lot of internalized language to maintain a discussion about the stories. So my default is to go back to the story. I may only do 3-5 minutes of choral reading at a stretch, but to get through a page long story that takes 15-20 minutes of choral reading.

      In terms of the error – I was also worried that they weren’t comprehending the idea because they couldn’t understand the sentence. They were fumbling around with it – just sort of guessing. My instinct is that I just need to step in there more quickly and guide them to what it really means and then step back.

      thanks for the support!

  8. …I normally am just circling some basic facts from the story, and I run out of steam quite quickly….

    Dave try comparing the basic fact to something about a student, as per:

    Class, Brandon drives a T-Bird, right? Does Brandon drive a T-Bird. Yes, class, Brandon drives a T-Bird (continue circling) then ask if your student Manny drives a T-Bird. If Manny is a shit and doesn’t want to play, you play for his sorry ass with:

    Oh, Class, Manny doesn’t drive! Manny walks! Class, does Manny drive or walk? That’s right, class, Manny walks. Class where does Manny walk? If none of their sorry asses want to play, tell them a local place and circle that. Then return to the reading.

    In other words, Dave, the secret to getting the D part of R and D going is to personalize and compare. Just take a kid and compare him to the character in the novel and when they don’t want to play make up shit. I especially like to go after non-participants when doing this because all they can do is sit there as you make up all this stuff about them. It’s a time when I really bear down on the lazy ones.

    When you spin the D by comparing to a student, comparing the facts of the novel to a student, try, obviously, to stay within known (read “sufficiently circled”) vocabulary from the novel. Make the discussion stay within the vocabulary parameters of the written text.

  9. David, did you see my comment in the original post re this topic? I gave some other ideas of how to read a text with students, in addition to choral reading.

    Ben, I have a similar fashion of dealing with those kids who are being kind of rude or apathetic, pull them in by talking about them, but perhaps not in the way they want to be talked about. Either way it pulls them in more, and sends the message that all students need to show up to class.

    I think I kind of compared choral reading to TPR in that original post on choral reading. I rescind that, insomuch as I was doing TPR. I was doing a lot of whole class stuff, with less individual TPR. I’ve been reading Ramiro Garcia’s “Instructor’s Notebook” for TPR and it has been very instructive. I will be doing more TPR in my classes after this book, I’m fairly certain. And more individual student TPResponse, instead of mostly asking the class to respond physically. Less depending on other students and more negotiating meaning.

    Ben, you mentioned in that original post on choral reading that you think it is not a bad thing if the kid is relying on the responses of his classmates to allow him to translate the text appropriately during choral reading. I disagree, if the reading is fast enough to where she can’t make the connection between the text and the translation. There’s no negotiation there, just mimicry of English and probably. But if it is slow enough for them to process both the text and choral translation, then I would agree that it is probably helping them a bit. But it would have to be REAL slow for that. However, that’s not my main motive for choral reading anyways as I said earlier, but rather to bring us together and/or snap the class out of a trance.

  10. Yeah I was hoping Jody would come in on this. Whatever she would say about choral reading I would do.

    And re: the TPR, I agree, we could do so much more. Like TPR our word walls for ten minutes every day. Make a verb come to life. Turn the lights on and off in the classroom 60 times while saying “turns on/turns off”. Well not that boring but you get the idea.

    And bringing in the reticent kid by, as you said, talking about him in the TL. No faster way to get a kid involved than to say something about him in class – he’ll naturally want to know what it is!

    If any in this group don’t do this out of politeness, remember – we are getting our hammers out here. Can you feel it? They will and soon be hammering away at the cardboard, if we keep honing jGR and our TPR and other skills. This is called ‘taking it to them’ and it works.

  11. I this is suppose to be on the blog, delete it please, but a choral reading question:

    If a class was choral reading too fast and not in unison was it because it was too easy? Or, are they just in need of more practice with choral reading?

  12. It’s because you didn’t have the laser pointer on the words like the bouncing ball and you didn’t have a Reader Leader, the kid whose voice is loud enough and knowledge of the text strong enough to guide the others. They do that in choirs. The lead tenor, for example, sings a bit stronger and the singers to his right hear it and are pulled along on the sled of the lead voice, but only locally to where they are in the choir loft and the blend is still there and there is absolutely no one dominant voice that can be heard by the congregation. I give big points to the Reader Leaders. Many times a class will simply not have one. You have to get out of the way on this one by the way. Kids will respect this person and you will see them working together to get it to sound right, chorally right. It’s the RL’s time to lead the class.

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